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Neoliberalism as a New, More Dangerous, Form of Corporatism

Neoliberalism = Casino Capitalism = "Transnational elites, Unite!"
(It is a neoTrotskyism with the word "proletarians" substituted by the word "elites" in famous "Proletarians of all countries, Unite!" slogan and "Color revolutions" instead of "Permanent revolution"  )

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 Skeptisim and PseudoScience  > Who Rules America >

Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few
News Who Rules America Recommended books Recommended Links Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Neo-fascism Neocons as USA neo-fascists
Corporatism Casino Capitalism Neoliberal Brainwashing Neoclassical Pseudo Theories  Corruption of Regulators New American Militarism Anatol Leiven on American Messianism
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism Two Party System as polyarchy Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult The Deep State Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Neocons as USA neo-fascists
Elite Theory The Iron Law of Oligarchy Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions Anti-globalization movement Inverted Totalitarism
Super Capitalism as Imperialism Media-Military-Industrial Complex If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths Jeremy Grantham On The Fall Of Civilizations Psychological Warfare and the New World Order Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality
The Great Transformation Harvard Mafia Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Republican Economic Policy Monetarism fiasco Small government smoke screen Gangster Capitalism
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy  John Kenneth Galbraith Alternatives to Neo-liberalism Globalization of Financial Flows Humor Etc

Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare. “There’s class warfare, all right, "Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."

- New York Times

Make no mistake, the neo-Liberal fuckers are just as bad as the Stalinists

May '68 and its Afterlives [Review]

GB: once a great cultured nation, now a poorly-educated gangster mafia state, ruled by oligarchs and inhabited by soccer hooligans

The Kremlin Stooge


Neoliberalism is a new form of corporatism based on the ideology of market fundamentalism, dominance of finance and cult of the rich ("greed is good") instead of ideology on racial or national superiority typical for classic corporatism. It might be more properly called neo-corporatism. It is a counterrevolution aimed at destroying WWII compromise between workers and capitalists, which in the US was called the New Deal.  In most simple form neoliberalism can be defined as an attempt to restore the rule of international financial oligarchy over society.  Unlike classic forms of corporatism such as German and Italian fascism here we do not see the dominant nationalistic far right political party that suppresses all the political opponents. Instead the practiced form of political control over population resembles Inverted Totalitarism or, as some call it, "fascism in velvet gloves".

But the essence -- complete dominance of large corporations over government, conversion of goals of multinationals into state foreign policy goals (achievable by war means, if necessary), usurpation of large multinational of   political life of the country and transformation of society into indented servants of large corporations and their economic and political interests remains the same.   In other words in 70th of the last century, the civilization made an interesting turn, returning to the state where a supranational structure, which in the middle ages was called orders, returned in the form of transnational corporations, with budgets that exceed the GDP of some States and political influence, exceeding traditional political influence of international institutions.

It is corporatism that had outgrown national boundaries and became global.  An interesting nuance is that national three letter agencies also became players in this new global governing corporatist alliance, acquiring a political role as the key part of National Security State and forming the core of so called "deep state":

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude. [2]

... ... ...

The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State’s emissaries.

The American and British elite in 70th (starting with President Carter in the USA but coming into full force with President Reagan; Thatcher played similar role in GB) decided to  liquidate the New Deal coalition and to cover up the upward redistribution of income with a smokescreen of neoliberal ideology. Which also served as anesthetic for lemmings which were mercilessly deprived of most safety net that they acquired due to New Deal;-).

As Lames Levy noted in his comment to Why the Claims Neoliberals Make About Markets Are Wrong naked capitalism

 Jefferson’s notion of “marketplace of ideas” doesn’t apply to the ideology of the market. Bad ideas, like bad people, often thrive. Many of us were taught that this was not the case–good triumphs over evil, virtue is its own reward, and the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. The older I get, the more I doubt these things, the less evidence I see for them, and the less self-correction I see in scholarship

Like in case of Communism/Bolshevism/Trotskyism  a distinguishing feature of neoliberalism is its clincher argument: there is no alternative. Neoliberalism is as powerful ideology as communism (or radical Islam, if you wish ;-) because of its ideological extremism: it recognizes no competitors, and allows its adherents ignore the possibility of viable alternatives.

Ideology of Financial Elite

Historically neoliberalism emerged as an ideology of the financial elite, specifically as the ideology of financial revanchism,  brought to light as a band aid during the crisis of state capitalism in 70th. If socialism absolulitized state, neoliberalism fall into another extreme (and remember that extremes meet) -- absolutization of market and the law of jungle in competition (which means unconditional surrender of all power to the largest transnationals and first of all banks and rape and plunder of smaller firms and states, probably more fierce then under any form of state capitalism). As David Harvey noted in his book A brief History of Neoliberalism:

Redistributive effects and increasing social inequality have in fact been such a persistent feature of neoliberalization as to be regarded as structural to the whole project. Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy, after careful reconstruction of the data, have concluded that neoliberalization was from the very beginning a project to achieve the restoration of class power. (Chapter 1)

It was a false, misleading and pretty seductive ideology from the very beginning created with a specific goal to deceive by people who can be called intellectual criminals. Essentially it was custom created by and for financial elite, or, as they are called after 2008, for banksters. But it proved to be more relevant and long lasting then band aid covering financial revanchism of banksters, acquiring a life of its own. Gradually it became full fledged ideology, much like Marxism before (and it did borrowed a lot from Marxism, especially from Trotskyism, and first of all the idea of governing party and "permanent revolution"), a new  "secular religion", if you wish. As foundations of neoliberalism such as neoclassical economy and Trotskyism are disconnected from the reality, it requires from the followers blind, unquestioned  obedience like in high demand cults.  And, like always in such cases, very good money are paid for the top layer of the sect, especially in nations economic departments.

It is difficult to define neoliberalism more precisely then a restoration of unlimited power of financial oligarchy, The same power it enjoyed at the beginning of XX century and which was destroyed by the Great Depression. As such the neoliberal project has multiple dimensions all of which are supported by a hypertrophied, intrusive spying apparatus which reminds the Third Reich and an aggressive, militarized  police, a combination which make protests almost impossible.  In his article   “Protesting Youth in the Age of Neoliberal Cruelty”, Professor Henry A. Giroux points out that like communism,  neoliberalism can be viewed in three principal dimensions -- political, ideological and cultural:

As the latest stage of predatory capitalism, neoliberalism is part of a broader economic and political project of restoring class power and consolidating the rapid concentration of capital, particularly financial capital (Giroux 2008; 2014).

The real goal of neoliberalism is re-distribution of power. In this sense it is feudalism on a new stage of development (which is another similarity with Bolsheviks and USSR)  The neoliberal project is really about weakening the power of middle class in favor of maximizing the power of the tiny elite (the top 0.1%). 

As such, neoliberalism  is a broad strategy of economic (and first of all financial), political, cultural and military elites to destroy social-democratic state and to restructure power relationships, institutions, by injecting into the society, like narcotic, an artificial and a priory false ideology (civil religion), which is extremely beneficial for the promotion of interests of the top 0.1% (aka "super-elite", represented mainly by financial oligarchy).

Marx famous phase "Religion is the opium of the people" here acquires different and more modern and more menacing context.  The full quote from Karl Marx translates as: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people".

Like communism before, it is an ideology with its own international movement, but if slogan of Communist International (aka Comintern) was "workers of all countries unite" the slogan of neoliberal revolution are both "Elites of all countries unite" and "viva the law of jungles" or "if you see that guy who is ready to fall push him in the back". Of course with the appropriate PR smoke screen about free choice, democracy and equal opportunity.

Like Marxism neoliberal ideology is the ideology of class hegemony (just for a different class ;-), which serves multiple roles

Some authors define neoliberalism differently. For example, Robert McChesney, defines neoliberalism as an economic paradigm that leaves a small number of private parties in control and able to maximize their profit at the expense of the other smaller players and the rest of population. It posits that business domination of society proceeds most effectively when there is a representative democracy along with a weak and ineffectual polity typified by high degrees of depoliticization, especially among the poor and working class. He notes that unlike in classic corporatism, which relies on mass mobilization, neoliberalism relies on the opposite trend: a distracted or apathetic or depoliticized public essentially "goes along" with this, using the dominance of consumerism as a Trojan horse of depolitization and the loss of community spirit. In sum, neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future. Globalization is the result of powerful governments, especially that of the United States, pushing trade deals and other accords down the throats of the world's people to make it easier for corporations and the wealthy to dominate the economies of nations around the world without having obligations to the peoples of those nations

This stress of depolitization is very important. It proved to be as efficient as mass mobilization of classic corporatism and achieve the same purposes with less violence. It is commonly called Inverted Totalitarism. Indeed, suppression of eny and all discussion and the inability to have honest and candid debates about neoliberalism in the United States and elsewhere is one of its most striking features suggesting communality with medieval Catholicism. Neoliberalism's loudest message is that there is no alternative to the status quo, "there is no alternative".

David Harvey, the author of  A Brief History of Neoliberalism, defines neoliberalism as attempt to undermine power and sovereignty of governments by transnational corporations and establish the regime in which the power of financial oligarchy (aka power of "free market") is dominant in the society.  Neoliberalism has distinct tendency to convert state in national security states, in which as we noted before two distinct modes co-exists: permissive for capital and repressive for labor and social programs.  Here is one Amazon review of the book:

Malvin VINE VOICE on September 28, 2006 

Deconstructing neoliberalism's peculiar definition of 'freedom'

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

"A Brief History of Neoliberalism" by David Harvey is a concise and razor-sharp deconstruction of the neoliberal movement. Mr. Harvey convincingly demonstrates that neoliberalism is an ideology that has been wielded to enshrine elite privilege at the expense of people and the environment. Assiduously researched and cogently argued, Mr. Harvey offers a jargon-free and readable text that helps readers gain a greater understanding about the political economy of our neoliberal world and what this might hold for us in the future.

Mr. Harvey explains that neoliberal propaganda has succeeded in fixating the public on a peculiar definition of 'freedom' that has served to conceal a project of upper class wealth accumulation. In practice, the neoliberal state assumes a protective role for capital while it sheds as much responsibility for the citizenry as possible. Mr. Harvey details how neoliberal theory is ignored whenever it comes time to bail out corporate interests from bad decision making while the safety net for the working class has been gradually eviscerated. The author effectively intersperses the text with graphs to illustrate how thirty years of neoliberalist policies has resulted in rising inequality, slower economic growth, higher incomes among the upper class, and other measures that serve to convincingly support and prove his thesis.

Mr. Harvey's history of how neoliberalism has gained ascendancy mostly treads through familiar ground but also highlights some key events that are sometimes overlooked by others. For example, Mr. Harvey relates the well-known stories of how the Chilean coup in 1973 opened the door for Augusto Pinochet to implement the first national experiment in neoliberalism, followed by Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in the U.S. in 1980. However, we also gain greater appreciation about the importance of the New York City bankruptcy in the 1970s. We learn how the city's financial crisis allowed for the imposition of neoliberal reforms in a manner that would prove to be a familiar template around the world: the rollback of labor rights, the privatization of public assets, cuts in public services, and increased policing, surveillance and political repression of a markedly polarized population.

Mr. Harvey surveys neoliberalism around the world to discover connections and to analyze its effects. He finds that the U.S. economy has benefited immensely from its ability to extract tribute from other nations, including the U.S. financial community's probable engineering of crises in developing nations in order to scoop up devalued assets on the cheap. The author discusses how economic restructuring programs imposed on poor countries has benefited U.S. and other foreign investors while it has bolstered or created a small but powerful class of wealthy individuals in Mexico, South Korea, Sweden and elsewhere. In China, Mr. Harvey remarks about the ease with which neoliberalism has found a home in an authoritarian state where the political elite have amassed their fortunes by exploiting a defenseless working class. The author is particularly concerned about the symbiotic relationship that has developed between the U.S. and China and muses about the potentially catastrophic financial situation that the two countries' mounting debts might pose for each other and the world economy.

In the final chapter, Mr. Harvey writes passionately about the need to continue building diverse democracy movements within the U.S. that are dedicated to social and economic justice. Although it is true that Mr. Harvey does not detail precisely what must be done, his thorough dissection of neoliberal ideology empowers us to effectively challenge those who hide behind false rhetorical devices in service to privilege. And for that, we should be grateful.

I give this outstanding book the highest possible rating and strongly recommend it to all.

There are also other definitions. But all-in-all any viable definition need to underline the fact that neoliberalism is about the transnational economic elite taking larger share of resources, income and political power in the society away from middle class. So it always means "class war", as well as blatant enrichment of top 1% at the expense of other 99%.

Those new masters of the universe in expensive suits managed to plunder almost the same number of countries on the globe under the smokescreen of  protection of human rights, as Western powers during acquisition of colonies in XIX century. Any even after creating the most acute economic crisis in 2008 in the USA they still managed to privatize public assets and socialize all the losses. BTW the defense of human right never preclude the alliance with the most odious political regimes on the planet if such an alliance is about cheap hydrocarbons. Recently under the slogan "let us not allow bastards Russian dominate in our beloved Europe, they managed royally "f*ck EU, by cutting it from Russian hydrocarbons,  as Victoria Nuland deftly admitted in her famous remark". After that the U.S. financial oligarchs deftly dropped the Euro to the floor and knocked any attempts of economic integration of EU with Russia.

In this "enrichment of top 1%" (which means first and foremost the US oligarchs and their British counterparts) aspect neoliberalism is based on a strategies of capital accumulation based on the pluder of weaker countries by transnational capital. The integration (or re-integration as is case with the USSR) of most countries in global production and financial system was based of forming a narrow strata of comprador elite (aka fifth column). Transnational fraction of local elites in competition with nationally-oriented fractions won the state power (that's what color revolutions were about). They utilized this acquired power to restructure national economy in the interest of transnational corporation, sell assets to transnationals for pennies on a dollar, put the countries into huge debt (see Ukraine, Greece, almost all Southern Europe) and merge them into the new global manufacturing and finance system with the center at the USA in the role of powerless vassals.

This a new global, transnational corporations based social system emerged by breakdown of First World Keynesian capitalism (welfare states) and Third World "developmentalist" capitalism by abolishing two key features:

Globalization became a new efficient strategy of capital accumulation as it allowed to shake off compromises and concessions that has been imposed by middle class with upper strata or industrial workers on national governments of G7 countries in the preceding epoch, when the USSR exists as a countervailing force and by the mere fact of its existence suppresses appetite of internal financial oligarchy.  With the demolishing of gold standard in 1973 financial capital acquired unprecedented mobility and became able to operate across the borders in a new ways, which allows to eliminate the power of trade unions and state intervention, altering the balance of power in favor of international corporations. Emerging transnational elites instituted polices of deregulation, "supply-side" economics and regressive taxation creating new incentives for capital. Labor force was de-unionized and pushed into deregulated conditions with elimination of full time positions and adoption of "flexible labor" schemes. Via neoliberalism the world has became just a unified playing table for global corporations and states that support them. Material and political obstacles were removed as all states which undergone neoliberal revolutions shifted from post-WWII Keynesian social contract to serving transnational capital and transnational elites.

Neoliberalism also signifies a new historical period in the development of capitalism, the period of dominance of "monopoly-finance capital," and associated "Stagnation-Financialization trap" (SF trap) that drives processes of financial expansion in the economy from one bubble to another due to desperate attempts to stave off the tendency for stagnation of the "real economy" under the neoliberal regime.

While ideological postulates behind neoliberalism (Washington consensus) were discredited after financial crisis of 2008, it now persists in "zombie stage" as there is no viable alternatives and because the ability of transnational elite to find and fund a sufficient part of national elite (compradors) proved to be overwhelming for most states. And it is a quite powerful zombie which still is able to attack and suck blood from other countries which was recently demonstrated in Libya and Ukraine (Maidan).

Since 2007 some Latin American countries got governments that openly oppose neoliberalism. Direct military invasion against them is now more difficult as the threat of communism (which justified such invasions in the past) is off the map. But we can expect attempts to stage color revolutions or classic Coup d'état to reverse those events. One such color revolution (White revolution in Russia in 2011-2012) recently failed. Another (Maidan in Ukraine) is ongoing.

For G7 nations the neoliberalism in zombie stage might have staying power to survive until the end of the period of "abundant hydrocarbons" whether it means the next twenty or the next two hundred years. In any case they, and first of all the USA and GB, bet their prosperity on the viability of neoliberal regime and they now can't abandon it without significant losses.

Still ideological crash of neoliberalism in 2008 has its effects and the rest of the world gradually becoming less and less enthusiastic about neoliberalism, although few dare to openly argue with the USA policies. And for now the USA remains the sole superpower (new Roman Empire) and can economically squeeze or destroy dissident as we are now observing with Russia. 

But it is intellectually bankrupt doctrine, no question about it. Not long ago, the cold war ended with the restoration and triumph of capitalism in the form of neoliberalism on a global scale, and then, less than three decades later, neoliberal form of capitalism is, in turn, became as intellectually bankrupt as communism was in 1990th. By all accounts, the financial catastrophe of 2008 was not only the worst since the Great Depression economic crisis, but a political crisis that somewhat reminds the crisis of Marxist ideology in the USSR in 1960th and 1970th.

As neoliberalism no longer can be sold as the only viable ideological model for other countries, it is now force fed using the strength of American economics and American and NATO bayonets. As well as the strength of transnational elite interested in maintaining status quo (Soros, Rockefellers, Rothschilds, etc)

The vast technological and cultural superiority of the West also matters, although to a lesser extent, as China now became the key factory for the world and as such possesses most of the modern technologies on its factories (which belong to foreign corporation, but still are on China territory).

Another factor that prolongs the life of neoliberalism is that no viable alternative exists, although attempts of partial restoration of the power of national states in a form of state capitalism (Russia, China, USA) and more balanced approach between interests of national population and international corporations are attempted in various forms in various countries (Hungary, many Latin American countries).

Trotskyism for the rich

  "Neoliberalism was a stunning utopia of economic determinism, one even more ambitious than that of Marx."

-- Logos

The simplest way to understand the power of neoliberalism as an ideology, is to view it as Trotskyism refashioned for elite. Instead of "proletarians of all countries unite" we have slogan "elites of all countries unite". Instead of permanent revolution we have permanent democratization.

In a way it is the revolt of the elite, instead of revolt of proletariat which Marxists expected. And it led to forming powerful Transnational Elite International (with Congresses in Basel) instead of Communist International (with Congresses in Moscow). Marx probably is rolling in his grave seeing such turn of events and such wicked mutation of his political theories.

Neoliberalism is also an example of emergence of ideologies not from their persuasive power or inner logic, but from the private interests of the ruling elite. As such it can be called Trotskyism for rich (so much for valiant efforts of Senator McCartney to fight Trotskyism in the USA :-). Political pressure and money created the situation in which intellectually bankrupt ideas could prevail much like Catholicism prevailed during Dark Ages in Europe. In a way this is return to Dark Ages on a new level. Hopefully this period will not last as long.

Among the ideas that neoliberalism borrowed from Trotskyism via renegades such as James Burnham we can mention the following:

  1. Like Trotskyism Neo-Liberalism has a totalitarian vision for a world-encompassing monolithic state governed by an ideologically charged "avangarde". One single state (Soviet Russia) in case of Trotskyism, and the USA in case of neoliberalism is assigned the place of "holy country" and the leader of this country has special privileges not unlike Rome Pope in Catholisim
  2. The idea (and reality) of "dictatorship of the financial oligarchy" replaces the concept of "dictatorship of proletariat". This dictatorship is often disguises as rule of creative class.
  3. The pseudoscientific ‘free-market’ theory which replaces Marxist political economy and provides a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed and poverty endemic to the system, and the main beneficiaries are the global mega-corporations and major western powers (G7).
  4. Like Marxism in general neoliberalism on the one hand this reduces individuals to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance, on the other like was in the USSR, it places the control of the economy in comparatively few hands; and might be neoliberalism's Achilles heel. Degeneration of the elite can be fatal for a society.
  5. The idea of Permanent revolution to bring to power the hegemonic class. In neoliberalism this takes that form of "export of democracy" as the method of achieving and maintaining world dominance of globalist elite (which in its role of hegemonic class replaces proletariat used in Trotskyism):
  6. The role of propaganda machine and journalists, writers, etc as the solders of the party that should advance its interests. Compete, blatant disregard of truth to the extent that Pravda journalists can be viewed as paragons of objectivity (Fox news)
  7. The idea of the party as an vanguard of the hegemonic class and representing its interests. Open desire to dismantle and privatize all the mechanisms of redistribution of income, including (in the USA) Social Security and Medicare.
  8. Creating and maintaining the illusion of "immanent threat" from powerful enemies for brainwashing the population (National Security State instead of "Dictatorship of proletariat").
  9. The idea of revolutionary situation for overthrow of "unfriendly" regimes (and artificial creation of it via color revolution methods); role of students in such a situation. Compradors instead of communist parties as the fifth column inside the societies.
  10. Like Trotskyites, Neoliberals are inherently hostile to competing non-liberal societies - which they see not simply as different, but as wrong. That include nationalistic regimes (Hussein, Kaddafi) as well as theocracies (with a notable exception of Saudis)
  11. The ideas of truth as "a class truth"; neoliberals reject the idea that there are any external moral values. They feel that these should be result of 'market of opinions' and the truth is the one that market favors.
  12. Use of academic science and "think tanks" for brainwashing of the population.
  13. Economic fetishism. Neoliberals see the market as a semi-sacred element of human civilization. They want to impose global market that favors transnational corporations. Everything should be profitable and run as a market. Including labor market. The idea of employability is characteristically neoliberal. It means that neoliberals see it as a moral duty of human beings, to arrange their lives to maximize their value on the labor market. Paying for plastic surgery to improve employability (almost entirely by women) is a typical neoliberal phenomenon -- one that would surprise Adam Smith.
  14. Reliance on international organizations to bully countries into submission (remember Communist International and its network of spies and Communist Parties all over the world). The global financial institutions are indeed a bastion of neoliberal ideology, and they can bully some poor countries into adopting neoliberal policies. The global financial institutions are an instrument of US policy - and if there is a quasi-imperial power, it is the United States.
  15. Capitalist International. Neoliberalism advocates the globalized unity of elites ( hierarchy to be exact under benevolent guidance of the US elite). At the same time conditions of population of countries with "globalized" elite go downhill and internal social protection mechanisms are dismantled. That creates resistance to globalism and neoliberalism.
  16. Like Marxism, neoliberalism tries to weaken, if not abolish, nation states replacing state sovereignty with international organizations dominance (for weaker countries typically using debt slavery to IMF and World bank). Neoliberalism reflect the nature of global capitalism as a hegemonic transnational phenomenon. By deemphasizing the role of the nation-state in the global economy and increasing the significance of transnational production and the rise of a transnational elite and the transnational corporations neoliberalism realizes dreams of Marx in a very perverted form.
  17. Finally, neoliberalism like Marxism in the past has become strongly associated with specific cultures (the US culture) and a specific language (English). But like Marxism, as an ideology Neoliberalism as is not tied to any culture or language. Theoretically any global language would suit, and it can be Esperanto. But in reality the English language, neoliberal policies, and pro-American foreign policy is a "package deal" for neoliberals and its fifth column supporters outside G7; this was especially true in Central and Eastern Europe. Kind of Neoliberal International (they call it "Washington Obcom" in Eastern Europe). That does not exclude corporatism-style jingoism, chauvinism, flag-waving and foreigner-bashing in the USA and other G7 countries. Tony Blair is probably the best example:
    Don't tell me that a country with our history and heritage, that today boasts six of the top ten businesses in the whole of Europe, with London the top business city in Europe, that is a world leader in technology and communication and the businesses of the future, that under us has overtaken France and Italy to become the fourth largest economy in the world, that has the language of the new economy, more brilliant artists, actors and directors than any comparable country in the world, some of the best scientists and inventors in the world, the best armed forces in the world, the best teachers and doctors and nurses, the best people any nation could wish for.

    Don't tell me with all that going for us that we do not have the spirit to meet all the challenges before us.

    Blair conference speech, 26 September 2000

This "capitalists counteroffensive" or "revolt of the elite" was pioneered in Britain, where Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the Tory Party in 1975 and put into real shape by Ronald Reagan in 1981-1989 (Reaganomics). Margaret Thatcher victory was the first election of neoliberal ideologue (Pinochet came to power via supported by the USA military coupe de tat). Both Thatcher and Reagan mounted a full-scale counterattack against the (already weakened and fossilized) unions. In GB the miners were the most important target. In USA traffic controllers. In both cases they managed to broke the back of trade unions. Since 1985 union membership in the USA has halved.

Privatizing nationalized industries and public services fragments large bargaining units formed of well organized public-sector workers, creating conditions in which wages can be driven down in the competition for franchises and contracts. This most important side effect of privatization was dramatic redistribution of wealth to the top layer of financial and managerial elite (corporate rich).

Neoliberalism gradually gained strength since probably late 50th with free-market theorists like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman as influential ideologues. Ann Rand also made an important contribution with her "greed is good" philosophy of positivism. Still many economists and policy-makers favored a ‘mixed economy’ with high levels of state intervention and public spending. That changed in the 1970s when the state capitalism run into rocks. In a way rise of Neoliberalism was the elite response to the Long Recession of 1973-1992: they launched a class war of the global rich against the rest. Shrinking markets dictated the necessity of cutting costs by sacking workers and driving down wages. So the key program was to reverse the gains made by the US lower and middle class since 1945 and it needed an ideological justification. Neoliberalism neatly fitted the bill. With outsourcing, the global ‘race to the bottom’ became a permanent feature of a new economic order.

At 1980th it became clear that the age of national economies and ‘autarkic’ (self-contained) blocs like the USSR block ended as they will never be able to overcome the technological and standard of living gap with the major Western economies. This inability to match the level of standard of living of western countries doomed communist ideology, as it has in the center the thesis that as a superior economic system it should match and exceed the economic level achieved by capitalist countries. Collapse of the USSR in 1991 (in which KGB elite played the role of Trojan horse of the West) was a real triumph of neoliberalism and signified a beginning of a new age in which the global economy was dominated by international banks and multinational corporations operating with little or sometimes completely outside the control of nation-states.

The rise of neoliberalism can be measured by the rise of the financial and industrial mega-corporations. For example, US direct investment overseas rose from $11 billion in 1950 to $133 billion in 1976. The long-term borrowing of US corporations increased from 87% of their share value in 1955 to 181% in 1970. The foreign currency operations of West European banks, to take another example, increased from $25 billion in 1968 to $200 billion in 1974. The combined debt of the 74 less-developed countries jumped from $39 billion in 1965 to $119 billion in 1974. These quantitative changes during the "Great Boom" reached a tipping point in the 1970s. Global corporations by then had come to overshadow the nation-states. The effect was to impose a relentless pressure on national elites to increase the exploitation of ‘their own’ working class. High wages became a facto that deters new investment and labor arbitrage jumped in full swing. Taxes on business to pay for public services or welfare payments became undesirable. As well as laws designed to make workplaces safe, limit working hours, or guarantee maternity leave. While from purely theoretic perspective the ‘free-market’ theory espoused by neoliberal academics, journalists, politicians, bankers, and ‘entrepreneurs’ is compete pseudoscientific Lysenkoism-style doctrine, it became very popular, dominant ideology of the last decade of XX century. It provides a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed, poverty, as well as economic crisis endemic to the system. It also justified high level if inequality of the political and business elite an a normal state of human society. In this sense, neoliberalism became an official ideology of the modern ruling elite.

Globalization of corporatism

The essence of neoliberalism is globalization of corporatism, which previously have distinct national boundaries and some forms of which were rabidly nationalistic (for example German national socialism). Just imagine a single global state with the capital in Washington with the typical for such a superstate flow of people to capital and you essentially catch the essence of the USA elite neoliberal dream -- Pax Americana.  There are also second class cities such as London, Berlin. Tokyo, etc which while not as attractive are much better then the "deep province", such as Prague, Warsaw or Sanct-Petersburg.

So the flow of people and commodities such as oil has distinct direction from the periphery to the center. To keep each country in the line and this flow of commodities uninterrupted, this "Capitalist International" relies on the part of national capitalist class and elite which is connected to international corporations serving the same role as Communist Parties or Communist International. Such as part is often called Compradors or Fifth Column of Globalization

And this "international elite" is even more responsive to pressure from Washington,  as its fortunes and often families reside if "first class cities" of G7. This way neoliberalism is able to suppress the other part of the elite of particular country which favors "national" development and typically resides inside the country. As a PR smokescreen neoliberalism pay lip service to national development, but in essence it is hostile to it and favor "underdevelopment" of nations outside G7. It's anti-social and has distinct schadenfreude attitude to weak nations: it derives pleasure from seeing the misfortunes of other nations and it try to exploit such moments ("disaster capitalism"). Vae victis as Romans used to say (Victor's justice).

And the winner in neoliberal revolutions is not the middle class and lower strata of population (although they might be sold on it and fight for it, being deceived by propaganda as is the case with the current generation of Americans), but international and local oligarchy represented via international corporations and banks. For bottom 90% population the hangover after the neoliberal revolution comes really quick. This affect was clearly visible after successful color revolution in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine. In cases of Georgia and Ukraine the neoliberal leaders lost power after their term and there were efforts to put them in jail for abuse of power and corruption, which were not successful only due to USA pressure (only former Ukrainian Prime Minister Julia Timoshenko, the Joan of Arc of Orange revolution was jailed). In any case popularity of leaders of neoliberal revolutions drops to almost unheard levels with Victor Yushchenko commanding 2% approval rating in Ukraine before the end of his term.

Neoliberalism as a Part of American Messianism

Neoliberalism is not merely a new pseudo-religious, cult-like version of globalized corporatism. Like national socialism before it is also simultaneously a powerful ideological export product. It is the core of Pax Americana, which the USA tries to impose of the rest of world. As Samuel P. Huntington(1927 – 2008), the author of the concept of  Cleft country expressed this view, the idea of Pax Americana means that:

"a world without US primacy will be a world with more violence and disorder and less democracy and economic growth than a world where the United States continues to have more influence than any other country in shaping global affairs. The sustained international primacy of the United States is central to the welfare and security of Americans and to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world."

Similar ideas were expressed in 1998 book The Grand Chessboard American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives by  Zbigniew Brzezinski. From one of Amazon reviews:

And ponder the meaning of these statements in a post-9-11 world:

While this is typically associated with neocon thinking, it is shared belief of the majority of the US elite. In 1992, the US Defense Department, under the leadership of Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney [later to be George Bush Jr.’s VP], had the Pentagon’s Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Paul Wolfowitz [later to be George Bush Jr.’s Deputy Secretary of Defense and President of the World Bank], write up a defense document to guide American foreign policy in the post-Cold War era, commonly referred to as the “New World Order.”  The Defense Planning Guidance document was leaked in 1992, and revealed that,

“In a broad new policy statement that is in its final drafting phase, the Defense Department asserts that America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union,” and that, “The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy.”

Further, “the new draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders ‘must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’.” 

As  the official state ideology of the USA where it became an integral part of American Messianism it was successfully exported to many countries.  And it now permeates many aspects of social cooperation and culture. Like in the USSR the whole generation of people in the USA had growth being brainwashed by this ideology. It dictates an extremely militant almost jingoistic (does not hesitate to exercise force or overthrows the governments), foreign policy (Trotskyites idea of export of revolution in full swing), it is as deceptive as bolshevism (what Washington means by the "spread of democracy" is actually spread of neoliberalism), missionary (regards itself as a monopolist of the "truth" and protector of "universal values" ) and colonizing (serving simultaneously the ideology behind Neocolonialism). Like Communism it is also messianic as in "the end justifies the means" and does not abstain from using dirty methods including black propaganda and color revolutions for achieving its goals. In the level of hypocrisy and methods used against "natives" it reminds British empire or the USSR (your choice ;-). 

It blackmails antagonists as depraved, primitive, and below par. A good sample of neoliberal blackmail can be extracted from the US press coverage of preparations to Iraq war( US press enlists for war on Iraq) and Libya coup d'état. Another good set of samples provides Guardia press coverage of Putin's Russia and Ukraine EuroMaidan events.  Funny but Russia occupies the middle ground between neoliberalism and resource nationalism, so in principle it coul be an alli of the USA and GB,  but as a large country and possible geopolitical opponent it also was in crosshairs of the US elite.  One of the reasons for Russia's defeat in Chechnya between 1994 and 1996, was an attempt by America in the 1990s, with tremendous help from the comprador part of Russian elite it managed to create, to turn Russia into a standard neoliberal vassal state, whose elites would be subservient to the US foreign policy and would exist to export raw materials to the West and to transfer money to Western bank accounts. That attempt failed with Putin coming to power. So now the level of animosity from the USA and British elites and serving them MSM now goes over the roof .

With the notable exception of the USA itself, neoliberalism is hostile to nationalism. That does not exclude flirting with neo-fascist elements in countries were neoliberalism is under attack from the left or from the resource nationalists. But those forces are viewed more like tactical allies (Ukraine is a good example) and can be thrown under the bus, when they do their dirty job. Inside the USA, the holy city of neoliberal ideology, it to a certain extent merged with American Exceptionalism; the USA is viewed as exemplarity neoliberal country, the shining city on the hill which has right to impose their views and interests on the rest of the globe with impunity, standing outside the law.

Redistribution of income and lowering the standard of living of the bottom 80% of population

While welfare state presuppose redistribution of income down, the "free market capitalism" presupposes even more powerful redistribution of income up, toward the most wealthy part of the population.

Unlike previous revolutions (with the exception of Bolsheviks revolution) the unique feature of neoliberal revolution is drastic lowering the standard of living of middle class and poor, along with dramatic enrichment of top 1% of population and international corporations. Standard of living of top 20% also grow, albeit not so dramatically. In a way it is equivalent to selling of local population into slavery to international corporations by local oligarchy. with the interesting Pareto style 80:20 split. In other words only 20% of population get something from neoliberal revolution with over 50% concentrated at, way, the top 5%, and lion share in top 1%. This "top 20%" of beneficiaries constitute "fifth column of neoliberalism" in the particular state.

Lower 80% of population standard of living typically dramatically drops after neoliberal revolution and never recover.  That does not mean that those capitalists who favor "national" development are considerably less brutal in exploiting lower 80% population, but at least the "spoils" of this exploitation are left by and large in the country and used to improve infrastructure, housing, education  and such while neoliberal model of exploitation often is sucking the vassal states dry. Former Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Rumania and Serbia provide especially interesting and educational example of how neoliberalism deforms the economy and impoverish population. Especially Bulgaria, this basket case of Europe.

There are some exceptions like China (which practice not pure neoliberalism bus a mixture of neoliberalism with national development, kind of "neoliberalism with Chinese face" ;-), but even in China this process of dramatic enrichment of top 1% is clearly visible although it is not accompanied with drastic lowering of standards of other 99% of population like happened in Russian, Ukraine and other post Soviet republics. Again in the level of decimation of local middle class and poor neoliberal revolutions have a lot in common with Bolshevik's revolution in Russia of 1917.

Here is a quote from insightful Amazon review by razetheladder of Chalmers Johnson book Blowback The Costs and Consequences of American Empire:

Johnson's strength is in recounting the specificities of US foreign policy; he's much weaker at an overall understanding of imperialism. He seems to think that American policymakers have naively built up the economic strength of their Japanese, Korean, and now Chinese competitors by focusing on maintaining their own military power. This is an old critique, resting on the notion that imperialism hurts the imperialists.

But Johnson is relying on the idea that "America" is a unitary entity, so that the hollowing out of industry hurts "America", not specific social groups within the country. In reality, US foreign policymakers work to advance the interests not of "America", but of those same business elites that have benefited from turning Asia into the world's sweatshop and undermining the unions that built their strength on American industry. American economic imperialism is not a failed conspiracy against the people of Asia, but an alliance between American elites and their Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, and Chinese counterparts - against the potential power of the working majority in all those countries.

But it's more complex than that, too, since the US seeks to prevent the emergence of an independent military challenge (especially China, but also Japan) to its Asia hegemony while seeking to expand the power of American commercial interests in the region, even as it tries to keep Asian elites happy enough with the status quo to prevent their rebellion against it.

Elite and the second and third world countries

Neoliberalism as an ideology can be succinctly defined as "Transnational elites Uber Alles". But it uses the concept of elite on the level of the of the countries too. Neoliberalism distinguishes between to types of countries, and. respectively, there are two forms of neoliberalism, one for G7 countries (elite) where while squeezing middle class it operates with "velvet gloves", and a more brutal practice from "prols" countries outside G7 (vassal countries with local elites as fifth column of globalization). Neoliberalism relies mainly on financial mechanisms and banks and use brute force only as a secondary weapon for subduing people and minor countries (you can get much farther with a kind neoliberal word and cruise missiles, then with just kind neoliberal word alone). In time, it generally coincides with computer and Internet revolution, which made globalization of labor via outsourcing of production and services to poor countries much more attractive.

In principle we can define two distinct types of neoliberalism: one for elite countries and the other every other country:

Actually some elements of the idea of "national superiority" were preserved by reserving for the USA special "shining beacon on the Hill" status (American Exceptionalism) and in a form superiority of "creative class" which includes capitalists, financial oligarchy, and "executives" (top layer of transactional corporate elite) plus narrow social strata of people who are serving them (and that includes most journalists, programmers and IT staff, and such).

In a way, neoliberalism considers this so called "creative class" to be a new Arian race. Everybody else are Untermensch and should be treated as disposables.  In other words it is more like a religion that claim  supremacy of particular ethnic group or a class.  See for example a Guardian reader comment made in 2011 (you need to brose the comments as direct link does not work; recently Guardian screwed its comment system completely):

ITS1789 13 Sep 2011 14:15

I'm not from the left, and I personally do really, really well out of the capitalist system, and enjoy a life of relative luxury, but then I can afford to give half my annual income away to charity and still live very well. I like capitalism, it's been very good to me, and my family for over two centuries, but the ghastly version that's swept the world over the last thirty years is something else.

I think neoliberalism is something close to a malignant cancer growing inside a healthy capitalism, and with equally disastrous consequences. So my criticism comes not from the left, but from the right, for what that's worth.

Neoliberalism is a kind of pseudo-religion, a dogma, which is passionately believed by its disciples, despite the evidence showing that it simply doesn't work in the real world, but like most religious fanatics, the real world doesn't matter much to them. Which is another reason they remind me of Stalinists in the old Soviet system.

... ... ...

For me neoliberalism is a primitive and dangerous delusion about society, economics, and human nature, comparable to extreme forms of socialism, which are equally hairbrained and destructive, and arguably just as bloody.

Thatcherism was classic, class-warfare politics, but launched from the extreme right instead of the left, and it was wildly successful, at least for those it benefitted, a narrow strata at the top of society. Now that the entire charade is collapsing, and taking the welfare state, the middle class, and probably capitalism itself, with it, it's time to pay the bill for this long, illusory, party.

Ideology of neoliberalism as the replacement of both Marxism and state capitalism

From political point of view neoliberalism vision is somewhat close to Communists vision. It also relies on state repression (despite demagogy of Washington consensus about "free markets") and generally can't exist without police state (or National Security State as we now call it; Total surveillance is just icing on  the cake). Under neoliberalism the state become more repressive toward lower 80% of population and, especially, labor, but much less repressive toward various forms of capital and, especially, large capital.

In this sense the only difference is the location of the capital: while the USSR was the holy land of communist world and Moscow its global capital, now the holy land of neoliberalism is the USA and the capital is Washington. With the USA government and Washington headquarters of IMF and World Bank making close analogy to Politburo of CPSU. Due to their strong tendency for political dictate US embassies in Eastern Europe and xUSSR space are sometimes called "Washington Obcoms".  As in following post in


Funny how clueless are foreigners about Russian commies. Putin plays tough man for better bargain positions while actually he accepts orders from Washington obcom (regional committee of CPSU). Putin serves to interests of oligarchs and conducts actually liberal anti-Russian policy. He like helps oligarchic vampires to suck out money from Russian economy and invest them in US economy and Western banks what is absolutely unacceptable for Russian commies.

Like with Comminist International, other states are just vassals who implement directions from benevolent "Washington Obcom" and install the leaders recommended by it, or face ostracism (YouTube) or, worse, direct military invasion... Funny, but it was the corrupt communist elite which put the major effort in helping to implement this vision via the dissolution of the USSR.

As Pope Francis noted that like Marxism in the past neoliberalism represents a new philosophy, new kid on the block. He see  principal feature of this new philosophy in what he called the "idolatry of money" and turning inequality into moral imperative (Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013):

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

Simultaneously neoliberalism proved to be the most capable ideology to fight and displace Marxism. It actually inherited quite a bit from Trotskyism (see below), so in a way it was "evil twin" of Marxism. And it was relevant and effective not because it was a "better ideology", but because Marxism as ideology self-destructed due to several major problems caused by actual experience with state socialism as implemented in USSR and other countries of Warsaw block:

Neoliberalism and cheap hydrocarbons

There essence of neoliberalism is not only dominance of finance over other

t of the economy, but also free movement of goods and people by global corporations without any respect for national borders. And that is the source of increasing efficiency and dropping prices on many categorie

good. An interesting question is how much the rise of neoliberalism was forced on humanely by the short historical period of availability of cheap hydrocarbons. Energy is important driver of globalization. Even the previous stage of globalization: the creation of colonial empires by Great Britain, France, Germany and Spain was at least partially based of steam power and coal.

Now it is an oil that serves the same role for the global neoliberal empire. The latter allow cheap global transportation, mass air travel and powers huge US military machine which has no equals in the globe and serves as a guarantor of security of neoliberal regimes all over the globe. Out of three major components of globalization -- the US as a sole superpower, cheap international shipping and air travel, and (to lesser extent) global telecommunication networks the first two definitely depends of cheap energy. And, BTW, Google is also not running of holy spirit; it is one of the top consumers of electrical energy in the USA.

While it is unclear to what extent neoliberalism will be affected by rising energy prices, it seems few things arouse more passions these days then "oil plato" (or how it is often, but incorrectly, called the oil peak) and how it affects the civilization and different countries. The key fact is that EROEI (energy return on energy invested) of oil extraction is rising dramatically for the last two decades and it looks like this trend will continue. The current world oil production has EROEI around 40 so you extract forty times as much of energy then you spend for extraction.

New oil discoveries have EROEI around 10 (with bitumen oil sand EROEI in single digits). And EROEI also the source of the current disconnect between the purchasing power of money and the resources available to back that up. Pessimists say that a further increase in fuel prices is inevitable, and sooner or later the world will face a kind of "offshoring apocalypse". That's unlikely as important part of neoliberal regime is the new level of global communications and this part will be by-and-large intact. But transportation costs will affect the globalization in a negative way without any dount. For example with EROEI in single digits mass air travel will come to a screeching halt.

At the same time the end of cheap hydrocarbons era might marks the start of fuel wars, which, as such, will be a drastic reversal of globalization, playing the same role as WWI. When each state will try to pull the energy blanket, globalization trends will definitely suffer.

Rise of cost of energy makes both offshoring of manufacturing and outsourcing of service jobs to other countries less viable. A growing number of American companies are moving their manufacturing back to the United States. This emerging "re-shoring movement" has to be kept in proportion. Most of the multinationals involved are bringing back only some tiny fraction of their production destined for the American market. Much of what they had moved over the past few decades remains overseas. Moreover some firms like Caterpillar decided to move research and development facilities in China as split between manufacturing and research badly affects both research and the quality of final products.

But re-shoring tendencies can't be easily dismissed. They are driven by powerful forces which might only get stronger with time. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in April 2012, notes that 37% of those with annual sales above $1 billion are planning shifting production facilities from China to America. Of the very biggest firms, with sales above $10 billion, the number reached 48%. Among reason sites are rising Chinese labor costs and transportation costs. Many shipping companies slowed the speed of their ship (increasing the delivery time) in order to fight rising oil prices. As Economist, the flagship of neoliberal establishment thought in GB, noted (Reshoring manufacturing):

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked at 108 American manufacturing firms with multinational operations last summer. It found that 14% of them had firm plans to bring some manufacturing back to America and one-third were actively considering such a move. A study last year by the Hackett Group, a Florida-based firm that advises companies on offshoring and outsourcing, produced similar results. It expects the outflow of manufacturing from high- to low-cost countries to slow over the next two years and the reshoring to double over the previous two years. “The offshoring of manufacturing is now rapidly moving towards equilibrium [zero net offshoring],” says Michel Janssen, the firm’s head of research.

By contrast, pay and benefits for the average Chinese factory worker rose by 10% a year between 2000 and 2005 and speeded up to 19% a year between 2005 and 2010, according to BCG. The Chinese government has set a target for annual increases in the minimum wage of 13% until 2015. Strikes are becoming more frequent, and when they happen, says one executive, the government often tells the plant manager to meet workers’ demands immediately. Following labour unrest, wages at some factories have gone up steeply. Honda, a Japanese carmaker, gave its Chinese workers a 47% pay rise after strikes in 2010. Foxconn Technology Group, a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industries, a Taiwanese firm that does a lot of manufacturing for Apple and other big technology firms, doubled pay at its factory complex in Shenzhen after a series of suicides. Its labour troubles are still continuing.

...As soon as 2015, says Hal Sirkin, a consultant at the firm, it will cost about the same to manufacture goods for the American market in certain parts of America as in China in many industries, including computers and electronics, machinery, appliances, electrical equipment and furniture. That calculation takes into account a wide variety of direct costs, including labour, property and transport, as well as indirect ones such as supply-chain risk.

...“Pay for senior management in several emerging markets, such as China, Turkey and Brazil, now either matches or exceeds pay in America and Europe”

So while production and service outsourcing overseas or offshoring can still provide substantial cost savings for many companies, the question arise whether those cost savings are sustainable (Can outsourcing overseas provide sustainable cost savings).

Neoliberalism as a strategy of class struggle for transnational elite

Bushonomics is the continuous consolidation of money
and power into higher, tighter and righter hands

George Bush Sr, November 1992

Neoliberalism is not a collection of theories meant to improve the economy. Instead, it should be understood as a strategy of "class struggle" (in Marxist terms) designed to redistribute wealth upward toward an increasingly narrow fraction of population (top 1%). The essence of neoliberalism is well reflected in the listed above George Bush Sr. quote "...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands". Kind of revolt of the elite against common people, instead of revolt of proletarians against capitalists. The attempt to redistribute the wealth of nations in favor of the top 1% and especially top 0.01%.

From the very beginning neoliberalism was a project to restore of class power of US corporations owners and first of all financial oligarchy ("financial revanchism" was the major driver of neoliberalism), which was undermined by New Deal.

So it is not surprising the during neoliberal revolution (or more correctly counter-revolution) in the USA all redistributive postwar state capitalism policies that hurt financial elite came under attack. With the demise of the USSR, the necessity of such policies to ensure social peace disappeared and the elite (and first of all financial elite) got a carte blanch for decimating middle class, and redistributing the wealth up. Golden days of the US middle class not ended not exactly with the election of Reagan (remember his decimation of air traffic controller union) but with the election of Mr. Gorbachov. And they became a distant past under Clinton who sold Democratic Party to financial oligarchy and only become worse and worse under Bush II and Obama (who, social policy-wise, is just well-tanned Bush III). And on international arena brutal enforcement of Washington consensus became a norm. So Ukraine got under the same neoliberal steamroller.

Neoliberalism promises of "better future" for population outside top 1% were by and large political scam. In best case no more then top 20% of population can benefit from neoliberal policies. And that's in best case, which is applicable probably only to G7 countries. And the other bottom 80% experience a sharp decline of their standard of living. For "peripheral countries like Ukraine, Iraq, Chili, etc) instead of 80:20 the proportion in probably 90:10.

All-in-all neoliberalism as a social system always lower the average standard of life of people in countries which adopted it, never rise it. That happened even in countries which historically has very low standard of living of middle class such as former USSR republics and Eastern Europe. At the same time it tremendously improved standard of living of upper 10% (20% in case of G7 countries) of population, and, especially, the top 1% - the new aristocracy. And that top 10% has enough political power to keep and consolidate neoliberal counter-revolution and with help of G7 countries to spread it around the globe.

Transnational elite "International" proved be both more viable and durable then "proletarian International" envisioned by Marx and his followers. That does not mean that elites from other countries are treated as equal partners. No they are treated as "villagers that came to the city" but still they are given a chance to "merge" with local "aristocracy of wealth".

The USA is the center on neoliberal order, its capital. Neoliberalism is supported by projection of the USA military power and the use of US capital. It forces global economic integration on US terms at whatever costs to others. But with those reservations it is as close to "oligarchy of all countries unite" as one can get.

In a way Marx probably is turning in his grave, as his ideas were hijacked and implemented by the part of population he considered to be doomed. In other words Marxist idea of "class struggle" was turned to its head and converted into pervert "revolt of the elite" (and first of all financial oligarchy), unsatisfied with the piece of the pie it is getting from the society and stimulated by technological revolution (emergence of Internet and cheap mass produced computers). Neoliberal philosophy can be distilled into a single phrase: "Humanity begins at the rank of CEO" or as George Bush Sr, aptly said November 1992 it is "...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands."

Some authors like Colin Cronch in The Strange Non-death of Neo-liberalism consider it to be a new ruling class alliance. His basic idea is that at least in USA neoliberalism represents the shift of loyalty of the upper management class: following the Great Depression of 1930 a political alliance emerged between the upper management class and "salaried middle class" (which includes the top layer of blue and white collar workers, including quasi-management, clerical workers, and professionals, and which cannot be reduced to the traditional "working-class"). A severe profitability crisis of the 1970s with its inflationary excesses caused a fracture between upper management and "salaried middle class". From that point upper management allied with owners and financial oligarchy forming a new ruling class.

This neoliberal transformation of the society with the redistribution of wealth to the top 1% (or, more correctly, the top 0.01%) "have and have more" (as unforgettable G.W.Bush quipped) was completed in the USA in late 90th. The rest of population (aka moochers) and organization such as trade unions were undermined and decimated by financial oligarchy with near complete indifference to what happens with the most unprotected lower quintile of the population.

Like Russia in the past under Bolsheviks the USA became occupied country. And much like Bolsheviks in the past, the neoliberal reformers don't care about failures and contradictions of the economic system which drive the majority of country population into abject poverty. No they care about that their action such a blowing out financial bubble like in the USA in 2008 which definitely could move national economics toward the disaster ("off the cliff"). They have somewhat childish, simplistic "greed is good" mentality: they just want to have their (as large as possible) piece of economic pie fast and everything else be damned.

To that extent they have mentality of criminals and neoliberalism is a highly criminogenic creed, but it tried to conceal the racket and plunder it inflicts of the societies under dense smoke screen of "free market" Newspeak. That means that outside the USA and G7 countries which are the major beneficiaries of this "hyper globalization of élites" neoliberalism is an unstable social order, as plunder can't continue indefinitely. and as natural resources become more scarce, the fight for them might give advantages to "Asian" autocratic flavor of state capitalism.

Problems inherent in neoliberal model were also by-and-large masked for two decades by a huge shot in arms Neoliberalism got with the dissolution of the USSR. This particular event (which was just a decision of part on nomenklatura including KGB to join neoliberal counter-revolution) put on the dinner table of neoliberal elites half a billion people and quite a bit of resources to plunder. This gift of a century from Bolsheviks slowed down the process of plunder of G7 own population, especially in the USA. It is interesting to note that, like Bolsheviks in the past, neoliberal elite behaves more like occupiers of the country, then as a traditional, "native" aristocracy; this phenomenon was especially pronounced in Russia (privatization under Yeltsin regime) and other xUSSR countries. And in xUUSR space new neoliberal lords were almost as brutal as German occupiers during WWII.

So later neoliberalism in came under pressure even in G7 countries, including the USA, as slogan on a corner Wall Street cafe "Jump Suckers !" demonstrated so aptly in 2008 and later in Occupy Wall Street Movement (which probably should be named "get rid of Wall Street occupation of the country"). The latter was quickly undermined, dissipated by the emerging National Security State. Total surveillance makes opposition movements practically impossible.

Neoliberalism was also partially reversed in Chile (the first country on which neoliberal counter-revolution was launched), Russia, and several other countries. It was never fully adopted in northern Europe or Asian countries. The model of autocratic state capitalism used in Asian countries actually serves as the only viable and competing with the neoliberalism modern social organization. Move of manufacturing centers to China and other East Asian countries also moves political influence toward this region, away from the USA and G7. Recently China managed slightly push back western global brands in electronics (especially in Eastern European markets), producing competitive smartphones (Huawey, Fly, Lenovo), tablets (Lenovo), PCs and networking equipment such as routers and switches under this own brand names.

Neoliberalism was enforced under dense smoke screen of propaganda. One can see an example of this smoke screen in Thatcher's dictum of neoliberalism: "There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families." In foreign policy neoliberalism behaves like brutal imperialism (aka neocolonialism) which subdue countries instead of brute force either by debt slavery or combination of debt slavery with direct military intervention. In neoliberal view the world consist of four concentric cycles which in order of diminishing importance are

  1. Finance
  2. Economics
  3. Society
  4. Planet

In other words, finance and transnational financial institutions are considered to be the most important institutions of the civilization, the institutions which should govern all other spheres of life. It is clear that such one-dimensional view is wrong, but neoliberals like communists before them have a keen sense of mission and after they managed to accomplish its "long march through the institutions" (during which they gradually hijacked them in what is called Quiet coup) they changed the way Americans think (Using the "Four M" strategy -- money, media, marketing, and management)

A well-oiled machine of foundations, lobbies, think-tanks, economic departments of major universities, publications, political cadres, lawyers and activist organizations slowly and strategically took over nation after nation. A broad alliance of neo-liberals, neo-conservatives and the far right (including neo-fascists and religious right) successfully manufactured a new common sense, assaulted Enlightenment values and formed a new elite, the top layer of society, where this "greed is good" culture is created and legitimized.

As Crouch says in his book The Strange Non-death of Neo-liberalism:

a polity in which economic resources were very unequally shared would be likely to be one in which political power was also concentrated, economic resources being so easily capable of conversion into political ones. (Page 125)

... ... ...

...the state, seen for so long by the left as the source of countervailing power against markets, is today likely to be the committed ally of giant corporations, whatever the ideological origins of the parties governing the state. (Page 145)

"Greed is good" as the key ethical principle of neoliberalism

Its key ethical principle of neoliberalism (only for the elite, never for prols or middle class) is "Greed is good" (as Gordon Gekko the personage of Wall Street (1987 film) quipped in the film). This strata of people (which starts on the level of CEO of major corporation) who preach those principle is assumed to be Übermensch. People below are considered to be "under humans", or "inferior humans" (Untermenschen)

According to Wikipedia, the inspiration for the "Greed is good" speech seems to have come from two sources. The first part, where Gekko complains that the company's management owns less than three percent of its stock, and that it has too many vice presidents, is taken from similar speeches and comments made by Carl Icahn about companies he was trying to take over. The defense of greed is a paraphrase of the May 18, 1986, commencement address at the UC Berkeley's School of Business Administration, delivered by arbitrageur Ivan Boesky (who himself was later convicted of insider-trading charges), in which he said, "Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself".

As Pope Francis notes glorification of greed is socially destructive. While in all previous "classic" religions (including such social religion as Marxism) excessive greed was morally condemned, neoliberalism employed a slick trick of adopting "reverse", Nietzschean Ubermench morality. Here is a relevant quote from his Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013

One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55]

Like Bolshevism and National Socialism before neoliberalism needs a huge propaganda machine comparable with the propaganda machines of Bolsheviks and the Third Reich. Neoliberal ethics is pushed through the throat by hundreds of radio stations, cable TV channels (with Fox as the most prominent stooge of neoliberal propaganda), magazines and newspapers (Wall Street Journal, NYT, etc). This ethics is presented as a specific philosophy of Randism which is an ultimate expression of neoliberal ethics.

Here analogy with Bolshevism became even more stark. When you think about the current Republican Party, you can distinguish a small circle of ideologues consisting by-and-large of Ayn Rand followers. In a way it reminds the original Ann Rand circle called "collective", which like Bolshevik's core consisted of Jewish intellectuals, such as Greenspan. And that is not a positive characteristic. Murray Rothbard, a member of Rand's circle for several months in 1958, described the Randroids as “posturing, pretentious, humorless, robotic, nasty, simple-minded....dazzlingly ignorant people.” (Sex, Ayn Rand and the Republican Party)

Like in Marxism the view of other classes (in this case lower classes) by this new alliance is hostile. They are parasites, moochers, etc (exactly like capitalist class in Marxism), all feeding from the state, which in turn deprives "masters of the university" the spoils of their ingenious activity. Neoliberalism professes open and acute hostility to "lower classes", as if modeled on Bolsheviks hatred of "capitalists". This hate (like hate in general) paradoxically gives neoliberalism a driving force: as Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen quipped: "Some people are molded by their admirations, others by their hostilities."

And this Ubermench feature of neoliberalism attracts young people in the same way they were attracted to national socialism with its hate of racially inferior nations. In a way neoliberalism converted the concept of "Arian race" into the concept of morally and intellectually superior transnational elite.

Stages of development of neoliberalism

Neoliberalism was not an accident, it was a development that appeared slightly different forms in many countries, including such diverse as the USA (Reagan), GB (Thatcher), China (Deng Xiaoping was a neoliberal reformer), Chile(Pinochet), Russia (Yeltsin gang), and many other countries. Since the late 1970s, a shift of economic activity from the production of goods and non-financial services to finance has been adopted as mean to escape diminishing return on capital.  The oil crisis of the 1970s was probably another factor in the decision of the elite (and it was decision, a conscious choice, not an accident) to switch to neoliberal policies. 

During its history which starts around 70th (with the first major success the Pinochet's coup de etat in Chile, which was supported by the USA), neoliberalism undergone several basic stages of development:


Hegemony of the USA and its allies

The USA was and probably will remain the center of neoliberalism and firmly established as most important and the most powerful promoter of the doctrine (in some case, like with Serbia, Iraq and Libya, on the tips of bayonets).

After the dissolution of the USSR the US elite felt that "everything is permitted" and essentially started to pursue global Roman style imperial policy. The USA military forces are active over most of the globe: about 226 countries have US military troops, 63 of which host American bases, while only 46 countries in the world have no US military presence. This is a projection of military power that makes the Roman, British, and Soviet empires pale in comparison. In his 1919 essay, “The Sociology of Imperialisms,” Joseph Schumpeter wrote of Rome during its years of greatest expansion.

There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest—why, then it was the national honor that had been insulted.

The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors, always fighting for a breathing-space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome’s duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs.*

As G. John Ikenberry, professor of geopolitics at Georgetown University noted in Foreign Affairs:

The new grand strategy [initiated by the Bush administration]…. begins with a fundamental commitment to maintaining a unipolar world in which the United States has no peer competitor. No coalition of great powers without the United States will be allowed to achieve hegemony. Bush made this point the centerpiece of American security policy in his West Point commencement address in June: “America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenges—thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace.”

…The United States grew faster than the other major states during the decade [of the 1990s], it reduced military spending more slowly, and it dominated investment in the technological advancement of its forces. Today, however, the new goal is to make these advantages permanent—a fait accompli that will prompt other states to not even try to catch up. Some thinkers have described the strategy as “breakout,” in which the United States moves so quickly to develop technological advantages (in robotics, lasers, satellites, precision munitions, etc.) that no state or coalition could ever challenge it as global leader, protector and enforcer (“America’s Imperial Ambition,” Foreign Affairs, October 2002).

Perhaps one of extreme expressions of this neo-Roman imperial policy became that book by The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives by Zbigniew Brzezinski. This is how Brzezinski views the (supposedly sovereign) nations of Central Asia (sited from Amazon review by "A Customer" Jan 3, 2002 as pawns in a greater game for geopolitical domination:

The quote "... the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together." (The Grand Chessboard p.40) is probably the most revealing. Just ponder the meaning of these statements in a post-9-11 world:

To most Americans the people of the world and other nations are just that -- people, just like us, with a right to self-determination. To Brzezinski, they are merely pawns on a chessboard. At the same time, despite the fact that the analogy are not perfect, Rome fell, Napoleon fell, Hitler fell, USSR fell. Countries with too aggressive foreign policy ultimately self-destruct, because they over-extend their own countries resources to the point when people wellbeing drops to the levels of some colonies. The USA have over million people with the security clearance. So in a way it is becoming a copy-cat of the USSR. And while the US military is busy fighting for oil interests all around the world, those wars were launched by borrowing money and it's unclear who will pay the bills.

Neoliberalism beginning as ideology start was pretty modest. It was never considered a "right" ideology, ideology for which people are ready to fight and die. It was just an "ideology of convenience", an eclectic mix of mutually incompatible and incoherent mosaic of various ideologies (including some ideas of Trotskyism and national socialism) that served as useful tool to counter communist ideology. This is the tress of Friedman pretty weak opus "Capitalism and Freedom" -- which can be considered to be close analog of Communist Manifesto for neoliberalism. It also was useful for fighting some Keynesian excesses. Only later it become favorite ideology of financial oligarchy.

So in fight against "Godless communism" which does not respect private property and used "all-powerful" state, it idealized private property ownership, the role of "free" (as in free shooting) market and stressed the necessity to control the size of the government. As a tools to fight communist ideology those were reasonably effective tools. But at some point this deeply flawed, but useful for the specific purpose framework went out of control and became the cult of the deified markets and explicitly stated the necessary of diminishing the role of the state to minimum to ensure the high level of inequality the new neoliberal elite strived for (note not optimizing for a given historical conditions and technology available, but unconditionally diminishing to the point of elimination). Reagan famous phase "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." is a perfect example of how to "Throw out the baby with the bath water". But the meaning is more sinister: it meant "throw out of the water middle class".

That happened when financial oligarchy understood that a tool created for fighting communism is perfectly suitable for fighting elements of "New Deal". And it proved to be pretty effective in dismantling of set of regulations of financial sector that were the cornerstone of "New Deal". That was a very smooth ride "deregulatory" ride until 2008. But after 2008 the USA (citadel of neoliberalism) faces the set of problems that at least on the surface look similar to the problem that USSR faced before its disintegration, although the USA still have much more favorable conditions overall and disintegration is not among the current threats. Among them:

Still there are important difference with Marxism: despite extremely flawed to the point of being anti-scientific neoliberal ideology is still supported by higher standard of living of population in selected Western countries (G7). If also can rely on five important factors:

  1. Military dominance of the USA and NATO. There are very few countries in the globe without explicit or implicit USA military presence.
  2. Financial dominance of USA and its allies. The role of dollar as world currency and the role of USA controlled global financial institutions such as World Bank and IMF
  3. Technological dominance of USA and G7. Continuing brain drain from "Third world" and xUSSR countries to G7 countries.
  4. Cultural dominance of the USA (although this is gradually diminishing as after 2008 countries started of assert their cultural independence more vigorously).
  5. Ideological dominance, neoliberalism as yet another major civic religion

Military dominance of USA and NATO

The American society and the U.S. armaments industry today are different then it was when Dwight Eisenhower in his farewell speech (Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation) famously warned Americans to beware the "military-industrial complex." See also The Farewell Address 50 Years Later. The major opponent, the USSR left the world scene, being defeated in the cold war. That means that currently the USA enjoy world military dominance that reminds the dominance of Roman Empire.

The USA now is the world's greatest producer and exporter of arms on the planet. It spends more on armed forces than all other nations combined -- while going deeply into debt to do so.

The USA also stations over 500,000 troops, spies, contractors, dependents, etc. on more than 737 bases around the world in 130 countries (even this is not a complete count) at a cost of near 100 billions a year. The 2008 Pentagon inventory includes 190,000 troops in 46 nations and territories, and 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas U.S. territories. In just Japan, the USA have 99,295 people who are either members of US forces or are closely connected to US. The only purpose is to provide control over as many nations as possible.

Funny but among other thing the Pentagon also maintain 234 golf courses around the world, 70 Lear Jet airplanes for generals and admirals, and a ski resort in the Bavarian Alps.

Military dominance of the USA and NATO were demonstrated during Yugoslavia bombing and then invasion of Iraq. It's clear the Yugoslavia bombing would be out of question if the USSR existed.

Neoliberalism and militarism

Under neoliberalism, markets are now fused with the logic of expansion and militarization is the most logical was of securing expansion, improving global positions, and the ordering of social relations in a way favorable to the transnational elite.

Under neoliberal regime the United States is not only obsessed with militarism, which is shaping foreign policy , but wars have become real extension of the politics, the force that penetrates almost every aspect of daily life. Support of wars became a perverted version of patriotism.

As Henry A. Giroux noted in his interview to Truth-out (Violence is Deeply Rooted in American Culture), paradoxically in the country of "advanced democracy" schools and social services are increasingly modeled after prisons. Four decades of neoliberal policies have given way to an economic Darwinism that promotes a politics of cruelty.

Police forces are militarized. Popular culture endlessly celebrating the spectacle of violence. The Darwinian logic of war and violence have become addictive, a socially constructed need. State violence has become an organizing principle of society that has become the key mediating force that now holds everyday life together. State violence is now amplified in the rise of the punishing state which works to support corporate interests and suppress all forms of dissent aimed at making corporate power accountable. Violence as a mode of discipline is now enacted in spheres that have traditionally been created to counter it. Airports, schools, public services, and a host of other public spheres are now defined through a militarized language of "fight with terrorism", the language of discipline, regulation, control, and order. Human relations and behaviors are dehumanized making it easier to legitimate a culture of cruelty and politics of disposability that are central organizing principles of casino capitalism.

The national news became a video game, a source of entertainment where a story gains prominence by virtue of the notion that if it bleeds it leads. Education has been turned into a quest for private satisfactions and is no longer viewed as a public good, thus cutting itself off from teaching students about public values, the public good and engaged citizenship. What has emerged in the United States is a civil and political order structured around the criminalization of social problems and everyday life. This governing-through-crime model produces a highly authoritarian and mechanistic approach to addressing social problems that often focuses on the poor and minorities, promotes highly repressive policies, and places emphasis on personal security, rather than considering the larger complex of social and structural forces that fuels violence in the first place.

The key reference on the topic is the book The New American Militarism (2005) by Andrew Bacevich. Here is one Amazon review:

In his book The New American Militarism (2005), Andrew Bacevich desacralizes our idolatrous infatuation with military might, but in a way that avoids the partisan cant of both the left and the right that belies so much discourse today. Bacevich's personal experiences and professional expertise lend his book an air of authenticity that I found compelling. A veteran of Vietnam and subsequently a career officer, a graduate of West Point and later Princeton where he earned a PhD in history, director of Boston University's Center for International Relations, he describes himself as a cultural conservative who views mainstream liberalism with skepticism, but who also is a person whose "disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute." Finally, he identifies himself as a "conservative Catholic." Idolizing militarism, Bacevich insists, is far more complex, broader and deeper than scape-goating either political party, accusing people of malicious intent or dishonorable motives, demonizing ideological fanatics as conspirators, or replacing a given administration. Not merely the state or the government, but society at large, is enthralled with all things military.

Our military idolatry, Bacevich believes, is now so comprehensive and beguiling that it "pervades our national consciousness and perverts our national policies.

" We have normalized war, romanticized military life that formally was deemed degrading and inhuman, measured our national greatness in terms of military superiority, and harbor naive, unlimited expectations about how waging war, long considered a tragic last resort that signaled failure, can further our national self-interests. Utilizing a "military metaphysic" to justify our misguided ambitions to recreate the world in our own image, with ideals that we imagine are universal, has taken about thirty years to emerge in its present form.

It is this marriage between utopians ends and military means that Bacevich wants to annul.

How have we come to idolize military might with such uncritical devotion? He likens it to pollution: "the perhaps unintended, but foreseeable by-product of prior choices and decisions made without taking fully into account the full range of costs likely to be incurred" (p. 206). In successive chapters he analyzes six elements of this toxic condition that combined in an incremental and cumulative fashion.

  1. After the humiliation of Vietnam, an "unmitigated disaster" in his view, the military set about to rehabilitate and reinvent itself, both in image and substance. With the All Volunteer Force, we moved from a military comprised of citizen-soldiers that were broadly representative of all society to a professional warrior caste that by design isolated itself from broader society and that by default employed a disproportionate percentage of enlistees from the lowest socio-economic class. War-making was thus done for us, by a few of us, not by all of us.
  2. Second, the rise of the neo-conservative movement embraced American Exceptionalism as our national end and superior coercive force as the means to franchise it around the world.
  3. Myth-making about warfare sentimentalized, sanitized and fictionalized war. The film Top Gun is only one example of "a glittering new image of warfare."
  4. Fourth, without the wholehearted complicity of conservative evangelicalism, militarism would have been "inconceivable," a tragic irony when you consider that the most "Christian" nation on earth did far less to question this trend than many ostensibly "secular" nations.
  5. Fifth, during the years of nuclear proliferation and the fears of mutually assured destruction, a "priesthood" of elite defense analysts pushed for what became known as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). RMA pushed the idea of "limited" and more humane war using game theory models and technological advances with euphemisms like "clean" and "smart" bombs. But here too our "exuberance created expectations that became increasingly uncoupled from reality," as the current Iraq debacle demonstrates.
  6. Finally, despite knowing full well that dependence upon Arab oil made us vulnerable to the geo-political maelstroms of that region, we have continued to treat the Persian Gulf as a cheap gas station. How to insure our Arab oil supply, protect Saudi Arabia, and serve as Israel's most important protector has always constituted a squaring of the circle. Sordid and expedient self interest, our "pursuit of happiness ever more expansively defined," was only later joined by more lofty rhetoric about exporting universal ideals like democracy and free markets, or, rather, the latter have only been a (misguided) means to secure the former.

Bacevich opens and closes with quotes from our Founding Fathers. In 1795, James Madison warned that "of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other." Similarly, late in his life George Washington warned the country of "those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty."

Financial dominance

With dollar role as the primary world reserve currency the USA still rides on its "Exorbitant privilege". But there are countervailing forces that diminish dollar importance, such a euro. Financial dominance under neoliberalism became the primary tool of ensuring the control over the nations. See Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism

US and Western banks dominate the globe with New York and London as two world financial centers.

Things little changed after 2008 despite the fact that the US economy in entered a deep debt crisis, which is amplified by the level of destruction of real economy by offshoring and outsourcing achieved under the umbrella of neoliberalism during previous four decades. While the USA remains the sole super power its imperial problems now reached such a level that they may start to affect the foreign policy. Troubles of organizing an invasion in Syria are probably symptomatic. It proved to be more difficult undertaking that similar invasion of Iraq a decade earlier.

Economic troubles have important side effect: the ideological dominance, achieved by the USA during 1989 till 2008 is now under attack. There are a lot of skeptic and in a way neoliberalism goes the way of Marxism with the major difference that there were probably some sincere followers of Marxism at least during the first 30 years of its development.

Centrality of transnational financial flows (including emerging countries debt) and financial oligarchy in neoliberal regime

Since the late 1970s, there was a radical shift of economic activity from the production of goods and non-financial services to finance with the rapid growth since then of the share of financial profits in total corporate profits. Also reflective of this process of "financialisation of the Economy" was the explosive growth of private debt as a proportion of gross domestic product, and the piling of layers upon layers of claims with the existence of instruments like options, futures, swaps, and the like, and financial entities like hedge funds and structured investment vehicles.

With financialisation, the financial masturbation -- speculation directed on making money within the financial system, bypassing the route of commodity production, increasingly became the name of the game. Using Marxist terminology the general formula for capital accumulation, M-C-M', in which commodities are central to the generation of profits, was replaced by M-M', in which money simply begets more money with no relation to production.

This is related to the reason which brought on the financialization of the economy in the forefront: beginning with the sharp recession of 1974-75, the US economy entered a period of slow economic growth, high unemployment/underemployment and excess capacity. That happened after around 25 years of spectacular ascent following the second world war. So financialisation was thought a s a remedy to this "permanent stagnation" regime. And for a while it performed this function well, although it was done by "eating the host".

Finance under any neoliberalism-bound regime can be best understood as a form of warfare, and financial complex (typically large Western banks as locals are not permitted, unless specially protected by remnants of the nation state) as an extension of military-industrial complex. Like in military conquest, its aim is to gain control for occupying country of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute putting the country in debt and using dominance of dollar as world reserve currency. This involves dictating laws to vassal countries (imposing Washington consensus, see below) and interfering in social as well as economic planning using foreign debt and the necessity to service the foreign loans as a form of Gosplan.

The main advantage of neoliberalism in comparison with the similar practice of the past is the conquest is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight. Actually following s successful attack of neoliberalism and conquest of the country by neoliberal elite Russian economy was devastated more then during WWII, when Hitler armies reached banks of Volga river and occupies half of the country.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states alone, but by a cosmopolitan financial class and international financial institutions such as World bank and IMF with full support of major western banks serving as agencies of western governments. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.

Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial "Trojan horse" strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance profits via privatization and protect finance capital from the population to allow “the miracle of compound interest" to siphon most of the revenue out of the country. Some tiny share of this revenue is paid to compradors within the national elite. In good years such tactic keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow. This "paradise for rentiers" last until they eat into the core and cause deindustrialization and severe debt crisis. Eventually they do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.

Technological dominance

The globalist bloc of Western countries led by the USA achieved hegemony in the end of the twentieth century because it managed to become the center of technological progress and due to this acquired a commanding influence over industrial production and social life around the world, including the ability to provide rewards and impose sanctions. One or the reason of technical backwardness of the USSR just before the dissolution were technical sanctions imposed by the West via COCOM. As most of global corporations belong to G7 this lead to "natural" technological hegemony of this block. As Thatcher used to say "There is no alternatives", although she meant there is no alternatives to neoliberalism, not to Western technology from G7 nations. Only recently Asian countries started to challenge this status quo in some areas.

Global corporation managed to create a situation in which the same goods are used in most countries of the globe. Western brand names dominate. American and European airliners, Japanese, American and German cars, Korean and American smartphones, Chinese and American PCs, etc.

China became world factory and produces lion share of goods sold under Western brands.

Dominance in Internet and global communications

The debate about the USA dominance in internet and global communications reemerged in June 2008 due to revelations make about existence of the Prism program and similar program by British security services. For example, Jacob Augstein used the term "Obama's Soft Totalitarianism" in his article Europe Must Stand Up to American Cyber-Snooping published by SPIEGEL. The NSA's infrastructure wasn't built to fight Al Qaeda. It has a far greater purpose, one of which is to keep the USA as the last superpower.

The USA has capabilities of intercepting of lion share of global internet traffic and with allies tries to intercept all the diplomatic communication during major conferences and trade talk in direct violation of Vienna protocols. Latin American countries were one of the recent victims of this activity during trade talks with the USA. There were reports about snooping on UN personnel communications in NYC.

Here is an interesting comment of user MelFarrellSr in The Guardian discussion of the article NSA analysts 'willfully violated' surveillance systems, agency admits (August 24, 2013):

Here's the thing about the NSA, the GCHQ, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, et al...

We all have to stop commenting as if the NSA and the GCHQ are in this thing on their own; the reality is that no one was supposed to know one iota about any of these programs; the NSA and the GCHQ began and put in place the structure that would allow all internet service providers, and indeed all corporations using the net, the ability to track and profile each and every user on the planet, whether they be using the net, texting, cell, and landline.

We all now know that Google, Yahoo, and the rest, likely including major retailers, and perhaps not so major retailers, are all getting paid by the United States government, hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, our money, to profile 24/7 each and every one of us..., they know how we think, our desires, our sexual preferences, our religious persuasion, what we spend, etc.; make no mistake about it, they know it all, and what they don’t currently have, they will very soon…

These agencies and indeed all those who are paid by them, will be engaged over the next few weeks in a unified program of "perception management" meaning that they will together come up with an all-encompassing plan that will include the release of all manner of statements attesting to the enforcement of several different disciplinary actions against whomever for "illegal" breaches of policy...

They may even bring criminal actions against a few poor unfortunate souls who had no idea they would be sacrificed as one part of the "perception management" game.

Has anyone wondered why, to date, no one in power has really come out and suggested that the program must be curtailed to limit its application to terrorism and terrorist types?

Here’s why; I was fortunate recently to have given an education on how networks such as Prism, really work, aside from the rudimentary details given in many publications. They cannot, and will not, stop monitoring even one individuals activity, because to do so will eventually cause loss of the ability to effectively monitor as many as 2.5 Million individuals.

Remember the “Two to Three Hop” scenario, which the idiot in one of the hearings inadvertently spoke of; therein lies the answer. If the average person called 40 unique people, three-hop analysis would allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans Do the math; Internet usage in the United States as of June 30, 2012 reached a total of over 245,000,000 million…

The following link shows how connected the world is…

We should never forget how the Internet began, and who developed it, the United States Armed Forces; initially it was known as Arpanet, see excerpt and link below…

"The Internet may fairly be regarded as a never-ending worldwide conversation." - Supreme Court Judge statement on considering first amendment rights for Internet users.

"On a cold war kind of day, in swinging 1969, work began on the ARPAnet, grandfather to the Internet. Designed as a computer version of the nuclear bomb shelter, ARPAnet protected the flow of information between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol (rule for how computers interact) called NCP (Network Control Protocol).”

There is no government anywhere on the planet that will give up any part of the program…, not without one hell of a fight...

Incidentally, they do hope and believe that everyone will come to the same conclusion; they will keep all of us at bay for however long it takes; they have the money, they have the time, and they economically control all of us...

Pretty good bet they win...

That includes industrial espionage:


Or industrial espionage?

Absolutely. See EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT report dated 11 July 2001 (Note it was before the 9/11 attack in the US).

7. Compatibility of an 'ECHELON' type communications interception system with Union law

7.1. Preliminary considerations
7.2. Compatibility of an intelligence system with Union law

7.2.1. Compatibility with EC law
7.2.2. Compatibility with other EU law

7.3. The question of compatibility in the event of misuse of the system for industrial espionage
7.4. Conclusion

EntropyNow -> StrawBear

The fact that they snoop on us all constantly, that's the problem. I agree that the indiscriminate surveillance is a problem. However, with such vast powers in the hands of private contractors, without robust legal oversight, it is wide open to abuse and interpretation. I believe we need to pull the plug and start again, with robust, independent, legal oversight, which respects fundamental international human rights laws In the US, the NDAA is a law which gives the government the right to indefinitely detain US citizens, without due process, without a trial, if they are suspected to be associated with ‘terrorists’. Now define ‘terrorism’?

Section 1021b is particularly worrying, concerning “substantial support.” It is wide open to interpretation and abuse, which could criminalize dissent and even investigative journalism. See Guardian’s excellent article by Naomi Wolf, 17 May 2012::

As Judge Forrest pointed out:

"An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so. In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more."

In an excellent episode of Breaking the Set Feb 7 2013 Tangerine Bolen (Founder and Director, Revolutiontruth) stated that ‘Occupy London’ was designated a ‘terrorist group” officially. There are independent journalists and civil liberty activists being targeted by private cyber security firms, which are contractors for the DOD, they are being harassed and intimidated, threatening free speech and liberty for everyone, everywhere. As Naomi Wolf concludes:

“This darkness is so dangerous not least because a new Department of Homeland Security document trove, released in response to a FOIA request filed by Michael Moore and the National Lawyers' Guild, proves in exhaustive detail that the DHS and its "fusion centers" coordinated with local police (as I argued here, to initial disbelief), the violent crackdown against Occupy last fall.

You have to put these pieces of evidence together: the government cannot be trusted with powers to detain indefinitely any US citizen – even though Obama promised he would not misuse these powers – because the United States government is already coordinating a surveillance and policing war against its citizens, designed to suppress their peaceful assembly and criticism of its corporate allies.”


It seems to me that potential terrorist threats come in two sorts: the highly organised and funded groups that could commit catastrophic destruction, and the local schmucks that are really just old-fashioned losers-with-a-grudge adopting an empowering ideology.

The first group would be immensely cautious with their communications, and fall outside this sort of surveillance. The second group, if Boston and Woolwich are any evidence, are not effectively detected by these measures.

It appears very clear to me that this is runaway state power, predictably and transparently deflected with cries of "terrorism". And, perhaps most worrying, that definition of terrorism is now as wide as the state requires. Anything that embarrasses or exposes the evils of our states, including rendition, torture, and all manner of appalling injustice, is classified as a matter of 'national security', which must not be exposed lest it aid the enemy.

I know Orwell's name gets tossed around too much... but Jesus! I really hope we're not bovine enough to walk serenely into this future.


...The NSA's infrastructure wasn't built to fight Al Qaeda. It has a far greater purpose, one of which is to keep the USA as the last superpower and moral authority for the rest of the time humanity has in this world.

All this muck is hurting bad. Obama is having a tough time from all sides. All the moralists think he is a villain doing everything he promised to change. All the secret society members think he is a clown who has spilled out every secret that was painstakingly put together over decades....

Cultural dominance

The temples of neoliberalism are malls and airports ;-). And they are build all over the glone is a very similar fashion. A drunk person accidentally transfered from New Jersey to, say Kiev and put in one of mjor malls can never tell the difference :-).

English became the major international language. Both language of technology and commerce. Much like Latin was before.

In developing countries goods are sold at considerable premium (up to 100%) but generally everything that can be bought in the USA now can be bought say in Kiev. Of course affordability is drastically different, but for elite itis not a problem. That create another opportunity for the top 1% to enjoy very similar, "internationalized" lifestyle all over the globe.

Hollywood films dominate world cinemas. American computer games dominate gaming space. In a way the USA culturally is present in any country. It was amazing how quickly remnants of communist ideology were wipes out in the xUSSR countries (Globalization, ethnic conflict and nationalism Daniele Conversi -

Contrary to the globalists or ideologues of globalization (Steger 2005), both Marxists and liberals have highlighted the ‘ pyramidal ’ structure underlying globalization. This metaphor applies well to cultural dissemination.

An elite of corporate, media, and governmental agencies sits at the pyramid’ s top level, small regional intermediary elites sit immediately below, while the overwhelming majority of humans are pushed well down towards the pyramid’ s bottom. In the realm of ‘ global culture ’ , this looks like a master-servant relationship with much of the world at the boot-licking end. Whether such a relationship really exists, or is even practical, this metaphorical dramatization can nevertheless help to understand collective self-perceptions. The consequences in the area of ethnic conflict are significant. Such a hierarchical structure makes it impossible for global exchanges to turn into egalitarian relationships based on evenly balanced inter-cultural communication and dialogue.

On the contrary, cultural globalization is not reflected in a genuine increase of inter-personal, inter-ethnic and inter-cultural contacts. As I shall argue, in most public areas ‘ cultural globalization ’ really means the unreciprocated, one-way flow of consumerist items from the US media and leisure machine to the rest of the world.

This top-down distribution ensures that a few individuals and groups, nearly all in the USA, firmly establish the patterns of behaviour and taste to be followed by the rest of mankind. Is this congruent with the view that there is a form of ‘ global centralization ’ in cultural-legal matters leaning towards Washington, DC? As for a supposed ‘ global culture ’, the symbolic capital would ideally be located in Hollywood, rather than Washington.

In fact, the term ‘ Hollywoodization ’ insinuates a media-enforced hierarchical structure with immediate symbolic resonance. It also offers a more cultural, perhaps less sociological, focus than the Weberian concept of bureaucratic ‘ McDonaldization ’ (Ritzer 1996).

Competing terminologies include ‘ Disneyfication ’ / ’ Disneyization ’ , with its stress on extreme predictability and the infantilization of leisure (Bryman 2004), ‘Walmarting ’ as the streamlining of the retail sector (Fishman 2005, Morrow 2004), or earlier Cold War terms like ‘ Coca-Colonization ’ (Wagnleitner 1994). We previously saw how the term ‘ McGuggenization ’ has been used to indicate art-related cultural franchising and other forms of Americanization in the Basque Country (McNeill 2000).

 All these equally refer to socio-economic trends originated in the USA and are hence forms of Americanization. However, ‘ Hollywoodization ’ has broader implications for ethnic relations and nationalist conflicts.

In practice, Hollywood-inspired simplifications have become the daily staple for millions of peoples around the world in their leisure time. In the area of ethnicity, ‘ Hollywoodization ’ has been elevated to the only known reality and the unique source of information about the outside world for increasing numbers of people, not only in the USA. Thus, the world is more likely to get its stereotypes of the Brits  from US movies like The Patriot or Saving Private Ryan than via British productions.Similarly, most of the world is likely to see Scotland through the lenses of US-made Braveheart , as the larger public can barely afford any access to Scottish cultural productions.

This monopoly of global stereotyping and ethnic imagery has serious implicationsf or the spread and continuation of ethnic conflict.

The tools of primary socialization were once under firm control of the family, either nuclear or extended. They were subsequently assumed by the state in the industrialization ‘ phase ’ , notably with post-1789 mass militarization and compulsory schooling (Conversi2007, 2008).

Under neo-liberal globalization, primary socialization has been seized by unaccountable cash-driven corporations and media tycoons. This has further reduced the space of inter-generational transmission and family interaction. If a community can no longer socialize its children according to its culture and traditions, then the very bases of local, regional, and national continuity are all visibly at stake. This threat to a group's survival is often seized upon by patriots and ethno-nationalists, whose political programs are founded on providing a new sense of social cohesion and security – even if the targets are often hapless and unprotected minorities.

That is partly how nationalism and xenophobia have expanded in tandem with globalization. Ethno-nationalism not only persisted through change, but is perceived by many as a response to the growth of globalization, providing a prêt-à-porter hope for national resistance and resilience. By depending on Hollywood as unique conveyor of ‘ globalization ’, inter-ethnic interaction is inevitably undermined. In some instances, international communication has practically evaporated.

... ... ...

I have described, and subsequently dismissed, the profit-oriented ideology that globalization, intended as Mcdonaldization and Hollywoodization, can contribute to better international understanding. On the contrary, it has ushered in a process of planetary cultural and environmental destruction, while hampering inter-ethnic communication and fostering human conflict. The notion of cultural security, so central to international relations and peaceful coexistence, has undergone unprecedented challenges.

...Insofar as cultural globalization is understood as uni-dimensional import of standardized cultural icons, symbols, practices, values, and legal systems from the United States, it can simply be re-described as Americanization (rather than Westernization in the broad sense), or ‘ globalization by Americanization ’ (Hilger 2008). This is of central importance for the study of ethnic conflict.

In fact, the outcome is scarce hybridization, amalgamation, and metissage . Rather than providing an inter-cultural bridge, this unilateral drive has often eroded the basis for mutual understanding, impeding inter-ethnic, inter-cultural, and international interaction. Given the current vertical, pyramidal structure of the ‘ cultural world order ’ , the opportunity of distinctive groups to communicate directly and appreciate each other’s traditions has decreased, except in the virtual area of long-distance communication. For an increasing number of individuals, an American mass consumer culture remains the only window on the world. Hence, to know and appreciate one ’ s neighbours has become an ever-arduous task. To recapitulate my point, wherever cultural globalization appears as synonymous with Americanization, it engenders conflicts on a variety of levels.

Because the process is one-way and unidirectional, the result is unlikely to be a fusion between cultures or, evenless, the blending of ethnic groups. Contrary to the globalist utopia, the imposition of more and more American icons means less and less possibility for direct inter-ethnic encounter and communication among nations. Together with the collapse of state legitimacy, this substantially contributes to the spread of ethnic conflict and nationalism.

Incorporation of "globalist" parts of national élites as second class citizens of the transnational ruling class

Another aspect of cultural power of neoliberalism is that it accepts national elites (on some, less favorable then "primary" elites conditions) as a part of a new transnational elite, which serves as the dominant class. By class, following classic Marxism we mean a group of people who share a common relationship to the process of social production and reproduction, positioned in the society relationally on the basis of social power.

The struggle between descendant national fractions of dominant groups and ascendant transnational fractions has often been the backdrop to surface political dynamics and ideological processes in the late 20th century. These two fractions have been vying for control of local state apparatuses since the 1970s.

Trans national fractions of local elites swept to power in countries around the world in the 1980s and 1990s. They have captured the “commanding heights" of state policymaking: key ministries and bureaucracies in the policymaking apparatus — especially Central Banks, finance and foreign ministries — as key government branches that link countries to the global economy.

They have used national state apparatuses to advance globalization and to pursue sweeping economic restructuring and the dismantling of the old nation-state–based Keynesian welfare and developmentalist projects.

They have sought worldwide market liberalization (following the neoliberal model), and projects of economic integration such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the European Union. They have promoted a supra-national infrastructure of the global economy, such as the World Trade Organization, as we discuss below.

In this new, transnational social system transnational corporations are intermixed with nation-states which they have special privileges. And the state itself now serves not the people of the country (which historically were upper classes) but primarily service the interests of the transnational corporations (and, by extension, narrow strata of "comprador" elite, much like aristocracy of the past). It is now extension and projection of corporate power ("What is good for GE is good for America"). Both the transactional elite (and first of all financial oligarchy) and transnational corporation enjoy tremendous privileges under such a regime (corporate socialism, or socialism for the rich). Like Bolshevik state was formally dictatorship of proletariat but in reality was dictatorship of the elite of an ideological sect called Communist Party (so called nomenklatura), transformed nation-states like the USA, GB, France, Russia, etc now to various degrees look like dictatorships of transnational elite (transnational bourgeoisie like Marxist would say ;-) while formally remaining sovereign democratic republics. Like with Communist Parties in various countries that does not excuse antagonism or even open hostilities.

That does not eliminates completely the elites competition and for example the EU elite put a knife in the back of the US elite by adopting the euro as completing with the dollar currency (so much about transatlantic solidarity), but still internalization of elites is a new and important process that is more viable that neoliberal ideology as such. Also for any state national elite is not completely homogeneous. While that is a significant part of it that favor globalization (comprador elite or lumpen elite) there is also another part which prefer national development and is at least semi-hostile to globalism. Still the comprador part of the elite represents a very important phenomenon, a real fifth column of globalization, the part that makes globalization successful. It plays the role of Trojan horse within nation states and the name "fifth column" in this sense is a very apt name. This subversive role of comprador elite was clearly visible and well documented in Russian unsuccessful "white revolution" of 2011-2012: the US supported and financed project of "regime change" in Russia. It is also clearly visible although less well documented in other "color revolutions" such as Georgian, Serbian, and Ukrainian color revolutions. comrade Trotsky would probably turn in his coffin if he saw what neoliberal ideologies made with his theory of permanent revolution ;-).

Great propaganda success of neoliberalism

As professor David Harvey noted in his A Brief History of Neoliberalism neoliberal propaganda has succeeded in fixating the public on a peculiar definition of "freedom" that has served as a smoke screen to conceal a project of speeding upper class wealth accumulation. In practice, the neoliberal state assumes a protective role for large and especially international corporations ("socialism for multinationals") while it sheds as much responsibility for the citizenry as possible.

The key component of neoliberal propaganda (like was the case with Marxism) was an economic theory. Like Marxism it has three components

For more information see

Ideological dominance, neoliberalism as yet another major civic religion

There is no question that neoliberalism emerged as another major world civic religion. It has its saints, sacred books, moral (or more correctly in this case amoral) postulates and the idea of heaven and hell.

Neoliberalism shares several fundamental properties with high demand religious cults. Like all fundamentalist cults, neoliberalism reduces a complex world to a set of simplistic dogmas (See Washington Consensus). All of society is viewed through the prism of an economic lens. Economic growth, measured by GDP, is the ultimate good. The market is the only and simultaneously the perfect mechanism to achieve this goal. Neoliberalism obsession with materialism have become normalized to the degree that it is hard to imagine what American society would look like in the absence of these structural and ideological features of the new and militant economic Darwinism that now holds sway over the American public. The mantra is well known: government is now the problem, society is a fiction, sovereignty is market-driven, deregulation and commodification are the way to a bright future, and the profit is the only viable measure of the good life and advanced society. Public values are a liability, if not a pathology. Democratic commitments, social relations, and public spheres are disposables, much like the expanding population of the unemployed and dispossessed. Any revolt is the threat to the neoliberal regime of truth and should be dealt with unrestrained cruelty. The market functions best with minimal or no interference from government or civil society and those who don't agree will be taken by police to the proper reeducation camps. All governments with possible exception of the US government should be minimized to allow unrestricted dominance of global corporations. The genius of neoliberalism as a cult, was its ability to cloak the US pretences of world hegemony in an aura of scientific and historical inevitability. Which again makes it very similar and in a way superior to Marxism as a cult. The collapse of the Soviet Union was the supreme, heaven sent validation of Margaret Thatcher’s claim that there was no alternative. There is only one blessed road to prosperity and peace and outside it there is no salvation, nor remission from sins.

The great economic historian Karl Polanyi observed, “The idea of a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia.” And neoliberalism was a stunning utopia of economic determinism, one even more ambitious than that of Marx.

With all the big questions thus settled, history appeared to be at an end. There was one and only one route to prosperity and peace. All that was required was to make sure the model was correctly applied and all would be well. We all settled into our assigned roles. Capitalists retreated to the role of technocrats, eschewing risk themselves while shifting and spreading it throughout society. The rest of us were relegated to the roles not of citizens, but of consumers. Using our homes as ATMs, we filled our lives with Chinese-made goods, oblivious to the looming environmental and social costs of a runaway, unregulated consumer-driven society. Only a marginalized few questioned the basic economic structure. It was the era of homo economicus, humans in service to the economy.

Now that perfect machinery lies in pieces all around us and the global economic free fall shows no signs of ending any time soon. The fundamental reasons underlying the collapse aren’t all that difficult to discern. Central to the whole neoliberal project was the drive to rationalize all aspects of human society. Relentless efforts to cut costs and increase efficiency drove down the living standards of the vast majority, while the diminution of government and other non-commercial institutions led to increasing concentration of wealth at the very top of society. As high paying jobs in the industrial and technical sectors moved from developed countries to low wage export-based economies in the developing world, capacity soon outstripped demand and profits in the real economy began to sag. Not content with declining earnings, wealthy elites began to search for investments offering higher returns. If these couldn’t be found in the real economy, they could certainly be created in the exploding financial sector.

Once consigned to the unglamorous world of matching those with capital to invest with those with enterprises seeking to grow, finance became the powerful new engine of economic growth. No longer stodgy, bankers and brokers became sexy and glamorous. Exotic new financial instruments, called derivatives, traded on everything from commodities to weather.

This speculative frenzy was supported by a central bank only too happy to keep credit extremely cheap. Debt exploded among consumers, businesses and government alike. Creating new debt became the source of even more exotic investment vehicles, often bearing only the most tenuous of connections to underlying assets of real value, with unwieldy names such as “collateralized debt obligations” and “credit default swaps.”

All the debt and the shuffling of fictional wealth hid the underlying rot of the real economy. It was a house of cards just waiting for the slight breeze that would send it all crashing down. And a collapse in housing prices in 2008 laid bare the economic contradictions.

The fundamental contradiction underlying much that confronts us in the age of crises is an economic and social system requiring infinite growth within the confines of a finite planet. Any vision seeking to replace neoliberalism must take this contradiction into account and resolve it. The overriding market failure of our time has nothing to do with housing. It’s the failure to place any value on that which is truly most essential to our survival: clean air and water, adequate natural resources for the present and future generations, and a climate suitable for human civilization.

No such new vision is currently in sight. That this leaves everyone, neoliberals and their foes alike, in a state of uncertainty and doubt is hardly surprising. The seeming triumph of neoliberalism was so complete that it managed to inculcate itself in the psyches even of those who opposed it.

We find ourselves unsure of terrain we thought we knew well, sensing that one era has ended but unsure as to what comes next. We might do well to embrace that doubt and understand its power to free us. Our doubt allows us to ask meaningful questions again and questioning implies the possibility of real choice. Removing the intellectual straitjacket of neoliberal orthodoxy opens up the space necessary to reconsider the purpose of an economy and its proper role in a decent human society and to revisit the old debate over equity versus efficiency. It calls into question the assumption most central to homo economicus; that all humans act only to maximize their own interests.

It seems clear that the world emerging over the coming decades will look quite different from the one we now inhabit. Of necessity it will evolve in ways we can’t fully understand just yet. Old battle lines, such as the ones between capitalism and socialism, will likely fade away. Both of those models arose in a world of abundant and cheap fossil fuels and within the confines a planet with a seemingly endless capacity to absorb the wastes of our conspicuous consumption. New battle lines are already beginning to take shape.

The Revolution is Upon Us The Age of Crisis and the End of Homo Economicus Logos

I think that like is the case with Marxism, the staying power of neoliberalism is that propose the religion picture of world with its "creation history", saints, and way of salvation. In a way it plays the role similar to the role of Catholicism in middle ages (aka Dark Ages). The greed of catholic clergy in Middle ages (trade in indulgencies) is a match of the greed of neoliberals( with financial derivates replacing indulgencies ;-). It is equally hostile to any attempts to analyze it, with the minor difference that heretics that question the sanctity of free market are not burned at the stake, but ostracized. It support "new Crusades" with the same mechanism of "indulgences" for small countries that participate.

The level of hypocrisy is another shared trait. The great irony is that the USA, the world's leading proponent of neoliberalism (with the US President as a Pope of this new religion), systematically is breaking the rules when it find it necessary or convenient. With high deficit spending and massive subsidizing of defense spending and financial sector, the United States has generally use a "do as I say, not as I do" approach. And with the amount of political appointee/lobbyists shuttling back and forth between business and government, Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" looks more and more like a crushing fist of corporatist thugs. It involves dogmatic belief that the society is better off when ruled by a group of wealthy financiers and oligarchs, than by a group of professional government bureaucrats and politicians with some participation of trade unions.

The USA also dominates the cultural scene:

The United States' position as the leading maker of global culture has been basically unchallenged for the last century or so, especially in the Western world. Yet the economic power of the Western world is waning even as new nations, with new models of economic and social life, are rising. Might one -- or several -- of these nations like China, India or Brazil become new centers of global culture?

I believe that the answer to this question for the foreseeable future is "no." While the U.S.'s cultural prominence is partially related to its political, military and economic power, such power is not the only cause of America's global cultural hegemony. Rather, the U.S. offers a unique convergence of several factors, including economic opportunity, political freedom and an immigrant culture that served as a test bed for new cultural products.

Let me offer a brief account of the rise of the American film industry to suggest the way political, economic and immigrant forces shaped American cultural hegemony. In the U.S., the film industry started as commercial enterprise largely independent of state control. Movies had to adapt to market conditions to earn profit for their producers. In order to achieve this goal, American movies needed to appeal to a diverse population made up of both native-born and immigrant citizens.

As a consequence, filmmakers had to make movies that could appeal to international audiences simply to meet domestic demand. This fact helped the American film industry become globally preeminent well before the U.S. became a superpower. In other words, while U.S. military and economic power strengthened the position of the U.S. movie industry as globally dominant, that position was not dependent on U.S. military and economic power. Instead, American producers had a competitive advantage in global markets that was later cemented in place by the U.S. post-war economic and military hegemony in the West.

After the dissolution of the USSR, the USA became natural center of the "neoliberal religion" a dominant force in the new world order (the world's only superpower). And they used their newly acquired status against states which were not "friendly enough" very similar to Catholicism with its Crusades, launching a series of invasions and color revolutions against "nonbelievers" in a globalist neoliberal model. The level of plunder of Russia after the dissolution of the USSR looks like a direct replay of Crusades with the siege of Constantinople as primary example (despite stated goals, Crusades were by-and-large a monetary enterprise of the time with fig leaf of spread of Catholicism attached). This period of neoliberal crusades still continued in 2013, sometimes using various proxy to achieve "the regime change" by military means.

As we already refereed to neoliberalism as a cult an interesting question is whether neoliberalism can be viewed new "civic religion". The answer is unconditional yes, and I think that like Marxism before it should be considered to be yet another civic religion. It has it's set of holy books, Supreme being to worship, path to salvation and set of Apostils. Like communism before it propose humanity grand purpose and destiny.


Theistic and civic religions are also similar in that they both offer visions of humanity’s grand purpose and destiny.

There are also significant differences between theistic religions and civil religions. Theistic religions explicitly rely on claims of divine authority for their validity, while civil religions rely on reason and the interpretation of commonly-accepted historical knowledge. Followers of theistic religions stress the importance of faith in times of adversity, while followers of civil religions tend to have a more pragmatic attitude when reality casts doubt on their beliefs.

Civil religions are more like big social experiments than actual religions because their central claims are much more falsifiable, and their followers show evidence of holding this perception (e.g. references to “the American experiment"; the voluntary abandonment of Communism throughout Eurasia when it became clear that it wasn't working).

Communism bears so much resemblance to Christianity because, as you mentioned last week, the Western imagination was thoroughly in the grip of Christianity when Communism emerged. Communism is similar to Christianity out of practical necessity: had it not been based on the Christian template, Communism probably would have been too intellectually alien to its Western audience to have ever taken off. Luckily for the founders of Communism, they were also subjected to this Christian cultural conditioning.

With all this in mind, and given that religion is evolving phenomenon, I think that civil religion is actually a distinct species of intellectual organism which has (at least in part) evolved out of religion.

Like Marxism, neoliberalism is first and foremost a quasi religious political doctrine. But while Marxism is aimed at liberation of workers , a political doctrine neoliberalism is aimed at restoring the power of capital. Neoliberalism originated in the rich countries of Anglo-Saxon world (GB and USA) so along with open despise of poor, it always has a distinct flavor of despise for peripheral countries. In global politics, neoliberalism preoccupies itself with the promotion of four basic issues:

As such, neoliberalism, in its crudest form, is crystallized in the Ten Commandments of the 1989 Washington Consensus (policy of debt slavery set for the world by the US via international financial institutions). While pushing the democracy as a smoke screen, they implicitly postulate hegemony of the financial elite (which is a part of "economic elite" that neoliberalism defines as a hegemonic class). Financialization of the economy also serves as a powerful method of redistribution of wealth, so neoliberalism generally lead to deterioration of standard of living for lower quintile of the population and in some countries (like Russia in 1991-2000) for the majority of the population. This is done largely via credit system and in this sense neoliberalism represents "reinters paradise". Neoliberal globalization was built on the foundation of US hegemony, conceived as the projection of the hegemony of the US capital and dollar as the dominant reserve currency. As such it is critically dependent of the power and stability of the US and the financial, economic, political and military supremacy of the US in every region. For this purpose the USA maintains over 500 military bases (737 by some counts) and over 2.5 million of military personnel.

But there are also important differences. Unlike most religions, neoliberalism is highly criminogenic (i.e., having the quality of causing or fostering crime). It is more criminogenic in countries with lower standard of living and in such countries it often lead to conversion of a "normal", but poor state into a kleptocratic state (Yeltsin's Russia is a good example) with the requisite mass poverty (Global Anomie, Dysnomie and Economic Crime Hidden Consequences of Neoliberalism and Globalization in Russia and Around the World). Unfortunately architects of this transformation (Harvard Mafia in case of Russia) usually avoid punishment for their crimes. Corruption of the US regulators which happened under neoliberal regime starting from Reagan is also pretty well covered theme.

While economic crisis of 2008 led to a crisis of neoliberalism, this is not necessary a terminal crisis. The phase of neoliberal dominance still continues, but internal contradictions became much deeper and the regime became increasingly unstable even in the citadel of neoliberalism -- the USA. Neoliberalism as an intellectual product is practically dead. After the crisis of 2008, the notion that finance mobilizes and allocates resources efficiently, drastically reduces systemic risks and brings significant productivity gains for the economy as a whole became untenable. But its zombie phase supported by several states (the USA, GB, Germany), transnational capital (and financial capital in particular) and respective elites out of the sense of self-preservation might continue (like Bolshevism rule in the USSR in 70th-80th) despite increasing chance of facing discontent of population and bursts of social violence.

Cornerstone of neoliberal regime, the economic power of the USA is now under threat from the rise of Asia. This is one reason of mutation of neoliberalism into aggressive neoconservative imperialism that we witness in the USA.

While intellectually neoliberalism was bankrupt from the beginning, after 2008 believing it in is possible only by ignoring the results of deregulation in the USA and other countries. In other words the mythology of self-regulating "free market" became a "damaged goods". In this sense, any sensible person should now hold neoliberal sect in contempt. But reality is different and it still enjoy the support of the part of population which can't see through the smoke screen. With the strong support of financial oligarchy neoliberalism will continue to exists in zombie state for quite a while, although I hope this will not last as long as dominance of Catholicism during European Dark Ages ;-). Still the US is yet to see its Luther. As was noted about a different, older sect: "Men are blind to prefer an absurd and sanguinary creed, supported by executioners and surrounded by fiery faggots, a creed which can only be approved by those to whom it gives power and riches".

Like communism in the USSR it is a state supported religion: Neoliberalism enjoys support of western governments and first of all the US government. Even when the US society entered deep crisis in 2008 and fabric of the society was torn by neoliberal policies it did not lose government support.

Market fundamentalism as an ideology of neoliberalism;
Washington Consensus

Market fundamentalism is an ideology of neoliberalism and represents a pseudo-scientific approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that absolutized the role of the private business sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the state and consider privatization as the ultimate solution of all problems in the society.

Like social theories behind Italian and German versions of corporatism ideology of neoliberalism is pretty eclectic. It is discussed at some additional length at pages related to the topic Casino Capitalism on this site.

We need to note, there the neoliberal ideology adoption and implementation patterns varies from country to country, like it was actually with the classic corporatism as well. In the USA this form of corporatism emerged in most radical form. Another center of neoliberalism was GB in which it also has had a more radical form then, say, in Spain or Italy.

And we called the US version of neoliberalism radical, it is not a metaphor: corporatism under General Franco is a pale shadow of corporatism under Bush-Obama regime.

This new stage of capitalism development is often called "corporate socialism" of "socialism for rich" or "socialism for banks". The latter name is applicable because the key component of transnational elite is financial oligarchy. All of those terms reflect the key fact that at this stage of capitalism development it is the transnational elite and first of all financial oligarchy which completely dominates power structures of the society. Due to the role of financial oligarchy in this new elite this social system was also nicknamed Casino Capitalism.

Neoliberalism should probably be viewed as a further development of a form of corporatism that emerged in the USA in late 60th. It came to power in Ronald Reagan administration which was in a way Quiet coup. And it became completely dominant after the collapse of the USSR during Clinton regime during which Democratic Party also adopted neoliberalism as an official platform.

The term itself emerged in the 1970s, when some Latin American economists began using "neoliberalism" to designate their program of market-oriented reforms. It has come into wide use starting with 1973 Chilean coup d'état. After triumph of neoliberalism in Chile under Augusto Pinochet (from 1973) neoliberalism spread to Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher (from 1979) and then to the United States under Ronald Reagan (from 1981). Broadly speaking, neoliberalism seeks to transfer control of the economy from the public to the private sector with the state providing guarantees only to corporations and not to individual citizens like under socialism. That's why is often called "corporate socialism".

After dot-com bust of 2000-2002, however, the term "neoliberalism" had become a pejorative used to denigrate prostitution of economics performed by Milton Friedman and Chicago school . This trend increases after financial crisis of 2008-2012. So it is probably fare to say that right now neoliberalism entered the stage of decline. The last important victory of neoliberalism was probably navigating Russia into joining WTO, which happened in summer of 2012.

It has neoliberal Newspeak that include such terms as "free market", efficiency, consumer choice, transactional thinking and individual autonomy. In essence this is an modernized ideology of merger of state and corporate power that was hallmark of classic corporatism, with an additional twist of emphasizing the Arian style theories of inferiority of lower classes (reflected in promoting the "class of creators", entrepreneurs( Randism), etc) and "ultimate justice" of redistributing wealth to the top 1%.

On state level it tries to abolish social programs and completely shift the risks to individuals (replacing pensions with 401K plan in the USA), while fully providing social protection to corporations, especially financial giants involved in casino style gambling. In other words it socialize private losses and privatize social program that benefits of individual citizens.

Neocolonial aspects of neoliberalism are often called "Washington Consensus", a list of policy proposals that appeared to have gained consensus approval among the Washington-based international economic organizations (like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank) and directed on making developing nations "debt slaves" of the industrialized nations. This policy got tremendous impetus with the dissolution of the USSR when the principal foe, which to certain extent limited the level of greed in such deals due to fear of "communist infiltration" if case deal is too one sided, folded.

The concept and name of the Washington Consensus were first presented in 1989 by John Williamson, an economist from the Institute for International Economics, an international economic think tank based in Washington, D.C. The list created by Williamson's included ten points:

  1. Legal security for property rights;
  2. Financialization of capital.
  3. Fiscal policy Governments should not run large deficits that have to be paid back by future citizens, and such deficits can only have a short term effect on the level of employment in the economy. Constant deficits will lead to higher inflation and lower productivity, and should be avoided. Deficits should only be used for occasional stabilization purposes.
  4. Redirection of public spending from subsidies to people to subsidies to corporations (tax breaks, preferred regime, etc). Especially hurt were classic socialist programs, which neoliberal call "indiscriminate subsidies" that neoliberal deem wasteful. They are limited to those what benefit corporations such as primary (but not university) education, primary health care and infrastructure investments. Pensions and other social problems need to be privatized.
  5. Tax reform– broadening the tax base by shifting tax burden to the poor and middle classes and adopting low taxes for corporations and top 1% with the states goal to encourage "innovation and efficiency";
  6. Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;
  7. Floating exchange rates;
  8. Trade liberalization – liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by law and relatively uniform tariffs; thus encouraging competition and long term growth. Financial liberalization under the smoke screen of trade liberalization and complete dominance of foreign banks in local financial systems of developing countries.
  9. Liberalization of the "capital account" of the balance of payments, that is, allowing people the opportunity to invest funds overseas and allowing foreign funds to be invested in the home country
  10. Privatization of state enterprises; Promoting market provision of goods and services which the government can not provide as effectively or efficiently, such as telecommunications, where having many service providers promotes choice and competition.
  11. Deregulation – abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for (G7 only) those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudent oversight of financial institutions;

A Decade Long Triumph of Neoliberalism after the Dissolution of the USSR

As we mentioned before, the greatest triumph of neoliberalism was the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. After this event, there was a period of "triumphal march of neoliberalism", which lasted probably till 2005, when each year it claimed as a victory yet another country (Yeltsin neoliberal gang rule in Russia lasted till 2000, all former socialist countries were converted to neoliberal regimes shortly after, Kosovo in 1999; Serbia in 2000; Iraq in May, 2003; Georgia in December 2003; Ukraine in 2004). It also managed to stabilize and improve the situation in the USA. Plunder of Russia and other xUSSR states along with Internet revolution were two factors that influenced relative prosperity of the USA in 1994-2000.

And like Catholicism in Europe in Middle Ages, in 90th neoliberalism looked like an incontestable ideology propagated by "sole superpower" (" anew holy Roman Empire") with the help of vassals and subservient financial institutions such as World Bank and IMF. The dominance on the USA in 1991 looked rock-solid and if somebody told me in 1999 that in less then 20 years the USA would be on ropes both politically and financially I would just laugh. Still after the dissolution of the USSR neoliberalism managed to dissipate most of the gains in approximately 20 years and in 2008 entered the phase of structural crisis. As of 2013 the idea of self-regulating market is dead and even solidarity of international elites, the hallmark of neoliberalism, is under question.

The first cracks in neoliberalism facade were caused by Clinton's attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, the first armed neoliberal crusade attempted under the smoke screen of protecting the right of Kosovo Muslims in Serbia. It failed to implement "regime change" in Serbia and despite overwhelming military superiority of NATO forces has shown that bringing neoliberal regime on the tips of bayonets is a costly and high risk exercise. It took another several years and a color revolution in Serbia to achieve those goals. It did established the second Muslim state in Europe (effectively NATO protectorate), which was a part of the plan.

Color revolution in Serbia started a series of other successful color revolutions in Serbia (Serbia's Bulldozer Revolution in 2000) ,Georgia (Saakashvili regime came to power in November 2003 as a result of "Rose revolution"), Ukraine (Viktor Yushchenko regime came to power in 2004 via Orange Revolution) and several other countries.

After those successes, there were several setback: color revolutions failed in Belorussia and Russia. Results of color revolution in Ukraine were partially reversed by government of Viktor Yanukovych who ousted Yushchenko government defeating Yulia Tymoshenko in 2010 election (with Yutchshenko personally having less the 3% support). They are close to partial reversal in Georgia where Saasaskvily regime is hanging in the air.

Fear of population and establishment of "National Security State"
to protect the interest of transnational elite

Politically neoliberalism correlates with growth of political power of financial oligarchy and media-military-industrial complex. Growth of political power of financial oligarchy among national elite has led to the dramatic growth of inequality and created growing fear of the top 0.01% (oligarchs) over preserving their power and financial gains.

That naturally leads to the establishment of National Security State" state, militarization of police and introduction of total surveillance over the citizens under the pretext of fighting against terrorists.

In the article GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications by Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger, Nick Hopkins, Nick Davies and James Ball, the authors describe blanket surveillance regime (21 June 2013, The Guardian) in comparison with which KGB and even STASI looks like complete amatures:

Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).

The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.

One key innovation has been GCHQ's ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.

GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.

This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user's access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets.

As Glenn Greenwald wrote in his article Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government? (May 4, 2013, The Guardian):

Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.

It would also help explain the revelations of former NSA official William Binney, who resigned from the agency in protest over its systemic spying on the domestic communications of US citizens, that the US government has "assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about US citizens with other US citizens" (which counts only communications transactions and not financial and other transactions), and that "the data that's being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want."

Despite the extreme secrecy behind which these surveillance programs operate, there have been periodic reports of serious abuse. Two Democratic Senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, have been warning for years that Americans would be "stunned" to learn what the US government is doing in terms of secret surveillance. Strangely, back in 2002 - when hysteria over the 9/11 attacks (and thus acquiescence to government power) was at its peak - the Pentagon's attempt to implement what it called the "Total Information Awareness" program (TIA) sparked so much public controversy that it had to be official scrapped. But it has been incrementally re-instituted - without the creepy (though honest) name and all-seeing-eye logo - with little controversy or even notice.

In his book "Brave New World Order" (Orbis Books, 1992, paper), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer identifies seven characteristics of a such a state:

  1. The military is the highest authority. In a National Security State the military not only guarantees the security of the state against all internal and external enemies, it has enough power to determine the overall direction of the society.
  2. Political democracy and democratic elections are viewed with suspicion, contempt, or in terms of political expediency. National Security States often maintain an appearance of democracy. However, ultimate power rests with the military or within a broader National Security Establishment.
  3. The military and related sectors wield substantial political and economic power. They do so in the context of an ideology which stresses that 'freedom" and "development" are possible only when capital is concentrated in the hands of elites.
  4. Obsession with enemies. There are enemies of the state everywhere. Defending against external and/or internal enemies becomes a leading preoccupation of the state, a distorting factor in the economy, and a major source of national identity and purpose.
  5. The working assumption is that the enemies of the state are cunning and ruthless. Therefore, any means used to destroy or control these enemies is justified.
  6. It restricts public debate and limits popular participation through secrecy or intimidation. Authentic democracy depends on participation of the people. National Security States limit such participation in a number of ways: They sow fear and thereby narrow the range of public debate; they restrict and distort information; and they define policies in secret and implement those policies through covert channels and clandestine activities. The state justifies such actions through rhetorical pleas of "higher purpose" and vague appeals to "national security."
  7. The church is expected to mobilize its financial, ideological, and theological resources in service to the National Security State.

You can probably safely replace the term "military" with the term "finance" in the above list to make it more applicable to contemporary neoliberal societies. And if you think about, it finance is a new form of warfare. In any case National Security State is now reality and by-and-large displaced the previous form, called Inverted Totalitarism which existed from late 40th to late 80th.

Criminogenic effects of neoliberalism

The fact the neoliberalism is highly criminogenic is well established. The postulate "greed is good" implicitly assumes that the legal system is perfect. In order to distinguish greed from enlightened self-interest, we will define greed is self-interest taken to an extreme or unseemly degree. A “greedy” market participant that seeks to gain at the expense of others and the society at large. So in essence this is a parasitic behavior. This might be done within the legal framework exploiting loopholes in it, but most commonly it involves a violation of the law that is difficult to enforce and are supported internally by corporate brass (A Troubling Survey on Global Corruption -

A new survey of corporate officials and employees in 36 countries — in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as well as India — indicates that there is plenty of corruption that needs investigating.

Over all, 20 percent of the respondents said they knew of incidents at their own companies within the previous year that could be construed as cooking the books — moves to either understate expenses or overstate revenue. Among senior managers and directors, the figure was 42 percent.

It is typically difficult to determine what the optimal set of laws is; lawmakers must make their best guess, and in most cases they pass laws that are proved to be suboptimal over time. Holes in those laws can be systematically exploited. Also law always lags behind market and technological developments; it is difficult for lawmakers to know how to regulate things like new products or new investment vehicles. That creates another opportunity to engage in destructive for the society as whole behavior without fear of punishment by the law. Neoliberalism also is "sociopath friendly" regime in a sense that sociopathic qualities became a desirable for the top brass. And with sociopathic leadership in place it is difficult to imagine what the improper business is. "Creative destruction" in this case becoming something like a pack of wolves against a sheep.

Wall Street also developed two step combination: first weaken the law, and then engage in criminal behavior that is now decriminalized. In other words, if one argues that it is perfectly acceptable for people to be greedy, the problem is that there is no mechanism to constrain greedy people so that they can do no harm to others. As history demonstrates pretty convincingly (with the 2008 crisis as the most recent example), the legal system typically fails to place the appropriate constraints on such market behavior. That's why additional mechanisms are important for society survival and prosperity, and that's why most world religions consider greed to be a vice. This brings us to works of John Kenneth Galbraith and his discussion of the necessity of countervailing economic forces. Neoliberalism destroyed those countervailing forces over the last several decades.

Since the legal system can not and never in reality guarantee that markets function efficiently, there is a role for other institutions to foster a more enlightened self-interest as a social norm and thus improve efficiency. It's mostly about how self-interest is channeled that makes the difference, since eliminating self-interest seems similarly sociopathic (the USSR is a perfect example here). We would be a lot better off to channel self-interest in financial sector productively, than let it run wild foraging on speculation, arbitrage, and monopolization.

But it is those institutions that can channel self-interest in a more productive way, that neoliberalism systematically tries to weaken. In this sense neoliberalism is not only criminogenic, it is self-destructive. Moreover, unethical behavior is arguably more of the rule of corporate conduct rather than the exception. As such it represents a systemic flaw of neoliberalism as a flavor of corporatism. And the Great Recession of 2008 is a direct manifestation of this systemic flaw. In other words it was not accidental, it was not the first and it is not the last.

Example of Russia neoliberal revolution of 1989-1994 is probably one of the most terrifying examples of this trend. But the situation in the USA after 2008 is structurally even worse as it entails much more sophisticated layers of corruption and first of all almost complete corruption of the government by financial oligarchy (nobody was prosecuted for the financial crisis of 2008). It signified the creation of two separate caste of citizens with the upper caste being above the law, much like it was with Nomenklatura in the USSR.

Neoliberalism also exploits fundamental problem that in any large bureaucracy dealing with huge sums of money people have bad and/or contradictory incentives and lack of accountability creates opportunity for corruption. So in way it is using corruption for the purposes of maintaining the neoliberal regime, which is pretty unique feature. And, despite appearance, all large bureaucracies are prone to corruption.

One of the key mechanisms of corruption that is used under neoliberal regime is so called "the revolving door". It works in both direction: from top corporate seats to government and back.

Typically people who moved to government from private industry are not forgetting your former friends, especially in crisis (Paulson is a very good example here, but any Secretary of Treasury probably is not much worse example either). There are also implicit incentives to help your former employer, when there is an opportunity for a multimillion dollar deal. Also in this variant of "revolving door" regime, those who are coming to the government or to the public service have the incentive structure and morale they acquired in their prior employer -- a large corporation.

When a long time government servant is expecting to join a corporation after leaving the government there is a strong, but implicit incentive not to hurt future friends. Income inequality is probably one of the root causes for this. If incomes in public and private sector were not so much out of balance, few people would be motivated to sell themselves out so shamelessly.

But with the current level on income inequality this mechanism works wonders to emasculate regulatory agencies top brass. The mechanism that efficiently replicates this governance systems and keeps it in place one of the central part of criminality of neoliberalism: the conscious breaking down of institutional capacity of state to regulate business activity. Thus creating the situation of "mafia state", with the oligarchy instead of regular Mafiosi.

The other key mechanism is bribing the press corps to present (often close to criminal) actions favorable to oligarchy (in a words of Margaret Thatcher), as "There Is No Alternative" (TINA). BTW in Russian "tina" is the highly viscosious, amorphous substance on the bottom of the lake or swamp. In the latter case it can swallow people or animals. This effect is the same as for "Neoliberal TINA". Typically "TINA" works by remapping the debate to exclude anything not favorable to the financial elite (Journalists in the service of Pete Peterson Remapping Debate). Here is how stealing from Social Security to preserve recent gains by financial elite was presented during debates on (note the terminology) "curbing the country’s “unsustainable” debt and deficits.":

  • Maria Bartiromo, 2011 (host, CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo”)
  • Tom Brokaw, 2012 (former anchor and managing editor, NBC Nightly News)
  • Erin Burnett, 2012 (host of CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront”)
  • John F. Harris, 2012 (editor-in-chief of Politico)
  • Gwen Ifill, 2011, 2010 (senior correspondent of “PBS NewsHour”)
  • Ezra Klein, 2011 (columnist, Washington Post)
  • Jon Meacham, 2010 (former editor-in-chief, Newsweek)
  • Bob Schieffer, 2010 (host, CBS “Face the Nation”)
  • Lesley Stahl, 2010 (reporter, CBS “60 Minutes”)
  • George Stephanopoulos, 2012 (host, ABC’s “This Week”)
  • David Wessel, 2012, 2011 (economics editor, Wall Street Journal)
  • George Will, 2011 (columnist, Washington Post)
  • Judy Woodruff, 2012, 2011 (host, “PBS NewsHour”)
Peterson, however, is hardly a disinterested and dispassionate observer of such discussions. In fact, he is now beginning his fourth decade of arguing that there is no alternative to enacting “entitlement reform” (read: cut Social Security and Medicare) and “tax reform” (read: raise regressive taxes and lower progressive ones) in the name of curbing the country’s “unsustainable” debt and deficits.

An essential and successful element of the Peterson strategy is to create an environment where it is widely if not universally believed that there is no alternative to his vision. The conceit is that those with “courage” will see past narrow, partisan concerns and embrace an ideal: a bipartisan consensus that has the strength to demand “shared sacrifice” from a childish and selfish populace. A review of the proceedings of the Fiscal Summits of the last three years makes agonizingly clear that most of the journalists who conducted interviews or moderated panel discussions both reflected and amplified the Peterson worldview...

So, for example, Lesley Stahl, the CBS “60 Minutes” reporter, was fully a part of the Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson deficit-cutting team during her interview with both men: “You are going to have to raise taxes and cut things, big things, put restrictions on Social Security. Everybody knows that.”

Virtually none of the reporters thought to ask about or suggest an alternative path, such as preserving Social Security benefits and bolstering the system’s reserve by raising the cap of wages subject to Social Security taxes (currently annual wages above approximately $110,000 are not subject to any Social Security tax).

And most questioning proceeded either on the false assumption that deficits were derived from excessive spending on entitlements or as though they had mysteriously, but inevitably, come to pass.

Many journalists fairly shouted their personal desire to see greater cooperation and “compromise,” with groups realizing the importance of submerging their interests to the greater good. Who should do the submerging? In 2012, Tom Brokaw had a suggestion in the form of a question to former President Bill Clinton: after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pushed through a bill undermining the right of union members to collectively bargain, shouldn’t those workers have just sat down and negotiated with Walker as, Brokaw said, “has been traditionally done in this country” instead of “gather[ing] outside the capitol”?

There were a couple of exceptions to the rule. In a session moderated by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post in 2011, Klein posed a number of questions that reflected an unwillingness to operate from within the Peterson framework. For example, Klein asked New York Times columnist David Brooks whether, instead of blaming Americans for simply wanting benefits without paying for them, the causes of the debt should be located in the Bush tax cuts, two unfunded wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), and the federal government’s emergency response to the financial crisis.

Judy Woodruff, of the PBS NewsHour, generally asked questions from within the Peterson frame, but, at one point in 2012, posed a question that perhaps all the journalists should have been thinking about as well. She asked Rep. Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. (D-Md.) if “Democrats like you, by participating in forums like this one that is all focused on austerity, on cutting the deficit and the debt…really become also window dressing for a conservative agenda that is anti-jobs and anti-recovery and wrongheaded economics?”

Over the course of the three years of fiscal summits that Remapping Debate examined, the other journalist interviewers and moderators hewed strictly to the conventional Peterson wisdom. What follows are annotated illustrations of this recurring problem.

Neoliberalism as a key contributor to growth of amorality and economic crimes

Although neoliberal regime is not necessarily a kleptocracy (although Yeltsin regime definitely was), the difference is only in a degree. It does use corruption and criminality to stabilize the neoliberal regime and protect it from backlash that follow economic crisis caused by excessive appetite by financial oligarchy (if I am sounding like a communist here it is not accidental; as people of former USSR observed: communism was all wrong about socialism, but it was surprisingly realistic in its views of capitalism). And as for corruption it is pretty ironic that the USA tried to position itself as a leader of anti-corruption crusade, because as Niall Ferguson noted (quoted from Zero Hedge):

“It is corruption when corporations can buy regulation. It is corruption when laws are sponsored by Wall Street.

It is a sad state when the current level of corruption of the U.S. government is what was once only associated with third world countries ruled by dictators. The problem is that corruption of major institutions and first of all regulators is predicament for any country which adopted neoliberal model, and the US in no exception. Niall Ferguson called it "suffering from a third world disease.". In his new book The Great Degeneration he states the central question of the “great degeneration” is whether our institutions, and first of all institution which should uphold the rule of law are degenerating. He thinks that there are four symptoms of degeneration:

Quite frankly, like in the case of international financial capital, the most necessary constituents that define organized crime are in place so the difference in only in degree:

Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit

Quoting Wikipedia:

In the United States, the Organized Crime Control Act (1970) defines organised crime as "The unlawful activities of [...] a highly organised, disciplined association [...]".[3] Criminal activity as a structured group is referred to as racketeering and such crime is commonly referred to as the work of the Mob. In the UK, police estimate organized crime involves up to 38,000 people operating in 6,000 various groups.[4] In addition, due to the escalating violence of Mexico's drug war, the Mexican drug cartels are considered the "greatest organised crime threat to the United States" according to a report issued by the United States Department of Justice.[5]

By all estimates Mexican grug cartels dwarf the size and wealth of the US financial sector.

If you think that the increasing level of penetration of Mexican mafia into the US is the result of external forces think again. In a way Reagan regime was a clear invitations for any self-respectful international crime syndicate to start operating in the US territory. And the exposition of crime that was a side effect of neoliberal counterrevolution in Russia has a distinct blowback effect in the USA. The same reasoning is applicable to various sophisticated financial crimes including computer related. What you expect unemployed or semi-employed for 300 dollars a month programmers to do to in order to provide a living for themselves and their families.

Neoliberalism and propaganda of amorality

As Will Hutton noted in The Guardian neoliberalism doctrine entail direct propaganda of amorality( Across Europe, political leaders have lost the trust of their people:

There was a time when to live a life virtuously was well understood. It embraced personal integrity, commitment to a purpose that was higher than personal gain, a degree of selflessness and even modesty. Those at the top may have got there through ruthlessness and ambition, but they understood that to lead was to set an example and that involved demonstrating better qualities than simply looking after yourself.

No more. Perhaps the greatest calamity of the conservative counter-revolution has been the energy it invested in arguing that virtue, whatever its private importance, has no public value. The paradox, the new conservatives claim, is only through the pursuit of self-interest can the economy and society work best. Responsibilities to the commonweal are to be avoided.

The retreat of virtue has become the plague of our times. Greed is legitimate; to have riches however obtained, including outrageous bonuses or avoiding tax, is the only game in town. But across the west the consequences are becoming more obvious. Politics, business and finance have become blighted to the point that they are dysfunctional, with a now huge gap in trust between the elite and the people.

In the USA it took more then three decade to eliminate morality and to establish "law of jungle" mentality in the population. In other countries such as Russia this process was much quicker and run deeper. And in no way this newly acquired level of criminally is reflected in incarceration statistics. Most of "neoliberal-style: crimes are financial crimes and as such they are difficult to direct and difficult to procedure. sometimes they are impossible to procedure either because of the political influence of the players or potential effect on the economy if particular persons and institutions are brought to justice. The latter factor was acknowledged by the US justice department.

Neoliberalism propagates criminal behavior by creating acute means-ends discrepancies and due to excessive cultural emphasis on monetary or material success goals ("greed is good" mentality) for members of society. At the same time mobility is restricted and majority of members of the society has no realistic chances to attain those goals. Still media brainwashing incites the desire more than they have. Success stories of going from rags to riches make the American Dream more believable, despite the fact that it is deeply and irrevocably fake. As this cultural meme is internalized it creates a strain, which combined with the culturally induced underemphasize on the proper methods, stimulates deviance of various types. If the deviant solution is successful (i.e., perpetrators are not caught or adequately punished), this adaptation may become normative for others in a similar social context. To the extent that this solution is available to them (demand for illicit goods or services, access to illegitimate opportunity structures), they may adopt this role model -- and may be expected by their significant others to follow this path. This process creates a vicious circle toward higher rates of deviance and widespread anomie under neoliberal regime. Anomie is a withdrawal of allegiance from conventional norms and a weakening of these norms' guiding power on behavior. This is caused by structural contradictions within the neoliberal doctrine and affects deviance in two ways. One is associated with strain, relative deprivation, frustrations, and the almost obsessive focus on goals. This makes deviance thinkable, as conventional norms are regarded as nonbinding, at least temporarily. Rationalizations enable departures from otherwise accepted/internalized social rules, as actors convince themselves that in their particular circumstances an exception is acceptable. Through interactive processes, techniques of neutralization and rationalizations contribute to a context in which newly socialized actors may adopt normative referents and deviant behavior as a matter of course. If "this is the way business is done around here," people may engage in price fixing or misleading advertising or insider trading or running a prostitution ring. While those criminogenic effects of neoliberalism became prominent in the USA as was demonstrated by 2008 financial crisis, when most of financial players involved were engaged is behavior that is deeply and irrevocably asocial and amoral. However, a very similar process is now being reproduced throughout the world. Promises are made that are not fulfilled. People's expectations are exalted at a time when economic and power asymmetries increase and become less justifiable and intolerable in the eyes of the people affected. The logic of the market permeates popular thinking and introduces rationalizations, making the adoption of a criminal or unethical solution more acceptable. This high criminogenic impact of globalization and neoliberal policies is extremely difficult and costly to reverse.

Moral relativism and concept of "Justice for some"

Moral relativism means that anything that helps to achieve the goal is moral. It was actually pioneered by Marxism in context of means to be used to achieve "proletarian revolution". It is a part of Randism as a ersatz version of Nietzschean Philosophy.

Corruption, facilitated by the credibility trap, is the biggest problem facing the West today. That is the real subsidy, the most debilitating entitlement.

It is the belief of the elite that the power of their office is an achievement that rewards them with the right to lie, cheat and steal, both for themselves and their friends.

Although it is most important to understand that they would be shocked and insulted if one uses those words, lie, cheat and steal, to describe what they are doing. They view themselves as exceptionally hard working, as obligated by their natural gifts and superiority.

Through a long indoctrination that starts sometimes in their families, but is most often affirmed in their elite schools and with their circle of privileged friends, they learn to rationalize selective moral behaviour not as immoral but as 'the entitlement of success.' And they are supported by a horde of morally ambivalent enablers who will tell them whatever they wish to hear.

There are one set of rules for themselves and their friends, and another set of rules for the rest.

Few who actually do evil consciously choose to be evil. They rationalize what they do in any number of ways, but the deceit often hinges on their own natural superiority, and the objectification and denigration of the other. We are makers, and they are takers. Although many may work hard, they see their own work as having special value and merit, while the actions of the others are inconsequential and unworthy.

Given enough time, their rationalizations become an ideology, desensitized to the meaning and significance of others outside their own select group. This supremacy of ideology empties their souls, and opens the door to mass privation and even murder, although rarely done by their own hands.

This is what Glenn Greenwald calls 'justice for some.' Or even earlier what George Orwell captured in the slogan, 'Some animals are more equal than others.'

And just to be clear on this, with regard to the Anglo-American political situation, the tragedy is not that just some are corrupted, which is always the case. The tragedy is that the Democrats and the Labor Party learned that they could become as servilely corrupted by Big Money as the Republicans and the Conservative Party, while maintaining the illusion of serving their traditional political base.

And it has rewarded them very well in terms of extraordinarily well-funded political power, and almost unbelievable personal enrichment afterwards.

In such a climate of corruption, political discourse loses the vitality of ideas and compromise for the general good, and take on the character of competing gangs and crime families, engaged in aggressive schemes and protracted turf wars, tottering from one pitched battle and crisis to another.

As Jesse put in his blog Jesse's Café Américain
"A credibility trap is a condition wherein the financial, political and informational functions of a society have been compromised by corruption and fraud, so that the leadership cannot effectively reform, or even honestly address, the problems of that system without impairing and implicating, at least incidentally, a broad swath of the power structure, including themselves.

The status quo tolerates the corruption and the fraud because they have profited at least indirectly from it, and would like to continue to do so. Even the impulse to reform within the power structure is susceptible to various forms of soft blackmail and coercion by the system that maintains and rewards.

And so a failed policy and its support system become self-sustaining, long after it is seen by objective observers to have failed. In its failure it is counterproductive, and an impediment to recovery in the real economy. Admitting failure is not an option for the thought leaders who receive their power from that system.

The continuity of the structural hierarchy must therefore be maintained at all costs, even to the point of becoming a painfully obvious, organized hypocrisy.

The Banks must be restrained, and the financial system reformed, with balance restored to the economy, before there can be any sustainable recovery.

The problem which the modern world has not yet grappled is how to react to the rise of a global elite, which considers itself to be above national restraints, and a law unto themselves.

Their success has been propelled by the dominance of Anglo-American financialization, and the rise of oligarchies in Russia, China, Latin America, and India. Countervailing power has been co-opted and in many cases eliminated. Any opposition has become marginalized and isolated.

The new oligarchs are supported by fiat currencies of respective national goverements, which together the increase of insubstantial 'cashlessness' in wealth. The latter provides much greater ability to reallocate wealth.

Legal arbitrage

Legal arbitrage is a powerful instrument for transnational corporations to press government into compliance. As soon as government tries to impose some restriction on their operations they threaten to leave.

This behavior is by-and-large conditioned by the low price of oil. With price of oil above, say $200 per barrel, transportation costs became big enough to make this behavior less likely

Globalization and deregulation supports selective justice, to the extreme detriment of local legal regimes (outside G7), and individual choice and freedom. The new global elite consider themselves to be a new Arab sheiks, a law unto themselves, above what they consider subhuman restraint. Or using Nietzschean terminology, Übermenschen.

“Our light-speed, globally connected economy has led to the rise of a new super-elite that consists, to a notable degree, of first- and second-generation wealth. Its members are hardworking, highly educated, jet-setting meritocrats who feel they are the deserving winners of a tough, worldwide economic competition—and many of them, as a result, have an ambivalent attitude toward those of us who didn't succeed so spectacularly. Perhaps most noteworthy, they are becoming a transglobal community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home. Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today's super-rich are increasingly a nation unto themselves...

A multibillion-dollar bailout and Wall Street’s swift, subsequent reinstatement of gargantuan bonuses have inspired a narrative of parasitic bankers and other elites rigging the game for their own benefit. And this, in turn, has led to wider—and not unreasonable—fears that we are living in not merely a plutonomy, but a plutocracy, in which the rich display outsize political influence, narrowly self-interested motives, and a casual indifference to anyone outside their own rarefied economic bubble."

Chrystia Freeland, The Rise of the New Global Elite

The Consequences of Neoliberalism in Third World Countries and xUSSR space: stagnation instead of growth

Being an implementation of the "law of jungles" on international scene with the USA as a 100 pound gorilla, the neoliberal regime has distinct criminogenic character both within the USA (unpunished financial crimes made by top management of leading Wall Street banks and investment firms) and, especially, in "newly liberalized" countries of former USSR ("a New Latin America"). Which is the main "sphere of influence" of international corporations from G7 countries.

Along with internationalization of economies and integration of elites there was internalization of organized crime and growth in sophistication of criminal methods of appropriation of wealth, including those used by international corporations.

In this discussion we will follow key points of the article Global Anomie, Dysnomie, and Economic Crime Hidden Consequences of Neoliberalism and Globalization in Russia and Around the World


TRANSNATIONAL CRIME HAS RECENTLY ACQUIRED A PROMINENT PLACE IN PUBLIC debates. It is commonly presented as the most significant Crime problem at the turn of the millennium (Myers, 1995-1996; Shelley, 1995). Many have even suggested that it represents a serious domestic and international security threat (Paine and Cillufo, 1994; Williams, 1994). The argument is also made that a wave of transnational crime undermines policies and the functioning of an increasing number of market economies around the globe (Handelman, 1995; Shelley, 1994). As a consequence, the proposed remedies are often quite drastic and involve undercover operations, privacy-piercing approaches, and the participation of intelligence services in the fight against global crime (Andreas, 1997; Naylor, 1999; Passas and Blum, 1998; Passas and Groskin, 1995).

Yet, little attention and virtually no systematic research has been devoted to understanding the causes, structure, extent, and effects of serious cross-border misconduct (Passas, 1998). The risks it poses may be grossly exaggerated (Naylor, 1995; Lee, 1999). The draconian measures being contemplated and implemented in different countries, therefore, are essentially an exercise in shooting in the dark. Chances are good that the target will be missed and substantial "collateral damage" may be caused by ill-conceived policies in this "war" on crime. This risk is particularly high in countries in transition toward a market democracy. It would be much wiser, thus, to carefully study the problem before taking ineffective and possibly damaging actions.

This article seeks to make a contribution by concentrating on the causes of transnational economic crime. The main argument is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, neoliberalism and globalization contribute to processes leading to global anomie, dysnomie, and, ultimately, economic misconduct. They do so by activating the criminogenic potential of economic, political, legal, and cultural asymmetries, as well as by creating new such asymmetries (Passas, 1999). These asymmetries cause crime by furnishing opportunities for misconduct, by generating motives for actors to take advantage of such opportunities, and by weakening social controls. More specifically, means-ends disjunctions are systematically created, as neoliberal policies foster new needs and desires that are all too often left unfulfilled. Promises of more freedom, prosperity, and happiness for a larger number of people have turned out to be chimerical. Economic and power inequalities have widened within and across countries in the last two decades . The number of poor has reached unprecedented levels, while welfare programs and safety nets are reduced or abolished. Enormous populations have become more vulnerable to exploitation, criminal victimization, and recruitment in illicit enterprises or rebel and fundamentalist groups. Normative standards and control mechanisms are weak or completely absent exactly when they are needed the most.

This article begins with some basic conceptual clarifications and outlines the theoretical framework so far applied to the analysis of U.S. organizational and individual deviance. Then, the main features of globalization and neoliberalism are presented, followed by a contrast of promises made by proponents of neoliberal policies and their actual consequences. Attention then shifts to specific criminogenic effects of these outcomes and the case of Russia, which illustrates the different stages in the processes leading up to serious misconduct and anomie. The chief policy implication of this analysis is that the recently unleashed forces of neoliberalism need to be reined in and held in check, while government policies ought to better shield the least privileged from the adverse effects of globalization.

Some Conceptual Clarifications

Although there is no universally accepted definition of transnational crime, many commentators seem to think of it as a globalized form of the stereotypical "organized crime." This, however, leaves out corporate and governmental crimes, whose effects can be far more harmful than those of "professional" criminals and ethnic groups involved in the business of illegal goods and services. We therefore need a definition that is inclusive enough without becoming too relativistic and subjective. For our purposes, transnational crime refers to cross-border misconduct that entails avoidable and unnecessary harm to society, is serious enough to warrant state intervention, and is similar to other kinds of acts criminalized in the countries concerned or by international law. Crime will be viewed as transnational when the offenders or victims are located in or operate through more than one country (Passas, 1999).

Globalization is another term that is often used without clear definition. In the simplest sense, it refers to a growing interconnectedness and multilateral linkages across national borders. According to Keohane and Nye (2000: 104), globalism is a state of the world involving networks of interdependence at multicontinental distances. The linkages occur through flows and influences of capital and goods, information and ideas, and people and forces, as well as environmentally and biologically relevant substances (such as acid rain or pathogens).

Globalism has several dimensions, such as economic, cultural, environmental, or military, not all of which take place at the same time. So, whenever globalism increases and becomes thicker or more intense, we can speak of globalization. When globalism decreases, we can speak of de-globalization.

Finally, the term "criminogenic asymmetries" refers to structural discrepancies and inequalities in the realms of the economy, law, politics, and culture. Such asymmetries are produced in the course of interactions between unequal actors (individual or organizational) or systems with distinctive features. All asymmetries contain some criminogenic potential. Durkheim argued that crime cannot be eliminated, because we are and always will be different from each other. Even in a society of saints, minor deviations would be considered serious offenses. In modern societies, crimes are those behavioral differences (asymmetries) that have been outlawed by legislative bodies. There is always the opportunity for powerful actors to victimize less privileged ones (economic, political, and power asymmetries). This potential is not always materialized. Criminal opportunities are not necessarily taken advantage of. Mostly this is because actors do not always seek or wish to make use of illegal opportunities. They may not regard such action as appropriate (due to socialization, internalization of norms) or fear adverse consequences. The criminogenic potential is most likely to be activated when opportunities, motives, and weak controls are all present.

For example, a combination of legal/regulatory asymmetries with economic and political asymmetries has given rise to a huge illicit market for toxic waste disposal. Many Third World countries either did not regulate toxic waste or did so much less rigorously than did industrialized states. This provided an opportunity for maximum-profit-seeking companies to getrid of their hazardous waste in areas where rules were lax or nonexistent (Center for Investigative Reporting and Moyers, 1990; Critharis, 1990). Power and economic asymmetries between rich and poor countries have led waste recipients to allow this to go on because of their dependence on foreign investment, the need for cash to service external debt, or the desire to create jobs (Korten, 1995). Economic and knowledge asymmetries also shaped the motivation of local participants in this questionable trade. The decision to go along reflects an incomplete understanding of the extent or nature of the hazard, their desperate need for additional income, an effort to be competitive and attractive to foreign companies (race to the bottom), or corruption.

Anomie and Deviance

Both Durkheim (1983) and Merton (1968) have stressed how high rates of deviance should be expected when social expectations are out of balance with realistic opportunities to reach the desired goals. According to Durkheim, this means-ends discrepancy is caused by society's inability to regulate people's naturally limitless desires. This problem was particularly acute in the commercial and business sector, in which anomie was chronic during the industrial revolution, opening up new horizons and undermining society's ability to contain aspirations. A similar situation can be observed in contemporary societies, where electronic, information, and biological technologies constantly redefine what is possible and break new ground.

According to Merton, unrealistic hopes and expectations are not simply natural, but socially constructed and promoted. Structural problems are at the heart of the means-ends disjunction. The U.S. culture and the ideology of the American Dream encourage lofty expectations, while society fails to provide equal access to legal opportunities. Meanwhile, there is a cultural overemphasis on success goals at the expense of normative behavior (as further elaborated by Messner and Rosenfeld, 1994). Both of these factors make for deviance and anomie.

Without ignoring the differences between the two sociologists, it has been possible to use an elaborated version of their anomie theories to explain corporate crime in the context of capitalist economies (Passas, 1990). Regardless of whether people strive for "more" due to natural drives or because of cultural encouragement, the point is that market economies cannot perform without lofty aspirations, consumerism, emphasis on material/monetary goals, and competition. All this leads to the pursuit of constantly moving targets and systematic sources of frustration. A synthesis of anomie theory with reference group analysis made clear how means-ends discrepancies are socially generated and experienced by people in all social strata. It also showed how this theoretical framework is applicable to the analysis of crime without strain or problems (i.e., anomie theory is not a strain theory) and to "organized crime" even after discrimination or blockage of legitimate opportunities no longer affects minority groups (Passas, 1997).

In brief, the dynamic social process leading to structurally induced strain, anomie, and deviance without strain is as follows. Means-ends discrepancies are caused by a strong cultural emphasis on monetary or material success goals for all members of society, while a good number of them do not have a realistic chance to attain them. Socially distant comparative referents are constantly introduced and sustained through the school, family, politics, workplace, media, advertising, and even religion (Passas, 1994). Regardless of their social background and the social capital available to them, people are urged to desire more than they have. Success stories of going from rags to riches make the American Dream even more believable. As this cultural theme is internalized, competitive forces and consumerism foster normative referents on what is "normal" and appropriate. The widely internalized egalitarian discourse clashes in practice with widespread inequality (power and economic asymmetries). Consequently, those m embers who fail to meet such comparative and normative standards are likely to experience relative deprivation and frustration. This strain, combined with the culturally induced overemphasis on goals and the concomitant under-emphasis on the proper methods, makes for deviance of various types (see Merton's typology). A good part of the deviance is an individual search for a solution to these structural problems. If the deviant solution is successful (i.e., perpetrators are not caught or adequately punished), this adaptation may become normative for others in a similar social context. To the extent that this solution is available to them (demand for illicit goods or services, access to illegitimate opportunity structures), they may adopt this role model -- and may be expected by their significant others to follow this path -- even though the original source of strain has by now been eclipsed. Unless effective control measures are taken, this process continues in a vicious circle toward higher rates of deviance and widespread anomie (for a schematic representation of this process, see Figure 1 at the end of the article).

In the literature, anomie is often conceptually confused with its causes or effects. To keep its explanatory potential, this mistake should be avoided. Anomie is a withdrawal of allegiance from conventional norms and a weakening of these norms' guiding power on behavior. This is caused by structural contradictions and affects deviance in two ways. One is associated with strain, the other is not. The former is caused by relative deprivation, frustrations, and the almost obsessive focus on goals. This makes deviance thinkable, as conventional norms are regarded as nonbinding, at least temporarily. Rationalizations enable departures from otherwise accepted/internalized social rules, as actors convince themselves that in their particular circumstances an exception is acceptable (Aubert, 1968; Sykes and Matza, 1957). Through interactive processes, techniques of neutralization and rationalizations contribute to a context in which newly socialized actors may adopt normative referents and deviant behavior as a matter of course. If "this is the way business is done around here," people may engage in price fixing or misleading advertising without experiencing any prior frustration or problem.

Globalization and Neoliberalism

These structural problems have been most prominent in the USA. However, a very similar process is now being reproduced throughout the world through globalism and neoliberalism. Promises are made that are not fulfilled. People's expectations are exalted at a time when economic and power asymmetries increase and become less justifiable and intolerable in the eyes of the people affected. The logic of the market permeates popular thinking and introduces rationalizations, making the adoption of a criminal or unethical solution more acceptable. The horizontal lines in Figure 1, rather than representing controlling influences, at the global level point to the criminogenic impact of globalization and neoliberal policies.

Nowadays, globalism and neoliberalism seem to be indistinguishable empirically or even conceptually (Cox, 1993; Stewart and Berry, 1999). Nevertheless, I think it is useful to try to separate them analytically. As noted earlier, globalism refers to the degree of interconnectedness and the increase or decrease of linkages. By contrast, neoliberalism refers to an economic and political school of thought on the relations between the state on the one hand, and citizens and the world of trade and commerce on the other. Because it espouses minimal or no state interference in the market and promotes the lifting of barriers to trade and business transactions across regional and national borders, it certainly becomes a motor of globalization.

Globalization in the last two decades shows clear signs of deeper and thicker interconnections that affect many more people than ever before. The effects are now much faster, as shown by the financial crisis in Thailand in 1997. The world has shrunk and become "one place," with global communications and media, transnational corporations, supranational institutions, and integrated markets and financial systems that trade around the clock (McGrew, 1992; Sklair, 1995). The cultural landscape has changed under the influence of mass media. Through their ads, TV programs, movies, and music, they contribute to cultural globalism, target young children, and foster consumerism (e.g., "Image Is Everything," "Just Do It," or "Coke Is It"). Information technology is making for "distant encounters and instant connections" (Yergin and Stanislaw, 1998). Fresh normative and comparative ideals are thus promoted, legitimated, and presented as attainable. Scholars attribute the momentum of this process to the forces of capitalism (Wallerstein, 1983), technology (Rosenau, 1990), the presence of a hegemon (Gilpin, 1987), or a combination of them all (Giddens, 1990).

Neoliberalism, in particular, has made a major contribution to the dynamic and contradictory processes of globalization since the elections of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Helmut Kohl. During the 1950s and 1960s, the dominant concerns revolved around distributive justice, neocolonialism, and dependency theory. These were displaced in the 1980s and into the 1990s by discourses of "free markets," individualism, and self-help (Woods, 1999). Policies of deregulation, privatization of state assets, and removal of tariffs implemented the doctrine that the state should get out of the way of free enterprise. Unemployment, inequality, and poverty were no longer explained by structural contradictions or constraints. The problems became individualized and blamed on corrupt administrations or on the poor themselves. The proposed medicine was more liberalization of the economy, free competition, privatization of inefficiently managed government agencies, abolition of capital controls, and permitting foreign capital to enter all markets.

The ideological underpinning of globalization, thus, has been the primacy of economic growth, which is thought to be benefiting the whole planet. Consistent with that prime directive, country after country has been persuaded (or forced) to promote "free trade" and consumerism, to reduce government regulation of business, and to adopt the same economic model regardless of local specificities and differences between industrialized and developing countries (Bello, 1999; Mander, 1996).

More specifically, shifts in the North, the East, and the South have been quite remarkable. In the North, the welfare state that used to care for citizens "from cradle to grave" has been replaced by a "pay as you go" social service system. Even public utilities have been privatized and have begun to charge "economic prices," as former subsidization systems were abolished. Further, "industrial interventionism and labour protection have given way to laissez-faire; and tax systems whose major purpose was to correct inequalities have been transformed into systems mainly intended to promote incentives and economic efficiency" (Stewart and Berry, 1999: 151).

In developing countries, similar shifts took place as a result of hegemonic influences from the North. Western-educated Third World "technocrats" returned to their home countries eager to introduce neoliberal policies (Burbach et al., 1997: 86; Newsweek, June 15, 1992). As the bandwagon of liberalization took off, few countries wished to be left out. As a World Bank official warned, "lagging countries risk being left farther behind....For economies that remain inward-looking, the risk of being marginalized is greater than ever" (cited in Klak, 1998: 21).

Yet, the shifts have not always been voluntary. A host of measures and conditions consistent with the neoliberal agenda were imposed on countries through international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the OECD, the European Union, the G7, etc. Countries drowning in external debt sought additional loans to pay off their older ones -- chiefly to banks from the industrialized world. Billions of dollars were made available to them, but only if they introduced Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs). Despite important differences among the various economies, SAPs shared the same basic elements: long-term "structural" reforms to deregulate the economy, liberalization of trade, removal of restrictions on foreign investment, promotion of an export orientation of the economy, wage reductions and controls, privatization of state enterprises, and short-term stabilization measures such as cutbacks in government spending, high interest rates, and currency devaluation (Bello, 1996 ; 1999).

Changes along these lines also took place in the East, where the switch from state-managed economies toward "free market" and parliamentary democracy has been quite drastic and swift (Glinkina, 1994; Woods, 1999). The problem is that the introduction of global neoliberalism has brought about enormous economic and political asymmetries, as its promises and theoretical expectations remain unfulfilled.

The Promises of Global Neoliberalism

The supporters of global neoliberalism make a series of claims. For instance, the world is shrinking following greater connectivity (IBM claims to offer "solutions for a smaller planet"). The distinction between core and periphery states is presumed to be getting fuzzier and irrelevant, as there are only winners from now on. Investment, trade, and development opportunities are more widely distributed around the world. There is a marked convergence into one world economy, in which everyone can find a market niche. Media and cultural influences are more widespread and multilateral, as foods, music, and art are imported to the North and integrated into local cultures. Finally, people are more integrated thanks to telecommunication technologies and immigration (Klak, 1998).

To [neoliberal] economists, all these trends are positive, even if short-term hardship is deemed necessary for some parts of the population. Global welfare is expected to be enhanced, as the forces of free competition within and between countries will encourage more efficient resource allocation and bring about higher productivity (Oman, 1999). A more open, trade-creating world should, therefore, benefit everyone, if unevenly. Trickle-down effects of wealth creation would ensure that virtually everyone will participate in this welcome trend (Korten, 1996).

The objective of SAPs was to render developing economies more efficient, drive up growth rates, and provide foreign exchange that could be used to repay debt. Higher growth rates are empirically associated with comparatively more equal income distribution (Alesina and Rodrik, 1994). Hence, neoliberal policies would bring about not only more economic growth, productivity, a better division of labor (multistate production and wider participation), lower unemployment, more wealth and prosperity, but also more democracy, less poverty, and fewer inequalities. Unfortunately, in most countries, these virtuous circles did not occur.

The Consequences of Global Neoliberalism

Throughout the world, the expectations raised by neoliberal theorists have not materialized despite the extensive application of their policy recommendations. Instead, most economies "fell into a hole" of low investment, decreased social spending and consumption, low output, decline and stagnation. Both the World Bank and the IMF retreated from SAPs and acknowledged their failure (Bello, 1999; Katona, 1999; Multinational Monitor, June 2000; Watkins, 1997).

In the North, GDP growth was lower in the 1980 to 1990 period than in the 1950s and 1960s. We also witness a higher volatility in growth (e.g., booms and busts). Lost in all the talk about huge technological advances ushering in the computer and Internet era is the fact that productivity growth now is half that of levels in the 1950s and 1960s. Unemployment in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries has risen from eight million in 1970 to 35 million in 1994. In the midst of U.S. prosperity and economic expansion, inequalities increased. The number of people living under the officially defined poverty level grew from 11.4% of the population in 1978 to 13.5% in 1990. Almost one in four new babies in the U.S. are born into poverty, while the top one percent of Americans saw their real income shoot up by 50% (Levy, 1998; Wilterdink, 1995). Also noteworthy is that U.S. and Western European international trade relative to GDP was greater a century ago than in recent years (Hirst and Thompson, 1996).

Neoliberal dreams proved to be even more chimerical in the South. Role models, like South Korea, Malaysia, and Indonesia plunged into crises in the 1990s. Mexico and Brazil, which faced their own scary periods, experienced growth of three percent in the last two decades, whereas that rate was six percent during the dirigiste period of 1950 to 1980. Wage gaps widened. Even in Costa Rica and Chile, models of success in Latin America, the results have been an unmitigated disaster for the lower social classes. The number of Costa Ricans below the poverty line rose from 18.6% in 1987 to 24.4% in 1991, while 42% of all Chileans are also living in poverty (Burbach et al., 1997: 86). Half of the investment flows to developing countries went to just three countries (China, Mexico, and Argentina). In addition, some investments had negative local effects. For instance, as diverse agriculture was converted into monocultures or to export-oriented flower plantations, self-sufficiency was undermined (Clinard, 1990; Klak, 1 998).

Moreover, the core-periphery distinction is as relevant as ever. Its real meaning relates to power, authority, and the accumulation of wealth, where the gaps (asymmetries) are increasing. Although production (of certain items) is more dispersed, the concentration of power, control, and benefits has become more pronounced. In 1991, 81% of the world stock of direct foreign investment was in the core triad of the USA, the European Union, and Japan -- up from 69% in 1967. The appearance of integrated markets also obscures the fact that 80% of all world trade is within the core triad, in which resides less than 20% of the planet's population (Hirst and Thompson, 1996; Klak, 1998).

In Latin America, debt jumped from $230 billion in 1980 to $600 billion in 1997. Capital had been fleeing those countries up to the early 1990s, when net inflows were the result of casino capital -- seeking short-term gains and likely to abandon those countries at the first hint of trouble. Consequently, new debts were created with a new round of borrowing (Robinson, 1998-1999). An important reason why developing countries cannot pay off their debt is that trade protectionism in the North has kept them from penetrating those markets. Trade liberalization has been inconsistent in that rich countries demand more open markets abroad, while continuing to subsidize their own economic sectors, such as agriculture (Andreas, 1999; UNDP, 2000; Watkins, 1997). Compounding these problems, aid to poor countries has been cut back. Whatever assistance is offered comes with strings attached, including the reduction of state intervention, which could have softened the effects for the most vulnerable (Watkins, 1997; Woods, 1 999). These policies further undercut food security, cause poverty, and increase economic and power asymmetries. For instance, the cost of living in the Caribbean and the U.S. is quite comparable. In 1997, however, per capita income in Trinidad and Tobago, the richest Caribbean state, was less than half that of Mississippi, the poorest U.S. state. The gap between skilled and unskilled workers widened even more: Haitian workers made clothing with Disney logos for less than 60 cents per hour, while Disney's CEO made $9,700 per hour (Klak, 1998).

The claim of multilateral and even cultural influences also masks tremendous asymmetries. Even though we listen to reggae in the North, 95% of TV programs in St. Lucia come from the U.S. The most widely read newspaper in the Caribbean is the Miami Herald. Consequently, U.S. affluence and opportunity, often romanticized, is especially well-known, deeply ingrained, and alluring to the Caribbean...[where] people are prone to set their living standard goals in accordance with what the U.S. media ascribe to the United States. And the imbalance in media flows is increasing with the Caribbean's economic crisis and neoliberalism, as local media have been slashed (Klak, 1998: 11).

As dreams of consumption are disseminated, 86% of total private consumption expenditures is accounted for by 20% of the world's people in industrialized countries (UNDP, 1998). For the people who live outside the consumption geographical area, big banks offer credit to only 10% of the people in developing countries, whereas ads for credit cards and consumer items are omnipresent (Barnet and Cavanagh, 1994). Well over one billion people are deprived of basic consumption needs. For hundreds of millions, basic sanitation, clean water, adequate housing, and health services are unattainable luxuries. Two billion people live on less than two dollars a day and 1.3 billion on less than one dollar a day (ICFTU, 2000). Struggling to survive, some decide to sell their body parts to make ends meet, which is the ultimate symbol of commodification (ScheperHughes, 2000).

A negative effect of the Internet is that it alters the relationship between our place of residence and our cultural preferences, experiences, and identities. A spreading global virtual reality disconnects locality from culture, weakens the bonds to particular communities, and estranges people from each other (Minda, 2000). Ladakh, a Himalayan province that prospered for a millennium despite harsh weather conditions, illustrates how (especially cultural) globalization devastated local communities (Norberg-Hodge, 1996). In 1962, isolated Ladakh was linked to the rest of India by an army-built road. The modernization that began in 1975 took about a decade to change the pride Ladakhis felt until then into a collective inferiority complex. Tourism and the media conveyed a picture of wealth, technology, power, and work that was alien and irresistible to them. Village life by comparison began to appear "primitive, silly, and inefficient" (Ibid.: 35). Ladakhis felt ashamed of their culture and strove for consumer items that symbolize modern life, such as sunglasses and Walkinans. As Western educational standards penetrated Ladakh, the intergenerational learning experience that helped them provide for themselves in their rough terrain gave way to schools that used texts imitating Indian and British models that were completely irrelevant to their lives (e.g., figuring out the angle of the Tower of Pisa and learning how to keep a London-like bedroom tidy). There used to be no such thing as a "paying job"; there was no money economy. Gradually, however, unemployment -- previously nonexistent -- became a serious problem, because naturally available resources were abandoned, cheap imports made local farming redundant, and people flocked to the cities to compete for scarce jobs. Radios and TVs chased away the traditions of singing together and group story telling. The points of reference ceased to be real people living nearby, but geographically and socially remote ideals. Consumerism bred new "needs," which could hardly be materialized. Family and other bonds disintegrated and divisions emerged between old and young, Buddhists and Muslims. The result was unprecedented violence, community breakdown, and anomie.

Criminogenic Effects: Systemic Strains and Global Anomie

What makes the ideology of the American Dream unique is a focus on money and material goods, a strong emphasis on "winning" (often, by all means), and success for everyone in a society where many opportunities for material advancement are available and plenty of "rags to riches" stories lend legitimacy and credibility to the egalitarian discourse. Legal opportunities, however, for achieving the lofty goals are inaccessible to most Americans. In such a consumption-driven culture, which highly values competition and individualism, the means-ends disjunction has entailed a significant criminogenic risk, much greater than in the rest of the world. Crime has been the flip side of economic growth, innovation, and better living standards for certain segments of the population. What sheltered other countries from this negative potential were things absent or minimized in the USA, such as rigid social stratification, low rates of social mobility, less materialism and time spent before TV boxes, safety nets for the underprivileged, more emphasis on other priorities (e.g., solidarity), etc.

This made it possible to explain the higher crime rates in the U.S. compared to other developed or developing countries. These protective factors, however, are now being gradually lost. Disjunctions between socially induced goals and legal means are few in societies that do not encourage high social mobility. In such societies, people may not feel that they are lacking anything, even when they are "objectively" deprived. Economic or other asymmetries are unknown or not experienced and perceived as intolerable. Global neoliberalism breaks down societal barriers and encourages new needs, desires, and fashions. It promotes the adoption of non-membership reference groups for comparisons that can be unfavorable and upsetting. New normative reference groups define what is "cool" to do. People's ideals in the South and the East may not be about getting from "a log cabin to the White House." However, they are being systematically driven to abandon old ways and values in order to consume. They do not necessarily think that they can be "like Mike," but they do fancy those pricey athletic shoes. So, fresh normative and comparative models create new "needs," together with the expectation that the fulfillment of such needs is vital and achievable.

Yet, as needs and normative models are "harmonized," people become conscious of economic and power asymmetries, and directly experience their impact. Globalization and neoliberalism heightened this awareness, further widened the asymmetries, and fostered the interpretation of them as unnecessary and changeable. In the end, most people realize that the attainment of their lofty goals and lifestyles is beyond reach, if they are to use legitimate means. The success in spreading neoliberalism has brought about a series of failures: more poverty, bigger economic asymmetries, ecosystem deterioration, slower and unsustainable growth patterns. At the time that societies most needed the shield of the state to cushion these effects, welfare programs, safety nets, and other assistance to the poor (individuals, companies, and states alike) forcibly declined or disappeared. Thus, global neoliberalism systematically causes relative deprivation as well as absolute immiseration of masses of people. In effect, it has generated new sources of criminogenesis and removed existing antidotes to it.

All this provides multiple motivations for criminality, as many would turn left and right for solutions and illicit opportunity structures become more international and accessible. At the same time, many weak states lose their autonomy, come to depend more on international organizations and transnational capital, and are unable to cope with emerging crime threats from criminal enterprises and powerful corporations. So, globalism and neoliberalism replace the "egalitarian discourse" of the American Dream in the scheme represented in Figure 1 in a process occurring in the industrialized world, developing countries, and those in transition from Communism to market democracies. Nowhere are these results more clearly visible than in the former USSR.

The Case of Russia

No one argues that there was no appetite for consumer goods in the years of the USSR or that such goods were widely available. Crime, corruption, illegal markets, and even underground factories could be found behind the official facade of the command system before glasnost and perestroika, although black marketers were not numerous and lived modestly. The government turned a blind eye to these activities, because they served as a safety valve in an inefficient system (Gleason, 1990; Handelman, 1995; Naylor, 1999b). Discontent, enormous structural problems, and an inability to deal with them characterized the pre-transition years. This is particularly true for the 1960s, when Khrushchev pledged that the USSR would overtake the U.S. in the production of industrial goods by the 1980s. Yet, as inefficiencies precluded such progress, demands for more consumer items "from an increasingly educated, by now self-assured, population, started to put pressure on a loyal expression of the citizens' request for the gradual delivery of promised well-being" (Castells. 2000: 25).

In the 1990s, however, the rates of fraud, prostitution, drug trafficking and abuse, alcoholism, smuggling, white-collar crime, violence, and corruption skyrocketed (Castells, 2000; Handelman, 1995; Holmes, 1997; Lee, 1994; Shelley, 1994). To be sure, Russia is unique in the degree of chaos and disintegration that accompanied the transition to a market economy and the implementation of neoliberal reforms. Few countries have experienced the speed and intensity of privatization, deregulation, and the lack of political leadership and administrative skills we witness in Russia. Indeed, it is the closest we can come to a social state of anomie, without a total collapse and anarchy. This does not mean that Russia is atypical. Very similar, albeit less intense, processes have occurred throughout the world (Lee, 1999; Mander and Goldsmith, 1996; van Duyne et al., 2000). Nevertheless, precisely because it is such an extreme case, it illustrates the theoretical points made here and the process toward anomie and economc crime.

Enter Neoliberalism

In the 1985 to 1989 period, reforms took place while the Communist Party was still in control. The Law on Cooperatives (1986) and the Law on Individual Labor Activity (1987) paved the way for further reforms, such as legalization of small businesses in 1989. Between 1990 and 1991, the USSR Supreme Soviet, with Yeltsin as chairman, introduced laws that made state and private enterprises equal, allowed state companies relative independence from government managers, abolished mostrestrictions on property bought by citizens, promoted privatization, and allowed foreign companies to operate in Russia. Such reforms did not take place at the same pace throughout the USSR. This set Russia apart from the Union and Yeltsin from Gorbachev. Legal asymmetries made the task of law enforcers impossible, as they did not know which laws to prioritize and apply (Afanasyef, 1994). Up to the 1991 coup and the collapse of the USSR, reforms were cautious and gradual, and had not challenged the core of the command economy system. F ollowing the failed coup and under Yeltsin, however, this changed dramatically. Demagogy and erroneous judgments on the feasibility of a swift transition to a market democracy compounded the problem. The Russian government was warned of the dire consequences of a speedy transition to a market economy without previous establishment of the necessary institutions and legal infrastructure. The chairman of an international advisory committee, which repeatedly issued warnings in 1992, was told that "forces in the Kremlin" favored a less "regulatory approach that would provide greater freedom of manoeuvre. Gaidar, supported by the IMF, believed firmly in the intrinsic capacity of market forces to remove obstacles by themselves, and people could use their vouchers to acquire shares" (Castells, 2000:188). Prices were liberalized, imports and exports became free, domestic trade restrictions were abolished, government intervention was minimized, and public property was massively privatized. By June 1994, officials were self-congratulatory over the fact that 70% of state assets had passed into private hands (Kuznetsova, 1994).

New Normative and Comparative Referents

The reforms initiated by Andropov and Gorbachev (perestroika and glasnost) allowed some freedom of speech and openness that let globalization and media influences into the USSR. The post-1991 changes, however, offered new hope out of the severe problems people were facing. Russian leaders fostered heightened aspirations by declaring that the country would soon be modernized and join the "civilized world." Authorities in the former Soviet republics made the same promise, arguing that '"since we gotrid of the Russians,' all obstacles to prosperity have been removed and Western standards are within reach" (Burbach et al., 1997: 118). There were forceful and impressive presentations of consumerist lifestyles as "desirable," "modern," and feasible. Distant comparative and normative referents were thus promoted by the media and advertising. Indeed, the yearning for Western lifestyles and consumption items made the initial acceptance of neoliberalism by the population much easier (Ibid.). Neoliberalism strengthened that desire and made consumerist dreams appear realistic. Even young Russians now would like to be like Mike and wear the same type of shoes or eat the same breakfast. As Glinkina (1994: 385) put it, an important factor contributing to the criminalization of the economy has been "a drastic stratification of the population's standard of living with a simultaneous loss, in a considerable part (especially among the youth), of socially important goals --replacing them with consumption ideals...."

It must be noted that the normative shift was far more radical in the former USSR and Eastern Europe than it was in Third World countries. The transition from socialism to capitalism by overzealous authorities espousing the new dogma of neoliberalism has had its own direct anomic effects, as will be seen below.

The Consequence: Means-Ends Discrepancies

The worldwide consequences of neoliberal policies were replicated in Russia. However, the effects have been far more disastrous than elsewhere: lower productivity, high unemployment, much steeper inequalities, increased levels of absolute poverty, disappearance of familiar safety nets, and administrations paralyzed by ineptness and corruption. The ensuing means-ends discrepancies are far more than a theoretical construct. They are painfully experienced by large numbers of people who realize that they simply cannot attain their goals. Within one year, inflation wiped outmost people's life savings, while the buying power of most wages dropped to the level of the 1950s. In the winter of 1993, funds were often insufficient to heat residential buildings (Burbach et al., 1997; Handelman, 1993).

As a new bourgeoisie emerged from the ashes of the Communist regime, one-third of the population became impoverished. The gap between the rich and the poor opened up suddenly and grew out of proportion. Official data indicate that in 1994 the difference between them was elevenfold. Researchers argue that the difference between the top 10% and the bottom 10% is 28-fold (Kuznetsova, 1994). Even the chair of the Privatization Commission admitted that the process created "pauper-proprietors" who "cannot survive without state protection" (cited in Burbach et al., 1997: 120).

Relative and Absolute Deprivation

The rising expectations of the 1960s led to disenchantment with Communism and paved the way for radical social change. The abandonment of the Soviet conservative model and very rapid implementation of neoliberal policies fueled hopes that a much better future was within reach. Russians rejected rigid stratification and strove for a socially mobile ideal. As has been noted, [the middle classes] believed that capitalism could offer even more. Thus, the modernization that had been promised by the neoliberals was perceived by the majority of the population as the modernization of consumption.... The Western model of consumption has finally triumphed, at least in the main cities. But for the majority of the people, the price is that even the former Soviet way of life has become an unattainable dream (Burbach et al., 1997: 124).

The aspiring yuppies have ended up as "dumpies," while a growing polarization makes them see a few of their compatriots enjoy luxuries attained by looting the remnants of the former USSR.

Thus, the post-Soviet Russian dream turned out to be a nasty nightmare (Handelman, 1995). As happened in many other countries, austerity, belt tightening, and lower (in some cases, no) salaries were imposed as consumerism took hold. The impact of these experiences on personal feelings is much more widespread, intense, and unpleasant due to the higher expectations. Even people who are not objectively deprived now feel relatively deprived. Comparisons between their present and past situations are unfavorable: "Formerly privileged sections of the Russian population, such as teachers, doctors, miners, and workers in the oil and gas industry, went on strike, for they could no longer survive on 50 to 70 dollars per month salaries" (Burbach et al., 1997: 125-126).

East-West political and administrative asymmetries, economic asymmetries, and relative deprivation in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR and disillusionment with Western policies and capitalism have been clearly criminogenic (Handelman, 1994; Shelley, 1994). Motives for various types of crime became abundant, illegal opportunity structures multiplied, and control systems have been seriously damaged and undermined. The Mertonian category of "conformity" has almost become a rarity, as crime rates increased sharply. Even worse is the problem of economic crime. Recorded economic crimes rose almost 23% during the first seven months of 2000, compared with the same period in 1999 (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, August 17, 2000). Strains and discontent have translated into a range of predatory misconduct, corruption, political violence, a variety of illegal markets, and expressive misconduct.

Search for Solutions and Anomie

In this context, many can be expected to "innovate," to employ illegal methods for survival or the satisfaction of their basic and newly acquired needs. Methods range from petty property crimes and prostitution to criminal enterprises and white-collar crime, depending on the social position of the offender. An electronics engineer, for example, could not live on his three dollars per month and moonlighted as a taxi driver. When his taxi broke down, he turned to selling poppy straw (OGD, 1996). Unpaid and depressed professionals with access to more valuable commodities, such as nuclear material, pose an even more serious threat (Lee, 1999). Consumerist teasing increased demand for goods made unavailable (e.g., cars or electronics) by the economic collapse, fueling smuggling operations, black market networks, and associated illegal enterprises. Shortages of other desired goods are artificially created by quickly adapting entrepreneurs.

Similar conditions outside Russia explain the illegal car trade between Eastern and Western Europe (van Duyne et al., 2000) and the illegal trade in various commodities between China and Hong Kong before unification (Vagg, 1992). In Russia, many took advantage of such supply-demand asymmetries, including the vory v zakonye (commonly described as "thieves in law"), who had been the dominant type of professional offenders in the USSR. Structural changes and globalization, however, brought about more competition from ethnic groups (Armenians, Azeris, Chechens, Georgians, etc.) in drugs and arms trafficking, as well as from loose and ad hoc associations of criminals in certain locations or industries. Unsettling reports assert a symbiotic relationship between criminal groups and active or retired intelligence officials. Deteriorating economic conditions have facilitated recruitment for employees in growing illegal markets. Criminal enterprises, for instance, have "...invested heavily in the opium business, financing much of the new cultivation by hiring peasants and even entire villages to plant and protect the poppy crops" (Lee, 1994: 401).

Another source of criminal opportunities sprang from the disintegration of institutions and the disarray in law enforcement. Legitimate businesses are exposed to blackmail and other criminal victimization, but the authorities are unable to assist them. Consequently, many domestic and foreign companies deal with criminal groups and seek their protection, rather than rely on the government (Lee, 1994). Not surprisingly, the majority of Russian experts consider the strengthening of criminal groups to be a "very significant" social consequence of the market reforms introduced in 1992 (Afanasyef, 1994).

Other illicit opportunities were furnished by the privatization process, such as selling state assets at extremely low prices or driving down the prices of privatized companies so as to cheaply purchase vouchers owned by individuals desperate to make ends meet. Privatization in countries with an existing bourgeoisie and experienced managers and entrepreneurs facilitated certain corporate crimes and abuses of power by respected professionals. In Russia, the mix of offenders was different: former company directors, the nomenklatura, professional criminals, and new entrepreneurs with a black market background (Glinkina, 1994; Kuznetsova, 1994; Shelley, 1994). The attempt of former Communist officials to dominate this field did not prove lasting. Many were not competent to run private businesses and had to sell them or lose control. The main beneficiaries seem to be former black marketers and outsiders to the old order (Naylor, 1999b). The abuse of privatization has had an anomic effect as the impunity of offenders became widely known, to the point that Russians began to refer to privatization (privatizatsiya) as prikhvatizatsiya, which means "grabbing" (Handelman, 1995: 104).

Crime and corruption in the midst of privatization fervor are not unique to Russia. (On other previously Communist states, see Popescu-Birlan, 1994; on Latin America, see Saba and Manzetti, 1996-1997.) As a former World Bank official put it, "everything we did from 1983 onward was based upon our new sense of mission to have the south privatized or die; towards this end we ignominiously created economic bedlam in Latin America and Africa" (cited in Katona, 1999). Another similarity with other parts of the world is the degree of authoritarianism that accompanied neoliberal policies. While stimulating rapid accumulation of private capital, the role of the state is reduced to implementing financial austerity. When people started to oppose such measures, "Yeltsin resorted, with Western support, to establishing a semi-authoritarian regime. Making Russian 'reformers' invincible to political and legal challenges inside the country contributed to further criminalization of the Russian State, which acquired an oligarchic character" (Beare, 2000:6). As similar processes occurred around the world, from Pinochet's Chile to Suharto's Indonesia, one wonders if such reforms would have been possible in a democracy.

Legal organizations also "innovate" by cutting corners and breaking the law due to the environment created by unsystematic legal reforms. Unable to navigate a sea of legal gaps and inconsistencies, "...most managers of private as well as state-owned enterprises cannot run their businesses without committing crimes" (Afanasyef, 1994: 437). Many companies cannot handle the competitive challenges generated by globalism and require state protection. The subsidization of privatized companies, however, introduces further regulatory and price asymmetries that foster the smuggling of goods across newly created borders within the former USSR (see below on nonferrous materials). Enterprises that do not enjoy state intervention are at a disadvantage and may be forced into bankruptcy or crime as a last resort. This is analogous to the situation in all countries that abolish trade barriers, let transnational corporations in, and eliminate preferential treatment for domestic industries.

High-level corruption and banking crimes have become quite common, as the networks of mobsters, financiers, businessmen, and high-level officials extend beyond Eurasia (Beare, 2000). The ongoing investigations into billions of dollars (possibly IMF-provided funds) laundered through the Bank of New York have expanded to include British, Swiss, and Italian entities and actors.

Moreover, pyramid schemes and other frauds have devastated gullible investors, as is the case with other post-Communist countries. Independent Oil, Lenin Trade and Financial Corporation, Aldzher (a security corporation), and other companies defrauded more than a million depositors and investors. Just as the Lincoln Savings and Loan frauds were committed in midst of obsessive deregulation in the U.S. against "the weak, the meek, and the old," Russian pensioners have been the main fraud victims (Glinkina, 1994).

Economic asymmetries among countries produce another set of criminal opportunities, as many become strongly motivated to flee the problem and search for a better future in the West, where the "goodies" are available. However, neoliberalism has promoted the free movement of everything but labor. Quotas and restrictions in promised lands generate demand for illegal services such as the smuggling of humans (Chin, 1999). This leads to opportunities for criminal exploitation, corruption, child/cheap labor, slavery, and forced prostitution.

Women, who are increasingly breadwinners but make up two-thirds of the newly unemployed in Russia, are even more vulnerable in this respect. Economic desperation drives many of them to prostitution or high risk taking. Lack of opportunity makes Russians and East Europeans softer targets for human traffickers. They are more likely to be lured to the West with promises of well-paying, respectable jobs only to end up blackmailed, beaten up, and forced into prostitution (Bruinsma, 1999; Shelley, 1994). The same problems faced by Thai, Mexican, and other women in the U.S. have led to a public hearing before the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights (September 14, 1999).

Relative deprivation and experience of injustice have a revolutionary potential too. International communications convey the message that injustice and inequality are avoidable. Events in one corner of the earth affect feelings and encourage people elsewhere to rebel against aggression. This may inspire change and foster rebellion. Just as the ideals of the French Revolution led to rebellions in the Balkans against the Ottoman rule (Hovannisian, 1994), the independence of the Baltic states and the U.N. response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait inspired the East Timorese to fight against the Indonesian autocratic rule (Dunn, 1994). The uprising of Zapatistas in Mexico was deliberately started on January 1, 1994, the day NAFTA went into effect, "as a highly symbolic way to protest neoliberalism and globalisation in Mexico and Latin America" (Robinson, 1998-1999: 123-124).

Repressed nationalism, globalism, and bad times have jointly contributed to several armed conflicts and rebellions in the former USSR (the Caucasus, Moldova, Crimea, Tajikistan, and Chechnya). Rebellion and illegal markets become interconnected, as armed conflicts necessitate training, weapons, intelligence, and financing. The cases of Chechnya, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Colombia show how political revolts are associated with corruption, money laundering, the traffic in arms, drugs, and even nuclear material and other crimes that go unpunished (Kuznetsova, 1994: 445; Lee, 1999; Naylor, 1999b; OGD, 1996). Chechnya, which survives thanks to donations from criminal organizations based in other parts of Russia, has become such a paradise for these activities that some depict the war there as "a crusade against a 'mafia republic,'" while others think of it as "a conflict between opposing criminal elites for the control of oil and the financial resources held by the government in Grozny" (Politi, 1998: 44).

Finally, "retreatism" is the only option left to those lacking access to illegal opportunities or who are unwilling to assume the associated risks of violence and arrest. Hence, expressive crimes could be expected. More important, the rates of alcohol and drug abuse (further facilitated by the decriminalization of drug use in Russia in 1991) increased geometrically, especially in the cities, and fueled the demand for things provided in illegal markets (Lee, 1994; OGD, 1996).


The transition from a command to a market economy practically legalized large parts of the black market and made legal business dependent on criminals' protection. The dismantling of borders and increased contact among previously isolated ethnic groups contributed to the formation of new, wider networks of illegality (Politi, 1998). The result was that one could hardly tell criminals from businessmen, particularly when some outlaw groups act on instructions from government officials or the police (Handelman, 1993). Given official efforts to ensure that the transition to a market economy would occur before substantial opposition could build and that the changes would be irreversible, too many shady actors were allowed to take advantage of this official shield (Glinkina, 1994; Naylor, 1999b). In this light, common views on government-criminal interfaces and symbiosis are plausible, although difficult to prove. Surveys in 1994 showed that the concern of Russians over organized crime was second only to their fears of triple-digit inflation (Afanasyef, 1994). At the perceptual level, therefore, this interface is real and has real consequences: demoralization and anomie.

The corrupted process of privatization has generated widespread rationalizations, such as, "it is OK to steal from the state" or "everyone is doing the same thing." Taking an example pointing to international security risks, Lee (1999: 21) has noted that, "perhaps the most serious problem is the growth of a privatization mentality within the nuclear complex. Economic reform has meant a license to steal. This has resulted in broad systemic corruption and a variety of insider threats and conspiracies."

An additional sign of anomie is what has been described as a "culture of urgency" among young killers:

For them there is no hope in society, and everything, particularly politics and politicians, is rotten. Life itself has no meaning, and their life has no future.... So, only the moment counts, immediate consumption, good clothing, good life, on the run, together with the satisfaction of inducing fear, of feeling powerful with their guns (Castells, 2000: 210).

Only effective social controls can halt the process toward further deviance and a higher degree of anomie (deviance without strain). Unfortunately, in Russia and elsewhere, a decreased level of autonomy for certain states, the increased power of international organizations and transnational corporations, and dysnomie add to the fuel.

Dependence, Deregulation, and the Race to the Bottom

"Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs (lesser developed countries)?" "I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.... I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted; their air quality is vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City" (1991 memo attributed to World Bank official Lawrence Summers, who later became U.S. Secretary of Treasury; it is widely believed that he did not write it, even though he has accepted responsibility for it. At any rate, this illustrates the neoliberal mindset).

The loss of autonomy and reduced sovereignty of the state relative to capital referred to earlier (Korten, 1996; Watkins, 1997) is particularly acute in the former Communist countries. Speculative capital will quickly flee each country at the first sign trouble or wavering over neoliberal reforms. External debt grew in all former Communist countries, but especially in Russia, which bears the marks of Africa-like dependent capitalism and "colonial subjugation. The country exports fewer and fewer industrial products and more and more raw materials. Meanwhile, it imports low-quality mass consumption goods, obsolete and hence cheap technology, luxury items and radioactive waste" (Burbach et al., 1997: 120-121). An instance of the direct and blatant interference of foreign governments and transnational corporations in domestic matters was when Chase Manhattan urged the Mexican government to crush the Zapatista rebellion to calm down U.S. investors (Silverstein and Cockburn, 1995; see also Clinard, 1990).

Ironically, the higher degree of dependency in the South and East has lowered the accountability of politicians and corporations. They can now blame globalization for the loss of jobs and lower wages, and prescribe more "efficiency," deregulation, short-term austerity, and declining levels of public spending so as to keep capital in place or attract more. Thus, economic and political leaders appear to be protectors of the public interest and a stabilizing force, while they dismantle existing safety nets (economic neoliberalism has also undermined political liberalism; Klak, 1998).

The Russian government's aversion to regulation (Glinkina, 1994) is observable in other countries, where deregulation turned into competitive deregulation and a race to the bottom. Even in the U.S., the savings and loan disaster and the asymmetric regulation of hazardous wastes demonstrate how criminogenic this process has been. This made it possible to dump legally in Pennsylvania what was prohibited in New Jersey, in what has been termed "crimes without law violations" (Passas, 1999). Such crimes are most likely in the global context given the overwhelming influence of TNCs over national laws and macroeconomic policies. This has prompted some to speak of "rationalized corporate colonialism" (Mander, 1996). Such asymmetries of power make for legal norms that allow overseas that which is, for good reason, criminalized in the base country (e.g., toxic waste dumping, testing drugs on humans, bribery, tax evasion, as well as the patenting of life forms by biotechnology companies and other outrageous practices) (see King and Stabinsky, 1998-1999; Shiva, 1997). The legal asymmetries and uneven power of transnational corporations that create or perpetuate these and other asymmetries give rise to crimes without law violations. Thus, entire countries become vulnerable to victimization by TNCs, a significant problem that is often neglected in conventional discussions of transnational crime. The volatile combination of low wages, bad working conditions, tax breaks only for the rich/corporations, lower environmental standards, deregulation, and less corporate and political accountability with the government relegated to the protection of the international free trade system has predictably made for crises (e.g., Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico, and Brazil). It also makes for dysnomie.

Dysnomie and Further (Global) Anomie

Dysnomie literally means "difficulty to govern" and obtains when the following three conditions are present: a lack of a global norm-making mechanism, inconsistent enforcement of existing international rules, and the existence of a regulatory patchwork of diverse and conflicting legal traditions and practices. Russia is in this respect a microcosm that reflects what is happening in the entire world.

Since reforms took place at an uneven pace in each Soviet Republic, an asymmetry grew wider following the collapse of the USSR. In addition, this collapse suddenly created thousands of miles of new borders that had to be policed, just as state resources were diminished. This made for porous borders that offered no resistance to smugglers. This is how Estonia became the largest exporter of nonferrous materials, even though it does not produce any (Glinkina, 1994). Extensive legal changes accelerated the transition to a market economy, but they were marked by inconsistencies and lacked the necessary legal and institutional infrastructure (Handelman, 1995). For example, the law against private entrepreneurship and commercial mediations was repealed only on December 5, 1991. The law against black market transactions, which defined them as "the buying up and reselling of goods or other items for profit-making," was first amended in February 1990 to increase penalties for certain offenses, was then officially rein terpreted to refer only to trade in commodities sold at state-fixed prices (October 1990), and was finally repealed in February 1991 (Afanasyef, 1994: 429). Lack of resources made the problem worse, as underpaid, ill-equipped, and outgunned police could not be expected to do an effective job.

Weak controls allow criminals to get away and to regard themselves as successful. Deviant "solutions" came to be seen as keys to "success." Successful deviance then becomes a normative referent, contributing to a wider normative breakdown and overemphasis on goals at the expense of normative means. In the context of massive cultural shifts -- from the criminalizing of private profit and the hiring of labor outside the household to making them central values for a new social order -- the sense of right and wrong became fuzzy. As the deputy minister of Internal Affairs admitted at a 1992 press conference, "even our specialists find it difficult to determine the legal from the illegal -- to determine, for instance, what is profiteering and what is honest trade" (cited in Handelman, 1993). Corruption grew so much that up to 30% of illegal gains are reportedly paid to government officials (Glinkina, 1994; Lee, 1999). In the end, distinctions between white-collar crime, organized crime, corruption, and legitimate business are almost impossible to make. Lawbreaking behavior and success are fused. As a businessman told Handelman (1995: 139), "the truth is, everything you see around you, all our success, is not thanks to our wonderful economic laws. It's thanks to the fact that we do not obey them."

Dysnomic conditions also bring about anomie at the global level. As argued elsewhere (Passas, 1999), international law is more essential now than ever for the maintenance of world order and security. Yet, big powers are reluctant to contribute to the required pooling of sovereignty and have been blocking the development of an international criminal code and specific legislation to restrain their corporations. Dependent on rich countries for its operations, the U.N. has not been overly aggressive in pursuing these aims or in establishing a permanent international criminal tribunal. Globalism has thus run ahead of the creation of a desperately needed normative and enforcement infrastructure.

Existing international laws are applied selectively and never against one of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Counsel. This ad hoc approach and the extraterritorial application of national laws undermine the legitimacy of current laws and procedures. We are left with a legal patchwork of inconsistent and conflicting rules. An example of the effect of such asymmetries is the secrecy and anonymity available in certain jurisdictions that hinder investigative work by covering the tracks and proceeds of global offenders, de facto shielding them against prosecution and punishment. By exploiting the cracks between diverse state rules, companies continually commit crimes without law violation. Globalism also leads to a relativization of norms and facilitates law violations with a clear conscience (rationalizations and techniques of neutralization).

Finally, the border-policing problem in the former USSR is not unique, even if the underlying causes were specific to it and other European countries (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia). More generally, borders become porous, as technology and mobility enabled people, money, goods, and ideas to travel quickly and cheaply. Criminals can take advantage of this shrinking world, but law enforcement agencies are constrained by parochial laws and procedures. Though the reasons for the porousness may differ, the process and results are the same.


Tremendous structural strains have overwhelmed even the usually patient and submissive Russians. The economic situation deteriorated further, hopes were dashed, opportunities for criminal gain and for looting the USSR's assets multiplied, and the anomic societal context offered no assistance to anyone seeking to restore some law and order. In Russia and around the world, the neoliberal operation was successful, but the patients are being systematically frustrated, are starving, and subject to exploitation by corporations, criminal enterprises, and corrupt politicians. In short, globalization and neoliberalism spread analytically similar criminogenic processes that were once unique to the U.S. culture of the American Dream in a context of structural inequalities. Just as the world supposedly became freer, wealthier, more democratic, more enjoyable, and more equal, people find themselves poorer, more exploited, and facing increased hardships. Just as the need for strong normative guidance grows, norms break down or lose their legitimacy. Just as effective controls become necessary to slow down or stop the vicious cycle leading to higher rates of crime, a dysnomic regulatory patchwork remains in place largely because of nationalist insistence on sovereignty and states' unwillingness to allow the introduction of common principles and law enforcement mechanisms.

Two main points need to be reiterated here. First, it appears that global neoliberalism and serious crime go hand in hand. However, it would be erroneous to argue that stereotypical organized criminals are giving capitalism a bad name and undermining neoliberal policies. The implication is that, were we to rid ourselves of some very bad apples, everything would be fine. Rather, it appears that serious organizational misconduct is a consequence of such policies. Second, when we discuss transnational crime, we should bear in mind that it is not just the stereotyped ethnics who cause most problems. It may be that the biggest threat emanates from legitimate corporations and other organizations.

Detailed discussion of policy implications is beyond the scope of this article. The horizontal arrows in Figure 1 hint at the points of possible policy intervention. Myriad concrete ideas can be found in the literature, ranging from legal changes to informal controls, grass-roots movements, integration of economic growth with environmental and social protection, relocalization of production and consumption, etc. The most important ray of hope, however, is implicit in the foregoing analysis. Neoliberal policies and globalization are largely the fruit of (some) governments. They affect and are affected by governance. Therefore, governments have the ability to reverse some of these processes and to mitigate their adverse consequences. Otherwise, the current processes of globalization and neoliberalism will prove to be unsustainable and at a huge cost.

Neoliberal globalization as a catalyst for the rise of ultra-nationalism and neo-fascism

In 2014 a lot of people here condemned excesses of Ukraine nationalism, especially the part of Galician nationalism the has clear neo-fascist flavor and that now attempts to colonize South and Eastern Ukraine in a kind of replay of Drang nach Osten.

But rise of nationalism is a pan-European phenomenon now. And it is observable in almost any county, including but not limited to France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Greece, and even UK.

Is not this is a (somewhat pervert) reaction to excesses of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization? In other words is not the key side effects of neoliberal globalization is the rise of ultra nationalist and neo-fascist movements all over the world?  Many researchers think that yes (Globalization, ethnic conflict and nationalism Daniele Conversi -

The force of nationalism has spread well over the nineteenth century into the age of globalization. There are thus parallels between modernization and globalization as sti-mulating factors for nationalism and ethnic conflict. Although the reach of globalizationis historically unprecedented, some of its features accompanied the rise of modernity andthe advent of the modern nation state. In particular, both resulted in the demise of older boundaries and the construction of new ones. Whereas industrialization destroyed localand regional boundaries by superimposing national boundaries on them, globalizationdestroyed national boundaries by superimposing a plethora of supra-national and corpo-rate networks on them, including mafias, organized crime, and multi-national corpora-tions (MNCs), none of which are as easily identifiable on a political map as sovereign, countries still are. The adoption of planetary rules to comply with the standards set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank has unsurprisingly resulted in global disempowerment, at least according to the perception of influential NGOs activists (Korten 2001).

Has all this also led to a decline in national identities? Not at all. Partly because nationalcultures have been seriously damaged or reshaped by globalization, we have seen a global intensification of ethnic belligerence. Moreover, the formation of new elites and the spread of capitalist wealth have led to nationalist self-assertion, while cultural impoverishment spurred a generalized need for compensatory ethnic assertiveness.

... ... ...

If nationalism cannot be explained independently from the onset of modernity andmodern state-making, both are enmeshed in the expansion of warfare. Nationalism manifested itself in an era of inter-state competition, the collapse of boundaries, economic expansion, mass migration, general insecurity, political centralization, obsessivelaw-making, societal policing, and drastic militarization, finally leading to war. In them eanwhile, the Pax Britannica ensuing Waterloo provided the impetus for colonialexpansion while fomenting inter-imperial rivalries and competition (Conversi 2007).Thus, just as Europe was accumulating wealth, power, and armaments in anticipation of the unprecedented conflagration, its global economic reach affected broader and broader areas of the world. Economic competition and destructive warfare were just beingexported beyond European borders. Linda Colley notes:

the profit and the price of this hundred-year partial European peace was unprecedented Western, and especially British, freedom to concentrate on global empire. In 1800, the European powers, together with Russia and the United States, laid claim to some 35 percent of the globe’s total land area. By 1914 [their] proportion of the globe … had risen to 84 percent (Colley 2002:311).

By 1914, the West had also accumulated enough economic wealth and weapons of mass destruction to unleash the greatest manslaughter in human history. The totalitarian era following the First World War has been described as the culmination of a pattern of mass dislocation founded on modernity (Arendt 1958; Bauman 1989). As we shall see later, the emergence of totalitarianism in Europe coincided with the first wave of deep Americanization, including the triumph of Hollywood, cigarette consumption, the car culture, and other US products meant for mass distribution.

... ... ...

The expansion of nationalism throughout the globe is hence the spreading out of aWestern idea. In other words, nationalism is an essential component of Westernization.As I have argued, nationalism cannot be understood outside the devastating impact of modernity, particularly industrialization, with its demise of traditional lifestyles, skills,cultures, and communities (Gellner 2006). Such a devastation was suciently all-pervasiveto argue that the victory of nationalism represented the victory of a surrogate sense of community, which for some was a colossal
‘ fraud’ (Gellner 2006) or an invented tradition (Hobsbawm 1983). Thus, for Gellner the nationalists spoke in defence of a hypo-thetical Gemeinschaft, but actually practiced the construction of a novel Gesellschaft, the two being largely incompatible. For both Gellner and Hobsbawm nationalism was not much less than a form of cultural
brainwashing. For others, the whole process was not only counterfeit, it was based on the conspiracy of emerging rapacious economic and political elites, which used selected elements of popular tradition while invoking nationhood, just as populists often invoke the defence of the people. For instance, the role of secret societies like the Italian carbonari is a widely known and omni-present feature of nineteenth-century century mobilization. Secret paramilitary groups of patriots played a pivotal role in the spread of most nationalist movements. Karl Marx’s characterization of nationalism as a form of false consciousness manipulated by the bourgeoisie is a well-known example of this conspiracy approach. Traditionalist, anarchical, conservative, and even liberal approaches often share similar views of nationalism as a strategy of elites. The broader trend is often known as instrumentalism(Smith 1998),because it emphasizes the mere instrumentality of nationhood. Nations do no exist assuch; they are simply cultural tools in the hands of elites or proto-elites who seek to mobilize the masses on the basis of an emotional appeal to a common but fictitious nationality.

As we shall see, in its current shape cultural globalization is often understood as a one-way importation of standardized cultural items and icons from a single country, the United States of America, to the rest of the world regardless of the fact that most of theitems are actually made in China. For many, globalization is synonymous with Westernization (la Branche 2003, 2005, Latouche 1996) or, more accurately, Americanization.The international consequence of Americanization is a widespread sense of cultural insecurity vis-à-vis an unfathomable force that nobody seems capable of containing(Amin 2004). Because this perception has been so far unable to produce organized, rational and universal responses, it tends to express itself through visceral, rudimentary,and unpredictable forms of anti-Americanism (Barber 1995).

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright showed insights about the US full-spectrum dominance cultural policy when she said that Cultural factors play a pivotalrole in many of the international challenges we face
our cultural programs are central -- and I underline that —  central to the success of American foreign policy
(Albright2000). Once out of office, she adopted a more cautious position, considering the risks and damages infl
icted by extreme forms of Americanization. For Bacevich (2002), the economic openness implicit in neo-liberalism produces a form of globalization that is inevitably synonymous with Americanization, since it is predicated on a national security approach founded on global dominance.


Situation with neoliberalism in the USA now is an almost perfect illustration of the credibility trap. One cannot allow the illusion to falter, even a little, to the bitter end. And as the fraud fades, the force intensifies, becoming almost rabid in its deflection. Because that illusion has become the center of a hollowed people's being, their raison d'être, a mythological justification for their existence. Chris Hedges made an apt analogy with The Fall of Berlin 1945

I came across a nice, compact interview with Chris Hedges which illuminates his thesis of the decline of the American Empire and the illusions and the end of rational thinking that accompanies it. Empires seem to give off quite a bit of flash in their latter stages, rather like the last gasp of a dying star.

The interviewer, Allan Gregg, does a particularly nice job of drawing Hedges out.

I would like to add an observation I came to in thinking further about the Sophie Scholl piece which I put up earlier today. Perhaps there is something about gardening that focuses the mind.

The almost frenetic preoccupation and adherence to the Nazi ideology in the latter stages of the war, when it was obvious to any rational observer that they could not win, is remarkable. I had been particularly struck in my reading some time ago with the 'wolf packs' of Nazis who had raged through Berlin, rounding up old men and even boys who had not joined the Volkssturm, and hanging them, even while the Russians were shelling the Reichstag. It never made sense to me until today.

"The radio announced that Hitler had come out of his safe bomb-proof bunker to talk with the fourteen to sixteen year old boys who had 'volunteered' for the 'honor' to be accepted into the SS and to die for their Fuhrer in the defense of Berlin. What a cruel lie! These boys did not volunteer, but had no choice, because boys who were found hiding were hanged as traitors by the SS as a warning that, 'he who was not brave enough to fight had to die.'

When trees were not available, people were strung up on lamp posts. They were hanging everywhere, military and civilian, men and women, ordinary citizens who had been executed by a small group of fanatics. It appeared that the Nazis did not want the people to survive because a lost war, by their rationale, was obviously the fault of all of us. We had not sacrificed enough and therefore, we had forfeited our right to live, as only the government was without guilt."

Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel, Eyewitness account, Fall of Berlin 1945

I was reminded of this phenomenon by the trial of Sophie Scholl, and her words to the judge Roland Freisler, as he ranted his virulent condemnations at them. 'Soon you will be in our place,' she said to him. He did escape the hangman's noose at Nuremburg, but only by virtue of an Allied bomb in 1945. When his body was brought to hospital an orderly remarked, 'It was God's verdict.' He was buried in an unmarked grave, without ceremony and unmourned. Much like his beloved Fuhrer.

This is an almost perfect illustration of the credibility trap. One cannot allow the illusion to falter, even a little, to the bitter end. And as the fraud fades, the force intensifies, becoming almost rabid in its deflection. Because that illusion has become the center of a hollowed people's being, their raison d'être, a mythological justification for their existence.

If the ideology had been a lie, then they are not heroes and gods on earth, but monsters and criminals, and their life has been self-serving and meaningless, without significance and honor. And that is the credibility trap.

And this is the US financial system today.

So the legitimacy of neoliberalism is gone since events of 2008 and consequences of this epochal event are still unclear. As chances that the USA will get rid of neoliberalism voluntarily are slim, we might be present in a crush of yet another empire. That might mirror the destiny of the USSR which fell when its ideology became delegitimized. With the key difference that the USA elite is much more aggressive and ready to use whatever means possible to preserve its status when it is under threat.

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[May 21, 2015]Consistent With

May 21, 2015 | Economist's View
Chris Dillow:
"Consistent with": ...Peter Dorman criticizes economists' habit of declaring a theory successful merely because it is "consistent with" the evidence. His point deserves emphasis. ...
This is a point which some defenders of inequality miss. Of course, you can devise theories which are "consistent with" inequality arising from reasonable differences in choices and marginal products. Such theories, though, beg the question: is that how inequality really emerged?... And the answer, to put it mildly, is: only partially. It also arose from luck, inefficient selection, rigged markets, rent-seeking and outright theft. ...
Quite often, the facts are consistent with either theory. For example, the well-attested momentum anomaly - the tendency for assets that have risen in price recently to continue rising - is "consistent with" both a cognitive bias (under-reaction) and with rational behaviour; fund managers' desire to avoid benchmark risk.
My point here should be well-known. The Duhem-Quine thesis warns us that facts under-determine theory: they are "consistent with" multiple theories. ...
So, how can we guard against the "consistent with" error? One thing we need is history: this helps tell us how things actually happened. And - horrific as it might seem to some economists - we also need sociology: we need to know how people actually behave and not merely that their behaviour is "consistent with" some theory. Economics, then, cannot be a stand-alone discipline but part of the social sciences and humanities...

[May 21, 2015]Making the World Less Safe

May 21, 2015 | The Unz Review
Currently the United States is assisting Ukraine against Russia by providing some non-lethal military equipment as well as limited training for Kiev's army. It has balked at getting more involved in the conflict, rightly so. With that in mind, I had a meeting with a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians and government officials a couple of weeks ago. I tried to explain to them why many Americans are wary of helping them by providing lethal, potentially game changing military assistance in what Kiev sees as a struggle to regain control of Crimea and other parts of their country from militias that are clearly linked to Moscow. I argued that while Washington should be sympathetic to Ukraine's aspirations it has no actual horse in the race, that the imperative for bilateral relations with Russia, which is the only nation on earth that can attack and destroy the United States, is that they be stable and that all channels for communication remain open.

I also observed that the negative perception of Washington-driven democracy promotion around the world has been in part shaped by the actual record on interventions since 2001, which has not been positive. Each exercise of the military option has wound up creating new problems, like the mistaken policies in Libya, Iraq and Syria, all of which have produced instability and a surge in terrorism. I noted that the U.S. does not need to bring about a new Cold War by trying to impose democratic norms in Eastern Europe but should instead be doing all in its power to encourage a reasonable rapprochement between Moscow and Kiev. Providing weapons or other military support to Ukraine would only cause the situation to escalate, leading to a new war by proxies in Eastern Europe that could rapidly spread to other regions.

The Ukrainians were not buying any of that. Their point of view is that Russia is seeking to revive the Soviet Union and will inevitably turn on the Baltic States and Poland, so it is necessary to stop evil dictator Vladimir Putin now. They inevitably produced the Hitler analogy, citing the example of 1938 and Munich as well as the subsequent partition of Poland in 1939 to make their case. When I asked what the United States would gain by intervening they responded that in return for military assistance, Washington will have a good and democratic friend in Ukraine which will serve as a bulwark against further Russian expansion.

I explained that Russia does not have the economic or military resources to dominate Eastern Europe and its ambitions appear to be limited to establishing a sphere of influence that includes "protection" for some adjacent areas that are traditionally Russian and inhabited by ethnic Russians. Crimea is, unfortunately, one such region that was actually directly governed by Moscow between 1783 and 1954 and it is also militarily vitally important to Moscow as it is the home of the Black Sea Fleet. I did not point that out to excuse Russian behavior but only to suggest that Moscow does have an argument to make, particularly as the United States has been meddling in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine where it has "invested" $5 billion, since the Clinton Administration.

I argued that if resurgent Russian nationalism actually endangered the United States there would be a case to be made for constricting Moscow by creating an alliance of neighbors that would be able to help contain any expansion, but even the hawks in the U.S. Congress are neither prepared nor able to demonstrate a genuine threat. Fear of the expansionistic Soviet Union after 1945 was indeed the original motivation for creating NATO. But the reality is that Russia is only dangerous if the U.S. succeeds in backing it into a corner where it will begin to consider the kind of disruption that was the norm during the Cold War or even some kind of nuclear response or demonstration. If one is focused on U.S. interests globally Russia has actually been a responsible player, helping in the Middle East and also against international terrorism.

So there was little to agree on apart from the fact that the Ukrainians have a right to have a government they choose for themselves and also to defend themselves. And we Americans have in the Ukrainians yet another potential client state that wants our help. In return we would have yet another dependency whose concerns have to be regarded when formulating our foreign policy. One can sympathize with the plight of the Ukrainians but it is not up to Washington to fix the world or to go around promoting democracy as a potential solution to pervasive regional political instability.

Obviously a discussion based on what are essentially conflicting interests will ultimately go nowhere and so it did in this case, but it did raise the issue of why Washington's relationship with Moscow is so troubled, particularly as it need not be so. Regarding Ukraine and associated issues, Washington's approach has been stick-and-carrot with the emphasis on the stick through the imposition of painful sanctions and meaningless though demeaning travel bans. I would think that reversing that formulation to emphasize rewards would actually work better as today's Russia is actually a relatively new nation in terms of its institutions and suffers from insecurity about its place in the world and the respect that it believes it is entitled to receive.

Russia recently celebrated the 70 th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe. The celebration was boycotted by the United States and by many Western European nations in protest over Russian interference in Ukraine. I don't know to what extent Obama has any knowledge of recent history, but the Russians were the ones who were most instrumental in the defeat of Nazi Germany, losing 27 million citizens in the process. It would have been respectful for President Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry to travel to Moscow for the commemoration and it would likely have produced a positive result both for Ukraine and also to mitigate the concern that a new Cold War might be developing. But Obama chose to stay home as punishment for Putin, which I think was a bad choice suggesting that he is being strongly influenced by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the other neocons who seem to have retained considerable power in his administration.

And I also would note a couple of other bad choices made during the past several weeks. The Trans-Pacific multilateral trade agreement that is currently working its way through Congress and is being aggressively promoted by the White House might be great for business though it may or may not be good for the American worker, which, based on previous agreements, is a reasonable concern. But what really disturbs me is the Obama explanation of why the pact is important. Obama told a crowd gathered outside the Nike footwear company in Oregon that the deal is necessary because "if we don't write the rules, China will…"

Fear of the Yellow Peril might indeed be legitimate but it would be difficult to make the case that an internally troubled China is seeking to dominate the Pacific. If it attempts to do so, it would face strong resistance from the Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipinos and Koreans among others. But what is bothersome to me and probably also to many in the Asian audience is that Obama takes as a given that he will be able to "write the rules." This is American hubris writ large and I am certain that many who are thereby designated to follow Washington's lead are as offended by it as I am. Bad move Barack.

And finally there is Iran as an alleged state sponsor of terrorism. President Obama claims that he is working hard to achieve a peaceful settlement of the alleged threat posed by Iran's nuclear program. But if that is so why does he throw obstacles irrelevant to an agreement out to make the Iranian government more uncomfortable and therefore unwilling or unable to compromise? In an interview with Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat Obama called Tehran a terrorism supporter, stating that "it [Iran] props up the Assad regime in Syria. It supports Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It aids the Houthi rebels in Yemen so countries in the region are rights to be deeply concerned…" I understand that the interview was designed to reassure America's friends in the Gulf that the United States shares their concerns and will continue to support them but the timing would appear to be particularly unfortunate.

The handling of Russia, China and Iran all exemplify the essential dysfunction in American foreign policy. The United States should have a mutually respectful relationship with Russia, ought to accept that China is an adversary but not necessarily an enemy unless we make it so and it should also finally realize that an agreement with Iran is within its grasp as long as Washington does not overreach. It is not clear that any of that is well understood and one has to wonder precisely what kind of advice Obama is receiving when fails to understand the importance of Russia, insists on "writing the rules" for Asia, and persists in throwing around the terrorist label. If the past fifteen years have taught us anything it is that the "Washington as the international arbiter model" is not working. Obama should wake up to that reality before Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush arrives on the scene to make everything worse.

Tom Welsh, May 19, 2015 at 7:02 am GMT • 100 Words

All of this misses the point, IMHO. There is really no need to explain that Russia has no plans to conquer Europe, China has no plans to take over the Pacific, etc. Anyone with a little historical knowledge and some common sense can see that plainly. What is happening is that the USA has overweening aspirations to control (and then suck dry) the entire world – and Europe, Russia and China are next on its hit list.

So it naturally accuses those nations of aspiring to what it plans to do. Standard operating procedure.

The Priss Factor, May 19, 2015 at 7:19 am GMT • 100 Words

"The Ukrainians were not buying any of that. Their point of view is that Russia is seeking to revive the Soviet Union and will inevitably turn on the Baltic States and Poland, so it is necessary to stop evil dictator Vladimir Putin now."

I can understand Ukrainian animus against Russia due to history and ethnic tensions.

But that is ridiculous. They can't possibly believe it. I think they're repeating Neocon talking points to persuade American that the fate of the world is at stake.
It's really just a local affair.

And Crimea would still belong to Ukraine if the crazies in Ukraine hadn't conspired with Neocons like Nuland to subvert and overthrow the regime.

[May 20, 2015] Russia bans undesirable international organisations ahead of 2016 elections

May 20, 2015 | The Guardian

Russia's parliament has passed a law banning "undesirable" international organisations, raising fears of a further crackdown on voices critical of the Kremlin.

According to the legislation, the prosecutor general and foreign ministry can register as undesirable any "foreign or international organisation that presents a threat to the defensive capabilities or security of the state, to the public order, or to the health of the population".

Blacklisted groups will be forbidden from operating branches or distributing information in Russia and banks will have to notify the prosecutor general and justice ministry of any financial transfers involving them. Although the language of the threat posed was vague, the bill's authors suggested that international NGOs often work in the interests of foreign intelligence agencies.

[May 19, 2015]How To Spot Groupthink Among Economists

May 19, 2015 | Zero Hedge

As GMO's James Montier says in his latest white paper today "it seems one can hardly open a financial newspaper or read a blog these days without tripping over some academic-cum-central banker talking about the once arcane notion of the equilibrium real interest rate."

Sure enough, it is the laughable concept of the equilibrium real interest rate (laugable because if it can be quantified and put into an equation, it becomes tangible and central banks are convinced they can recreate it, perfect it and implement it to "fix the economy"... usually with disastrous results) that is the topic of his latest must read piece "The Idolatry of Interest Rates Part I: Chasing Will-o'-the-Wisp", which not only makes a mockery of central planners but also the intellectual conceits they all hold so dear, and which they will all hold dear all the way until the now inevitable collapse of "New Keynesian" economics.

And while there is much to discuss in his full 13 page paper, the following excerpt discussing how to spot groupthink in crowds (of economists) is what we found most relevant and amusing, perhaps because the entire world is now caught in a groupthink mode, and what's worse, a groupthink that is peddling the wrong solution to the worldwide problem that can be summarized as simply as "$200 trillion in debt."

From Jim Montier:

Wisdom of crowds or groupthink extraordinaire?

One could take the view that so many bright individuals all coalescing around a single framework was evidence of the wisdom of crowds. However, rather than representing the power of consensus, it appears to me to be evidence of extreme groupthink – it is very telling that not one of the aforementioned luminaries has questioned the framework itself.

One of the preconditions for the wisdom of crowds to hold is that people must be independent. This clearly isn't the case with the above coterie of economists, many of whom trained at the same university under the same teacher. As Steve Keen pointed out, "If I were describing a group of thoroughbred horses, alarm bells would already be ringing about a dangerous level of in-breeding."

The term "groupthink" was coined by Irving Janis in 1972. In his original work, Janis cited the Vietnam War and the Bay of Pigs invasion as prime examples of the groupthink mentality. However, modern examples are all too prevalent.

Groupthink is often characterised by:

Perhaps it is just me, but these traits seem to pretty much capture the nature of mainstream economics these days.


Groupthink among economists only? Heck most of Western Civilization is in groupthink. Everything is Awesome! TM Remember.


Guys, again, let's think a little deeper here. It's not so much that they all believe it to be true, it's because they all NEED it to be true.

First off, the alternative to the current "low interest rates will stimulate the economy" (i.e. throw money at anything that moves) is what, exactly? Either it doesn't stimulate the economy or has no effect. Leaving them in a heluva lurch.

But this is small beans. Here's what really matters: their own self-interest.

If this argument (fairy tale) is shown not to be true or correct, their little ivory tower crashes down, their plum positions get vacated for another, their friends experience similar catastrophe and their self-supporting power network will be swept away and replaced with another, including their buddies in "academia" from which they sprang.

Given that even the slowest-witted among them must by now realize this fantasy of money printing stimulating the economy didn't work and is NEVER going to work, they have no choice but to either circle the wagons and close ranks or start getting picked off one by one. They are a union, a cabal, a society and, as such, must provide a united front, unassailable by mere facts.

The word has already been spread: hang together or hang separately. For this and other reasons they MUST have groupthink.

[May 19, 2015]The New Lie About Iraq

May 19, 2015 | The American Conservative
The newest lie about the Iraq war is that the truth about Iraq was not known before the American attack in 2003. One needs only to search for "lies about Iraq" to see all the many links explaining evidence from before the war started that showed the Bush/Cheney/neoconservative claims to be false.

That false narrative is important to know because many of the same people are now promoting war with Iran, as they were before with Syria. Republican candidates are also stumbling over the question of whether they would have invaded Iraq because it undermines their present, ongoing promotion of an interventionist foreign policy.

Take just one example of such a false claim, which even reached Bush's 2003 State of the Union address to Congress: "Saddam has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." It was a lie from the beginning. Bush had been informed that the Department of Energy and State Department intelligence had analyzed the tubes and found them to be useless for a nuclear program, rather being for conventional rockets.

I was very active in reporting on the lies, writing at the time for, which every day had articles, news reports, and analyses exposing the misinformation. An article I wrote in 2002, well before the war started, "Eight Washington Lies About Iraq," was at the top of a Google search for lies for 7 years. Even today it explains, with links, many of the lies made.

Iraq's weaknesses were in fact easy to comprehend after nearly nine years of U.S. economic blockade following the First Gulf War. Iraq had been decimated by American bombing of its electricity, sanitation, irrigation, and transportation systems. Almost every bridge was destroyed. A half-million Iraqi children had died of starvation and disease. It was also subject to United Nations (read American) inspectors going all over the country to verify that it was conforming to earlier UN demands for destruction of its nuclear and chemical warfare facilities.

All Americans should be reminded again and again that recent wars were based on lies. The First Gulf War was sold to Americans on the basis of the murder of "incubator babies" and an imaginary Iraqi threat to invade Saudi Arabia, including the assertion that satellite photographs showed the Iraqi Army massed on the Saudi border. The "classified" photos never existed. The Kosovo War was based on reports that 100,000 Kosovan Albanians had been murdered by Serbs, so America had to attack so as to stop the mass killing. It was also a lie.

Today, when all the Republican candidates are being pressured by right-wing media and neoconservative money men to sound (and be) hawkish, Americans should recall how most of Washington's establishment lied to promote past wars. Wars mean billions of dollars for key congressional districts' arms producers, millions of rapt viewers for 24-7 cable news, lots of TV time for think-tank chicken hawks,, new jobs for "contractors," more growth for the "surveillance state." There's also the Israel Lobby and Christian Zionists. All In all that is a pretty formidable force for war.

All Americans should be aware and suspicious of again being panicked into supporting more wars.

Jake, May 19, 2015 at 1:43 pm

I read your article 'Eight Washington Lies About Iraq' when it was first posted. I sent the link to several 'conservative' friends who wanted war, not because they were Christian Zionists (I felt that grouyp was hopeless on the subject), but because they feared what 9/11 meant and knew only what TV news and the hakcs leading the parties told them.

None of them changed their minds about being for a war to kill Saddam Hussien and remake the Middle East. A couple of them gloated when the victory seemed so easy. Not one of them has told me that I was correct all along.

The crowd that wants to land trooops in Syria and Iran will tel any lie to get its wish. It knows that the people hodwinked before will tend to flal for another snow job, because they do not want to havce been wrong the first time.

JohnG, May 19, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Thank you for this refreshing and to-the-point article, this combination of intelligence, competence, and integrity is why I support TAC. Sadly, when it comes to our foreign policy "elites" (of course, the term is a stretch), precisely the opposite is the case, a stunning combination of stupidity, ignorance, and crookedness wherever one looks.

May I just add that the lies stretch to before the Kosovo war in the Balkans? The persistent demonizing and periodic bombings of the Serbs (in what are now Croatia and Bosnia) probably ended up giving us Putin in Kremlin and a region that will probably keep exploding in the future. And, by the way, watch out for what is about to happen in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

I believe that the unique historical opportunity for a more just, democratic, and peaceful world was actually squandered under Bill Clinton, with all the nonsense that was done in the Balkans and the de facto preparation of the confrontation with Iraq (remember Madeleine Albright's famous statement?). George Bush's war was just a continuation, and WMDs just an excuse that the cakewalk crowd thought would be irrelevant/forgotten as soon as the Iraqis started to throw flowers on American tanks.

The war was a gambit by a political class believing that it could use its powerful military to rule the world by controlling its supply of oil. And, gee, they discovered that it's a pretty big & messy world out there, surprise! They can't rule Afghanistan alone, anyone half-familiar with the history of that region could have told them that. So now we are busy talking about "what we knew" and "based on what we knew" hypothetical nonsense just to cover some dumb, arrogant, and dishonest asses rather than simply firing them all, from the media, State Dept., etc.

Fran Macadam, May 19, 2015 at 4:16 pm

On TAC there is much handwringing about the decline of Christian influence in America and the loss of faith generally. President Bush was the poster boy for evangelical Christianity, yet both lied and was manipulated by the unscrupulous, ordering torture and assassination. So the wars turned out badly for average folk, though those allied with Cheney of whatever political stripe profited handsomely. We lose, they win. The neocons are immune to loss of public faith, rather they enjoy full support of donorist elites who buy our democratically unaccountable politicians and get just the wars they continue to want.

As in Europe after the huge losses of World War I, which almost every church supported, there was a great loss of faith. American churchianity, as Dwight Eisenhower put it, is a thoroughly civil religion that supports state aims. He explained that it was built on faith and it mattered not at all which one it was. When the church allies itself with disreputable state actors, some of them Christians in retrospect so obviously dunderheaded, what evaluation will a disillusioned public make of the church's credibility? It won't be disbelief in the miracles that causes the falling away, but the mendacious and supplicating justifications that had no resemblance whatsoever to "Just War" and were in reality against every teaching of Jesus. Thus the church's prophetic role of speaking truth to power in America died.

[May 19, 2015]Why Soldiers Lie

May 18, 2015 | The American Conservative
Since the year began I have had opportunities to visit several American military units and schools. What I found was encouraging. A growing number of officers and staff NCOs accept the painful fact that we have lost two wars. They know we need to change if we are not to lose more. Finally, they have come to understand that their services' senior leaders, their top generals, do not much care about winning or losing. To them, military defeat is irrelevant because the money keeps flowing. The only war the generals care about is the budget war.

The senior military leadership is facing a crisis of legitimacy and does not know it. As one Marine officer put it to me, the generals seem divorced from reality, powerless, and risk-averse. The problem is less what they do than what they do not do, namely address the reasons for our defeats. The dissatisfaction with the senior leadership is coming not only from junior officers. I found it now goes up to the ranks of lieutenant colonel and even colonel.

Nor is the evidence merely anecdotal. The U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute in February published a study by two of its faculty members, Leonard Wong and Stephen J. Gerras, Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession. Its conclusion, that many Army officers routinely lie to "the system," is no surprise to anyone who knows our military. (The phenomenon runs across service lines.) What is more interesting is the study's finding as to the cause of institutionalized lying: "the suffocating amount of mandatory requirements imposed upon units and commanders."

Who imposes this burden? Mostly the generals, who appear neither to know nor to care that they are laying on more training and reporting requirements than there is time to meet. Their only concern is covering their own rears. Unable to do as ordered and unwilling to risk their careers by telling their superiors the truth, officers deal with the problem by lying.

The study's authors do not mince words:

The Army as a profession speaks of values, integrity, and honor. The Army as an organization practices zero defects, pencil-whipping, and checking the box. Army leaders are situated between the two identities—parroting the talking points of the latest Army Profession Campaign while placating the Army bureaucracy or civilian overseers by telling them what they want to hear. As a result, Army leaders learn to talk of one world while living in another. A major described the current trend:

'It's getting to the point where you're almost rewarded for being somebody you're not. That's a dangerous situation especially now as we downsize. We're creating an environment where everything is too rosy because everyone is afraid to paint the true picture. You just wonder when it will break, when it will fall apart.'

The larger problem, again, is less what the generals do than what they do not do. They preside smugly over a cluster of institutional disasters, like so many Soviet industrial managers—which is what most of them are.

Angry officers demanding change provide one wing of a potential new military-reform movement, one that might succeed where that of the 1970s and '80s failed. But success requires tying demands for reform to the services' budgets, which is all the senior generals care about. The earlier reform movement got generals interested in Third Generation maneuver warfare because senators and congressmen who voted on the defense budget were talking about it on the House and Senate floors. Whence might come this second arm of a political pincer movement under today's conditions?

Far more than was true 35 years ago, legislation is now for sale, for the legalized bribes we call "campaign contributions." Business as usual in defense has vast amounts of money to give to members of Congress. Military reform can offer none. That usually means "end of story" on Capitol Hill.

But there is one possibility. The House now has a number of members who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Having seen today's military from the inside, some of them will know its weaknesses. They might put loyalty to their former comrades above payoffs. If they were to reach out to those still serving who are tired of losing, they could create the "inside/outside" nexus that made the earlier reform movement powerful for a time.

Money may still win in the end. If so, our problem will be larger than more lost cabinet wars. A republic whose government is for sale will not be a republic much longer. Or, perhaps, a state.

William S. Lind is author of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook and director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation.

[May 19, 2015] Why this Ukrainian 'revolution' may be doomed, too

At home, there is the possibility of more protests, a paralyzed government, and the rise of politicians seeking accommodation with Putin. "Slow and unsuccessful reforms are a bigger existential threat than the Russian aggression," said Oleksiy Melnyk, a security expert at Kiev's Razumkov Center. Even if Ukrainians don't return to the street, they'll get a chance to voice their discontent at the ballot box. Local elections are due in the fall — and the governing coalition between Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is so shaky that nobody can rule out an early parliamentary vote.

In its international relations, Ukraine is living on borrowed time — and money. A dispute over restructuring $23 billion in debt broke into the open last week with the Finance Ministry accusing foreign creditors of not negotiating in good faith ahead of a June deadline. An EU summit this week is likely to end in more disappointment, as Western European countries are reluctant to grant Ukrainians visa-free travel.

Kiev has become an accidental, burdensome ally to the West. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization only paid lip service to future Ukrainian membership, while the EU, which never had any intention of taking in Ukraine, pushed an association agreement out of bureaucratic habit more than strategic vision.

... ... ...

The least charitably inclined claim that Poroshenko prosecuted the war in eastern Ukraine as a way of delaying reform. What's undeniable is that the shaky ceasefire leaves the Kiev government at the mercy of Putin and his proxies. Should anything start going right for Poroshenko, the fighting could flare back up at any moment.

Ukrainian security officials say that the enemy forces gathering in the separatist regions are at their highest capability yet. The most alarming observation is that the once ragtag band of rebels — backed up by regular Russian troops in critical battles — is increasingly looking like a real army thanks to weapons and training provided by Russia.

... ... ...

Everybody in Kiev understands that there's no way of reconquering lost territory by force. Ukrainian politicians publicly pledge to win back breakaway regions through reform and economic success. What they hope for is that sanctions will cause enough problems inside Russia that the Kremlin will run out of resources to sabotage Ukraine. Wishful thinking won't replace the painful reforms ahead.

[May 19, 2015] US Taxpayer On The Hook As Ukraine Prepares Moratorium On Debt Repayments, Increases Military Spending

Zero Hedge
It appears, thanks to the generous backing of US taxpayers, Ukraine is about to get its cake and eat it too. On the same day as Ukraine's government unleashes a bill enabling a moratorium on foreign debt repayments - implicitly meaning default "in case of an attack from dishonest lenders" - the defense ministry unveils a plan to increase military spending by 17 billion hryvnia this year statuing that will "make efforts to find possibilities to finance needs" to secure country's defense. Ukraine bonds are tumbling.

Military Spending is set to surge...

10 agencies, including Defense Ministry, that oversee defense and law enforcement asked Finance Ministry to increase defense spending by 17b hryvnia this yr, ministry in Kiev says on its website.

Finance Ministry will "make efforts to find possibilities to finance needs" to secure country's defense.

Higher spending is needed because of increased army personnel.

But foreign debtors are set to lose... (as RT reports)

Ukraine's government has submitted to parliament a bill that allows the introduction of a moratorium on foreign debt payments. The moratorium is to protect the assets of the state and the state sector in case of an "attack" from dishonest lenders.

"To protect the interests of the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian government today has introduced to the Rada a bill that would give the government the right to suspend payment on Ukraine's external debts and publicly guaranteed debts. In case of an attack from dishonest lenders on Ukraine this moratorium will protect the assets of the state and the state sector," a statement on the Cabinet website said Tuesday.

The moratorium "will not affect domestic payments and will not affect the stability of the banking system," the UNIAN news agency said citing s source. In also said the moratorium does not include debt to the IMF, the EBRD and other institutional creditors.

The Cabinet said the moratorium will not affect the bilateral and multilateral obligations of Kiev.

And Ukraine bonds are tumbling...

Specifcally (as Bloomberg reports),

The eastern European nation is seeking permission to hold off on paying coupons, the first of which coming due is a May 21 payment of $33 million on a $1 billion note maturing in November 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Ukraine said cutting its debt burden is a question of justice, according to an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

"This is a logical next step to show people they are serious," Dray Simpson, the London-based managing director of emerging markets at Cantor Fitzgerald Europe, said by e-mail on Tuesday. "Up to now there has been a lot of talk and very little action and any confrontations have been won by creditors. If Ukraine are going to reverse that trend they need to be firm."

Time is running out for the country and its bondholders to reach an agreement as a June 15 International Monetary Fund deadline for the restructuring approaches. Failure to strike a deal puts the next tranche of a $17.5 billion IMF loan at risk for Ukraine as it struggles to keep the economy afloat following a yearlong conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the nation's east.


Funny, Nuland actually in Russia!

"A visit to Moscow by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland is a sign that relations between Russia and the United States may be improving, the Kremlin said on Monday.

Nuland's trip comes days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Asked if Nuland's visit was a sign of improving ties, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "Yes, when President Putin was meeting with Minister Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry ... it was mentioned that a closer dialogue ... was needed."

Nuland, who was holding talks in Moscow with two Russian deputy foreign ministers, has been strongly criticized in Russia in the past over her support for pro-democracy activists in Kiev during mass street protests that toppled Ukraine's pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovich in February 2014.

Nuland was expected to explore ways of bolstering a fragile ceasefire in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists and of implementing other aspects of a peace agreement forged in Minsk several months ago.

Russia blames the crisis in Ukraine on what it sees as heavy-handed meddling by the United States in a region Moscow has traditionally seen as its sphere of influence.

The West, in turn, accuses Russia of backing the separatists with weapons and troops, charges Moscow denies. More than 6,100 people have been killed in the conflict since April 2014.

The Ukraine crisis has plunged relations between Russia and the West into their worst crisis since the end of the Cold War, but the United States needs Russian cooperation to tackle a host of other global issues including Iran and the Syrian conflict."

Maybe she brought some cookies with her too.

I bet she feels like a fat stupid cunt with egg on her face. I wonder if the Russians could keep from laughing at her. Another AmeriKan fantasist, operating from the playbook in her head, where reality only intrudes sporadically, usually with the aid of a monster vibrator ya gotta kickstart.

Looks like a bunch of sissy twats saw the V-Day parade in Moscow and realized the Russians weren't fucking around.

Yet another source of victimhood for Nudelman.
Oh this is also Soros, Crown-Krinsky, Bloomturd, the Neo Cons like McCain and Neo Liberals like Schumer.

The US Govt is totally Z-evil and Z-owed.

Anglo Hondo

"moratorium on foreign debt repayments". Is this what Greece should be doing? And why not?


It is also holding two Russian ex military who are apparently being brutally tortured.

It has reneged on Minsk 2.

It has resumed shelling on Denesk civilans killing anf injuring.

Where is the outrage in the Western media?

The west has now lost any moral authority it may ever have had.

Its a bully, a liar, murderous and thieving, pouring out propaganda and poison.

That we have sunk to that?

Most of the third world is better than this.

Winston of Oceania

Funny they did not mention quitting the Russian special forces when questioned and are being visited by the Red Cross...


Russian special forces using a rifle? Sure.


ZH is behind on this: the US has given up on their Ukranian military adventure.

Mike Masr

Thanks to "Fuck the EU" Nuland and Obama's neocon pals, in the Ukraine we have another Iraq and Libya on our hands! This time ISIS hasn't taken over but Banderist Nazi's. And this time we are openly committing US tax dollars to fund the evil fucking jerks.

On February 22nd, 2014, Euromaidan kicked out not only a democratically-elected president, but a democratically-elected government. It waited three months before holding elections for a new president and 8 months for parliamentary elections. By that time the extremist Dmitry Yarosh Nazi element had already taken a stake way beyond electoral control – neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, despite scoring less than 5% in the parliamentary elections sits in the Ukraine's parliament and regularly sends fighters to the front. The leader of the neo-Nazi terrorist group Pravy Sektor Dmitry Yarosh who polled less than 1% in the presidential election and on Interpol's wanted list is now an official aide to to the Ukrainian military.

The Ukraine is DEAD and there is absolutely nothing that the US Government can do to change this.

And, we are now doing a rerun of Ukraine's Maidan in Macedonia to stop Gazprom's Turkish Stream project! More US Tax dollars hard at work!!!


Donetsk heroes victory parade with Motorola (1:20) and Givi (at 2:09). Zakarchenko was there as well.

Compare thesse heroes to NeoCons like McCain who with his dad killed more American sailors on the USS Forrestal and USS Liberty than the Russians ever did. The Russians were the first to arrive on scene to try to save dying sailors on the USS Liberty. McCain's old man and zip LBJ told F4 Phantoms to return to carriers and sailed SLOW to the aid of the USS Liberty hoping all survivors were dead.

My only complaint with Donetsk (DPR), LPR and Russia - get rid of that Stalin and communist imagery. Stalin was a mass murderer Georgian and stooge along with Lenin. They both worked for the Bolsheviks of the New York City, london and German bankster red sheild zios plus American elites who back ed the commies and nazis for $$$$$ and power.


Well reasoned Mike Masr, thank you.


Borislav Bereza, a leader of the Far right neo-nazi Pravi Sektor is Jewish and proud of it.


When Obama said, "Yes we can" he proposed that as an answer to many questions...

Like "Can we end corporate welfare?", "Can we end foreign wars?", "Can we close Guantanamo and once again respect human rights?"

Not surprisingly they were all lies.

Of course, being politicians, there are always the unspoken, yet constant, eternal questions that apply:

"Can we extinguish your retirement on Hookers and Blow?"

Yes we can.

"Can we fool you stupid fuckers one more time with outrageous claims of Nirvana following our election?"

Yes we can.

"Can we buy ourselves international money, power, and influence with your children's milk money?"

Yes we can.

Winston of Oceania

Because Russian taxpayers are financing the Russian's slow invasion of Ukraine...

Mike Masr

Russia's invasion of the Ukraine is laughable. What about the regime change orchestrated by Washington?

If I lived in Donetsk and spoke Russian why would I want to be controlled by the illegal, U.S.-funded junta in Kiev, instituted by political organizations given five billion dollars by Washington, as revealed by "fuck the EU" Victoria Nuland.

Ukraine was broke, and political parties and organizations were vastly financed by foreign nations, (US & EU) which then encouraged them to foment a coup.

The junta in Kiev then illegally deposed the democratic president, and then illegally deposed all of its governors.

Russia's slow invasion of Ukraine is a joke. It's Russian speaking Ukrainian people in Eastern Ukraine not wanting any part of the Junta in Kiev!

It's so laughable. The NPR slurping idiots always seem to forget that convenient fact when they sputter about the USSA being "obligated" by treaty to keep the Ukrainian "territorial integrity" intact.

Once you violently chase the democratically elected President from office and put on a show election with your puppets who glorify people like Bandera, threaten to nuke the Eastern Moscals and take out Russian as one of the main languages, all bets are off.

And if Russia REALLY invaded the Ukraine, we would all know about it without MSM gossipy bullshit:

Top Ten Telltale Signs Russia Has Invaded the Ukraine


Reasonable, considering what the US and her EU pups are doing on the other side. AmeriKan arms and trainers, foreign mercenaries filling out the ranks of Ukrainian army because everyone else is leaving the country to avoid conscription.

The Ukraine - overhyped and grabby fascist faggots with no economy. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian junta shells civilian areas and where is the LA Times then? One-sided lying MSM pukes. Drugs aplenty to make people think the Ukraine would be allowed to evict the Russian navy from Crimea, or join NATO and threaten Russia from the Black Sea. More Obama-inspired wishful thinking: We do not see things as they are, but how we wish them to be.

Enjoy your debt colony.

Youri Carma

U.S. provides $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine
18 May 2015, by Greg Robb - Washington (MarketWatch)

The United States on Monday gave the green light to a new $1 billion loan guarantee agreement for Ukraine.

In a statement, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said that Ukraine continues along the path of economic reform and that the loan deal is designed to support the war-torn country.

"Ukraine has taken critical reforms already, and its commitment to making a decisive break with the corruption and stagnation of the past is clear," Lew said.

Mike Masr


The Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, are never returning. The ragtag Ukrainian forces using antiquated Soviet hardware haven't taken back any territory since July of 2014, they've only lost a lot of personnel and territory. DPR and LPR forces have consolidated lines, and if there is movement, it will only be to take more of Donbass – currently they have around 1/3 of the region which once produced 80% of all Ukraine's coal, but from which the DPR and LPR do not supply to Ukraine any more, while industrial production in the rest of the former industrial heartland of Donbass has mostly ground to a halt. Ukraine's debt is over $80 billion – soon set to hit $100 billion, and with a sinking GDP. An agreed recent IMF bailout programme of $17.5 billion would only scratch the surface. By conservative estimates Ukraine's economy shrunk by 7.5% in 2014. Estimates for this year range from 6% to over 20%. European governments pledge support, meanwhile European businesses withdraw en mass, hundreds have already left the Ukrainian market, most of the 600 German firms operating in Ukraine are conducting an audit to decide on withdrawing from the market. Russia's trade with the country which was Ukraine's leading export and import parter is understandably decimated, Ukraine's economy is stricken, and will only go down the toilet. 1 Billion in loan guarantees is too little and too late!

Normal life is almost impossible in Ukraine. Inflation in Ukraine is at a whopping 272%, the hryvnia's value is now less than 40% of what it was. Inflation has skyrocketed, salaries have collapsed, businesses across Ukraine have closed. In short, people don't have any money in Ukraine anymore – sales of new cars are down 67% on the year – production of cars down 96%, 46 banks declared insolvency in the last year.

As for the eternal thorn in Ukraine's side, corruption, which apparently was so pressing an issue and one of the defining aims of Maidan – is even worse now than it was before.

Greg Robb - Washington (MarketWatch) story suggests that Jacob Lew must have drank too much of Obama's Kool Aid and released news written by Kiev's government propagandists!!!


I agree with you Mike but I do think, cynically, that Washington's policy worked out.

This whole thing started when the Ukraine rejected a free trade deal with the EU. Russia was their best choice for trade for mostly practical reasons as Russia is their biggest trading partner(don't forget the EU wanted the Ukraine to meet EU standards before exporting which meant costly re tooling which the Ukranians couldn't afford but the US and Germany could buy in at 5 cents on the dollar, I mean Hryzinia or whatever)when all hell broke loose.

Yes, the US putting in the Ukranian political roster and calling the plays from the sidelines where the Ukraine fought two offensivse and are now econmically, politically, morally and militarily defeated.

Then the US hangs them out to dry.

Why not?

The US and its allies demolished the Ukranian economy so that it hurt trade with Russia, got sanctions against Russia which further withered the trade with EU and the US grabbed 33 tons of Ukranian gold reserves that disappeared in the NY and reappeared in Belgium while US left a pile of dung on Putin's doorstep.

Shit happens.

Good thing all the Clinton donors traded their US Fiat loans for real stuff

[May 19, 2015] The Worrying Rise of Anti-China Discourse in the US By Dingding Chen

May 16, 2015 | The Diplomat

Forget U.S. patrols in the South China Sea. This is the real threat to U.S.-China relations.

There is no doubt that U.S.-China relations are entering a new period of tensions given reports that the United States is considering the possibility of sending naval ships and planes to challenge China's sovereignty in the South China Sea. This U.S. move, if realized, is certainly provocative and has the potential to lead to a clash with Chinese ships and planes.

So far a lot of analysis has focused on the possible motivations behind the U.S. move and the possible consequences thereof for China-U.S. relations and Asian security. Almost all would agree that this move, whether right or wrong, is a risky one and worrying indeed.

To better understand this particular military move, one has to understand the larger background for all of the current developments in China-U.S. relations. This larger background is the new, rising anti-China discourse in various circles of the United States, including the government, academic, policy, and certainly military spheres. Three types of anti-China discourses stand out.

One can debate how much real policy influence such radical discourses have on U.S. government policy toward China. Judging by recent tough comments by U.S. military officials, things do not look good. Maybe this is indeed a 'tipping point' for China-U.S. relations, after more than 30 years of engagement. Is the U.S. adopting a containment strategy toward China now? One cannot say that with confidence. But if this radical anti-China discourse is allowed to grow, we might enter a new era of containment politics in China-U.S. relations. That, as John Mearsheimer famously put it, is indeed a tragedy in great power politics.

Liars N. Fools

I occasionally attend academic conferences in which there are Chinese participants. And usually some if not all of the theories about China -- collapse, Asia for Asians, balancing, punishing-- are discussed. One feature has been free wheeling, transparent discussions by all non-Chinese participants and only rigid presentations by the Chinese.

My advice to Chinese participants in international conferences is that if you do not want to be laughed at, do not make laughable arguments. "The nine dashed line is a valid assertion of sovereignty because nobody objected when it was published by the Republic of China. There is no need for discussion because it is our territorial sea, reflecting our presence since time immemorial." Puh-leez. Low quality argumentation is low quality argumentation and becomes worse when China acts provocatively on its dubious claim. China makes America a lot more friends when China acts this way and its scholars look like stooges when most are in fact pretty smart people.

Then there is the ASEAN-related code of conduct in the South China Sea. China agreed to it before, but does not like it now. What is the explanation? From Chinese scholars, one gets prevarication and avoidance. This is hardly a stance that raises China's credibility as a rule abider. What about a multilateral approach to disputed territory? China once said that was OK but now says that all such issues are bilateral only. When parties want to invoke international legal mechanisms, China becomes belligerent and threatening. Does this attitude enhance its reputation as a promoter of the commons or does it paint China as a bully? We are not a bully, says China's hapless conference participants only to then recite a bully's argument of principled core interests.

Xia > Alexandre Charron-trudel

Let's not forget that it was the ROC under KMT that introduced the dash lines in South China Sea, and back in the days of Roosevelt proposing the "Four Policemen" it was still 11 dash lines. If the CCP fails to project itself in front of the Chinese public as a power that is capable of defending the Chinese territory that the ROC once held, then it would loose out popularity to the KMT on Taiwan and see its grassroots support base threatened.

ltlee1 > James Sword

Actually, the more they know, they more they realize Western democracy is an inferior good. You could ask me for details.

Mishmael > James Sword

Oh good.

"We are right because the people who disagree with us are not capable of being right."

Ive always suspected Americans of limited argumentative skills, and here is the proof.

Malaysian Expat > James Sword • a day ago

Not all of them went abroad get enlightened.

In fact, the process of self radicalization to Han Chauvinism happens to many overseas born Chinese.

A Chinese > Alexandre Charron-trudel

Chinese puts the American hypocrisy into test as every nation with integrity and critical thinking should do by pointing out the obvious of the American fallacies.

It is shameful that Canadian is flattering American megalomaniac and suppressing the freedom of speech, it demonstrates Canada is a USA lackey that is proud of licking USA's behind by ignoring freedom of speech and democracy, Canada is not trustworthy and a warmonger accomplice,

The world despise Canada's hypocrisy, and they exclude Canada from UNSC for the last thirty years as punishment; the world should also exclude Canada from any meaningful international forums for good, the world does not need such lackey to pollute the freedom of speech environment that dares to expose the ugly face of the Empire of Chaos and shame it publicly like the Chinese did.

[May 18, 2015] Dueck's "Conservative Realism" and The Obama Doctrine

This is a Neoconservatism, not so much realism...
May 18, 2015 | The American Conservative
Frank Hoffman reviews Colin Dueck's The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today:

The author proposes an alternative strategy called conservative American realism. It is designed to appeal to the center mass of today's conservatives by triangulating the three factions. This strategy seeks to counter the perceived retrenchment of the last six years, and explicitly embraces American primacy. Primacy, to Dueck, is "a circumstance and an interest, not a strategy." Conservative American realism emphasizes reassuring allies that the United States seeks to remain a key player in the international arena by expanding forward presence and bolstering deterrence. Dueck details U.S. fundamental interests, and defines the specific adversaries that must be countered. These include state competitors (China and Russia), rogue states like North Korea, and jihadi terrorists. To deal with the latter, the author chides Mr. Obama for half-hearted approaches, and suggests these implacable foes require solutions that are "appropriately Carthaginian." One wonders how far Dueck would really take that historical analogy — enslave Muslims or salt their lands?

Based on the description of Dueck's "conservative American realism" in the review, it is debatable whether the proposed strategy qualifies as either conservative or realist. It would appear to commit the U.S. in too many places to bear burdens that our allies and clients should be taking on for themselves, and it does so out of a misguided concern that the U.S. has not been activist enough during the Obama presidency. I don't know what Dueck means by "appropriately Carthaginian" solutions, but the implication that the U.S. should be seeking to ruin and dominate other nations in such a fashion is disturbing in itself. It is not at all clear that the U.S. should be doing more "reassure" allies and clients. Most of them are already too dependent on the U.S. for their security and should be expected to do more to provide for themselves, and their endless demands for "reassurance" are attempts to get the U.S. to give them extra support they don't need or that the U.S. has no interest in giving them. The U.S. currently has too many commitments overseas and hardly needs to expand the presence that it already has.

Dueck places great emphasis on applying coercive measures against various states, but there doesn't seem to much attention paid to the costs that applying these measures can have on the U.S. and its allies. Imposing costs and intensifying pressure on other states aren't ends in themselves, and they have proven time and again to be ineffective tools for changing the behavior of recalcitrant and hostile regimes. Coercive measures can backfire and can have effects that their advocates don't anticipate, and they can provoke the targeted state to pursue more hostile and dangerous policies than there would have been otherwise. Dueck's interest in relying on coercive measures seems to be little more than a reaction against the perceived laxity of the Obama administration, which has itself been too reliant on imposing sanctions as an all-purpose response to the undesirable behavior of other governments. If Obama failed to apply enough pressure, Dueck's thinking appears to be that more pressure must be the answer. Missing from all of this is any explanation of why the U.S. needs to be cajoling and pressuring these states in the first place. To what end?

Dueck also wants to throw more money at the military by insisting on setting the military budget at 4% of GDP. As Hoffman notes, tying the military budget to an arbitrary figure like this represents the absence of strategy:

The basis for this amount appears aspirational, and I have previously written on why such general goals are astrategic if not tied to specific requirements and threats. More importantly, details about how he would employ the additional $170 billion per year in defense spending are lacking.

If one wants huge increases in military spending and the pursuit of pointlessly confrontational policies against both major authoritarian powers, Dueck's book would appear to offer the desired guidance. What it has to do with either realism or conservatism remains a mystery.

[May 17, 2015] The last gasp of (US) neoliberalism

May 17, 2015 | | Daily Kos News
May 13, 2015 Crooked Timber
The defeat of the "trade promotion authority" bill in the US Senate marks a big setback for Obama's attempts to push the (still secret) Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement through Congress. As always, there's plenty of manoeuvring to come, and the deal may still get up, but even so, it looks like the last gasp for neoliberalism, in the US sense of the term.

In global terms, neoliberalism, epitomized by Thatcher in the UK, is an appropriation by conservative/reactionary parties of the economic component of classical liberalism, but without any of the associated concerns with personal freedom, except as this coincides with the desires of conservatives and reactionaries to maintain a social order where they can do as they have always done.

By contrast, US neoliberalism is a development from within US liberalism, closer to Blair's Third Way than to Thatcher. In general, neoliberalism maintained and even extended "social liberalism", in the US sense of support for equal marriage, reproductive choice and so on. In economic terms, its central claim was that the goals of the New Deal, central to Democratic Party politics, could best be pursued through market-friendly policies that would earn the support of the financial sector (the only major business sector that was prepared to back Democrats, or at least to bankroll suitable candidates from either party). Apart from subservience to Wall Street, the signature issues for US neoliberals were free trade, cuts in "entitlement" spending, and school reform1. In terms of political strategy, the big idea was a 'grand bargain', in which Republicans would accept minimal increases in taxation in return for the abandonment of most of the Democratic program.

The Clinton administration was explicitly neoliberal in all respects. Bush ran on a platform of "compassionate conservatism" designed to appropriate the appeal of neoliberalism, and was never really able to break with it. And, while Obama's 2008 election campaign was masterfully ambiguous, his first Administration neoliberal through and through, dominated by Wall Streeters like Paulson, Geithner2 and Summers, and by neoliberal operators like Emanuel3 and Duncan. And the same would clearly have been true if Hillary Clinton had been elected.

But developments since then, including the global financial crisis, the failure of school reform4 and increasing awareness of entrenched inequality have destroyed the appeal of neoliberalism. It's obvious by now that the neoliberal policy agenda belongs to the political right, and the backers of that agenda (for example, Wall Street and education reformers like Michelle Rhee) have recognised that fact as clearly as anyone.

The result has been a significant shift to the left in the second Obama Administration, reflected in more populist rhetoric, the abandonment of the search for bipartisanship and in some substantive policy shifts, for example on minimum wages. The big exceptions are issues like the TPP and the security state, where Obama was captured by the permanent government almost from day 1, and has never shifted.

Hillary Clinton is making similar adjustments, realizing that a purely cultural claim to affinity with working class whites, combined with an actual alliance with Wall Street, is no longer going to cut it electorally or within the Democratic Party. She's maintained silence on the TPP so far, but I predict that, when she can no longer avoid the issue, she will be forced to come out against it.

What does this mean for the future of the Democratic Party? I'll leave that up to readers for the moment.

  1. I've decided not to bother with scare quotes around "reform". The word has been successfully appropriated by neoliberals, both in the US and global senses.
  2. Geithner didn't work on Wall Street until after his Treasury stint. But the NY Fed is pretty much a subsidiary.
  3. I've read that Emanuel was the model for Josh Lyman in The West Wing, the fictional apotheosis of neoliberalism.
  4. Reliably metronomic centrist Nick Kristof said a while back that, while he still supported school reform, the topic was now so politically toxic that he would focus instead on early childhood interventions where there is enough actual evidence of benefit to garner some broadbased support.

Roger Gathmann 05.13.15 at 5:16 pm

Last gasp seems pretty wrong. It is like the zombie ideas meme: since these are the ideas that still rule us, doesn't look like they are dead to me.

Still, I was psyched by the roadblock erected by the Dems. Warren, if she keeps it up, will be a pretty fine heir to E. Kennedy, best liberal senator since, oh, name your progressive – Lafollette?

Obama's advisors are regrouping. To my mind, the best thing about the defeat is that it changes, a bit, the terms. Instead of the bill being advertised widely in the pro TPP press – which is pretty much the entire mainstream press – as a free trade bill, it will have to be explained in a bit more detail. That detail is the killer. I don't believe – I can't believe – that the masses want another special corporate court, or that they want to have generic medicines in other countries cut off, etc. Obama's embrace of TPP has made free trade temporarily popular among dems, but I am thinking this is a temporary situation, one in which delusion rules, rather like the idea that Saddam H was behind 9.11. Over the next year, surely the mask will fall off.

Peter Dorman 05.13.15 at 5:30 pm

I find the OP rather baffling and out of character. The whole point of sites like CT and the people who gravitate to them is to look past the epiphenomena of daily politics and focus, as much as possible, on the underlying tectonic forces. There is a lot of noise in politics, and it helps to not get distracted.

I agree with JQ's characterization of Thatcherian neoliberalism, but the fact that its origins were in the political center rather than the right in the US does not particularly change the analysis, in my opinion.

It is still about market liberalism as an independent objective, separate from liberalism in other spheres. There are all sorts of neoliberals in the US. Some are civil libertarians, some not. Some are social liberals, some not. Some incline toward foreign policy hawkishness, some dovishness.

Before sending out invitations to dance on the grave of neoliberalism, it would help to have an understanding of why it became a dominant political force by the late 1970s, at least in the English-speaking world. (It was ascendant, if not dominant, in France by the mid-80s; I don't know about other countries.) Are the factors that favored it now in eclipse? We can disagree about this, but the historical/structural perspective is what it's all about, isn't it? If I want a better forecast of the next Senate roll call, there are other places on the web with this expertise.

To say that neoliberalism is collapsing because of its intellectual shortcomings is to suggest that its intellectual merits were responsible for its rise. My view is that bad ideas that are convenient for the people that matter tend to outlive their purely intellectual justifications, often for a very long time.

Marshall 05.13.15 at 6:52 pm

neoliberalism maintained and even extended "social liberalism", in the US sense of support for equal marriage, reproductive choice and so on

Just the street view of an Average American, but the folk (voters) who support reproductive choice and so on appear to be quite distinct from the folk who support NAFTA. Bill.42's thing was "triangulating" among superficially opposed viewpoints.

Remains to be seen whether the current vote is more than a procedural detour, but at least it shows that American Progressiveism is not entirely defunct. To my surprise.

cassander 05.13.15 at 7:47 pm

>except as this coincides with the desires of conservatives and reactionaries to maintain a social order where they can do as they have always done.

Are you incapable of thinking your ideological opponents are well motivated? Or do you just enjoy assuming they're evil so much that you aren't willing to not do it?

> (the only major business sector that was prepared to back Democrats, or at least to bankroll suitable candidates from either party).

Really now? That's news to a whole lot of people on this list. Most industries give liberally to both sides, for obvious reasons.

> cuts in "entitlement" spending,

Then why has entitlement spending continuously increased, both in terms of share of GDP and inflation adjusted dollars? Why did Reagan, Clinton, and Bush the younger all expand entitlement programs or make them more generous?

>education reformers like Michelle Rhee

Well TIL that the political right is a force in DC city politics. I had no idea!

The effects of the neoliberal wave have been greatly exaggerated. For every high profile victory (welfare reform probably being the largest in the US) they won there were 100 battles they lost (Social Security Disability exploding in size since welfare reform). Every year, more regulations are written, benefits increased according to COLAs, eligibility criteria are more loosely interpreted, etc.

The state expands relentlessly unless it is actively resisted, and neoliberals cannot be everywhere, much less win everywhere.

John, you are right that neoliberalism is doomed. But it isn't doomed because of the financial crisis or school reform, it's doomed for the same reason it always was, it's playing a rigged game.

Plarry 05.13.15 at 7:55 pm

Can someone help me work through what neoliberalism in the US is? I thought of neoliberalism as primarily an economic model advocating a reduction of the state in the market. Thus it is employed for Pinochet's Chile. It says nothing about things like gay marriage (which, Clinton opposed in office: DOMA), etc.

Clinton's economic model favored neoliberalism, I agree, and Bush was also an agent of neoliberalism. Obama has had more of a mixed bag, though. Under my understanding, net neutrality is not a neoliberal doctrine, and Obama was for it even in his first term.

Obama supported Dodd-Frank, which I would not call neoliberal. There are other examples, some from the first term, some the second. But it seems wrong to characterize his first administration as neoliberal "through and through," even though the number of Clinton appointees was large.

John Quiggin 05.13.15 at 9:27 pm

@17 Neoliberalism, in the Thatcher sense of the term, is very much alive and well. It's the US/Third Way version, claiming that neoliberalism is consistent with the goals and values of US liberalism/social democracy that is, in my view, breathing its last.

Bruce Wilder 05.13.15 at 9:27 pm

The classic statement of what "neoliberalism" is in the U.S. was the 1983 essay by the Washington Monthly's founder, Charles Peters.

You can download it in pdf format, here:

Ezra Klein conducted an interview with Peters in 2007 that might be taken as a clarifying statement.

Pretty much anything by Brad DeLong is a pretty good representation of left neoliberalism in living form, though he may have become reluctant to apply that label to himself. Neoliberals, like DeLong, have favored dialog with conservative libertarians in the tradition established by Milton Friedman and to a lesser extent with the Virginia School Public Choice tradition. The term, neoliberalism, is increasingly used as a blanket label for the whole of this dialectic between conservative libertarians and centrist neoliberals, which has seemed increasingly appropriate as the Overton Window for "seriousness" has moved right, under pressures created by this dialectic.

The domestic American version has come to stand by an international standard, originally articulated as "the Washington Consensus" in 1989 by the economist, John Williamson in a ten point description of the consensus advice issued by Washington-based international institutions like the IMF, the World Bank and the U.S. Treasury, when those institutions were called in to "rescue" countries in financial and economic trouble. The Wikipedia entry on "The Washington Consensus" is a decent brief overview of how those ideas have been codified and evolve.

Hope that helps.

Mr Punch 05.13.15 at 9:39 pm

Neoliberalism in the US sense has nothing in common with Thatcherism except markets. Agree with Bruce W. that Delong is a current exemplar. The UK equivalent is somewhere in the SDP/New Labour zone – "of the left" but accepting of markets and disillusioned with actually-existing organized labor.

Bruce Wilder 05.13.15 at 9:55 pm

I would agree with JQ that the claim that "neoliberalism is consistent with the goals and values of US liberalism/social democracy" should die. I'm far less optimistic that than the OP that it will anytime soon.

As Ian Welsh has astutely remarked, a distinguishing feature of neoliberalism is its clincher argument: "there is no alternative". Neoliberalism is as powerful as it is, because of its ideological singularity: it recognizes no competitors, and allows its adherents and practitioners to complacently ignore the possibility of alternatives.

This no-alternative argument manifests as no alternative candidate and "lesser evil" rationalizations for the non-alternative. It manifests as the policy traps of disaster capitalism and the war on terror. And, it manifests in the epistemic closure of that dialectic I mentioned between conservative libertarians and neoliberal centrists, which seems to exclude even the ability to think of a viable alternative policy path.

JW Mason 05.13.15 at 10:03 pm

Pretty much anything by Brad DeLong is a pretty good representation of left neoliberalism

… and DeLong says that ending teacher tenure is one of three most important things the we can do to boost long-term growth. Contra JQ, I'd say that left neoliberalism is alive and well. It's just that the program for eliminating non-market claims on society has shifted its focus from blue-collar workers and the undeserving poor, to teachers (and students) in the public schools.

Not long ago at the farmer's market (where else?), I ran into a guy I used to work with at the Working Families Party. Turned out he now has a top job in Michelle Rhee's organization. He claimed, sincerely as far as I could tell, he didn't see any contradiction, that his politics hadn't changed. Fighting the teachers unions and supporting charter schools was just another part of the fight for working and poor people that he'd been part of at WFP and at ACORN, where he'd been for years before that. So I can attest from first-hand experience that the idea that "neoliberalism is consistent with the goals and values of US liberalism/social democracy" can still be found in the wild.

But hey, what do I know, John Quiggin reads Nick Kristof in the newspaper.

Mr Punch 05.13.15 at 10:05 pm

It's important to bear in mind that the subject here is party dynamics, not electoral politics as such. Bill Clinton won; Obama won; Blair won. There is every reason to believe that more traditionally "left" alternatives would have lost. (In the UK, they have.)

bob mcmanus 05.13.15 at 10:07 pm

23: The Marxian left has somewhat identified neoliberalism with Mandel and Jameson's Late Capitalism, with help from the French Regulation School to try to generalize the biopolitics of post-Fordism with something like:

"Neoliberalism is about overtly using public and common means toward private and personal ends."

Thus, both Hollywood I/P and gay marriage; pharmaceutical patent protection and Title IX; bank bailouts and Obamacare are all neoliberal. The Marxians, being dialectical, don't particularly judge, while in analysis mode, these as particularly good or bad, just symptomatic, base and superstructure.

"…claiming that neoliberalism is consistent with the goals and values of US liberalism/social democracy"

I might make that claim, having no attraction to whatever you see in the US that you think is liberalism/social democracy, with the proviso that the 1% get the benefits and the 99% pay the costs. "Privatize the profits, socialize the costs"

We have a black President! Obama and HRC are doing just great.

Bruce Wilder 05.14.15 at 1:06 am

Mr. Punch @ 29: "There is every reason to believe that more traditionally "left" alternatives would have lost."

Indeed, there is no alternative.

What shows up as party dynamics is an outcome of an ideological process that involved operations at some distance from mere partisanship, operations in media and academe and various issue-oriented movements that help to define what seems plausible and "serious" to people who pay little attention. Or, like JW Mason's well-meaning acquaintance, people who are available for politics, but find no alternative.

It is not "the goals and values" of liberalism or social democracy, which have been distilled out of neoliberalism. "Goals and values" are what the neoliberals kept, in much the spirit in which latter-day religions have kept the "goals and values" of earlier versions of Christianity. The slogans are there — some of them anyway, if in faded form. If liberals once claimed that a rising tide would lift all boats, neoliberals are pro growth. In theory. If liberals were egalitarian, neoliberalism will champion social equality and even wring hands ceremoniously over increasing economic "inequality".

What went out of liberalism or social democracy in the 1980s [ and was far right pucked up --NNB] was the fight, the philosophical willingness to see politics as a fight, as us v them, and a stalemated fight at that. The intellectuals did not want to lead the fight to maintain the scrum near the center of the field, and ordinary people didn't want the noise. The Right lost interest in Communism; the Left just lost interest.

Neoliberalism will keep pushing till the fight comes back into politics. That's just how these things work. The political frontier, I think, are places neoliberalism is in the process of feeding into the wood chipper. Public schools? SYRIZA and Greece?

ezra abrams 05.14.15 at 4:53 am

mark @11 nails it

and E Warren, among her 1t 3 votes in congress

Steve Williams 05.14.15 at 7:09 am

I can't comment on the general intellectual climate because I don't know enough, but on the specific idea that Clinton will speak out against the TPP . . . it seems unlikely to me. Firstly, I suspect she has no ideological qualms with the agreement. Even if she does, if she spoke out against it, she would have to say why, and if that 'saying why' involves 'saying left-wing things', it's very unlikely.

There are sound electoral reasons for this. She faces no 'credible' challenger on her left, whereas the probable Republican candidates have to share bandwidth with 'credible' right-wing competitors, so she is in the enviable position of being able to camp in the centre ground early while her opponents make a whole load of hostage-to-fortune comments and promises. Progressives are going to suffer from failing to find anyone even prepared to have a crack at challenging HRC.

Ebenezer Scrooge 05.14.15 at 10:23 am

I agree that the good ship neoliberalism is sinking. What I find noteworthy is that the rats leaving the ship are mostly jumping off the port side. Brad DeLong is far more typical than Michelle Rhee. Heck, not too long ago, Paul Krugman could fairly be called a neoliberal. Paul Krugman! This is unlike the 1960's anticommunist liberals, who mostly morphed into Republicans.

Mr Punch 05.14.15 at 11:41 am

"This is unlike the 1960's anticommunist liberals, who mostly morphed into Republicans." – ES (34).

I was there, and I don't think this was (mostly) true. The blocs that shifted right to become Republicans, it seems to me, were (a) the original neoconservative intellectuals, mostly Jewish, mostly NYC, almost all starting from some form of socialism to the left of liberalism; a lot of Catholics; and a lot of private-sector labor union households. You didn't see Hubert Humphrey or Arthur Schlesinger Jr. joining the GOP.

The issues driving these shifts were domestic, and largely social – apart from Vietnam and Israel, both with significant domestic social aspects. Of course economics played a part, notably the "threatened middle class" thing, but votes were not cast on economic lines (union members going for Nixon/Reagan, e.g.).

I draw attention to the current meaning of the term "progressive," widely used in gauchissant (okay, not what that means) Democratic circles. In 1912 "progressive" meant "don't call us radicals"; today it means "don't call us liberals." It's a sign that the groups lost by the Dems, which they strive to reclaim, are pretty anti-liberal in their attitudes.

NIMBY 05.14.15 at 12:12 pm

"Today, Obama got ten Democratic senators to flip their votes without giving them the concession that they had wanted, that of passing a set of other trade-related provisions along with Fast Track authorization. As we indicated yesterday, one of the changes they had wanted, putting more stringent sanctions in place against foreign government currency manipulation, was anathema to the Administration. So after what appears to have been no more than a dressing down, ten Democratic party senators relented, giving Obama a clear path to moving Fast Track authorization to a vote in the Senate."

kidneystones 05.14.15 at 12:22 pm

The notion that E. Warren (native-American maybe) is the best of of the Democratic left just shows how bad the US political landscape looks, even when compared with the fate of Labour in Britain.

I spoke with a Canadian colleague today about the outcomes of Johnson's Great Society project some 50 years after their implementation and the results are mixed, to say the least. I realize that if it's a choice between African-Americans freeing themselves from urban blight as Republicans, or remaining in public housing and voting Dem, many here would very much prefer the latter. And Warren, of all people, is going to ride to the rescue. Pure kabuki.

mdc 05.14.15 at 1:18 pm

"if it's a choice between African-Americans freeing themselves from urban blight as Republicans, or remaining in public housing and voting Dem"

The most nonsensical thought experiment I have heard for a while. BTW, about half of all public housing residents are white.

kidneystones 05.14.15 at 1:34 pm

Thanks mdc. The percentage that counts isn't white to black, as you know, it's the percentage of black city residents in public housing compared with black city dwellers not in public housing, and particularly those who started out in public housing, but migrated to self-sufficiency. Instead, you offer two straw-men and no response. Sorry, but the choice is real, or do you not credit African-Americans with the ability to do more than take hand-outs? The first thing that would happen if blacks finally got themselves out of city ghettos is that white liberals would have to find some reasons to feel guilty, and find some new dependents. I don't really expect you've got the parts to give a straight answer. Your lame response was entirely predicable. You get bonus points for deploying racist put-downs to describe black republicans like Carson. Throwing money at the problem sounded like a good idea, and was one I supported for about 40 years. Not working.

MPAVictoria 05.14.15 at 2:33 pm

Of course kidneystones forgets, as do many conservatives do when talking about poverty, that poverty is a FLOW not a stock.

Bruce Wilder 05.14.15 at 4:19 pm

I respectfully disagree with your identification of poverty with flow as opposed to stock. (Respectfully, because I would prefer having kidney stones to taking sides with kidneystones.)

Poverty is, I think, better understood as the condition of life opposite of wealth. Conservative economists, confusing people with statistics, often find it convenient to muddy the difference between people in poverty and people with low income.

I myself have been broke, but never poor, and I have seen poverty, and there are major differences. The same conservatives will confuse poverty with things — "look, a poor has a cellphone! They are not really poor!"

Wealth is more than things or money in people's lives. Much of wealth is intangible, a stock of connections and possibilities that eliminate the barriers and precariousness and deficits that mire people in poverty.

The thing about wealth that kidneystones and his ilk are eager to hide is that wealth is not necessarily independent of poverty. Wealth can be — does not have to be, but can be — a product of a negative sum game, where poverty is created and exacerbated to accumulate wealth.

The neoliberal facilitates hiding the predatory nature of the conservative policy agenda, by either not fighting it at all, or by protesting in the most minimal and ineffective manner. And, the resulting dialogue between neoliberal and conservative leaves the claim that antipoverty efforts have been massive and persistent largely unchallenged, the conservative efforts to create poverty by predation almost invisible in partisan politics.

In the provinces 05.14.15 at 5:51 pm

A lot of the comments here reflect confusion about the different meanings of "liberal" in Europe and the US. In the former, liberal retains a lot of its nineteenth century connotation, of "anti-statist and pro-laissez faire."

So neo-liberals are Thatcherites, people who want to revive 19th century anti-statism and glorification of free markets in a late twentieth century world, which means, among other things, the destruction of trade unions and social welfare institutions.

Their American counterparts are generally called "free market conservatives," or even "libertarians." Think Milton Friedman. In the US, "liberalism" generally means skepticism about unrestrained free markets and acceptance of government regulations–whether this takes technocratic form (the Progressive Era) or social democratic one–the New Deal.

"Neo-liberals" are Democratic Party politicians and journalists and academics close to them who want to rejigger the relationship between markets and governmental regulation in labor relations and economic matters, taking the latter down a notch (or several notches), without totally abandoning regulation, or social welfare. Think Bill Clinton and, to a lesser extent, Barack Obama. Their European counterparts–Blair, "Red Ed" Milliband, Gerhard Schröder, François Hollande, the whole "Third Way" crowd – are actually the enemies (if, maybe, not very effective enemies) of "neo-liberals," i.e. Thatcherites, in Europe.

Brad DeLong 05.14.15 at 7:38 pm

Bruce Wilder @25: "Pretty much anything by Brad DeLong is a pretty good representation of left neoliberalism in living form, though he may have become reluctant to apply that label to himself."

I am?

Remember that David Graeber has summoned me to appear in Chiapas before some marsupialoid panel to answer for the war crime of trying to encourage world trade between poor and rich countries. And my plea in response is taken from Joan Robinson: "The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all…" I really don't think I have a choice but to embrace the label…

Brad DeLong

Brad DeLong 05.14.15 at 7:49 pm

Re: J.W. Mason @28: "DeLong says that ending teacher tenure is one of three most important things the we can do to boost long-term growth…"

Now, now, Mr. Mason. That bullshit coefficient is rather large, isn't it?

>[Cato's] Brink Lindsey asked me what I would do to the U.S. economy to increase economic growth if I could just "wave a magic wand". The problem I have with such questions–with such "magic wands"–is that I am never sure just how powerful they are supposed to be. Let me propose three, all of which are small scale in terms of policies but larger scale in that in order to become durable policies they do require, as John Adams said, changes "in the hearts and minds of our countrymen [and women]…"

>(2) State and local governments committed to raising salaries of K-12 public-school teachers relative to median salaries by 50%, in exchange for severe reductions in teacher tenure: As Eddie Lazear tirelessly points out, our state and local governments still substantially set public-school teachers' salaries following a sociological pattern set generations ago, when the occupations open to women were (a) housekeepers, (b) laundresses, (c) waitresses, (d) telephone switchboard-operators, (e) secretaries, (f) nurses, and (g) teachers. Those days are long gone: women who would have become teachers and nurses in the 1950s are now becoming doctors, lawyers, managers, and bankers. School boards across the country have responded to the difficulties of hiring as the coming of feminist liberties has allowed their captive female labor pool to escape by offering tenure in order to attract the risk-averse to teaching without having to require their taxpayer principals to face reality. But this is, at most, a second-best solution.

>A nationwide network of good schools is both one of the very best ways to build productive capital–human capital–and a powerful step toward turning equality of opportunity in America from a sick and cynical joke to something not that far moved to reality.

>How to actually wave this magic wand, however, is beyond me. My reading of the evidence is that charter schools have been disappointing in ways somewhat similar to those in which 401(k)s have been disappointing–too-high rewards to flash and marketing and too-little repetition for successful social learning about true quality to take place. Teachers will fight attempts to disrupt security of employment unless they have confidence that the grand bargain by which they trade security for higher salaries will be kept–which they do not have. Fiscal conservatives will fight teacher-salary increases unless they are confident that the Democratic Party-public sector union complex will then disarm itself of its weapons–which they are not. And the very smart Jesse Rothstein in the building next door thinks that eliminating teacher tenure is in no wise low-hanging fruit–that it substantially boosts the salary needed to acquire good teachers as it leads the risk-averse to exit the profession, and that nearly all who should not be teachers as identified as such before they gain tenure.


MPAVictoria 05.14.15 at 8:06 pm

As Dr Delong knows the countries that regularly beat the US on international educational comparisons tend to have strong teacher unions. Unions are not the problem. Poverty, violence and lack of a strong social safety net are the problem.

MPAVictoria 05.14.15 at 8:07 pm

Bruce Matt Bruenig has a better response to your comment than I could ever come up with. Read it at your leisure:

"Put simply: poverty is a flow, not a stock. Poverty is when someone lacks a certain level of resources for a specific period of time. Ending or reducing poverty is an endless task because producing and distributing income are endless tasks."

Anderson 05.14.15 at 8:50 pm

44: teacher *unions* and teacher *tenure* are not synonyms.

TM 05.14.15 at 8:55 pm

Seconding 44. On first sight one is mystified why DeLong would want to tie increases in teacher salaries to union-busting and a weakening of employment security and why the latter should have any bearing at all on economic growth (unless DeLong is really going to argue that there is an empirical correlation between growth rates and lack of tenure in each state). So one wonders why the professor comes up with such a bizarre non sequitur?

But then of course one reflects that DeLong's call for a 50% raise in teacher pay is totally unrealistic – as he is very well aware – but the call for abolishing tenure is exactly what very powerful forces on the right are working for anyway. So one observes that DeLong is making the case for a benign policy change that has absolutely no chance of being realistic, and for a destructive right-wing agenda that is very close to being enacted.

And that is perhaps one of the better definitions of the American neoliberal: they are centrists advocating for some progressive as well as some regressive ideas, but it just so happens that the progressive ideas never go anywhere while the regressive ones shape political reality, and the "centrist" support makes it so much easier to push down the public's throat. But the clever centrist likes to maintain plausible deniability: "anti- teacher, me? I'm the one who advocated for a 50% pay increase!"

(On rereading, I notice that he isn't in fact calling for 50% pay increases, only that teacher salaries should be 50% higher than the median. Median earnings of all full-time workers in 2013 was 44k and median high school teacher salary was $55k. So DeLong is calling for a 20% increase.)

MPAVictoria 05.14.15 at 9:02 pm

"44: teacher *unions* and teacher *tenure* are not synonyms."

Unions exist in part to protect the employment of their members. So yes. Yes they are.

Daragh McDowell 05.14.15 at 9:33 pm

TM @ 47 – Actually DeLong makes clear in his post that the ideas he is 'advocating' are actually hypothetical changes he would make to the economy if he 'could wave a magic wand' – that is, a thought experiment, not a policy prescription. Indeed he explicitly states that the 'how' is 'beyond him.'

By all means criticise DeLong for things he has actually proposed or supported, but I fail to see what value can be gained by what amounts to denouncing people for heresy.

TM 05.14.15 at 10:09 pm

He is only saying that these are the policies that he would enact if he could, but that doesn't mean he's advocating for them? He says that if this could somehow be done, it would be great for economic growth, but that is not a "policy prescription"? Bizarre.

If I could wave a magic wand, I would strip all American economics professors of tenure. This is just a thought experiment, not a policy prescription, the 'how' is beyond me, but I'm sure it would result in a great improvement in the intellectual output of the profession.

MPAVictoria 05.14.15 at 10:23 pm

"If I could wave a magic wand, I would strip all American economics professors of tenure. This is just a thought experiment, not a policy prescription, the 'how' is beyond me, but I'm sure it would result in a great improvement in the intellectual output of the profession."

A 05.14.15 at 10:28 pm

TM@51, that seems like a thought experiment, no? Your imaginings serve only to clarify your values and, potentially, your model relating tenure to academic economics productivity. Advocating would require some engagement with the structures that affect tenure in reality.

William Timberman 05.14.15 at 10:44 pm

Daragh McDowell @ 50

I don't believe that anyone who comments on CT is an enemy of thought experiments, and most would also probably admit, however grudgingly in some cases, that Brad DeLong is good — very good — at them. The problem that bedevils everyone, Brad DeLong included, is that the politics of the well-meaning have always been disadvantaged, and in our age perhaps terminally so.

There's unfortunately little incentive for an innocent bystander (if there be any such) to choose between Bruce Wilder's savagely ironic there is no alternative, and DeLong's irritatingly glib Joan Robinson quote, the misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all. We need not only a re-think, but also a re-do, and a massive one at that — but sadly, despite the denials of democratic socialists, Stalinism is a real threat, one which must inevitably bedevil any sincere and strenuous attempt to set things right before it's too late. It's perhaps fortunate that Stalinism is as difficult to get going as lupus est homo homini is to bring to an end.

Is there any sense in pummeling those who offer solutions which aren't solutions at all? Doing so can be an interesting parlor game of the whose-is-bigger sort familiar from the letters pages of the NYRB, but as I see things, it leaves us pretty much back where we started. I suspect that bob mcmanus has the best take: the politics of getting ourselves sorted is more like geology that we'd like to admit. It takes time — a lot of it — to change anything in human affairs. Butchery, too, if we're being honest about the history of our species. While it may be true that all the individual players have their contributions to make, impatience to see, and more importantly, to touch the results of their efforts, will be no help to them at all. On the contrary….

Brad DeLong 05.15.15 at 1:40 am

MPAVictoria @52: "'If I could wave a magic wand, I would strip all American economics professors of tenure. This is just a thought experiment, not a policy prescription, the 'how' is beyond me, but I'm sure it would result in a great improvement in the intellectual output of the profession.' Ha!"

Where's my 50% salary increase?

I know that J.W. Mason started the quoting of me out of context here. It made him look stupid. But you are continuing it. You know, quoting people out of context in the age of the internet really does make you look stupid. I do recommend that you stop…


I think that John Quiggin is largely correct.

Right-neoliberalism is the claim that social democracy was one huge mistake–that it created a North Atlantic of takers who mooched off the makers. It holds that if we got rid of social democracy, we would have a utopia because the makers wouldn't have to carry the takers on their backs and the takers would shape up–or if the takers did not shape up, serve them right! The moochers would then wallow in their much deserved squalor and misery. And the makers would not have to, as they do now, suffer the pain of watching the moochers live tolerable lives.

Right-neoliberalism is alive and kicking.

Left-neoliberalism is the twin of two claims.

The first is addressed to the left: it is that market mechanisms – properly-regulated market mechanisms – are more likely than not a better road to social democratic ends than command-and-control mechanisms.

The second is addressed to the right: it is that social democracy is the only political system that can in the long run underpin a market economy that preserves a space for private property and private enterprise. Therefore the right had better shut up and try to make social democracy work, or else.

The true underlying problem with left-neoliberalism, I think, is that with the Brezhnevite stagnation of the Soviet Union the second claim addressed to the right was no longer convincing. Hence the right went into its dismantle-social-democracy mode. And once the right was committed to dismantling social democracy, the ability to construct and maintain the proper regulations needed to make market mechanisms tools to achieve social democratic ends fell apart as well.

This leaves those who want to present electorates with a broader menu of political choices than simply right-neoliberalism and its even more conservative relatives with the task of figuring out another political-economic agenda to repair the flaws in the post-WWII Fordist economic regulation model that led to the original development of left-neoliberalism in the first place. But I am at my wit's end as to what alternative political-economic agenda could both (a) work technocratically and (b) be sold to North Atlantic electorates politically. Hell, our failure to maintain political coalitions to even implement Milton Friedman's cures for depression, let along John Maynard Keynes's, is terribly depressing.

MPAVictoria 05.15.15 at 1:50 am

When did I quote you Brad? I quoted TM but I never quoted you. Please go reread my posts.

/I do wonder how making people less secure in their jobs is supposed to improve performance.

//being mistakenly attacked by a former Clinton advisor. I must be moving up in the world.

///I read your blog almost every day.

JimV 05.15.15 at 4:44 am

Performance can be improved by firing those who deserve to be fired (and replacing them with others who don't). There was no tenure for engineering jobs at GE under Jack Welch (rather the reverse), yet I knew a (very) few engineers there who didn't work well enough to deserve their jobs, but survived for a long time before the bureaucratic inertia involved in firing them was overcome. I have several relatives who are teachers, and occasionally have heard similar stories from them. I can think of at least one person at Berkeley whom I think Prof. DeLong would like to see fired (in a different department). I am guessing that is the sort of thing that he has in mind.

On the other hand, there are bad administrators and managers too – in my experience, more of them than the few bad workers I have known (what with the way power corrupts, and the Peter Principle). So it becomes the age-old question, is it better that the innocent not be fired unjustly or that the guilty have tenure? Inasmuch as most administrators and managers have a sort of tenure, in the form of golden parachutes, next to which public-school teacher-tenure (which amounts to needing enough fair cause to fire them to convince an arbitrator appointed by the school in my state) is rather weak, I think it is fair for teachers to have tenure after their probationary periods. I know Prof; DeLong worries about the trend toward inequality and I think we might be able to persuade him that teacher tenure is a mild step in the right direction – although higher salaries would be a much bigger step.

Bruce Wilder 05.15.15 at 6:11 am

MPAVictoria @ 46

Matt Bruenig wasn't responding to anything like the analysis I offered. I cheer his effort to refute right-wing fools and knaves, but I was arguing that distribution of income, risk and wealth are related — functionally, not statistically, if you can grasp the distinction.

I apologize for responding to your comment. It was foolish of me.

Bruce Wilder 05.15.15 at 6:31 am

I did not agree with the OP that neoliberal is anywhere near its last gasp, but I did think it was sufficiently deprecated that Brad DeLong would be embarrassed to be identified with the label. I stand corrected.

But, I do thank Professor DeLong for providing additional texts illustrating what "neoliberal" means. I'll leave it to others to judge from Professor DeLong's own statements, whether his claims are genuinely consistent with the goals and values of US liberalism/social democracy. My judgment is that they are not.

reason 05.15.15 at 7:53 am

Harold @63
Good to see someone stand up for it, particularly in terms of it being an uncorruption measure. One of the great problems of our time, is the defining down of corruption, so that it has disappeared from Western sensitivity. (The Chicago thesis seems to be basically that corruption is inevitable, so we should embrace it. Ask Indians where that leads.) We are in a sense living on past capital, and that capital is being depreciated.

reason 05.15.15 at 7:59 am

kidneystones @6
"or any capable female candidate not named Palin. "

Not sure what "capable" means in terms of GOP females. Given that the GOP is the party of old men, it may even be a contradiction in terms.

Sasha Clarkson 05.15.15 at 7:59 am

Perhaps the Right should be made to realise that private property is a socialist concept. In an individualist jungle, the only thing you own is your body and your genes (until someone eats you): everything else you have to fight to gain or to keep. There is certainly no right to enjoy the fruits of your labour: look at kleptoparasites like skuas! And usually the best means to inheritance is to kill/evict your parent.

Any kind of private property requires some kind of social contract of agreed rights and obligations, and collective protection of that that right/privilege by legal recognition and enforcement. Of course, a minority of humans try to behave like kleptoparasites: the worst one work in the City of London and on Wall Street. But without a social contract, which must inevitably entail limits upon private property, like taxation, there would be no rights and no justice, but perpetual strife instead.

reason 05.15.15 at 9:28 am

what you say is correct, but I think you misunderstand the point of difference. The "Right" (which in fact has many threads) – and I take in this case you actually mean the Property Libertarians thread – think that "the state" is something different than the body standing behind the "social contract". I disagree with, that position, but I think you should be clear on that – the Propertarians regard the state as an foreign invasion.

Lee A. Arnold 05.15.15 at 12:14 pm

Brad asks, ""[W]hat alternative political-economic agenda could both (a) work technocratically and (b) be sold to North Atlantic electorates politically"? Here is a stab at (a):

1. Say to people, "Adam Smith chapter 3, Ronald Coase, and Elinor Ostrom point to the other half of economics, which we have been all but ignoring."

2. Government is a necessary corporation that must take care of a large portion of the economy which cannot be handled by the market system. This portion can be well-defined: defense, unemployment, retirement, medical coverage, environment. The edges of these areas all shade into market transactions and become tractable to market solutions, but the core is not, at the present time.

3. These areas are each subject to various categories of "market failure". Transaction failure of any kind, is a cost to society which can be reduced by an institution of some sort. Government is the institution which reduces the transaction costs of non-marketable necessities.

4. Governance? "Votes" replace "prices", in this sphere of activity. This was understood by the Founding Fathers, and has been forgotten. Voters have to be informed; people have to stop thinking that they can stop thinking. Bureaucracy should be held to the bare minimum and computerized as much as possible. Transparency is an absolute requirement. "Public choice" is an academic subject; self-interest is not the motivation or preference of all public servants. (Saying that is is, however, will make it so.)

5. Financing? By taxation, by public debt diminution through economic growth, and by printing money to cover the balance, up to 3% inflation.

As for (b), there will be no overnight transition, but we are beginning to go through it now, and electorates are slowly going to force themselves into various parts of this anyway, over the next 20-30 years. Not without strife. Computers will take over the most-productive jobs, and the ownership of capital becomes based more and more on pre-existing intellectual property rights, particularly rights to the main algorithms. As the jobs largely become those which do not admit of continuous productivity improvements (hands-on, service, etc.) then the possibility of incomes growth for the rest to "get ahead" will slowly disappear. This makes a political fight, but in the mean time the plutocracy will reduce in numbers. The inexorable future is not economically impossible. There is no real scarcity of necessities. The few things which are truly scarce — e.g prime real estate locations — will become rationed by timeshare lotteries etc.

Salem 05.15.15 at 1:07 pm

@Sasha: How do you plan to "make them realise"? Do you mean persuasion? Have you yourself persuaded a lot of people to change their foundational political beliefs? Do you think this is the normal way in which politics progresses?

Do you think that most people on the right have never considered the idea of a social contract? Do you think that everyone who thinks in terms of a social contract will necessarily be a leftist? Or, given that we don't know the content of any hypothetical social contract, can social contract theory be used to justify almost anything, up to and including absolute monarchy?

Politics would definitely be simpler if people didn't disagree.

Sasha Clarkson 05.15.15 at 2:49 pm

Salem @ 71 "Do you think that most people on the right have never considered the idea of a social contract?"

Well no, obviously I was somewhat reworking Hobbes in a more modern setting. But, in the anti-intellectual times we live in, most on the right don't really think at all, but are defined by their sense of entitlement to more than their share, and by their resentment of any perceived inferiors who refuse to know their place. So, as private property enshrined in law is a serious limit to competition, defining it as a socialist concept seems like a good way to troll them and maybe shock one or two out of their complacency! :D

Anderson 05.15.15 at 4:16 pm

63: " It was and is an anti-corruption measure designed to protect the public against bureaucratic cronyism and nepotism."

Yes, okay, but like any other human institution, it's become corrupted over time. The difficulty of firing public employees for not doing their jobs has become proverbial.

Most public employees *do* their jobs and do them well, but it should not be so difficult to fire those who don't. They should be protected from arbitrary and capricious dismissal, but that should be it.

MPAVictoria 05.15.15 at 4:20 pm

"So, as private property enshrined in law is a serious limit to competition, defining it as a socialist concept seems like a good way to troll them and maybe shock one or two out of their complacency! :D"

Sasha I like the way you think. Check out this post on that exact topic. I think you will enjoy it:

Harold 05.15.15 at 4:28 pm

I would like to see some empirical backup for the statement that, in response to the feminist movement, school boards originally offered tenure to teachers to keep better ones from leaving the profession. Which is what I understood Professor DeLong to be saying.

I want to add that my grandmother taught for twenty-five years in Harlem, NYC, and she had only two years of higher education at Hunter College, then a Normal (i.e., teacher preparatory) School. She also drove a taxi, during the war and I suppose, as a working woman, she was a feminist.

Sasha Clarkson 05.15.15 at 4:33 pm

Thank you MPAV – you were right: I did enjoy it! ;)

MPAVictoria 05.15.15 at 4:39 pm

"Thank you MPAV – you were right: I did enjoy it! ;)"

Glad you liked it!

/Sometimes I worry that I link to Matt Bruenig and his wife Elizabeth so much people will think I am a paid shill. The truth is I just love that I found 2 young, brilliant, leftist writers.
//Also anyone who enjoys mocking libertarians and right wingers is missing out by not following Matt on twitter. He is a force of nature when he gets going.
///I may have a crush.

bianca steele 05.15.15 at 4:44 pm

I'm finding myself agreeing with Bruce Wilder, so probably I should remain silent. :)

Harold 05.15.15 at 4:59 pm

Getting rid of job protections, rent regulations, Glass-Steagall, protection of children from advertising — these are among the many disastrous neoliberal recipes for mass immiseration and the rise of the Mafia state. That's how I see it, at any rate.

Sasha Clarkson 05.15.15 at 5:18 pm

Brad de Long @55 is echoing Keynes' words in The End of Laissez-Faire

In Keynes' own order, the second point first: "devotees of Capitalism are often unduly conservative, and reject reforms in its technique which might really strengthen and preserve it, for fear that they may prove to be the first steps away from capitalism itself."

The first point: "I think that Capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable. Our problem is work out a social organisation which shall be as efficient as possible without offending our notions of a satisfactory way of life."

I wonder how a modern-day Keynes might incorporate environmental concerns into his thinking? Actually, I don't – we have John Quiggin! :)

Dave 05.15.15 at 5:22 pm

In Europe, center-left parties have capitulated increasingly to what Angela Merkel calls 'market-conforming democracy' (as good an encapsulation of neoliberalism as it gets). So we've seen center-left governments take on organized labor in Italy and France over efforts to reduce labor market protections. This is coupled with a wholesale conversion to supply-side economics: state spending must be trimmed because credibilityhardchoices while the only thing we can do to reduce inequality is invest in human capital.

Labour's campaign under Ed Miliband was something of a half-way house. Miliband was fiscally austere, but his regulatory agenda was a major break from New Labour. Rather than assuming "the market knows best", there were proposals for utility price freezes, caps on rent increases, a ban on unpaid internships, major restriction of zero-hours contracts, etc.

John Quiggin is right to point out that the Democratic Party is undergoing a meaningful (though not uncontested) shift away from neoliberalism. Since the low-point of 2010, the Democratic Party is now way more comfortable with Keynesian economics than its European counterparts. And the fact that an increase in the minimum wage to the level of a living wage is increasingly a part of the Democratic mainstream is massive. Andrew Cuomo, of all people, is calling low-wage employers predators. Neoliberals like Cuomo don't do that unless they're worried by massive amounts of grassroots pressure. And the growing progressive wing's moves towards expansion of social security, child care, and paid sick leave represent important steps towards de-commodification.

There are countervailing tendencies: the charter school/union busting movement still has lots of friends in the Democratic establishment, and the TPP (particularly the ISDS) would be a big step towards market conforming democracy. But these are meeting increasing resistance, and are the exception more than the rule.

The interesting question is why the center-left in Europe and the US are moving in opposite directions, given relatively similar structural conditions.

Sasha Clarkson 05.15.15 at 5:24 pm

BTW Paul Krugman has two excellent op-eds this week.

I know that economic has been called "the dismal science", but the second piece literally did make me laugh out loud – as JK Galbraith's writings often did.

LFC 05.15.15 at 5:41 pm

I would prefer, on ideological grounds, Sanders to Clinton as the Dem nominee (not that that will happen), but NIMBY @2's quoted passage from Naked Capitalism is a tad over the top. The Clintons have become rich, but it's likely that their foundation has done at least a couple of good things as well some things that could be questioned on various grounds. To dismiss them all as "grifters," as the quoted Naked Capitalism excerpt does, seems a bit excessive.

Ex-President is not an especially easy job. It was/is predictable that Obama will follow the Jimmy Carter/Bill Clinton path of setting up an organization or foundation, rather than the G.W. Bush path of golf, painting, and quiet acts of philanthropy. In a capitalist society, organizations and foundations — like art museums, orchestras, theaters, and other cultural institutions — have to court wealthy donors. Why this sad but rather unavoidable fact causes even a left-wing site like Naked Capitalism to start labeling everyone nothing but grifters and tools of Chicago real estate interests is perhaps a bit of a mystery. YMMV.

LFC 05.15.15 at 5:48 pm

Re Dave @85: The movement to raise wages for those at the bottom of the wage scale does seem to be gathering strength in some rather unexpected parts of the U.S. spectrum.

LFC 05.15.15 at 6:31 pm

In my comment @88, replace "in a capitalist society" with "in a capitalist society of the U.S. variety"

Layman 05.15.15 at 6:50 pm

"The first is that the great society programs do not seem to be having the desired result."

This particular claim would stand a better chance, if in fact that which remained of the 'Great Society programs' were anti-poverty measures targeted at endemic inner-city poverty. What remains, instead, is Medicare, which overwhelmingly benefits the core Republican constituency; while the measures which did benefit the inner city poor have largely been dismantled under pressure from Conservative Republicans. Why, then, should the perpetually poor and disadvantaged turn to Republicans for policy solutions to their plight?

[May 17, 2015] Usage of missionaries for promoting color revolution

kirill, May 16, 2015 at 6:34 am

It is the Spanish conquista model. The missionaries were the foot soldiers of the invasion. The USA is using the same tricks against Ukrainians. Well, they deserve it.
Moscow Exile, May 16, 2015 at 7:45 am
I think the Ukraine has more Baptist congregations than there are in Russia, and there are plenty of them here. I have worked with a few Russian Baptists.

The Sky Pilot is in the Ukraine, in the "former Soviet Union" as he repeatedly says, and he is at a place where the leaders of Russian ministries have gathered, he says, "to talk about new crises that have taken place within their culture", such as HIV, which is rampant in what the speaker describes as "this Russian culture, predominantly".

That was in 2008.

Again from 2008:

Catch 'em young!

Warren, May 16, 2015 at 8:58 am
It makes sense for the US perspective the predominance of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and Russia is an obstacle to US power. It is no coincidence the strongest support for the West and the most hostile towards Russia, is in Western Ukraine/Galicia. This can be attributed to the fact the people in Western Ukraine/Galicia are overwhelming Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic/Uniate.

By proselytizing Ukrainians, converting them from Orthodoxy to a Protestant denomination you can undermine and break the bonds Ukrainians have with Russia.

The next step is to change the Cyrillic alphabet to a Latin Alphabet, this will complete Ukraine Civilisation transformation and pivot from Eastern Orthodoxy to Western Europe.

Calls for Latinization of Ukrainian Alphabet On 'Civilizational Grounds' Anger Russians

Game plan for the West to permanent conquer Ukraine:

1. Replace Eastern Orthodoxy with Protestantism and Catholicism.
2. Replace the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin alphabet.

cartman, May 16, 2015 at 9:20 am
Turchita is also a Baptist. (And Yats is a member of that other cult – Scientology.)

What evangelicals do cannot conceivably be called Christianity, though. Most worship chaos as a means of bringing about the end times.

PaulR, May 16, 2015 at 9:46 am
One of my Soviet room-mates in Minsk took me along to a Baptist service there, though I left before the end because it was very long (though not as long as the interminable Orthodox services). Anyway, the point is that the Baptists have been active in that part of the world for quite a while, even in Soviet times.
yalensis, May 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm
Russian diaspora in Western Massachussets area contains a lot of Jehovah's Witnesses.

They are fairly innocuous, as far as I can see; apolitical, for the most part.
Since I don't understand religion, I give them a pass.

Jen, May 16, 2015 at 5:42 pm
Hmm … I see something in Ukraine adopting the JW religion as its state religion. The Banderites would have to kick out Red Cross as accepting blood transfusions is against the Watchtower principles.
marknesop, , May 16, 2015 at 1:36 pm
Yes, I went to an Orthodox christening once for an acquaintance's child. I was completely unprepared for that singsong delivery and wondered what the hell was going on at first, and since I could not understand a word of it, it seemed even longer than it was. Which was long enough that I remarked quietly to my wife that they might just as well segue straight into the infant's wedding. Perhaps even her funeral.

[May 17, 2015]U.S. Wakes Up to New (Silk) World Order

Neocons got what they saw -- teeth of Chinese dragon...
May 16, 2015 | Information Clearing House
The real Masters of the Universe in the U.S. are no weathermen, but arguably they're starting to feel which way the wind is blowing.

History may signal it all started with this week's trip to Sochi, led by their paperboy, Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with Foreign Minister Lavrov and then with President Putin.

Arguably, a visual reminder clicked the bells for the real Masters of the Universe; the PLA marching in Red Square on Victory Day side by side with the Russian military. Even under the Stalin-Mao alliance Chinese troops did not march in Red Square.

As a screamer, that rivals the Russian S-500 missile systems. Adults in the Beltway may have done the math and concluded Moscow and Beijing may be on the verge of signing secret military protocols as in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. The new game of musical chairs is surely bound to leave Eurasian-obsessed Dr. Zbig "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski apoplectic.

And suddenly, instead of relentless demonization and NATO spewing out "Russian aggression!" every ten seconds, we have Kerry saying that respecting Minsk-2 is the only way out in Ukraine, and that he would strongly caution vassal Poroshenko against his bragging on bombing Donetsk airport and environs back into Ukrainian "democracy".

... ... ....

Thus what was really discussed – but not leaked – out of Sochi is how the Obama administration can get some sort of face-saving exit out of the Russian western borderland geopolitical mess it invited on itself in the first place.

About those missiles…

Ukraine is a failed state now fully converted into an IMF colony. The EU will never accept it as a member, or pay its astronomic bills. The real action, for both Washington and Moscow, is Iran. Not accidentally, the extremely dodgy Wendy Sherman — who has been the chief U.S. negotiator in the P5+1 nuclear talks — was part of Kerry's entourage. A comprehensive deal with Iran cannot be clinched without Moscow's essential collaboration on everything from the disposal of spent nuclear fuel to the swift end of UN sanctions.

... ... ...

The real Masters of the Universe may have also noted the very close discussions between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the deputy chairman of the Central Military Council of China, Gen. Fan Changlong. Russia and China will conduct naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Japan and will give top priority to their common position regarding U.S. global missile defense.

There's the not-so-negligible matter of the Pentagon "discovering" China has up to 60 silo-based ICBMs – the CSS-4 – capable of targeting almost the whole U.S., except Florida.

And last but not least, there's the Russian rollout of the ultra-sophisticated S-500 defensive missile system — which will conclusively protect Russia from a U.S. Prompt Global Strike (PGS). Each S-500 missile can intercept ten ICBMs at speeds up to 15,480 miles an hour, altitudes of 115 miles and horizontal range of 2,174 miles. Moscow insists the system will only be operational in 2017. If Russia is able to rollout 10,000 S-500 missiles, they can intercept 100,000 American ICBMs by the time the U.S. has a new White House tenant.

[May 17, 2015]  The Clinton Foundation contributed to the February coup in Ukraine, having longstanding ties to Ukrainian oligarchs who pushed the country to European integration.

A sinister atmosphere surrounds the Clinton Foundation's role in Ukrainian military coup of February 2014, experts point out.

It has recently turned out that Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, a vocal proponent of Ukraine's European integration, made huge contributions to the Clinton Foundation, while Hillary Clinton was the US Secretary of State. Although the foundation swore off donations from foreign governments while Mrs. Clinton was serving as a state official, it continued accepting money from private donors. Many of them had certain ties to their national governments like Viktor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian businessman and ex-parliamentarian.

Remarkably, among individual donors contributing to the Clinton Foundation in the period between 1999 and 2014, Ukrainian sponsors took first place in the list, providing the charity with almost $10 million and pushing England and Saudi Arabia to second and third places respectively.

It is worth mentioning that the Viktor Pinchuk Foundation alone transferred at least $8.6 million to the Clinton charity between 2009 and 2013. Pinchuk, who acquired his fortune from a pipe-making business, served twice as a parliamentarian in Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada and was married to the daughter of ex-president of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma.

Although the Clinton's charity denies that the donations were somehow connected with political matters, experts doubt that international private sponsors received no political support in return. In 2008 Pinchuk pledged to make a five-year $29 million contribution to the Clinton Global Initiative in order to fund a program aimed at training future Ukrainian leaders and "modernizers." Remarkably, several alumni of these courses are current members of Ukrainian parliament. Because of the global financial crisis, the Pinchuk Foundation sent only $1.8 million.

Experts note that during Mrs. Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, Viktor Pinchuk was introduced to some influential American lobbyists. Curiously enough, he tried to use his powerful "friends" to pressure Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovych to free Yulia Tymoshenko, who served a jail term.

Viktor Pinchuk has always been one of the most vocal proponents of Ukraine's European integration. In 2004 Pinchuk founded the Yalta European Strategy (YES) platform in Kiev. YES is led by the board including ex-president of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski and former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana. According to the website of the platform, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Kofi Annan, Radoslaw Sikorski, Vitaliy Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Petro Poroshenko and other prominent figures have participated in annual meetings of YES since 2004.

No one would argue that proponents of Ukraine's pro-Western course played the main role in organizing the coup of February 2014 in Kiev. Furthermore, the exceptional role of the United States in ousting then-president Viktor Yanukovich has also been recognized by political analysts, participants of Euromaidan and even by Barack Obama, the US President.

Experts note that after the coup, the Ukrainian leadership has actually become Washington's puppet government. Several foreign citizens, including American civilian Natalie Jaresko, Lithuanian investment banker Aivaras Abromavicius and Georgia-born Alexander Kvitashvili have assumed high posts in the Ukrainian government. It should be noted that Natalie Jaresko, Ukraine's Financial Minister, have previously worked in the US State Department and has also been linked to oligarch Viktor Pinchuk.

So far, experts note, the recent "game of thrones" in Ukraine has been apparently instigated by a few powerful clans of the US and Ukraine, who are evidently benefitting from the ongoing turmoil. In this light the Clinton Foundation looks like something more than just a charity: in today's world of fraudulent oligopoly we are facing with global cronyism, experts point out, warning against its devastating consequences.

Read more:

See also: US Intelligence Services Behind 2014 Ukraine Coup – EU Parliament Member

[May 16, 2015]The Making of Hillary Clinton " CounterPunch Tells the Facts, Names the Names

First in a three-part series.

Hillary Clinton has always been an old-style Midwestern Republican in the Illinois style; one severely infected with Methodism, unlike the more populist variants from Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Her first known political enterprise was in the 1960 presidential election, the squeaker where the state of Illinois notoriously put Kennedy over the top, courtesy of Mayor Daley, Sam Giancana and Judith Exner. Hillary was a Nixon supporter. She took it on herself to probe allegations of vote fraud. From the leafy middle-class suburbs of Chicago's west side, she journeyed to the tenements of the south side, a voter list in her hand. She went to an address recorded as the domicile of hundreds of Democratic voters and duly found an empty lot. She rushed back to campaign headquarters, agog with her discovery, only to be told that Nixon was throwing in the towel.

The way Hillary Clinton tells it in her Living History (an autobiography convincingly demolished by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta in their Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton, an interesting and well researched account ) she went straight from the Nixon camp to the cause of Martin Luther King Jr., and never swerved from that commitment. Not so. Like many Illinois Republicans, she did have a fascination for the Civil Rights movement and spent some time on the south side, mainly in African Methodist churches under the guidance of Don Jones, a teacher at her high school. It was Jones who took her to hear King speak at Chicago's Orchestra Hall and later introduced her to the Civil Rights leader.

Gerth and Van Natta eschew psychological theorizing, but it seems clear that the dominant influence in Hillary life was her father, a fairly successful, albeit tightwad Welsh draper, supplying Hilton hotels and other chains. From this irritable patriarch Hillary kept secret ­ a marked penchant throughout her life ­ her outings with Jones and her encounter with King. Her public persona was that of a Goldwater Girl. She battled for Goldwater through the 1964 debacle and arrived at Wellesley in the fall of 1965 with enough Goldwaterite ambition to become president of the Young Republicans as a freshman.

The setting of Hillary's political compass came in the late Sixties. The fraught year of 1968 saw the Goldwater girl getting a high-level internship in the House Republican Conference with Gerald Ford and Melvin Laird, without an ounce of the Goldwater libertarian pizzazz. Hillary says the assassinations of King and Robert Kennedy, plus the war in Vietnam, hit her hard. The impact was not of the intensity that prompted many of her generation to become radicals. She left the suburb of Park Ridge and rushed to Miami to the Republican Convention where she fulfilled a lifelong dream of meeting Frank Sinatra and John Wayne and devoted her energies to saving the Party from her former icon, Nixon, by working for Nelson Rockefeller.

Nixon triumphed, and Hillary returned to Chicago in time for the Democratic Convention where she paid an afternoon's visit to Grant Park. By now a proclaimed supporter of Gene McCarthy, she was appalled, not by the spectacle of McCarthy's young supporters being beaten senseless by Daley's cops, but by the protesters' tactics, which she concluded were not viable. Like her future husband, Hillary was always concerned with maintaining viability within the system.

After the convention Hillary embarked on her yearlong senior thesis, on the topic of the Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky. She has successfully persuaded Wellesley to keep this under lock and key, but Gerth and Van Natta got hold of a copy. So far from being an exaltation of radical organizing, Hillary's assessment of Alinsky was hostile, charging him with excessive radicalism. Her preferential option was to
KillingTrayvons1seek minor advances within the terms of the system. She did not share these conclusions with Alinsky who had given her generous access during the preparation of her thesis and a job offer thereafter, which she declined.

What first set Hillary in the national spotlight was her commencement address at Wellesley, the first time any student had been given this opportunity. Dean Acheson's granddaughter insisted to the president of Wellesley that youth be given its say, and the president picked Hillary as youth's tribune. Her somewhat incoherent speech included some flicks at the official commencement speaker, Senator Edward Brooke, the black Massachusetts senator, for failing to mention the Civil Rights movement or the war. Wellesley's president, still fuming at this discourtesy, saw Hillary skinny-dipping in Lake Waban that evening and told a security guard to steal her clothes.

The militant summer of 1969 saw Hillary cleaning fish in Valdez, Alaska, and in the fall she was at Yale being stalked by Bill Clinton in the library. The first real anti-war protests at Yale came with the shooting of the students at Kent State. Hillary saw the ensuing national student upheaval as, once again, a culpable failure to work within the system. "I advocated engagement, not disruption."

She finally consented to go on a date with Bill Clinton, and they agreed to visit a Rothko exhibit at the Yale art gallery. At the time of their scheduled rendez-vous with art, the gallery was closed because the museum's workers were on strike. The two had no inhibitions about crossing a picket line. Bill worked as a scab in the museum, doing janitorial work for the morning, getting as reward a free tour with Hillary in the afternoon.

In the meantime, Hillary was forging long-term alliances with such future stars of the Clinton age as Marian Wright Edelman and her husband Peter, and also with one of the prime political fixers of the Nineties, Vernon Jordan. It was Hillary who introduced Bill to these people, as well as to Senator Fritz Mondale and his staffers.

If any one person gave Hillary her start in liberal Democratic politics, it was Marian Wright Edelman who took Hillary with her when she started the Children's Defense Fund. The two were inseparable for the next twenty-five years. In her autobiography, published in 2003, Hillary lists the 400 people who have most influenced her. Marion Wright Edelman doesn't make the cut. Neither to forget nor to forgive. Peter Edelman was one of three Clinton appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services who quit when Clinton signed the Welfare reform bill, which was about as far from any "defense" of children as one could possibly imagine.

Hillary was on Mondale's staff for the summer of '71, investigating worker abuses in the sugarcane plantations of southern Florida, as close to slavery as anywhere in the U.S.A. Life's ironies: Hillary raised not a cheep of protest when one of the prime plantation families, the Fanjuls, called in their chips (laid down in the form of big campaign contributions to Clinton) and insisted that Clinton tell Vice President Gore to abandon his calls for the Everglades to be restored, thus taking water Fanjul was appropriating for his operation.

From 1971 on, Bill and Hillary were a political couple. In 1972, they went down to Texas and spent some months working for the McGovern campaign, swiftly becoming disillusioned with what they regarded as an exercise in futile ultraliberalism. They planned to rescue the Democratic Party from this fate by the strategy they have followed ever since: the pro-corporate, hawkish neoliberal recipes that have become institutionalized in the Democratic Leadership Council, of which Bill Clinton and Al Gore were founding members.

In 1973, Bill and Hillary went off on a European vacation, during which they laid out their 20-year project designed to culminate with Bill's election as president. Inflamed with this vision, Bill proposed marriage in front of Wordsworth's cottage in the Lake District. Hillary declined, the first of twelve similar refusals over the next year. Bill went off to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to seek political office. Hillary, for whom Arkansas remained an unappetizing prospect, eagerly accepted, in December '73, majority counsel John Doar's invitation to work for the House committee preparing the impeachment of Richard Nixon. She spent the next months listening to Nixon's tapes. Her main assignment was to prepare an organizational chart of the Nixon White House. It bore an eerie resemblance to the twilit labyrinth of the Clinton White House 18 years later.

Hillary had an offer to become the in-house counsel of the Children's Defense Fund and seemed set to become a high-flying public interest Washington lawyer. There was one impediment. She failed the D.C. bar exam. She passed the Arkansas bar exam. In August of 1974, she finally moved to Little Rock and married Bill in 1975 at a ceremony presided over by the Rev. Vic Nixon. They honeymooned in Acapulco with her entire family, including her two brothers' girlfriends, all staying in the same suite.

After Bill was elected governor of Arkansas in 1976, Hillary joined the Rose Law Firm, the first woman partner in an outfit almost as old as the Republic. It was all corporate business, and the firm's prime clients were the state's business heavyweights ­ Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, Jackson Stevens Investments, Worthen Bank and the timber company Weyerhaeuser, the state's largest landowner.

Two early cases (of a total of five that Hillary actually tried) charted her course. The first concerned the successful effort of Acorn ­ a public interest group doing community organizing ­ to force the utilities to lower electric rates on residential consumers and raise on industrial users. Hillary represented the utilities in a challenge to this progressive law, the classic right-wing claim, arguing that the measure represented an unconstitutional "taking" of property rights. She carried the day for the utilities.

The second case found Hillary representing the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas in a lawsuit filed by a disabled former employee who had been denied full retirement benefits by the company. In earlier years, Hillary had worked at the Children's Defense Fund on behalf of abused employees and disabled children. Only months earlier, while still a member of the Washington, D.C., public interest community, she had publicly ripped Joseph Califano for becoming the Coca Cola company's public counsel. "You sold us out, you, you sold us out!" she screamed publicly at Califano. Working now for Coca Cola, Hillary prevailed

[May 13, 2015]What is neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is a very important, yet often misunderstood concept. To give a short, oversimplified definition: Neoliberalism is a small-state economic ideology based on promoting "rational self-interest" through policies such as privatisation, deregulation, globalisation and tax cuts.

People often boggle at the use of the word "neoliberal" as if the utterer were some kind of crazed tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist raving about insane lizard-man conspiracies, rather than someone attempting to concisely define the global economic orthodoxy of the last three decades or so.

One of the main problems we encounter when discussing neoliberalism is the haziness of the definition. Neoliberalism is certainly a form of free-market neoclassical economic theory, but it quite difficult to pin down further than that, especially since neoliberal governments and economists carefully avoid referring to themselves as neoliberals and the mainstream media seem to avoid using the word at all costs (think about the last time you saw a BBC or CNN news reporter use the word "neoliberal" to describe the IMF or a particularly right-wing government policy).

The economic model that the word "neoliberalism" was coined to describe was developed by Chicago school economists in the 1960s and 1970s based upon Austrian neoclassical economic theories, but heavily influenced by Ayn Rand's barmy pseudo-philosophy of Übermenschen and greed-worship.

The first experiment in applied neoliberal theory began on September 11th 1973 in Chile, when a US backed military coup resulted in the death of social-democratic leader Salvador Allende and his replacement with the brutal military dictator General Pinochet (Margaret Thatcher's friend and idol). Thousands of people were murdered by the Pinochet regime for political reasons and tens of thousands more were tortured as Pinochet and the "Chicago boys" set about implementing neoliberal economic reforms and brutally suppressing anyone that stood in their way. The US financially doped the Chilean economy in order to create the impression that these rabid-right wing reforms were successful. After the "success" of the Chilean neoliberal experiment, the instillation and economic support of right-wing military dictatorships to impose neoliberal economic reforms became unofficial US foreign policy.

The first of the democratically elected neoliberals were Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the US. They both set about introducing ideologically driven neoliberal reforms, such as the complete withdrawal of capital controls by Tory Chancellor Geoffrey Howe and the deregulation of the US financial markets that led to vast corruption scandals like Enron and the global financial sector insolvency crisis of 2007-08.

By 1989 the ideology of neoliberalism was enshrined as the economic orthodoxy of the world as undemocratic Washington based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the US Treasury Department signed up to a ten point economic plan which was riddled with neoliberal ideology such as trade liberalisation, privatisation, financial sector deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy. This agreement between anti-democratic organisations is misleadingly referred to as "The Washington Consensus".

These days, the IMF is the most high profile pusher of neoliberal economic policies. Their strategy involves applying strict "structural adjustment" conditions on their loans. These conditions are invariably neoliberal reforms such as privatisation of utilities, services and government owned industries, tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, the abandonment of capital controls, the removal of democratic controls over central banks and monetary policy and the deregulation of financial industries.

Neoliberal economic policies have created economic disaster after economic disaster, virtually wherever they have been tried out. Some of the most high profile examples include:

South Africa: When the racist Apartheid system was finally overthrown in 1994, the new ANC government embraced neoliberal economic theory and set about privatising virtually everything, cutting taxes for the wealthy, destroying capital controls and deregulating their financial sector. After 18 years of neoliberal government, more black South Africans are living in extreme poverty, more people are unemployed and South Africa is an even more unequal society than it was under the racist Apartheid regime. Between 1994 and 2006 the number of South Africans living on less than $1 a day doubled from 2 million to 4 million, by 2002, eight years after the end of Apartheid 2002 the unemployment rate for black South Africans had risen to 48%.*
Russia: After the fall of communism, neoliberal economists flooded into Russia to create their free-market utopia, however all they managed to do was massively increase levels of absolute poverty, reduce productivity and create a few dozen absurdly wealthy oligarchs who siphoned their $trillions out of Russia to "invest" in vanity projects such as Chelsea FC. Within less than a decade of being one of the world's two great super-powers, the neoliberal revolution resulted in Russia defaulting on their debts in 1998.

Argentina: Praised as the poster-boys of neoliberalism by the IMF in the 1990s for the speed and scale of their neoliberal reforms, the Argentine economy collapsed into chaos between 1999-2002, only recovering after Argentina defaulted on their debts and prioritised repayment of their IMF loans, which allowed them to tear up the IMF book of neoliberal dogma and begin implementing an investment based growth strategy which boosted the Argentine economy out of their prolonged recession. The late Argentine President Néstor Kirchner famously stated that the IMF had "transformed itself from being a lender for development to a creditor demanding privileges".

The Eurozone: The right-wing love to drivel on about how the EU is a "leftie" organisation, but the unelected technocrats that run the EU (the European commission and the European Central Bank) are fully signed up to the neoliberal economic orthodoxy, where economic interests are separated from democratic control. Take the economic crisis in Greece: The EC and the ECB lined up with the neoliberal pushing IMF to force hard line neoliberal reforms onto the Greek economy in return for vast multi-billion "bailouts" that flowed directly out of Greece to "bail out" their reckless creditors (mainly German and French banks). When the neoliberalisation reforms resulted in further economic contraction, rising unemployment and worsening economic conditions the ECB, EC, IMF troika simply removed the democratic Greek government and appointed their own stooge, an economic coup trick they also carried out in Italy. Spain and Ireland are other cracking examples of neoliberal failure in the Eurozone. These two nations were more fiscally responsible than Germany, France or the UK in terms of government borrowing before the neoliberal economic meltdown, however their deregulated financial sectors inflated absurd property bubbles, leaving the Irish and Spanish economies in ruins once the bubbles burst around 2007-08.

The United Kingdom: Here is a short article summarising how three decades of neoliberal policy have undone many of the gains made during the mixed-economy era.
Despite this litany of economic failures, neoliberalism remains the global economic orthodoxy. Just like any good pseudo-scientific or religious orthodoxy the supporters of neoliberal theory always manage to come up with a load of post-hoc rationalisations for the failure of their theories and the solutions they present for the crises their own theories induced are always based upon the implementation of even more fundamentalist neoliberal policies.

One of the most transparent of these neoliberal justification narratives is the one that I describe as the Great Neoliberal Lie: The fallacious and utterly misleading argument that the global economic crisis (credit crunch) was caused by excessive state spending, rather than by the reckless gambling of the deregulated, neoliberalised financial sector.

Just as with other pseudo-scientific theories and fundamentalist ideologies, the excuse that "we just weren't fundamentalist enough last time" is always there. The neoliberal pushers of the establishment know that pure free-market economies are as much of an absurd fairytale as 100% pure communist economies, however they keep pushing for further privatisations, tax cuts for the rich, wage repression for the ordinary, and reckless financial sector deregulations precicely because they are the direct beneficiaries of these policies. Take the constantly widening wealth gap in the UK throughout three decades of neoliberal policy. The minority of beneficiaries from this ever widening wealth gap are the business classes, financial sector workers, the mainstream media elite and the political classes. It is no wonder at all that these people think neoliberalism is a successful ideology. Within their bubbles of wealth and privilege it has been. To everyone else it has been an absolute disaster.

Returning to a point I raised earlier in the article; one of the main problems with the concept of "neoliberalism" is the nebulousness of the definition. It is like a form of libertarianism, however it completely neglects the fundamental libertarian idea of non-aggression. In fact, it is so closely related to that other (highly aggressive) US born political ideology of Neo-Conservatism that many people get the two concepts muddled up. A true libertarian would never approve of vast taxpayer funded military budgets, the waging of imperialist wars of aggression nor the wanton destruction of the environment in pursuit of profit.

Another concept that is closely related to neoliberalism is the ideology of minarchism (small stateism), however the neoliberal brigade seem perfectly happy to ignore the small-state ideology when it suits their personal interests. Take the vast banker bailouts (the biggest state subsidies in human history) that were needed to save the neoliberalised global financial sector from the consequences of their own reckless gambling, the exponential growth of the parasitic corporate outsourcing sector (corporations that make virtually 100% of their turnover from the state) and the ludicrous housing subsidies (such as "Help to Buy and Housing Benefits) that have fueled the reinflation of yet another property Ponzi bubble.

The Godfather of neoliberalism was Milton Friedman. He made the case that illegal drugs should be legalised in order to create a free-market drug trade, which is one of the very few things I agreed with him about. However this is politically inconvenient (because the illegal drug market is a vital source of financial sector liquidity) so unlike so many of his neoliberal ideas that have consistently failed, yet remain incredibly popular with the wealthy elite, Friedman's libertarian drug legalisation proposals have never even been tried out.

The fact that neoliberals are so often prepared to ignore the fundamental principles of libertarianism (the non-aggression principle, drug legalisation, individual freedoms, the right to peaceful protest ...) and abuse the fundamental principles of small state minarchism (vast taxpayer funded bailouts for their financial sector friends, £billions in taxpayer funded outsourcing contracts, alcohol price fixing schemes) demonstrate that neoliberalism is actually more like Ayn Rand's barmy (greed is the only virtue, all other "virtues" are aberrations) pseudo-philosophical ideology of objectivism than a set of formal economic theories.

The result of neoliberal economic theories has been proven time and again. Countries that embrace the neoliberal pseudo-economic ideology end up with "crony capitalism", where the poor and ordinary suffer "austerity", wage repression, revocation of labour rights and the right to protest, whilst a tiny cabal of corporate interests and establishment insiders enrich themselves via anti-competitive practices, outright criminality and corruption and vast socialism-for-the-rich schemes.

Neoliberal fanatics in powerful positions have demonstrated time and again that they will willingly ditch their right-wing libertarian and minarchist "principles" if those principles happen to conflict with their own personal self-interest. Neoliberalism is less of a formal set of economic theories than an error strewn obfuscation narrative to promote the economic interests, and justify the personal greed of the wealthy, self-serving establishment elite.

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[May 13, 2015] Henry Giroux On the Rise of Neoliberalism As a Political Ideology

A very important article. Should be read in full. Large quote below does not cover all the content of the article.
Oct 19, 2014 :

"There is a lack of critical assessment of the past. But you have to understand that the current ruling elite is actually the old ruling elite. So they are incapable of a self-critical approach to the past."

Ryszard Kapuscinski

Are they incapable, or merely unwilling? That is the credibility trap, the inability to address the key problems because the ruling elite must risk or even undermine their own undeserved power to do so.

I think this interview below highlights the false dichotomy between communism and free market capitalism that was created in the 1980's largely by Thatcher's and Reagan's handlers. The dichotomy was more properly between communist government and democracy, of the primacy of the individual over the primacy of the organization and the state as embodied in fascism and the real world implementations of communism in Russia and China.

But we never think of it that way any more, if at all. It is one of the greatest public relation coups in history. One form of organizational oppression by the Russian nomenklatura was replaced by the oppression by the oligarchs and their Corporations, in the name of freedom.

Free market capitalism, under the banner of the efficient markets hypothesis, has taken the place of democratic ideals as the primary good as embodied in the original framing of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

It is no accident that the individual and their concerns have become subordinated to the corporate welfare and the profits of the upper one percent. We even see this in religion with the 'gospel of prosperity.' In their delusion they make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, so that after they may be received into their everlasting habitations.

The market as the highest good has stood on the shoulders of the 'greed is good' philosophy promulgated by the pied pipers of the me generation, and has turned the Western democracies on their heads, as a series of political leaders have capitulated to this false idol of money as the measure of all things, and all virtue.

Policy is now crafted to maximize profits as an end to itself without regard to the overall impact on freedom and the public good. It measures 'costs' in the most narrow and biased of terms, and allocated wealth based on the subversion of good sense to false economy theories.

Greed is a portion of the will to power. And that madness serves none but itself.

This is a brief excerpt. You may read the entire interview here.

Henry Giroux on the Rise of Neoliberalism
19 October 2014
By Michael Nevradakis, Truthout

"...We're talking about an ideology marked by the selling off of public goods to private interests; the attack on social provisions; the rise of the corporate state organized around privatization, free trade, and deregulation; the celebration of self interests over social needs; the celebration of profit-making as the essence of democracy coupled with the utterly reductionist notion that consumption is the only applicable form of citizenship.

But even more than that, it upholds the notion that the market serves as a model for structuring all social relations: not just the economy, but the governing of all of social life...

That's a key issue. I mean, this is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility, that these things get in the way.

And I think the consequences of these policies across the globe have caused massive suffering, misery, and the spread of a massive inequalities in wealth, power, and income. Moreover, increasingly, we are witnessing a number of people who are committing suicide because they have lost their pensions, jobs and dignity.

We see the attack on the welfare state; we see the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection between private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, deregulations, an unchecked emphasis on self-interest, the refusal to tax the rich, and really the redistribution of wealth from the middle and working classes to the ruling class, the elite class, what the Occupy movement called the one percent. It really has created a very bleak emotional and economic landscape for the 99 percent of the population throughout the world."

"This is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility."
I think that as a mode of governance, it is really quite dreadful because it tends to produce identities, subjects and ways of life driven by a kind of "survival of the fittest" ethic, grounded in the notion of the free, possessive individual and committed to the right of individual and ruling groups to accrue wealth removed from matters of ethics and social cost.

That's a key issue. I mean, this is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility, that these things get in the way. And I think the consequences of these policies across the globe have caused massive suffering, misery, and the spread of a massive inequalities in wealth, power, and income. Moreover, increasingly, we are witnessing a number of people who are committing suicide because they have lost their pensions, jobs and dignity. We see the attack on the welfare state; we see the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection between private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, deregulations, an unchecked emphasis on self-interest, the refusal to tax the rich, and really the redistribution of wealth from the middle and working classes to the ruling class, the elite class, what the Occupy movement called the one percent. It really has created a very bleak emotional and economic landscape for the 99 percent of the population throughout the world.

And having mentioned this impact on the social state and the 99%, would you go as far as to say that these ideologies have been the direct cause of the economic crisis the world is presently experiencing?

Oh, absolutely. I think when you look at the crisis in 2007, what are you looking at? You're looking at the merging of unchecked financial power and a pathological notion of greed that implemented banking policies and deregulated the financial world and allowed the financial elite, the one percent, to pursue a series of policies, particularly the selling of junk bonds and the illegality of what we call subprime mortgages to people who couldn't pay for them. This created a bubble and it exploded. This is directly related to the assumption that the market should drive all aspects of political, economic, and social life and that the ruling elite can exercise their ruthless power and financial tools in ways that defy accountability. And what we saw is that it failed, and it not only failed, but it caused an enormous amount of cruelty and hardship across the world. More importantly, it emerged from the crisis not only entirely unapologetic about what it did, but reinvented itself, particularly in the United States under the Rubin boys along with Larry Summers and others, by attempting to prevent any policies from being implemented that would have overturned this massively failed policy of deregulation.

It gets worse. In the aftermath of this sordid crisis produced by the banks and financial elite, we have also learned that the feudal politics of the rich was legitimated by the false notion that they were too big to fail, an irrational conceit that gave way to the notion that they were too big to jail, which is a more realistic measure of the criminogenic/zombie culture that nourishes casino capitalism.

[May 11, 2015] The Choice Before Europe

May 05, 2015 | Information Clearing House

Washington continues to drive Europe toward one or the other of the two most likely outcomes of the orchestrated conflict with Russia. Either Europe or some European Union member government will break from Washington over the issue of Russian sanctions, thereby forcing the EU off of the path of conflict with Russia, or Europe will be pushed into military conflict with Russia.

In June the Russian sanctions expire unless each member government of the EU votes to continue the sanctions. Several governments have spoken against a continuation. For example, the governments of the Czech Republic and Greece have expressed dissatisfaction with the sanctions.

US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged growing opposition to the sanctions among some European governments. Employing the three tools of US foreign policy–threats, bribery, and coercion–he warned Europe to renew the sanctions or there would be retribution. We will see in June if Washington's threat has quelled the rebellion.

Europe has to consider the strength of Washington's threat of retribution against the cost of a continuing and worsening conflict with Russia. This conflict is not in Europe's economic or political interest, and the conflict has the risk of breaking out into war that would destroy Europe.

Since the end of World War II Europeans have been accustomed to following Washington's lead. For awhile France went her own way, and there were some political parties in Germany and Italy that considered Washington to be as much of a threat to European independence as the Soviet Union. Over time, using money and false flag operations, such as Operation Gladio, Washington marginalized politicians and political parties that did not follow Washington's lead.

The specter of a military conflict with Russia that Washington is creating could erode Washington's hold over Europe. By hyping a "Russian threat," Washington is hoping to keep Europe under Washington's protective wing. However, the "threat" is being over-hyped to the point that some Europeans have understood that Europe is being driven down a path toward war.

Belligerent talk from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from John McCain, from the neoconservatives, and from NATO commander Philip Breedlove is unnerving Europeans. In a recent love-fest between Breedlove and the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by John McCain, Breedlove supported arming the Ukrainian military, the backbone of which appears to be the Nazi militias, with heavy US weapons in order to change "the decision calculus on the ground" and bring an end to the break-away republics that oppose Washington's puppet government in Kiev.

Breedlove told the Senate committee that his forces were insufficient to withstand Russian aggression and that he needed more forces on Russia's borders in order to "reassure allies."

Europeans have to decide whether the threat is Russia or Washington. The European press, which Udo Ulfkotte reports in his book, Bought Journalists, consists of CIA assets, has been working hard to convince Europeans that there is a "revanchist Russia" on the prowl that seeks to recover the Soviet Empire. Washington's coup in Ukraine has disappeared. In its place Washington has substituted a "Russian invasion," hyped as Putin's first step in restoring the Soviet empire.

Just as there is no evidence of the Russian military in Ukraine, there is no evidence of Russian forces threatening Europe or any discussion or advocacy of restoring the Soviet empire among Russian political and military leaders.

In contrast Washington has the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which is explicitly directed at Russia, and now the Council on Foreign Relations has added China as a target of the Wolfowitz doctrine.

The CFR report says that China is a rising power and thereby a threat to US world hegemony. China's rise must be contained so that Washington can remain the boss in the Asian Pacific. What it comes down to is this: China is a threat because China will not prevent its own rise. This makes China a threat to "the International Order." "The International Order," of course, is the order determined by Washington. In other words, just as there must be no Russian sphere of influence, there must be no Chinese sphere of influence. The CFR report calls this keeping the world "free of hegemonic control" except by the US.

Just as General Breedlove demands more military spending in order to counter "the Russian threat," the CFR wants more military spending in order to counter "the Chinese threat." The report concludes: "Congress should remove sequestration caps and substantially increase the U.S. defense budget."

Clearly, Washington has no intention of moderating its position as the sole imperial power. In defense of this power, Washington will take the world to nuclear war. Europe can prevent this war by asserting its independence and departing the empire.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

[May 11, 2015] Why Ukraine Still Can't Break Ties With Russian 'Aggressor State'  by Simon Shuster

Already Ukraine is approaching that point. With most of its scarce resources focused on fighting Russia's proxies in the east, Ukraine's leaders have watched their economy fall off a cliff, surviving only by the grace of massive loans from Western institutions like the International Monetary Fund, which approved another $17.5 billion last month to be disbursed over the next four years. But that assistance has not stopped the national currency of Ukraine from losing two-thirds of its value since last winter. In the last three months of 2014, the size of the economy contracted almost 15%, inflation shot up to 40%, and unemployment approached double digits.

Having survived an assassin's bullet, a revolution and a war, Gennady Kernes now faces a fight over Ukraine's constitution

One afternoon in late February, Gennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkov, Ukraine's second largest city, pushed his wheelchair away from the podium at city hall and, with a wince of discomfort, allowed his bodyguards to help him off the stage. The day's session of the city council had lasted several hours, and the mayor's pain medication had begun to wear off. It was clear from the grimace on his face how much he still hurt from the sniper's bullet that nearly killed him last spring. But he collected himself, adjusted his tie and rolled down the aisle to the back of the hall, where the press was waiting to grill him.

"Gennady Adolfovich," one of the local journalists began, politely addressing the mayor by his name and patronymic. "Do you consider Russia to be an aggressor?" He had seen this loaded question coming. The previous month, Ukraine's parliament had unanimously voted to declare Russia an "aggressor state," moving the two nations closer to a formal state of war after nearly a year of armed conflict. Kernes, long known as a shrewd political survivor, was among the only prominent officials in Ukraine to oppose this decision, even though he knew he could be branded a traitor for it. "Personally, I do not consider Russia to be an aggressor," he said, looking down at his lap.

It was a sign of his allegiance in the new phase of Ukraine's war. Since February, when a fragile ceasefire began to take hold, the question of the country's survival has turned to a debate over its reconstitution. Under the conditions of the truce, Russia has demanded that Ukraine embrace "federalization," a sweeping set of constitutional reforms that would take power away from the capital and redistribute it to the regions. Ukraine now has to decide how to meet this demand without letting its eastern provinces fall deeper into Russia's grasp.

The state council charged with making this decision convened for the first time on April 6, and President Petro Poroshenko gave it strict instructions. Some autonomy would have to be granted to the regions, he said, but Russia's idea of federalization was a red line he wouldn't cross. "It is like an infection, a biological weapon, which is being imposed on Ukraine from abroad," the President said. "Its bacteria are trying to infect Ukraine and destroy our unity."

Kernes sees it differently. His city of 1.4 million people is a sprawling industrial powerhouse, a traditional center of trade and culture whose suburbs touch the Russian border. Its economy cannot survive, he says, unless trade and cooperation with the "aggressor state" continue, regardless how much Russia has done in the past year to sow conflict in Ukraine.

"That's how the Soviet Union built things," Kernes explains in his office at the mayoralty, which is decorated with an odd collection of gifts and trinkets, such as a stuffed lion, a robotic-looking sculpture of a scorpion, and a statuette of Kernes in the guise of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. "That's how our factories were set up back in the day," he continues. "It's a fact of life. And what will we do if Russia, our main customer, stops buying?" To answer his own question, he uses an old provincialism: "It'll be cat soup for all of us then," he said.

Already Ukraine is approaching that point. With most of its scarce resources focused on fighting Russia's proxies in the east, Ukraine's leaders have watched their economy fall off a cliff, surviving only by the grace of massive loans from Western institutions like the International Monetary Fund, which approved another $17.5 billion last month to be disbursed over the next four years. But that assistance has not stopped the national currency of Ukraine from losing two-thirds of its value since last winter. In the last three months of 2014, the size of the economy contracted almost 15%, inflation shot up to 40%, and unemployment approached double digits.

But that pain will be just the beginning, says Kernes, unless Ukraine allows its eastern regions to develop economic ties with Russia. As proof he points to the fate of Turboatom, his city's biggest factory, which produces turbines for both Russian and Ukrainian power stations. Its campus takes up more than five square kilometers near the center of Kharkov, like a city within a city, complete with dormitories and bathhouses for its 6,000 employees. On a recent evening, its deputy director, Alexei Cherkassky, was looking over the factory's sales list as though it were a dire medical prognosis. About 40% of its orders normally come from Russia, which relies on Turboatom for most of the turbines that run its nuclear power stations.

"Unfortunately, all of our major industries are intertwined with Russia in this way," Cherkassky says. "So we shouldn't fool ourselves in thinking we can be independent from Russia. We are totally interdependent." Over the past year, Russia has started cutting back on orders from Turboatom as part of its broader effort to starve Ukraine's economy, and the factory has been forced as a result to cut shifts, scrap overtime and push hundreds of workers into retirement.

At least in the foreseeable future, it does not have the option of shifting sales to Europe. "Turbines aren't iPhones," says Cherkassky. "You don't switch them out every few months." And the ones produced at Turboatom, like nearly all of Ukraine's heavy industry, still use Soviet means of production that don't meet the needs of most Western countries. So for all the aid coming from the state-backed institutions in the U.S. and Europe, Cherkassky says, "those markets haven't exactly met us with open arms."

Russia knows this. For decades it has used the Soviet legacy of interdependence as leverage in eastern Ukraine. The idea of its "federalization" derives in part from this reality. For two decades, one of the leading proponents of this vision has been the Russian politician Konstantin Zatulin, who heads the Kremlin-connected institute in charge of integrating the former Soviet space. Since at least 2004, he has been trying to turn southeastern Ukraine into a zone of Russian influence – an effort that got him banned from entering the country between 2006 and 2010.

His political plan for controlling Ukraine was put on hold last year, as Russia began using military means to achieve the same ends. But the current ceasefire has brought his vision back to the fore. "If Ukraine accepts federalization, we would have no need to tear Ukraine apart," Zatulin says in his office in Moscow, which is cluttered with antique weapons and other military bric-a-brac. Russia could simply build ties with the regions of eastern Ukraine that "share the Russian point of view on all the big issues," he says. "Russia would have its own soloists in the great Ukrainian choir, and they would sing for us. This would be our compromise."

It is a compromise that Kernes seems prepared to accept, despite everything he has suffered in the past year of political turmoil. Early on in the conflict with Russia, he admits that he flirted with ideas of separatism himself, and he fiercely resisted the revolution that brought Poroshenko's government to power last winter. In one of its first decisions, that government even brought charges against Kernes for allegedly abducting, threatening and torturing supporters of the revolution in Kharkov. After that, recalls Zatulin, the mayor "simply chickened out." Facing a long term in prison, Kernes accepted Ukraine's new leaders and turned his back on the separatist cause, refusing to allow his city to hold a referendum on secession from Ukraine.

"And you know what I got for that," Kernes says. "I got a bullet." On April 28, while he was exercising near a city park, an unidentified sniper shot Kernes in the back with a high-caliber rifle. The bullet pierced his lung and shredded part of his liver, but it also seemed to shore up his bona fides as a supporter of Ukrainian unity. The state dropped its charges against him soon after, and he was able to return to his post.

It wasn't the first time he made such an incredible comeback. In 2007, while he was serving as adviser to his friend and predecessor, Mikhail Dobkin, a video of them trying to film a campaign ad was leaked to the press. It contained such a hilarious mix of bumbling incompetence and backalley obscenity that both of their careers seemed sure to be over. Kernes not only survived that scandal but was elected mayor a few years later.

Now the fight over Ukraine's federalization is shaping up to be his last. In late March, as he continued demanding more autonomy for Ukraine's eastern regions, the state re-opened its case against him for alleged kidnapping and torture, which he has always denied. The charges, he says, are part of a campaign against all politicians in Ukraine who support the restoration of civil ties with Russia. "They don't want to listen to reason," he says.

But one way or another, the country will still have to let its eastern regions to do business with the enemy next door, "because that's where the money is," Kernes says. No matter how much aid Ukraine gets from the IMF and other Western backers, it will not be enough to keep the factories of Kharkov alive. "They'll just be left to rot without our steady clients in Russia." Never mind that those clients may have other plans for Ukraine in mind.

[May 10, 2015] After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. tried to help Russians

More correctly Clinton administration vigorously tried to help Russia to became a vassal state...
April 15, 2015 |
May 07, 2015 | The Washington Post

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR Putin recently was interviewed for a fawning Russian television documentary on his decade and a half in power. Putin expressed the view that the West would like Russia to be down at the heels. He said, "I sometimes I get the impression that they love us when they need to send us humanitarian aid. . . . [T]he so-called ruling circles, elites — political and economic — of those countries, they love us when we are impoverished, poor and when we come hat in hand. As soon as we start declaring some interests of our own, they feel that there is some element of geopolitical rivalry."

Earlier, in March, speaking to leaders of the Federal Security Service, which he once led, Mr. Putin warned that "Western special services continue their attempts at using public, nongovernmental and politicized organizations to pursue their own objectives, primarily to discredit the authorities and destabilize the internal situation in Russia."

Mr. Putin's remarks reflect a deep-seated paranoia. It would be easy to dismiss this kind of rhetoric as intended for domestic consumption, an attempt to whip up support for his war adventure in Ukraine. In part, it is that. But Mr. Putin's assertion that the West has been acting out of a desire to sunder Russia's power and influence is a willful untruth.

The fact is that thousands of Americans went to Russia hoping to help its people attain a better life. The American and Western effort over the last 25 years — to which the United States and Europe devoted billions of dollars — was aimed at helping Russia overcome the horrid legacy of Soviet communism, which left the country on its knees in 1991. It was not about conquering Russia but rather about saving it, offering the proven tools of market capitalism and democracy, which were not imposed but welcomed. The United States also spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make Russia safer from loose nukes and joined a fruitful collaboration in outer space. Avid volunteers came to Russia and donated endless hours to imparting the lessons of how to hold jury trials, build a free press, design equity markets, carry out political campaigning and a host of other components of an open, prosperous society. The Americans came for the best of reasons.

Certainly, the Western effort was flawed. Markets were distorted by crony and oligarchic capitalism; democratic practice often faltered; many Russians genuinely felt a sense of defeat, humiliation and exhaustion. There's much to regret but not the central fact that a generous hand was extended to post-Soviet Russia, offering the best of Western values and know-how. The Russian people benefit from this benevolence even now, and, above Mr. Putin's self-serving hysterics, they ought to hear the truth: The United States did not come to bury you.

Vatnik, 5/7/2015 2:33 PM EDT [Edited]

I think, that everyoune in US must to know. As i wrote below

"we think that Navalny & Co paid by the west. they ususally call themselves "opposiotion", and one of them (Nemtsov) was frieinds with McCain (as i realized after reading McCain twitter, after Nemtsov was killed)."

"we think that our real opposition are these political parties: CPRF, LDPR. We believe them."

i write it, because i think, that when we talk that our(russian) opposition is bad and paid from the west, you think that we talk about our politic parties. but it is wrong, we talk about Navalny & Co.

MeriJ, 5/7/2015 3:08 PM EDT [Edited]

Thanks. That is a useful clarification. But I still find it odd that you would consider a member of your nation's opposition a traitor or "tool" simply because they have friends in the West.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the main difference between people like Navalny versus the CPRF/LDPR is that Navalny thinks the current system is corrupt. Whereas individuals and political parties currently benefiting from the current system think it's fine.

Those are not the thoughts of a traitor. To get to that conclusion you would need to define the current system and those who currently benefit as being "Russia." Oppose them and you oppose the Motherland.

But Putin and his new-generation oligarchs and his deputies at the Kremlin are not Russia. They are a bunch of guys who currently run things there.

Vatnik, 5/7/2015 3:47 PM EDT [Edited]

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but the main difference between people like Navalny versus the CPRF/LDPR is that Navalny thinks the current system is corrupt."

CPRF and LPDR know about corruption, and even they think that our non-systemic opposition (Navlny & Co) are traitors. And they (CPRF , LDPR) talk about corruption and another bad things of our gov even in Duma. for example, this is what said the leader of LDPR on one tv show

"коррупцию создала советская власть, кпсс, единая россия плавно подобрала у нее все инструменты коррупции и сегодня эта страстная болезнь поразила все органы и всю структуру"
google translated it:
"Corruption established Soviet power, the Communist Party, United Russia gently picked her all the tools of corruption and now this passionate disease struck all the organs and the whole structure"
"у вас фракция половина бизнесмены, воры, жулики, грабители, вся остальная половина агенты спецслужб"
google translated:
"you have a fraction of a half businessmen, thieves, swindlers, robbers, the rest of the half secret service agents"
he adressed it to our main politic party in Duma, "United Russia"

I can find more than one video where he talk about falsifications of elections, right in Duma.

but these are just examples.

P.S. oh, and here i found video, specially for you(americans) where our non-systemic opposition visited US Embassy in Moscow in July 4th.

Baranovsly71, 5/7/2015 12:11 PM EDT [Edited]

BTW, this is not true that "Americans were not in charge". I red memoirs of Eltsyn's ministers (Korzhakov, Burbulis, you can read memoirs of deputy secretary of state of that time Strobe Talbott in English, the same is there), and it's clear that in 90s Russia de facto was American colony.

For example, ministers in Russian government could not be assigned without US State Department approval. Even Russian TV anchors were instructed by US representatives.

Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:05 PM EDT

6:42 PM GMT+0300 [Edited]
Putin has convinced you...

USA had popularity in Russia in 1990 more than Putin now, but to 1999 when Putin became prime-minister USA had less than 20% approve. It was not Putin who destroyed USA's popularity, reverse your policy created Putin.

You very often replay this your phrase, but it is lie. Did Putin created NATO, did Putin used Russia's weakness and increased NATO, did Putin bomb Kosovo, did Putin violated agreements that was done after WWII and separated Kosovo from Serbia, did Putin destroyed Russia's democracy in 1996 and in 1993, did Putin paid Chechnya terrorists to kill Russians, did Putin pressure Chechens create Islamic State (prototype of ISIL) in Chechnya, did Putin in any article said that it will be great if terrorists will created their own state (and after that will be do permanent wars against Russia)? NO, you did it before there appeared Putin.

Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:14 PM EDT

5:48 PM GMT+0300
Much of the aid they are referring to was not lending but grants to help build civil society -- independent media, health organizations and the like. No strings attached.

You did not created Russia's civil society, you destroyed it when you created did all what was possible to lure high educated Russians in West countries. You falsified Russia's election in 1996 (and all international observers under pressure of USA supported it). You in 1993 supported Yeltsin's military operation in Moscow. You paid Chechnya terrorists to kill Russians and destabilize Russia's society. Is it civil society???

"independent media"??? Not, they was created by our oligarchs, not by you, and you payed only for those media who represented USA's point of view as your propaganda did in time Cold War. It was the continuing Cold War, not help.

" health organizations" ??????????????

USSR's health organizations was significantly better than USA, and infinity better than current Russia's organizations.

There was not "and like" we ceased Cold War, we by free will dismantled all "USSR's Empire", we by free will destroyed ideology, we ceased war, but you continued it, you continued the war all last 25 years, and NATO is the best example of it.

MeriJ, 5/7/2015 12:24 PM EDT

We lured well-educated Russians to the West? Seriously?

This is the nature of free markets and open borders. Your response should be to compete to lure them back. Give them something to come home for. Most people long to go home.

Instead you talk about anyone who doesn't hate the West as if they were traitors. Why would any well-educated Russian ex-pat want to come home now?

Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:48 PM EDT

Seriously. Your government created very comfortable ways for engineers (and for some another categories of USSR's people), to take them on West. You are economist, so I suppose you know the reception: lure good manager from another company, it will increase your power, and it decrease power of your competitor.

MeriJ, 5/7/2015 12:51 PM EDT [Edited]

By "seriously?" I didn't mean I disagreed with your facts. I disagree that this was surprising or hostile. That is the nature of open markets -- if you see excellence, you try to recruit it.

There are only two responses I know of: Close your borders and your markets; or compete more effectively.

MeriJ, 5/7/2015 12:20 PM EDT

You are truly incorrect, my friend, and it saddens me that you see it this way.

The antagonistic relationship you describe is more true at the moment, due to the events of the last year, but not true back in the decades before that. During the Cold War, we were indeed enemies, so such motivations then were a given.

Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:24 PM EDT

Ok, then try to explain, why USA had more 80% [popularity in polls] in Russia in 1990 and less than 20% in 1999. There was not Putin, how can you explain it?

Volkovolk, 5/7/2015 12:27 PM EDT [Edited]

He is correct. One can say that Cold War never ended - it just took place for some decades on our land in form of guerilla war. After Gorbachev and Yeltsin abandoned all interests of USSR and Russia you decided to press the advantage and to take Russia of the board [permanently]. Is it so big surprise that we are angry about it?

Joseph Volgin, 5/7/2015 11:01 AM EDT

Alert! Attention, danger! Putin trolls get into American journalism:

"...Or, as a Fred Hiatt of the 1870s might have commented about Native Americans who resisted the well-intentioned Bureau of Indian Affairs and didn't appreciate the gentleness of the U.S. Army or the benevolence of life on the reservations: "Above Sitting Bull's self-serving hysterics, Indians ought to hear the truth: The white man did not come to exterminate you."

Baranovsly71, 5/7/2015 8:22 AM EDT

Thank you, but I lived in Russia in 90s and remember very well Americans who started to come at that time - arrogant money-grabbers the only thing they were interested in is how to make money - on everything, from oil to export of Russian children to US. They stole billions from Russians and continue to do so.

Please, Americans, don't help us - go away and take your democracy with you.

Bob Bobo, 5/7/2015 7:51 AM EDT

Russia help? Yes like that Khodorkovsky Yukos submitted on a silver platter Rothschild. It would Americans like it if they can plunder the Russian mineral resources. But when Putin to allow such a persona non grata.

Larysa Mahal, 5/7/2015 6:30 AM EDT

The best article for those who do not know history and events in Russia. I think a lot of people feel a tears of emotion when they read this article. Bravo!

When author quotes Putin's speech "they love us when we are impoverished, poor and when we come hat in hand." he has forgotten to say that after these words Putin thanked all those who helped to Russia in its difficult time. Author has forgotten to give example about free help "devoted billions of dollars". Nothing was free and Russia had to pay if not money then the disadvantages agreements or concessions. But oh well it. Talk about a paranoia. Author calls the leader of the biggest country "paranoid". But this man has stood up Russia from knees during 15 years only. Think about it 15 years only! Author calls "paranoid" the man who are supported by 75 % population in Russia. The man who was addressed Crimea, insisting on joining with Russia. Are all of these people paranoid like Putin?

Then you can say about President of Poland who sad that the Victory Parade in Moscow is a threaten to all Europe. What is it, paranoia in a cube? But author does not see that because for him to write articles is a work but to know truth is for domestic use only.

I want to ask everybody to see around and say how many prosperous, beautiful countries in Europe face before a threaten to be section, detached some parts like UK, Italy. But to Russia with her "paranoid" leader want and join huge territories with huge amount of people. Think about it. In last year one man standing in a long queue on the sea crossing from Crimea to Russia sad that they are willing to endure all the inconveniences because the main thing is they are with Russia. Think about it.

Lucky_Barker, 5/7/2015 5:45 AM EDT [Edited]

The United States supported the destruction and burning of the parliament in Moscow, the murder of civilians in 1993, the bombing of Grozny in 1994-1995-m, and the killing of civilians in Chechnya. All crimes Yeltsin was American influence and American advices.

It's very like the oficial America. Manu people call "Yeltsin era" as "Time of Americans" or "Time of Prostitutes".

Restoration of parliamentary democracy, Mr. Putin did not like top US.
Putin's war in Chechnya without massive bombing did not like owners of US newspapers and US parties.

The Chechens believe that the Americans supported Yeltsin genocide Chechen civilians in 1nd Chechen war and strongly resent and hate peace in Chechnya after the 2nd Chechen war.

Tsarnaev was prepared in US as a terrorist for Syria or Chechnya - but was shot too early.

We must always remember that Al Qaeda and الدّولة الإسلاميّة at an early stage was the US-Saudi projects.

Volkovolk, 5/7/2015 5:24 AM EDT [

What a hipocrisity.
Your "volunters" with their "proven tools" provoked desolation of russian economy and defolt. The results of their actions were nothing short of economical genocide. The so-called free press you build are just a puppets of yours, instruments of your influence and of your lies. Your advises in building of democracy led to anarchy and to the brink of collapse of Russia. Yes, you tried to bury us. Guess what? You failed. And we will never forgive you.

Danila Ivanov, 5/7/2015 5:19 AM EDT

But past wrongs do not matter... now Russia and the USA on the brink of war... the war is already at a distance of 600 kilometers from Moscow, the American puppets killed thousands of ethnic Russians.

Russia is a nuclear power, such action is suicide. We all have to prevent needless and stupid war... I ask you to help.

Danila Ivanov, 5/7/2015 4:56 AM EDT

4) Let the author will call the name of at least one program, which spent a billion dollars... which would have improved the lives of ordinary Russians. At least one program (I don't know, although he lived in Russia at that time). All American billion were used to purchase depreciating assets industry of the USSR ("privatization"), actually looting people.

5) "Thousands of activists and volunteers" were actually thousands of Yeltsin's advisers... it was on the advice of these advisers was launched economic programme "shock therapy" (economic Holocaust). When Federal employees and the military is not specifically paid a salary (although the money was) ... a few years (to reduce the money supply), the economy was dead, just do not have the money, the base rate of the Central Bank was 2000% (I'm not kidding)... people were hungry... you know what hunger is? I know... The country was falling apart, if not for Putin.
6) Free press this is the press... which is verbatim from CNN, BBC, Foxnews? What is its "freedom" of this media?

7) the Oligarchs, corrupt officials... and who brought them to power, who collaborated with them, who gave them money to purchase assets? American corporations...

P. S. I don't know why the author is lying, but I would never wish the Americans in the US... to experience the poverty and hopelessness... you have experienced the Russians in the 90-ies in Russia, when the US "gave us a hand"...

Danila Ivanov, 5/7/2015 4:26 AM EDT

I accuse the author of lying... and paid propaganda.
1) Russia is satisfied with the U.S. government only when it is weak. In 1993 Boris Yeltsin ordered to shoot from tanks to the Parliament (similar to the U.S. Congress) killed many people-elected deputies, and unarmed people in the square who came to support the deputies, they were killed at close range with machine guns. Hundreds of corpses.... NO ONE representative of the United States, has condemned the event. Nobody. Everything is fine, democracy!!!
The author of the article is lying. Putin is telling the truth.
2) Almost all non-governmental organizations of Russia officially get the money of US taxpayers. Their leaders defiantly go to the American Embassy. (in other 196 embassies of the countries of the world don't go)... and declare that their goal is "revolution and overthrow the President." Opposition leaders Russia (Navalny, Nemtsov, Kasparov, Chirikov, Ponomarev) was trained in the U.S. and regularly travel to the USA... (for example ... Imagine the leaders of "Occupy Wall Street" would have officially get money from the Russians, and walked to the Russian Embassy. Presented? ) The author is lying, Putin is not lying.
3) There is No "military adventure in Ukraine." Lies about "Russian aggression" hides that Ukraine is a civil war and the destruction and arrests of thousands of unarmed ethnic Russians (they inhabit the East of Ukraine)... who disagree with an armed overthrow of the President. Near the border of Russia (31 km) is a major Ukrainian city Kharkiv... it unguarded, why in Kharkov there are no "hordes of Russian troops or the rebels?... If Putin attacked the Ukraine and began a military adventure"?
The author lied again.

Owan Skirlan, 5/7/2015 3:20 AM EDT

Okay, dear Americans, thanks for fish and sort of that, but, really - Make Your Own Buisness! Somethere between US borders, not out

Brekotin, 5/7/2015 1:07 AM EDT

Very funny article. Washington PRAVDA!
to author: please check the graph of GDP in Russia and the United States 1985-2015.
Clearly shows how redistribute wealth of the USSR was reditributed.

P.S.: teach macroeconomics and history.

Andrey Belov, 5/7/2015 12:39 AM EDT

I by the way I wonder what is so wrong left Russia communism? Developed industry and agriculture, United state, connected in the common economic space, a powerful culture and the arts, advanced science, the successful solution of social problems. And against that you have spent billions to destroy all? Lord you Americans really believe that we should be grateful for assistance in the destruction of our country?

Skeviz, 5/6/2015 11:48 PM EDT

"After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. tried to help Russians"
- USA in 1990 had popularity 80%, but to 1999 (before Putin) USA had popularity 20% in Russia, is it because USA had tried help Russia? (De facto USA did all what was possible to create politician like Putin).
- USSR had dismissed Warsaw pact by free will (and USSR dismissed USSR by free will), USSR destroyed all what was linked to Cold War, did USA the same? Did USA dismissed NATO?
- USA used Russia's weakness and increased NATO (now hypocrite Americans say that it was done by will of those countries, interesting enough do they really believe in the BS? USSR could also said that E. Europe's countries became ally of USSR because they was afraid Germany).
- USA used Russia's weakness and attacked Serbia the Russia's ally (hypocrite Americans said that there was ethnic cleansing, BUT USA killed more men there than Milosevic did, moreover after war created by USA there was new ethnic cleansing and Albanians killed Serbians, why hypocrite Americans closed eyes about it?). In day when USA began war against Kosovo they loss all support that had between youth.
- USA payed Chechnya terrorists and USA do great media support to Chechnya terrorists (after 11 September 2001 it was ceased but to the time was killed many Russia's humans including children, now hypocrite Americans prefer do not remember which media support they did for creation Islamic State on Russia's south border, it was prototype of ISIL).
- USA used Russia's weakness and dismissed all agreements that interfere create anti-missile system.
- USA destroyed Russia's democracy when supported falsification of election 1996 in Russia, because USA was afraid communists in Russia, and preferred support Yeltsin. USA violated election and supported Yeltsin, who had destroying Russia.
- USA paid for many color revolutions on Russia's borders.

Skeviz, 5/6/2015 11:59 PM EDT

I could continue the list very long, but I have not time now.
So all USA's sayings about "trying to help Russia" is hypocrite lie from alpha to omega. All what wanted USA destroy country that they had afraid half century. USA didn't use Russians free will and trying end Cold War, USA continued it and I can suppose it will be great problem for USA in future. Certainly Russia is weak country now, but Russia can give very significant help to China, especially in military question (if China will be need use power, but do not show that they use power).

Irene Guy, 5/6/2015 9:34 PM EDT

"For fifty years, our policy was to fence in the Soviet Union while its own internal contradictions undermined it. For thirty years, our policy has been to draw out the People's Republic of China. As a result, the China of today is simply not the Soviet Union of the late 1940s"
Robert B. Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State
Remarks to National Committee on U.S.-China Relations
New York City
September 21, 2005"
Enough said...

[May 10, 2015] The New York Times does its government's bidding Here's what you're not being told about U.S. troops in Ukraine

May 07, 2015 |
As of mid-April, when a Pentagon flack announced it in Kiev, and as barely reported in American media, U.S. troops are now operating openly in Ukraine.

Now there is a lead I have long dreaded writing but suspected from the first that one day I would. Do not take a moment to think about this. Take many moments. We all need to. We find ourselves in grave circumstances this spring.

At first I thought I had written what newspaper people call a double-barreled lead: American soldiers in Ukraine, American media not saying much about it. Two facts.

Wrong. There is one fact now, and it is this: Americans are being led blindfolded very near the brink of war with Russia.

One cannot predict there will be one. And, of course, right-thinking people hope things will never come to one. In March, President Obama dismissed any such idea as if to suggest it was silly. "They're not interested in a military confrontation with us," Obama said of the Russians—wisely. Then he added, unwisely: "We don't need a war."

Don't need a war to get what done, Mr. President? This is our question. Then this one: Washington is going to stop at exactly what as it manipulates its latest set of puppets in disadvantaged countries, this time pretending there is absolutely nothing thoughtless or miscalculated about doing so on Russia's historically sensitive western border?

The pose of American innocence, tatty and tiresome in the best of times, is getting dangerous once again.

The source of worry now is that we do not have an answer to the second question. The project is plain: Advance NATO the rest of the way through Eastern Europe, probably with the intent of eventually destabilizing Moscow. The stooges now installed in Kiev are getting everything ready for the corporations eager to exploit Ukrainian resources and labor.

And our policy cliques are willing to go all the way to war for this? As of mid-April, when the 173rd Airborne Brigade started arriving in Ukraine, it looks as if we are on notice in this respect.

In the past there were a few vague mentions of an American military presence in Ukraine that was to be in place by this spring, if I recall correctly. These would have been last autumn. By then, there were also reports, unconfirmed, that some troops and a lot of spooks were already there as advisers but not acknowledged.

Then in mid-March President Poroshenko introduced a bill authorizing—as required by law—foreign troops to operate on Ukrainian soil. There was revealing detail, according to Russia Insider, a free-standing website in Moscow founded and run by Charles Bausman, an American with an uncanny ability to gather and publish pertinent information.

"According to the draft law, Ukraine plans three Ukrainian-American command post exercises, Fearless Guardian 2015, Sea Breeze 2015 and Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident 2015," the publication reported, "and two Ukrainian-Polish exercises, Secure Skies 2015, and Law and Order 2015, for this year."

This is a lot of dry-run maneuvering, if you ask me. Poroshenko's law allows for up to 1,000 American troops to participate in each of these exercises, alongside an equal number of Ukrainian "National Guardsmen," and we will insist on the quotation marks when referring to this gruesome lot, about whom more in a minute.

Take a deep breath and consider that 1,000 American folks, as Obama will surely get around to calling them, are conducting military drills with troops drawn partly from Nazi and crypto-Nazi paramilitary groups…. Sorry, I cannot add anything more to this paragraph. Speechless.

It was a month to the day after Poroshenko's bill went to parliament that the Pentagon spokesman in Kiev announced—to a room empty of American correspondents, we are to assume—that troops from the 173rd Airborne were just then arriving to train none other than "National Guardsmen." This training includes "classes in war-fighting functions," as the operations officer, Maj. Jose Mendez, blandly put it at the time.

The spokesman's number was "about 300," and I never like "about" when these people are describing deployments. This is how it always begins, we will all recall. The American presence in Vietnam began with a handful of advisers who arrived in September 1950. (Remember MAAG, the Military Assistance Advisory Group?)

Part of me still thinks war with Russia seems a far-fetched proposition. But here's the thing: It is even more far-fetched to deny the gravity of this moment for all its horrific, playing-with-fire potential.

I am getting on to apoplectic as to the American media's abject irresponsibility in not covering this stuff adequately. To leave these events unreported is outright lying by omission. Nobody's news judgment can be so bad as to argue this is not a story.

Last December, John Pilger, the noted Australian journalist now in London, said in a speech that the Ukraine crisis had become the most extreme news blackout he had seen his entire career. I agree and now need no more proof as to whether it is a matter of intent or ineptitude. (Now that I think of it, it is both in many cases.)

To cross the "i"s and dot the "t"s, as I prefer to do, the Times did make two mentions of the American troops. One was the day of the announcement, a brief piece on an inside page, datelined Washington. Here we get our code word for this caper: It will be "modest" in every mention.

The second was in an April 23 story by Michael Gordon, the State Department correspondent. The head was, "Putin Bolsters His Forces Near Ukraine, U.S. Says." Read the… thing here.

The story line is a doozy: Putin—not "the Russians" or "Moscow," of course—is again behaving aggressively by amassing troops—how many, exactly where and how we know is never explained—along his border with Ukraine. Inside his border, that is. This is the story. This is what we mean by aggression these days.

In the sixth paragraph we get this: "Last week, Russia charged that a modest program to train Ukraine's national guard that 300 American troops are carrying out in western Ukraine could 'destabilize the situation.'"

Apoplectically speaking: Goddamn it, there is nothing modest about U.S. troops operating on Ukrainian soil, and it is self-evidently destabilizing. It is an obvious provocation, a point the policy cliques in Washington cannot have missed.

At this point, I do not see how anyone can stand against the argument—mine for some time—that Putin has shown exemplary restraint in this crisis. In a reversal of roles and hemispheres, Washington would have a lot more than air defense systems and troops of whatever number on the border in question.

The Times coverage of Ukraine, to continue briefly in this line, starts to remind me of something I.F. Stone once said about the Washington Post: The fun of reading it, the honored man observed, is that you never know where you'll find a page one story.

In the Times' case, you never know if you will find it at all.

Have you read much about the wave of political assassinations that erupted in Kiev in mid-April? Worry not. No one else has either—not in American media. Not a word in the Times.

The number my sources give me, and I cannot confirm it, is a dozen so far—12 to 13 to be precise. On the record, we have 10 who can be named and identified as political allies of Viktor Yanukovych, the president ousted last year, opponents of a drastic rupture in Ukraine's historic relations to Russia, people who favored marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of the Nazis—death-deserving idea, this—and critics of the new regime's corruptions and dependence on violent far-right extremists.

These were all highly visible politicians, parliamentarians and journalists. They have been murdered by small groups of these extremists, according to reports readily available in non-American media. In my read, the killers may have the same semi-official ties to government that the paramilitary death squads in 1970s Argentina—famously recognizable in their Ford Falcons—had with Videla and the colonels.

The Poroshenko government contrives to assign Russia the blame, but one can safely ignore this. Extreme right members of parliament have been more to the point. After a prominent editor named Oles Buzyna was fatally shot outside his home several weeks ago, a lawmaker named Boris Filatov told colleagues, "One more piece of shit has been eliminated." From another named Irina Farion, this: Death will neutralize the dirt this shit has spilled. Such people go to history's sewers."

Kindly place, Kiev's parliament under this new crowd. Washington must be proud, having backed yet another right-wing, anti-democratic, rights-trampling regime that does what it says.

And our media must be silent, of course. It can be no other way. Gutless hacks: You bet I am angry.

* * *

I end this week's column with a tribute.

A moment of observance, any kind, for William Pfaff, who died at 86 in Paris late last week. The appreciative obituary by the Times' Marlise Simons is here.

Pfaff was the most sophisticated foreign affairs commentator of the 20th century's second half and the first 15 years of this one. He was a great influence among colleagues (myself included) and put countless readers in a lot of places in the picture over many decades. He was a vigorous opponent of American adventurism abroad, consistent and reasoned even as resistance to both grew in his later years. By the time he was finished he was published and read far more outside America than in it.

Pfaff was a conservative man in some respects, which is not uncommon among America's American critics. In this I put him in the file with Henry Steele Commager, C. Vann Woodward, William Appleman Williams, and among those writing now, Andrew Bacevich. He was not a scholar, as these writers were or are, supporting a point I have long made: Not all intellectuals are scholars, and not all scholars are intellectuals.

Pfaff's books will live on and I commend them: "Barbarian Sentiments," "The Wrath of Nations," "The Bullet's Song," and his last, "The Irony of Manifest Destiny," are the ones on my shelf.

Farewell from a friend, Bill.

Patrick Smith is the author of "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century." He was the International Herald Tribune's bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote "Letter from Tokyo" for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter, @thefloutist. More Patrick L. Smith.

[May 10, 2015]Obama's Petulant WWII Snub of Russia

May 09, 2015 |
President Barack Obama's decision to join other Western leaders in snubbing Russia's weekend celebration of the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe looks more like pouting than statesmanship, especially in the context of the U.S. mainstream media's recent anti-historical effort to downplay Russia's crucial role in defeating Nazism.

Though designed to isolate Russia because it had the audacity to object to the Western-engineered coup d'état in Ukraine on Feb. 22, 2014, this snub of Russia's President Vladimir Putin – like the economic sanctions against Russia – is likely to backfire on the U.S. and its European allies by strengthening ties between Russia and the emerging Asian giants of China and India.

Notably, the dignitaries who will show up at this important commemoration include the presidents of China and India, representing a huge chunk of humanity, who came to show respect for the time seven decades ago when the inhumanity of the Nazi regime was defeated – largely by Russia's stanching the advance of Hitler's armies, at a cost of 20 to 30 million lives.

Obama's boycott is part of a crass attempt to belittle Russia and to cram history itself into an anti-Putin, anti-Russian alternative narrative. It is difficult to see how Obama and his friends could have come up with a pettier and more gratuitous insult to the Russian people.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel – caught between Washington's demand to "isolate" Russia over the Ukraine crisis and her country's historic guilt in the slaughter of so many Russians – plans to show up a day late to place a wreath at a memorial for the war dead.

But Obama, in his childish display of temper, will look rather small to those who know the history of the Allied victory in World War II. If it were not for the Red Army's costly victories against the German invaders, particularly the tide-turning battle at Stalingrad in 1943-1944, the prospects for the later D-Day victory in Normandy in June 1944 and the subsequent defeat of Adolf Hitler would have been much more difficult if not impossible.

Yet, the current Russia-bashing in Washington and the mainstream U.S. media overrides these historical truths. For instance, a New York Times article by Neil MacFarquhar on Friday begins: "The Russian version of Hitler's defeat emphasizes the enormous, unrivaled sacrifices made by the Soviet people to end World War II …" But that's not the "Russian version"; that's the history.

For its part, the Washington Post chose to run an Associated Press story out of Moscow reporting: "A state-of-the-art Russian tank … on Thursday ground to a halt during the final Victory Day rehearsal. … After an attempt to tow it failed, the T-14 rolled away under its own steam 15 minutes later." (Subtext: Ha, ha! Russia's newest tank gets stuck on Red Square! Ha, ha!).

This juvenile approach to pretty much everything that's important — not just U.S.-Russia relations — has now become the rule. From the U.S. government to the major U.S. media, it's as if the "cool kids" line up in matching fashions creating a gauntlet to demean and ridicule whoever the outcast of the day is. And anyone who doesn't go along becomes an additional target of abuse.

That has been the storyline for the Ukraine crisis throughout 2014 and into 2015. Everyone must agree that Putin provoked all the trouble as part of some Hitler-like ambition to conquer much of eastern Europe and rebuild a Russian empire. If you don't make the obligatory denunciations of "Russian aggression," you are called a "Putin apologist" or "Putin bootlicker."

Distorting the History

So, the evidence-based history of the Western-sponsored coup in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, must be forgotten or covered up. Indeed, about a year after the events, the New York Times published a major "investigative" article that ignored all the facts of a U.S.-backed coup in declaring there was no coup.

The Times didn't even mention the notorious, intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in early February 2014 in which Nuland was handpicking the future leaders, including her remark "Yats is the guy," a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk who – after the coup – quickly became prime minister. [See's "NYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine."]

Even George Friedman, the president of the Washington-Establishment-friendly think-tank STRATFOR, has said publicly in late 2014: "Russia calls the events that took place at the beginning of this year a coup d'état organized by the United States. And it truly was the most blatant coup in history."

Beyond simply ignoring facts, the U.S. mainstream media has juggled the time line to make Putin's reaction to the coup – and the threat it posed to the Russian naval base in Crimea – appear to be, instead, evidence of his instigation of the already unfolding conflict.

For example, in a "we-told-you-so" headline on March 9, the Washington Post declared: "Putin had early plan to annex Crimea." Then, quoting AP, the Post reported that Putin himself had just disclosed "a secret meeting with officials in February 2014 … Putin said that after the meeting he told the security chiefs that they would be 'obliged to start working to return Crimea to Russia.' He said the meeting was held Feb. 23, 2014, almost a month before a referendum in Crimea that Moscow has said was the basis for annexing the region."

So there! Gotcha! Russian aggression! But what the Post neglected to remind readers was that the U.S.-backed coup had occurred on Feb. 22 and that Putin has consistently said that a key factor in his actions toward Crimea came from Russian fears that NATO would claim the historic naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea, representing a strategic threat to his country.

Putin also knew from opinion polls that most of the people of Crimea favored reunification with Russia, a reality that was underscored by the March referendum in which some 96 percent voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

But there was not one scintilla of reliable evidence that Putin intended to annex Crimea before he felt his hand forced by the putsch in Kiev. The political reality was that no Russian leader could afford to take the risk that Russia's only warm-water naval base might switch to new NATO management. If top U.S. officials did not realize that when they were pushing the coup in early 2014, they know little about Russian strategic concerns – or simply didn't care.

Last fall, John Mearsheimer, a pre-eminent political science professor at the University of Chicago, stunned those who had been misled by the anti-Russian propaganda when he placed an article in the Very-Establishment journal Foreign Affairs entitled "Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West's Fault."

You did not know that such an article was published? Chalk that up to the fact that the mainstream media pretty much ignored it. Mearsheimer said this was the first time he encountered such widespread media silence on an article of such importance.

The Sole Indispensable Country

Much of this American tendency to disdain other nations' concerns, fears and points of pride go back to the Washington Establishment's dogma that special rules or (perhaps more accurately) no rules govern U.S. behavior abroad – American exceptionalism. This arrogant concept, which puts the United States above all other nations like some Olympic god looking down on mere mortals, is often invoked by Obama and other leading U.S. politicians.

That off-putting point has not been missed by Putin even as he has sought to cooperate with Obama and the United States. On Sept. 11, 2013, a week after Putin bailed Obama out, enabling him to avoid a new war on Syria by persuading Syria to surrender its chemical weapons, Putin wrote in an op-ed published by the New York Times that he appreciated the fact that "My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust."

Putin added, though, "I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism," adding: "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. … We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."

More recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov drove home this point in the context of World War II. This week, addressing a meeting to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe, Lavrov included a pointed warning: "Today as never before it is important not to forget the lessons of that catastrophe and the terrible consequences that spring from faith in one's own exceptionalism."

The irony is that as the cameras pan the various world leaders in the Red Square reviewing stand on Saturday, Obama's absence will send a message that the United States has little appreciation for the sacrifice of the Russian people in bearing the brunt – and breaking the back – of Hitler's conquering armies. It is as if Obama is saying that the "exceptional" United States didn't need anyone's help to win World War II.

President Franklin Roosevelt was much wiser, understanding that it took extraordinary teamwork to defeat Nazism in the 1940s, which is why he considered the Soviet Union a most important military ally. President Obama is sending a very different message, a haughty disdain for the kind of global cooperation which succeeded in ridding the world of Adolf Hitler.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He is a 30-year veteran of the CIA and Army intelligence and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). McGovern served for considerable periods in all four of CIA's main directorates.

[May 10, 2015] Neocon 'Chaos Promotion' in the Mideast

April 15, 2015 |
Former Washington insider and four-star General Wesley Clark spilled the beans several years ago on how Paul Wolfowitz and his neoconservative co-conspirators implemented their sweeping plan to destabilize key Middle Eastern countries once it became clear that post-Soviet Russia "won't stop us."

As I recently reviewed a YouTube eight-minute clip of General Clark's October 2007 speech, what leaped out at me was that the neocons had been enabled by their assessment that – after the collapse of the Soviet Union – Russia had become neutralized and posed no deterrent to U.S. military action in the Middle East.

While Clark's public exposé largely escaped attention in the neocon-friendly "mainstream media" (surprise, surprise!), he recounted being told by a senior general at the Pentagon shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 about the Donald Rumsfeld/Paul Wolfowitz-led plan for "regime change" in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.

This was startling enough, I grant you, since officially the United States presents itself as a nation that respects international law, frowns upon other powerful nations overthrowing the governments of weaker states, and – in the aftermath of World War II – condemned past aggressions by Nazi Germany and decried Soviet "subversion" of pro-U.S. nations.

But what caught my eye this time was the significance of Clark's depiction of Wolfowitz in 1992 gloating over what he judged to be a major lesson learned from the Desert Storm attack on Iraq in 1991; namely, "the Soviets won't stop us."

That remark directly addresses a question that has troubled me since March 2003 when George W. Bush attacked Iraq. Would the neocons – widely known as "the crazies" at least among the remaining sane people of Washington – have been crazy enough to opt for war to re-arrange the Middle East if the Soviet Union had not fallen apart in 1991?

The question is not an idle one. Despite the debacle in Iraq and elsewhere, the neocon "crazies" still exercise huge influence in Establishment Washington. Thus, the question now becomes whether, with Russia far more stable and much stronger, the "crazies" are prepared to risk military escalation with Russia over Ukraine, what retired U.S. diplomat William R. Polk deemed a potentially dangerous nuclear confrontation, a "Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse."

Putin's Comment

The geopolitical vacuum that enabled the neocons to try out their "regime change" scheme in the Middle East may have been what Russian President Vladimir Putin was referring to in his state-of-the-nation address on April 25, 2005, when he called the collapse of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [past] century." Putin's comment has been a favorite meme of those who seek to demonize Putin by portraying him as lusting to re-establish a powerful USSR through aggression in Europe.

But, commenting two years after the Iraq invasion, Putin seemed correct at least in how the neocons exploited the absence of the Russian counterweight to over-extend American power in ways that were harmful to the world, devastating to the people at the receiving end of the neocon interventions, and even detrimental to the United States.

If one takes a step back and attempts an unbiased look at the spread of violence in the Middle East over the past quarter-century, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Putin's comment was on the mark. With Russia a much-weakened military power in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was nothing to deter U.S. policymakers from the kind of adventurism at Russia's soft underbelly that, in earlier years, would have carried considerable risk of armed U.S.-USSR confrontation.

I lived in the USSR during the 1970s and would not wish that kind of restrictive regime on anyone. Until it fell apart, though, it was militarily strong enough to deter Wolfowitz-style adventurism. And I will say that – for the millions of people now dead, injured or displaced by U.S. military action in the Middle East over the past dozen years – the collapse of the Soviet Union as a deterrent to U.S. war-making was not only a "geopolitical catastrophe" but an unmitigated disaster.

Visiting Wolfowitz

In his 2007 speech, General Clark related how in early 1991 he dropped in on Paul Wolfowitz, then Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (and later, from 2001 to 2005, Deputy Secretary of Defense). It was just after a major Shia uprising in Iraq in March 1991. President George H.W. Bush's administration had provoked it, but then did nothing to rescue the Shia from brutal retaliation by Saddam Hussein, who had just survived his Persian Gulf defeat.

According to Clark, Wolfowitz said: "We should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein. The truth is, one thing we did learn is that we can use our military in the Middle East and the Soviets won't stop us. We've got about five or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes – Syria, Iran (sic), Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us."

It's now been more than 10 years, of course. But do not be deceived into thinking Wolfowitz and his neocon colleagues believe they have failed in any major way. The unrest they initiated keeps mounting – in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Lebanon – not to mention fresh violence now in full swing in Yemen and the crisis in Ukraine. Yet, the Teflon coating painted on the neocons continues to cover and protect them in the "mainstream media."

True, one neocon disappointment is Iran. It is more stable and less isolated than before; it is playing a sophisticated role in Iraq; and it is on the verge of concluding a major nuclear agreement with the West – barring the throwing of a neocon/Israeli monkey wrench into the works to thwart it, as has been done in the past.

An earlier setback for the neocons came at the end of August 2013 when President Barack Obama decided not to let himself be mouse-trapped by the neocons into ordering U.S. forces to attack Syria. Wolfowitz et al. were on the threshold of having the U.S. formally join the war against Bashar al-Assad's government of Syria when there was the proverbial slip between cup and lip. With the aid of the neocons' new devil-incarnate Vladimir Putin, Obama faced them down and avoided war.

A week after it became clear that the neocons were not going to get their war in Syria, I found myself at the main CNN studio in Washington together with Paul Wolfowitz and former Sen. Joe Lieberman, another important neocon. As I reported in "How War on Syria Lost Its Way," the scene was surreal – funereal, even, with both Wolfowitz and Lieberman very much down-in-the-mouth, behaving as though they had just watched their favorite team lose the Super Bowl.

Israeli/Neocon Preferences

But the neocons are nothing if not resilient. Despite their grotesque disasters, like the Iraq War, and their disappointments, like not getting their war on Syria, they neither learn lessons nor change goals. They just readjust their aim, shooting now at Putin over Ukraine as a way to clear the path again for "regime change" in Syria and Iran. [See's "Why Neocons Seek to Destabilize Russia."]

The neocons also can take some solace from their "success" at enflaming the Middle East with Shia and Sunni now at each other's throats – a bad thing for many people of the world and certainly for the many innocent victims in the region, but not so bad for the neocons. After all, it is the view of Israeli leaders and their neocon bedfellows (and women) that the internecine wars among Muslims provide at least some short-term advantages for Israel as it consolidates control over the Palestinian West Bank.

In a Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity memorandum for President Obama on Sept. 6, 2013, we called attention to an uncommonly candid report about Israeli/neocon motivation, written by none other than the Israel-friendly New York Times Bureau Chief in Jerusalem Jodi Rudoren on Sept. 2, 2013, just two days after Obama took advantage of Putin's success in persuading the Syrians to allow their chemical weapons to be destroyed and called off the planned attack on Syria, causing consternation among neocons in Washington.

Rudoren can perhaps be excused for her naïve lack of "political correctness." She had been barely a year on the job, had very little prior experience with reporting on the Middle East, and – in the excitement about the almost-attack on Syria – she apparently forgot the strictures normally imposed on the Times' reporting from Jerusalem. In any case, Israel's priorities became crystal clear in what Rudoren wrote.

In her article, entitled "Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria," Rudoren noted that the Israelis were arguing, quietly, that the best outcome for Syria's (then) 2 ½-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, was no outcome:

"For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad's government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.

"'This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don't want one to win — we'll settle for a tie,' said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. 'Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that's the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there's no real threat from Syria.'"

Clear enough? If this is the way Israel's leaders continue to regard the situation in Syria, then they look on deeper U.S. involvement – overt or covert – as likely to ensure that there is no early resolution of the conflict there. The longer Sunni and Shia are killing each other, not only in Syria but also across the region as a whole, the safer Tel Aviv's leaders calculate Israel is.

Favoring Jihadis

But Israeli leaders have also made clear that if one side must win, they would prefer the Sunni side, despite its bloody extremists from Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. In September 2013, shortly after Rudoren's article, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

"The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc," Oren said in an interview. "We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren't backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran." He said this was the case even if the "bad guys" were affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

In June 2014, Oren – then speaking as a former ambassador – said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State, which was massacring captured Iraqi soldiers and beheading Westerners, than the continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria. "From Israel's perspective, if there's got to be an evil that's got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail," Oren said.

Netanyahu sounded a similar theme in his March 3, 2015 speech to the U.S. Congress in which he trivialized the threat from the Islamic State with its "butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube" when compared to Iran, which he accused of "gobbling up the nations" of the Middle East.

That Syria's main ally is Iran with which it has a mutual defense treaty plays a role in Israeli calculations. Accordingly, while some Western leaders would like to achieve a realistic if imperfect settlement of the Syrian civil war, others who enjoy considerable influence in Washington would just as soon see the Assad government and the entire region bleed out.

As cynical and cruel as this strategy is, it isn't all that hard to understand. Yet, it seems to be one of those complicated, politically charged situations well above the pay-grade of the sophomores advising President Obama – who, sad to say, are no match for the neocons in the Washington Establishment. Not to mention the Netanyahu-mesmerized Congress.

Corker Uncorked

Speaking of Congress, a year after Rudoren's report, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, who now chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, divulged some details about the military attack that had been planned against Syria, while lamenting that it was canceled.

In doing so, Corker called Obama's abrupt change on Aug. 31, 2013, in opting for negotiations over open war on Syria, "the worst moment in U.S. foreign policy since I've been here." Following the neocon script, Corker blasted the deal (since fully implemented) with Putin and the Syrians to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.

Corker complained, "In essence – I'm sorry to be slightly rhetorical – we jumped into Putin's lap." A big No-No, of course – especially in Congress – to "jump into Putin's lap" even though Obama was able to achieve the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons without the United States jumping into another Middle East war.

It would have been nice, of course, if General Clark had thought to share his inside-Pentagon information earlier with the rest of us. In no way should he be seen as a whistleblower.

At the time of his September 2007 speech, he was deep into his quixotic attempt to win the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. In other words, Clark broke the omerta code of silence observed by virtually all U.S. generals, even post-retirement, merely to put some distance between himself and the debacle in Iraq – and win some favor among anti-war Democrats. It didn't work, so he endorsed Hillary Clinton; that didn't work, so he endorsed Barack Obama.

Wolfowitz, typically, has landed on his feet. He is now presidential hopeful Jeb Bush's foreign policy/defense adviser, no doubt outlining his preferred approach to the Middle East chessboard to his new boss. Does anyone know the plural of "bedlam?"

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He is a 30-year veteran of the CIA and Army intelligence and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). McGovern served for considerable periods in all four of CIA's main directorates.

Reprinted with permission from Consortium News.

[May 08, 2015] What a Conservative Victory in the UK Means for Everyday People

May 08, 2015 |

The Conservatives getting a landslide victory is the worst possible result for the UK. They won it basically on middle England votes. The middle classes have been hit nearly as hard as the working classes. It just shows how effective the combination of a dumbed down education system and modern media bombardment is at brainwashing people, the electorate have voted themselves into redoubled Austerity, voted against there own best interests. Everyone better hope they don't get ill anytime soon or lose there jobs, because they have voted away the social programs that would have helped them.

Robert Munro

As my British cousin in Cheshire said in an e-mail last night..........."Bend over and smile because we're going to get it in the bum".

Cameron works for the banking cartel and Washington - NOT the British people.

[May 08, 2015] Brood of Vipers

May 07, 2015 |
"The power and influence of the financial sector threatens a continuation of the regulatory capture that contributed to the financial crisis. Financial firms, too often, have significant say in the appointment of high regulatory officials.

The tendency of some former government officials to obtain highly lucrative positions in the financial sector after leaving government may well act as an inducement to those remaining in government to serve the interest of the financial sector rather than those of the public."

Brooksley Born, Finance & Society Conference, May 5, 2015

The Western Banks are all over these markets, from commodities to equities. They are creating huge amounts of money debt, and providing it to the financial industry as top down stimulus. What results is little aggregate or 'organic' growth and a series of paper asset bubbles. They should be ashamed but they are too busy plundering to feel any twinge of conscience. They are like a herd of swine, racing for the abyss.

I had to chuckle when the pampered princesses and giggling jackals were talking about the jobs report tomorrow, and said that the ideal situation would be 'a strong jobs number with no wage growth,' a true 'goldilocks' scenario.

I have given up any expectation of reform from within. There will have to be some eye-opening incidents to shake the complacency of the fortunate few.

Non-Farm Payrolls tomorrow.

Have a pleasant evening.

[May 08, 2015] Capitalizing on Crisis The Political Origins of the Rise of Finance by Greta R. Krippner

August 31, 2014 |
Stephen Thompson on August 31, 2014

an attempt to understand financialization without applying class analysis

Krippner defines financialization as "the growing importance of financial activities as a source of profits in the economy." The excellent second chapter of Capitalizing on Crisis makes clear that a process of significant financialization has indeed occurred in the United States. The share of total corporate profits made by financial corporations rose from around 15% in the 1950s to about 45% (!) in 2000. At the same time, for nonfinancial corporations, the ratio of portfolio income to total cash flow increased sharply. These changes mark a structural change in the US economy, with corporations apparently channeling more of their retained earnings toward the finance of consumer credit and other unproductive activities, rather than fixed capital investment. It is also worth noting that by driving up rentier incomes, financialization has played a major role in making the distribution of income more regressive. Obviously there are a number of questions one could ask about all this. Krippner focusses on one of the most fundamental: why did financialization occur?

Krippner's answer goes essentially as follows. Starting in the late 1960s, various social movements (especially groups of women, African Americans, and unionized workers) in the United States became more powerful and demanded a larger share of national income for their members. The government responded by offering a bunch of expensive new public programs. At the same time, the government was ramping up military spending for the Vietnam war. This "guns and butter" policy, when coupled with the declining growth rate of the US economy, was highly inflationary. At the same time, since, under the New Deal regulatory system, the *nominal* interest rates on both bank deposits and mortgages were essentially fixed, the high rate of inflation drove the corresponding *real* rates of interest to low or negative levels, leading to a massive reallocation of credit in the economy. On the one hand, money flowed out of mortgage financing, so many middle-income people suddenly could not buy homes; on the other hand, banks lost deposits and were at risk of becoming insolvent. All of this set off a wave of financial innovation and political lobbying that undermined, and eventually destroyed, the policy of fixed interest rates that was at the heart of the New Deal bank-regulation system; this set off the process of financialization.

I think several aspects of the above account are correct; it explains why *some* powerful social groups would be willing to support and agitate for financial deregulation. The problem comes when Krippner tries to explain why policy makers ultimately supported the interests of these particular social groups over the others, which had strong reasons to oppose deregulation. For example, Krippner describes in the book how early experiments (during the mid-1970s) with adjustable-rate mortgages were met with fierce public opposition, and quickly fell apart as a result. But then this opposition seems to simply disappear by the end of the 1970s, when interest rates were completely deregulated. What happened? And why did policy makers ultimately deregulate interest rates?

The answer, according the Krippner, is that the deregulation of interest rates was part of a larger package of reforms, which allowed policy makers to avoid dealing with the conflict over income distribution that boiled over in the 1970s. It is argued that the expanded supply of credit in the US economy after the 1970s – which would not have been forthcoming without the deregulation of interest rates – made it possible to appease the various social groups that were demanding a better standard of living, and to do so without squeezing profits, increasing taxes or feeding inflation. The argument is that, by borrowing the money from abroad to finance social programs, and by increasing the amount of credit available to consumers, policy makers did not have to choose between different social priorities. Thus Krippner writes in the concluding chapter that financialization deferred "questions that first confronted U.S. society in the late 1960s and 1970s regarding which social actors should bear the burden of a fading prosperity."

I see two major problems with that argument.

The first problem is that the questions about "which social actors should bear the burden of a fading prosperity" were NOT deferred. In a process that started in the late 1970s (under Carter!) and accelerated in the 1980s, politicians and wealthy people initiated an onslaught of new policies that were clearly intended to both redistribute income upward and also crush the social movements which had been working to redistribute income downward in the 1960s and 1970s. Various forms of aid to the poor were cut, the tax system became much more regressive, huge sums of money flowed to right-wing advocacy groups and think tanks, the Fed implemented a tight-money policy which drove the unemployment rate sharply upward, there was an all-out assault on unions, government and foundation support for community activist groups was cut, etc. (For a detailed account of all this, I recommend the book Right Turn by Ferguson and Rogers). The success of this project is evidenced by the sharp change in the income distribution trends after the 1970s. In fact, far from *deferring* the conflict over income distribution, the financialization of the US economy seems to have actually been one of the biggest factors which helped to *settle* the conflict in favor of the upper socio-economic strata (see the paper "Financialization and US Income Inequality, 1970—2008" by Lin and Tomaskovic-Devey, published March 2013 in the American Journal of Sociology).

Second, it is far from clear that the increased availability of consumer credit did much of anything to compensate for the stagnating incomes received by the poor and working-class people after the 1970s. I have read, for example, that the consumption-fueled boom during the 1990s was financed entirely by loans taken out by *upper-income households* – the people who saw their share of income RISE during the era of financialization. And even if consumer credit did become significantly more available to the poor and working people in the 1980s (and I am not convinced this is true), why would they passively accept this as an alternative to the rising incomes they were demanding in the 1970s? I think the obvious explanation is that increased flows of credit were not what resolved the crisis of the 1970s; policy makers resolved the crisis of the 1970s by curtailing the political power of poor and working people, and by crushing progressive social movements.

Thus Krippner's argument that financialization, rather than being a class project, was simply an inadvertent result of policy makers' attempts to make voters happy, seems unconvincing to me. And I could go on much longer; I think Krippner's refusal to apply class analysis creates unnecessary problems throughout the book. Nevertheless, Capitalizing on Crisis is interesting and informative, and should be read by anyone who wants to better understand financialization. I found the chapter on Fed policy, in particular, to be illuminating. And like I said above, chapter 2 is excellent. But there are better books on financialization. I particularly recommend the work of Dumenil and Levy.

[May 08, 2015] Power The Essence of Corrupt Banking and Politics Is to Grow and Control the Debt

May 04, 2015 | Jesse's Café Américain

"Events have satisfied my mind, and I think the minds of the American people, that the mischiefs and dangers which flow from a national [central] bank far over-balance all its advantages. The bold effort the present bank has made to control the Government, the distresses it has wantonly produced, the violence of which it has been the occasion in one of our cities famed for its observance of law and order, are but premonitions of the fate which awaits the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it."

- Andrew Jackson, Sixth Annual Message, December 1, 1834

"Another cause of today's instability is that we now have a society in America, Europe and much of the world which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not included in the state structure: control of credit and banking, and the corporation.

These are free of political controls and social responsibility and have largely monopolized power in Western Civilization and in American society. They are ruthlessly going forward to eliminate land, labor, entrepreneurial-managerial skills, and everything else the economists once told us were the chief elements of production.

The only element of production they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital."

- Professor Carroll Quigley, Oscar Iden Lecture Series 3, 1976

Money is power. And those who control the money, if they have the will for it, can use it as a means to incredible power, to create debt, and to control it, thereby controlling the debtors, both as individuals, as communities, as regions, and whole nations.

This is the story of global trade deals, the Dollar, and the foul marriage between politics, money, and central banking. The more discretion and secrecy that is granted to those who create money and debt, the more vulnerable is the freedom of the people.

This is the story of Cyprus, of Greece, and of the Ukraine.

And there will be more.

This will to power is as old as Babylon, and as evil as hell.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations.

Each central bank, in the hands of men like Montagu Norman of the Bank of England, Benjamin Strong of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Charles Rist of the Bank of France, and Hjalmar Schacht of the Reichsbank, sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

Professor Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope, 1966

"He promises you illumination, he offers you knowledge, science, philosophy, enlargement of mind. He scoffs at times gone by; he scoffs at every institution which reveres them.

He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods.

Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his."

John Henry Newman

Posted by Jesse at 8:03 PM

Category: audacious oligarchy, central banks, debt slavery, Federal Reserve, financial corruption, modern monetary theory, money corruption, political corruption

[May 08, 2015] When Hillary Clinton Pitched the Iraq War to CodePink By and

Announcing her latest campaign for the presidency, Hillary Clinton declared she was entering the race to be the champion for "everyday Americans." As a lawmaker and diplomat, however, Clinton has long championed military campaigns that have killed scores of "everyday" people abroad, from Iraq to Yemen.

As commander-in-chief, there's no reason to believe she'd be any less a hawk than she was as a senator, when she backed George W. Bush's war in Iraq, or as secretary of state, when she encouraged President Barack Obama to escalate the war in Afghanistan. If her nomination is as sure a thing as people say, then antiwar organizing needs to start right away.

Hillary's already won the support of those who continually agitate for war. "I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy," Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, told The New York Times last summer.

"If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue," he said, "it's something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else."

We're going to call it what it is: More of the same sort of murderous policies that destroyed Iraq, destabilized Libya, killed women and children with cluster bombs and drones in Yemen, and legitimized the undermining of democracy in Honduras. There's little chance the Republicans will nominate someone better, but given Clinton's record as a senator and secretary of state — the latter giving us a very good idea of how she would approach foreign affairs once in office — it will be hard for them to find anyone much worse.

We know that Clinton is no reliable friend of peace. Today she supports diplomacy with Iran, but back in 2009, as secretary of state, she was adamant that the U.S. keep open the option of attacking the Islamic Republic over never-proven allegations it was seeking nuclear weapons. (In fact, Israel is the region's only nuclear power.)

Her attempts to portray herself as an ally of those who are pro-peace, as a sort of reluctant imperialist, is the same sort of co-opting distortion that has helped quiet opposition to President Obama's hawkish agenda. If anything, Hillary is even more militaristic than the ostensibly reluctant warrior she's campaigning to replace. Still, that hasn't stopped her from trying to be all things to all people — even people like us.

Indeed, in March 2003, Clinton did something she'll probably never willingly do again: She met with CODEPINK to explain her support for the Iraq war. "I like pink tulips around this time of the year," she began. They "kind of remind ya that there may be a spring. Well, you guys look like a big bunch of big tulips!" It got progressively more awkward after that. "I admire your willingness to speak out on behalf of the women and children of Iraq," said Clinton, but "There is a very easy way to prevent anyone from being put into harm's way and that is for Saddam Hussein to disarm and I have absolutely no belief that he will."

We thought the easiest way to prevent harming the women, children, and other living things in Iraq was to stop a war of aggression, ostensibly over weapons of mass destruction that UN inspectors on the ground couldn't find and which were, in fact, never found — because they didn't exist. Clinton, however, was steadfast: "If Saddam were serious about disarming he would have been much more forthcoming," she claimed. "The very difficult question for all of us is how does one bring about the disarmament of someone with such a proven track record of a commitment, if not an obsession, with weapons of mass destruction?"

Her answer: Destroying Iraq by dropping millions of U.S.-made WMDs, including bombs with depleted uranium that have more than doubled the country's pre-2003 rate of cancer. Speaking to the women of CODEPINK, Clinton even explicitly defended George W. Bush's unilateralism, citing her husband's go-it-alone intervention in Kosovo back in the 1990s.

In 2011, when the Arab Spring came to Libya, Clinton was the Obama administration's most forceful advocate for going above and beyond a no-fly zone to depose Muammar Gaddafi, whose U.S.-trained security forces were killing Libyans with the help of weapons and equipment provided by his erstwhile allies in the United States, Britain, and France.

She even out-hawked Robert Gates, the defense secretary first appointed by George W. Bush who was less than enthusiastic about going to war. When Libyan rebels carried out an extrajudicial execution of their country's former dictator, her response was sociopathic: "We came, we saw, he died," she said, smiling and laughing. That sent a message that the United States would look the other way at crimes committed by allies against its official enemies; indeed, it was the same policy of tolerance for friends' war crimes that arguably led Gaddafi to believe he could get away with killing anyone he labeled "al-Qaeda."

Libya was part of a pattern for Clinton. On Afghanistan, she advocated a repeat of the surge in Iraq, encouraging President Obama to more than double the number of troops there. Her State Department also provided cover for the expansion of the not-so-covert drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen. Clinton's top legal adviser, Harold Koh, exploited his pre-government reputation as an advocate for human rights to declare in a 2010 speech that not only did the government have the right to detain people without charge at Guantanamo Bay, but it can kill them with unmanned aerial vehicles anywhere in the world.

Clinton practiced "soft power" diplomacy too, of course: After Honduran forces trained at the U.S. School of the Americas carried out a coup against elected president Manuel Zelaya, Clinton's State Department immediately got to work on legitimizing the regime that seized power. As commentator Mark Weisbrot observes, she even said as much in her book, Hard Choices: "In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico," wrote Clinton. "We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot."

The subsequent "free and fair" election would end up being between two candidates who supported a coup opposed by most "everyday people" in Honduras, now one of the most violent, drug-war ravaged countries in the world. Clinton has also called for deporting child refugees fleeing that violence. In Honduras, as elsewhere, it seems it's not the lives of "everyday people" that are of chief concern to politicians like Clinton.

When Barack Obama became president, the anti-war movement became his first casualty — followed by a group of Pakistanis droned to death three days after his inauguration. We should never lose hope that we can bring about positive change, but actually changing the world for the better requires being aware that whoever sits in the White House come January 2017 is not going to be our friend.

Charles Davis is a writer in Los Angeles. His work has been published by outlets such as Al Jazeera, The New Republic, and Salon. Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human rights organization Global Exchange. She is also the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

[May 08, 2015] Obama's Real Motive Behind The Iran Deal A Backdoor Channel To Sell Weapons To Saudi Arabia

May 06, 2015 | Zero Hedge
For a long time there was confusion about the "quo" to the Saudi Arabian "quid" over its agreement to side with the US on the Iranian "nuclear deal" (which incidentally looks like it will never happen simply due to the Russian and Chinese UN vetoes).

Then over the weekend we finally got the answer thanks to the the WSJ, which reported that "Gulf States want U.S. assurances and weapons in exchange for supporting Iran nuclear deal."

The details are quite familiar to anyone who has seen the US Military-Industrial Complex in action: the US pretends to wage an aggressive diplomatic campaign of peace while behind the scenes it is just as actively selling weapons of war.

Leading Persian Gulf states want major new weapons systems and security guarantees from the White House in exchange for backing a nuclear agreement with Iran, according to U.S. and Arab officials.

The leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, plan to use a high-stakes meeting with President Barack Obama next week to request additional fighter jets, missile batteries and surveillance equipment.

They also intend to pressure Mr. Obama for new defense agreements between the U.S. and the Gulf nations that would outline terms and scenarios under which Washington would intervene if they are threatened by Iran, according to these officials.

The Persian Gulf countries say they need more drones, surveillance equipment and missile-defense systems to combat an Iranian regime they see as committed to becoming the region's dominant power. The Gulf states also want upgraded fighter jets to contain the Iranian challenge, particularly the advanced F-35, known as the Joint Strike Fighter.

A senior U.S. official played down chances that the administration would agree to sell advanced systems such as the F-35 fighter to those nations—though the planes will be sold to Israel and Turkey—because of concerns within the administration about altering the military balance in the Middle East.v

There is much more but a question already emerges: why does the "Gulf Cooperation Council" need so many ultramodern weapons to "defend" against an Iran which is supposedly halting its nuclear program and is in the process of showing its allegiance to the west by endorsing a peace process.

Unless it was all merely a ruse to arm the Middle East from the very beginning?

And now the "end" is near because when it comes to matters of revenue and profitability for the US Military-Industrial complex, seek and ye shall find. According to Reuters, "Obama is expected to make a renewed U.S. push next week to help Gulf allies create a region-wide defense system to guard against Iranian missiles as he seeks to allay their anxieties over any nuclear deal with Tehran, according to U.S. sources."

The offer could be accompanied by enhanced security commitments, new arms sales and more joint military exercises, U.S. officials say, as Obama tries to reassure Gulf Arab countries that Washington is not abandoning them.

Not only is Obama not abandoning "them", but the entire Iran "negotiations" farce increasingly appears to have been produced from the very beginning to give the US a diplomatic loophole with which to arm the biggest oil exporter in the world. Sure enough:

Gulf Arab neighbors, including key U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, worry that Iran will not be deterred from a nuclear bomb and will be flush with cash from unfrozen assets to fund proxies and expand its influence in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

U.S. officials with knowledge of the internal discussions concede that Obama is under pressure to calm Arab fears by offering strengthened commitments. "It's a time to see what things might be required to be formalized," a senior U.S. official said.

All of this should come as a surprise to precisely nobody as the US takes advantage of its waning years as a global hegemon, and seeks to sell US weapons far and wide to the benefit of a select few Raytheon, General Dynamics and Lockheed shareholders.

And yet something peculiar emerges: in the Reuters piece we read that "Obama is all but certain to stop short of a full security treaty with Saudi Arabia or other Gulf nations as that would require approval by the Republican-controlled Senate and risk stoking tensions with Washington's main Middle East ally Israel."

Which brings up another interesting regional player: Israel. Because while we now know the real reason for Saudi's complicity in the Iran "nuclear deal", a key middle east player is none other than Israel, which under Netanyahu's control has puffed and huffed against the Iran deal, and yet has done nothing. Why? Here Bloomberg provides some very critical perspective which introduces yet another major player in the global military exports arena.


Bloomberg has the details:

Last month, when President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced plans to sell a powerful anti-missile system to Iran before the lifting of international sanctions, Israel was quick to join the U.S. in expressing shock and anger.

But behind the public announcements is a little-known web of arms negotiations and secret diplomacy. In recent years, Israel and Russia have engaged in a complex dance, with Israel selling drones to Russia while remaining conspicuously neutral toward Ukraine and hoping to stave off Iranian military development. The dance may not be over.


One of those issues is Israel's neutrality toward Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have waged war over the past year. Israel has held back from selling weapons to the government in Kiev, which is backed by the U.S. and European Union, in the hope of keeping Russia's S-300s away from Iran.... "Israel has come under a lot of pressure for not joining the all-Western consensus on the Ukrainian crisis," said Sarah Feinberg, a research fellow at Tel Aviv's Institute for National Security Studies. "It was a difficult decision for the Israeli government, which was concerned about possible Russian retaliatory moves in the Mideast - such as selling the S-300 to Iran."

The issue at hand is the delivery of Israeli drones: whether to Ukraine, where such a deal was recently scuttled following internal dissent by opposition within the Israel government, or to Russia, which already has received Israel UAVs.

Russia expressed interest in buying Israeli drones after coming up against them during the 2008 war with Georgia. In 2010 Russia concluded a deal to purchase 15 of them from IAI, and to set up a joint venture to produce drone technology.

An Israeli familiar with the matter said the drone deal with Russia carried an unwritten quid pro quo: It would proceed only if the Kremlin suspended its announced S-300 sale to Iran. Now having gotten the Israeli technology, the Israeli said, that promise is no longer a factor in Russian considerations.

In other words, now that Israel - which is the world's largest exporter of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - no longer has leverage over Russian military needs as Moscow has long ago reverse-engineered the Israeli technology, Israel may have no choice but to provoke Russia in the middle east.

"Sending drones or other arms to Ukraine would be an ineffective, even inconsequential Israeli response to Russia selling the S-300s to Iran," said Feinberg. More effective, she said, would be for Israel to lift its political neutrality on the Ukrainian conflict, or take actions in the Middle East against Russian regional allies such as the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

For now however, Israel's full on engagement in Syria (or Iran) appears to have been prevented: "On April 23 Russia did appear to backtrack somewhat on its earlier announcement of the S-300 sale to Iran, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov telling the Interfax news agency that delivery won't occur soon, and would only happen after political and legal issues were resolved. In his April 16 call-in show on Russian television, Putin acknowledged that Israeli objections had scuttled a potential S-300 sale to another Mideast nation, reportedly Syria."

To attempt a summary: under the pretext of Iran negotiations for peace, the US is preparing to quietly arm virtually all Gulf states with the latest US military technology, even as Israel has given Russia some of its latest drone technology which means Russia may at any moment proceed to arm Iran and Syria with modern Surface to Air missiles, while Israel is contemplaring retaliation not only against Iran but Syria as well: the country which nearly led to a global proxy war in the mdidle east in the summer of 2013.

In other words, we have, for the past few years, been on the edge of a razor thin Middle Eastern balance of power equilibrium which prevented any one nation or alliance from garnering an outsized influence of military power.

All of that is about to change the moment the MIC figurehead known as president Obama greenlights the dispatch of billions of dollars in fighters, drones, missile batteries, and surveillance equipment to Saudi Arabia and its peers, in the process dramatically reshaping the balance of power status quo and almost certainly leading to yet another middle eastern war which will inevitably drag in not only Israel and Russia at least in a proxy capacity, but ultimately, the US as well.

Just as the US military industrial complex wanted.

Because as every Keynesian fanatic will tell you: in a world saturated by debt, and where organic growth is no longer possible, there is only one remaining option.


* * *

And just to assure the required outcome, moments ago John Kerry arrived in Riyadh to conclude the deal.

Kerry arrives in Riyadh #Saudi Arabia.

— Conflict News (@rConflictNews) May 6, 2015

Pool Shark

Why do they need a 'backdoor,' when they've been selling arms to the Saudis through the front door since time began?...


Barry insists there be a backdoor, for uh, personal reasons.


Reggie Love: Did I hear "Backdoor Channel"? ;-)


the real question is how does Israel view it. Netanyahu has not endorsed any of this. I would guess Israel has no friend in Obama and his controllers, and will soon take action of their own.

What possible gain is it for Israel to have the fucking tyrant insane neighbors get all armed up? hello war.

Oh regional Indian

This is very good insight.


By the way, India is totally thumbing it's nose at the US led non-coalition of the unwilling in continuing to deal with Iran for all manner of goods and services. Big barter deals, gold payments via Turkey for oil...

So there is that going on in Iran's Eastern flank. Iran, by the way, was rumored to have a "Perfect Plate" from the US mint via Henry Kissinger (or some spook) and during Shah of Iran time were the world's largest counterfeiters of the USD, only thing, they had a perfect Plate. Obviously CIA controlled.

All that money, EuroDollars, money, drug dollars (Iran is a major heroine transit point).

Nothing is as it seems...

Sequence 15 for discerning ears ;-)


Simply idiotic war propaganda


Reagan just called from the grave. He wants his Iran Contra back.


PetroDollar = Defending Saudi Arabia with US military.

PetroDollar now collpasing thanks to Russia, China, Iran which forces Saudi Arabia to spend their USD's with the MIC to defend themselves.

Endgame for the PetroDollar system.

Mike Masr

The backdoor, wasn't this the aircraft used to covertly bring all the Saudi's back home on 911 when all the other aircraft were grounded?


Anyone with a brain could guess the Iran deal was always a scam of some sort. Why? Well, because everything is a scam from these people and there is no peace, ever, not the goal. It amazes me the rest of the world even engages with the Zionist shitshow called the USA.


President Peace Prize needs MOAR war in the Middle East before he "leaves" office. He is at proxy war (for now) with Russia. That was quite a feat so:

Why not take on Iran while he is at it. Two birds with one big stone and all that.

Bill of Rights

Hmm is this like the Clinton China for Arms deal...Face it folks all US Politicians are scum of the earth, sum are just more scummy than the others.

Kaiser Sousa

Cooperation between Russia and China is necessary to maintain the balance of power in the world, China's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheng Guoping said Monday.

The high-ranking Chinese diplomat said that Russian-Chinese relations had reached a new level of development and the forthcoming visit of Xi Jinping to Moscow would facilitate further cooperation between Beijing and Moscow. The Chinese president will pay a three-day visit to Moscow on May 8-10, attending the Victory Day Parade on May 9 at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Cooperation and coordination between China and Russia are needed to maintain the international balance of power and preserve the post-war world order. The participation of the leaders of the two countries in mutual events dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Victory in World War II indicates that Russia and China, as the largest countries in the world and members of the United Nations, intend to maintain international order."

Farmer Joe in Brooklyn

9/11 exposed the unholy alliance between the US and the Saudis (for anyone with enough intellectual curiosity to seek the truth). This true axis of evil has a symbiotic relationship that knows no moral bounds.

Nothing new here...

Monty Burns

In 9/11 the Saudis provided the finance and the patsies. The event was organized by Mossad and Ziocons in the USA.


Just in time for next year's SOFEX, bitchez! The war economy has to get paper somehow. Peace Prizes for EVERYBODY!


2010: "US Congress notified over $60bn arms sale to Saudi Arabia"

They didn't backdoor that sale. Whatever President Jarret is trying to sell, it isn't to the Saudi's.

Jacksons Ghost

Anyone that thinks the House of Saud will go quietly is fooling themselves. We sell them out, how quickly will they pivot towards China and Russia. We abandon The House of Saud, you can guarentee that they will abandon the Dollar. Reserve Status of Dollar is most important to our money printers...

falak pema

No amount of US material will save the Sunni Kingdoms from their fate, as the bigger the Military spending becomes the bigger the millstone of its proliferation to its enemies grow.

Iran will play the same game of attrition, feeding the enemies of their strategic enemy, and guerrilla warfare that Giap and Ho Chi Minh did.

Remember Vietnam, USA, the cancer of opposition now runs deep in the region on all fronts and it will feed the instability of an ivory towered kingdom like poison ivy wrapping itself around the healthy tree.

The spiral is now a sign of runaway MIC malinvestment of huge proportions. Those Sauds will never have an army to match their rivals, who are as hungry as the hounds of hell and fed by the kingdom's never-ending and obscurantist fed hubris. Guns didn't save South Vietnam.

How do you avoid the same blowback that Nam has demonstrated?

Same corruption, same endgame now being concocted in a region that goes from Paki to deep Africa?

The kiss of the US MIC is the kiss of death to its allies.

Saud at the cross roads-- cut and run-- or stay US suppot like Nam.



Sale of U.S. Arms Fuels the Wars of Arab States

One World Mafia

You're leaving out two very important parts of the proxy war situation. Russia forced Syria to give up her chemical weapon defenses which led to the US & its brothers in the Brotherhood of Darkness Gulf Cooperation Council to use their proxy, ISIS, to pounce on Syria.

Remember what happened with MINSK? The breakaway republics were pressured to give up their gains since September.

Not very good for the balance of powers. The Brotherhood of Darkness won't need a real WW3 to get what they want.


These guys (MIC) are going to make a fucking killing. No pun intended. The whole video is excellent. Here are some highlights;

[May 08, 2015] - It's Official The U.S. Collaborates With Al Qaeda

May 6, 2015 | M of A

The propaganda against Syria is milking the capture of Idlib city by Jabhat al-Nusra and assorted other Islamist groups. The general tone is "Assad is losing" illogically combined with a demand that the U.S. should now bomb the Syrian government troops. Why would that be necessary if the Syrian government were really losing control?

A prime example comes via Foreign Policy from Charles Lister, an analyst from Brooking Doha, which is paid with Qatari money but often cooperating with the Obama administration. That headline declares that Assad is losing and the assault on Idlib is lauded in the highest tone. Then the piece admits that this small victory against retreating Syrian troops was only possible because AlQaeda was leading in the assault.

The piece admits that the U.S. which wants to balance between AlQaeda and the Syrian government forces prolonging the conflict in the hope that both sides will lose, was behind that move:

The involvement of FSA groups, in fact, reveals how the factions' backers have changed their tune regarding coordination with Islamists. Several commanders involved in leading recent Idlib operations confirmed to this author that the U.S.-led operations room in southern Turkey, which coordinates the provision of lethal and non-lethal support to vetted opposition groups, was instrumental in facilitating their involvement in the operation from early April onwards. That operations room — along with another in Jordan, which covers Syria's south — also appears to have dramatically increased its level of assistance and provision of intelligence to vetted groups in recent weeks.

Whereas these multinational operations rooms have previously demanded that recipients of military assistance cease direct coordination with groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, recent dynamics in Idlib appear to have demonstrated something different. Not only were weapons shipments increased to the so-called "vetted groups," but the operations room specifically encouraged a closer cooperation with Islamists commanding frontline operations.

The U.S. led operations room encouraged cooperation between the Islamists of the so called Fee Syrian Army and AlQaeda. A U.S. drone, shot down over Latakia in March, was gathering intelligence for the AlQaeda attack on Idlib. More that 600 TOW U.S. anti-tank missiles have been used against Syrian troops in north Syria. These are part of the 14,000 the Saudis had ordered from the U.S. producer.

Even if the U.S., as now admitted, would not officially urge its mercenaries to cooperate with Jabhat al-Nusra such cooperation was always obvious to anyone who dared to look:

In southern Syria [..] factions that vowed to distance themselves from extremists like Jabhat al-Nusra in mid-April were seen cooperating with the group in Deraa only days later.

The reality is that the directly U.S. supported, equipped and paid "moderate" Fee Syrian Army Jihadi mercenaries are just as hostile to other sects as the AlQaeda derivative Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. They may not behead those who they declare to be unbelievers but they will kill them just as much.

While the U.S. is nurturing AlQaeda in Syria, Turkey is taking care of the Islamic State. Tons of Ammonium Sulfate, used to make road side bombs, is "smuggled" from Turkey to the Islamic State under official eyes. Turkish recruiters incite Muslims from the Turkman Uighur people in west China and from Tajikistan to emigrate to the Islamic State. They give away Turkish passports to allow those people to travel to Turkey from where they reach Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile the Saudis bomb everyone and everything in Yemen except the cities and areas captured by AlQaeda in the Arab Peninsula.

The U.S. and its allies are now in full support of violent Sunni Jihadists throughout the Middle East. At the same time they use the "threat of AlQaeda" to fearmonger and suppress opposition within their countries.

Charles Lister and the other Brooking propagandists want the U.S. to bomb Syria to bring the Assad government to the table to negotiate. But who is the Syrian government to negotiate with? AlQaeda?

Who would win should the Syrian government really lose the war or capitulate? The U.S. supported "moderate rebels" Islamist, who could not win against the Syrian government, would then take over and defeat AlQaeda and the Islamic State?

Who comes up with such phantasies?

Posted by b on May 6, 2015 at 03:37 AM | Permalink

lacilir | May 6, 2015 4:06:19 AM | 2

As Ed Husain stated back in 2012:

The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime's superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.

The US seems to have fully embraced this reality.

radiator | May 6, 2015 5:06:01 AM | 4

To the US and other western governments in that area ;) it probably does not matter too much, who rules "Syria", as long as they don't own any serious military hardware.

I'm not an expert ;) but looking at the past three years, my conclusion about the goals of the "west" would be: support the local militias just as much that they can destroy as many tanks, helis, air defence and aircraft as possible.

Ideally, have them use up all the anti-tank weapons we give them, so, when they've "won", they're sitting on rubble with nothing but handguns.

A second goal, maybe more of the regional enemies, would obviously be to drive out of the "former syrian territory" all non-sunni population. Severe the head of one, have 1000 flee to elsewhere...

Lone Wolf | May 6, 2015 9:43:48 AM | 8

Re: @Anonymous@5

Well, that about does it. The U.S is completely deranged and there's no hope.

There is always hope. Russia, China, and Iran know they come next in the list if they don't stop Al-Qaeda hydra in Syria/Iraq et al. Russian intelligence has declared ISIS a threat for Russia, the Chinese have been battling the Uighurs for long time now, and now they are being trained by the US to become a fifth-column on their return to China. Iran is in the surroundings, and have been preparing ever since the war with Iraq for a military maelstrom of gigantic proportions.

Idlib was taken by a coalition of taqfiris renamed "Army of Conquest," the same coalition getting ready to fight Hezbollah in the Qalamoun barrens facing Lebanon, for control of the heights that open to the Bekaa Valley. Shaykh Hassan Nasrallah declared a couple of days ago the battle for Qalamoun has reached high noon, and its start won't be announced.

On the taking of Idlib he stated any war is a pendulum with battles lost and won, and dismissed the propaganda war b has just denounced as part of the psy-op war. The onslaught suffering by Syria is flabbergasting, with US/Turkey training 15 thousand more taqfiris to throw into the war, the purpose, Nasrallah denounced, is to keep the Axis of Resistance, and in general the Arab war, in a 100 year war.

What we are seeing now, the dismembering of Iraq, the war of attrition on Syria, the destruction of Libya, the bombing of Yemen, the attack on Lebanon, was planned long ago by the neocons as a strategy for Israel, in a paper called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." It is all there, the rest, like the dismemberment of Iraq, the bombing of Libya, etc., are perks that came as they unfolded the strategy for destruction of the Arab/Muslim world.">">

ToivoS | May 6, 2015 1:39:12 PM | 16
The most effective resistance against Israel consisted of broad coalitions consisting of Christian, secular and Islamic groups. These were the panArab organizations inspired by Nasser and given substance in the Palestinian resistance by the PLO. Israel knew this was a problem. That is why they supported Hamas in the late 1970s when it first appeared. They quite explicitly supported Hamas in order to undermine the PLO. That has proven very effective in splitting Palestinian resistance into two warring camps centered respectively in Gaza and the West Bank.

The US has discovered this formula. That is why we continue to support the Islamist groups who are more interested in killing fellow Muslims rather than fighting against Israel. It is quite amazing that Al qaida, ISIS or whatever handle they carry these days has never attacked an Israeli target.

As we all know Al nusra today in Southern Syria is being actively supported by the Israeli military in the form of medical, "humanitarian" aid and the occasional bombing raid against the Syrian army. US and Israeli support for these terrorist Islamic forces is so transparent that what is puzzling is why this has not been exposed in the western media.

Editors and reporters must know this stuff and are deliberately avoiding these stories.

okie farmer | May 6, 2015 2:03:18 PM | 17
ToivoS, actually Hamas was created by Shin Bet. And you draw a very accurate picture The US has discovered this formula. Yep.
g_h | May 6, 2015 2:28:26 PM | 18

Doc 1:

Doc 2:

Andoheb | May 6, 2015 3:15:21 PM | 19
Wonder if Harry Truman's comment after Hitler invaded Russia in 1941 applies to current US Mideast policies. To paraphrase if the Germans are winning we should help the Russians, if the Russians are winning we should help the Germans. That way let them kill as many as possible
Lone Wolf | May 6, 2015 3:16:07 PM | 20 @g_h@18@
Thanks! Those two are key documents to understand the current drive of the aptly baptized "Empire of Chaos" and its minions.
Zico | May 6, 2015 3:53:36 PM | 21
The word AL-CIADA's lost it's scary factor in the West.. It's almost become acceptable/mainstream word... These days, Western journos refer to them in different terms, depending on the circumstances and location. How times change!!!

It gets to to point where you just wonder if these people scripting the "news" must really think the rest of us simpletons are so stupid not to notice the contradictions...

We now have Western journos doing free propaganda for AL-CIADA :)

GoraDiva | May 6, 2015 4:02:56 PM | 22
More NYT propaganda on Syria? Well, it's A. Barnard...

john | May 6, 2015 4:08:06 PM | 23
b says:

Who would win should the Syrian government really lose the war or capitulate? The U.S. supported "moderate rebels" Islamist, who could not win against the Syrian government, would then take over and defeat AlQaeda and the Islamic State?

Who comes up with such phantasies?

the guys from General Electric, Honeywell, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumann, etc... and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Luca K | May 6, 2015 4:22:13 PM | 24
Good article by B. The following is nothing new, but adds more to what we already know, i.e, israeli cooperation with al-ciada terrorists.

Article from 2 days ago.

lysias | May 6, 2015 4:55:30 PM | 25
Price of oil has been rising. FT: Dollar under pressure as oil keeps rising (subscription required).
Christoph (German) | May 6, 2015 4:56:51 PM | 26
Lone Wolf said: "What we are seeing now ... was planned long ago by the neocons as a strategy for Israel, in a paper called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." It is all there, the rest, like the dismemberment of Iraq, the bombing of Libya, etc., are perks that came as they unfolded the strategy for destruction of the Arab/Muslim world."

It was also contemplated 140 years ago by Pike: "The Third World War must be fomented by taking advantage of the differences caused by the "agentur" of the "Illuminati" between the political Zionists and the leaders of Islamic World. The war must be conducted in such a way that Islam (the Moslem Arabic World) and political Zionism (the State of Israel) mutually destroy each other".

I doubt that this old scheme to eliminate independent cultures will succeed - there is more awareness and heavenly input today than could be envisioned in the 19th century.

The Inner Circle Large Corporations and the Rise of Business Political Activity in the U.S. and U.K. (978019504033

This is the essence of neoliberalism" Businessmen Unite! instead of "Proletarians of all countries unite"...
July 7, 2005 |

Luc REYNAERT on July 7, 2005

Businessmen Unite!

In the US and Great-Britain top officers of large corporations formed in the 1970s a semi-autonomous network which Michael Useem calls the 'Inner Circle'. It is a sort of institutionalized capitalism with a classwide alongside a corporate logic and permits a centralized mobilization of corporate resources.

This select group of business leaders assume a leading role in the support of political candidates, in consultations with the highest levels of the national administrations, in public defense of the free enterprise system and in the governance of foundations and universities.

One of its main goals is the promotion of a better political climate for big business through philanthropy (image building via generous support of cultural programs), issue (not product) advertising and political financing.

The reasons behind the constitution of this 'Inner Circle' were the declining power of the individual companies and declining profitability together with, more specifically in GB, the threat of labor socialism (nationalizations and worker participation in corporate governance) and in the US, government intervention.

A main issue was also the desire to control the power of the media, which in the US were considered far too liberal.

The interventions of this 'Inner Circle' were (and are) extremely successful. President R. Reagan and Prime Minister M. Thatcher were partly products of business mobilizations. They lowered taxation, reduced government (except military) spending, lifted controls on business and installed cutbacks on unemployment benefits and welfare.

On the media front, the influence of corporate America is highly enhanced, directly through media mergers, and indirectly through the high corporate advertising budgets.

This is an eminent study based on excellent research.

Highly recommended.

[May 06, 2015] Clinton Cash: errors dog Bill and Hillary exposé – but is there any 'there' there? by Ed Pilkington

May 05, 2015 | The Guardian

In an interview with the sympathetic Fox News (owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Harper, the publisher of Clinton Cash) it was put to Schweizer that he hadn't "nailed" his thesis. "It's hard for any author to nail it – one of the strategies of the Clinton camp is to set a bar for me as an author that is impossible to meet," he replied.

... ... ...

Certainly, pundits were warning about the problem of the large sums of money flowing into the Clinton Foundation's coffers even before Hillary Clinton took up her position as Obama's global emissary-in-chief. A month before she became secretary of state, the Washington Post warned in an editorial that her husband's fundraising activities were problematic. "Even if Ms Clinton is not influenced by gifts to her husband's charity, the appearance of conflict is unavoidable."

Since the foundation was formed in 2001, some $2bn has been donated, mainly in big lump sums. Fully a third of the donors giving more than $1m, and more than a half of those handing over more than $5m, have been foreign governments, corporations or tycoons. (The foundation stresses that such largesse has been put to very good use – fighting obesity around the globe, combating climate change, helping millions of people with HIV/Aids obtain antiretroviral drugs at affordable prices.)

Schweizer may have made mistakes about aspects of Bill Clinton's fees on the speaker circuit, but one of his main contentions – that the former president's rates skyrocketed after his wife became secretary of state – is correct. Politifact confirmed that since leaving the White House in 2001 and 2013, Bill Clinton made 13 speeches for which he commanded more than $500,000; all but two of those mega-money earners occurred in the period when Hillary was at the State Department.

Though Schweizer has failed to prove actual corruption in the arrangement – at no point in the book does he produce evidence showing that Bill's exorbitant speaker fees were directly tied to policy concessions from Hillary – he does point to several glaring conflicts of interest. Bill Clinton did accept large speaker fees accumulating to more than $1m from TD Bank, a major shareholder in the Keystone XL pipeline, at precisely the time that the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton within it, was wrestling with the vexed issue of whether to approve it.

It is also true that large donations to the foundation from the chairman of Uranium One, Ian Telfer, at around the time of the Russian purchase of the company and while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, were never disclosed to the public. The multimillion sums were channeled through a subsidiary of the Clinton Foundation, CGSCI, which did not reveal its individual donors.

Such awkward collisions between Bill's fundraising activities and Hillary's public service have raised concerns not just among those who might be dismissed as part of a vast rightwing conspiracy. Take Zephyr Teachout, a law professor at Fordham university who has written extensively on political corruption in the US.

Teachout, who last year stood against Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic party nomination for New York governor, points out that you don't have to be able to prove quid pro quo for alarm bells to ring. "Our whole system of rules is built upon the concept that you must prevent conflicts of interests if you are to resist corruption in its many forms. Conflicts like that can infect us in ways we don't even see."

Teachout said that the Clintons presented the US political world with a totally new challenge. "We have never had somebody running for president whose spouse – himself a former president – is running around the world raising money in these vast sums."

... ... ...

Though Bill Clinton insisted this week that his charity has done nothing "knowingly inappropriate", that is unlikely to satisfy the skeptics from left or right. They say that a family in which one member is vying for the most powerful office on Earth must avoid straying into even the unintentionally inappropriate.

In the wake of Clinton Cash, the foundation has admitted that it made mistakes in disclosing some of its contributions. It has also implemented new rules that will see its financial reporting increase from once annually to four times a year, while large donations from foreign governments will be limited in future to six countries including the UK and Germany.

But with Bill refusing doggedly to give up his speaker engagements – "I gotta pay our bills" – and foreign corporations and super-rich individuals still able to donate to the family charity, it looks like this controversy may run and run. Politically, too, Hillary Clinton is confronted with a potential credibility gap between her appeal to ordinary Americans on the presidential campaign trail and the millions that continue to flow to the foundation.

"Is she going to be in touch with the needs and dreams of poor America when her spouse and daughter are working with the world's global elite?" said Dave Levinthal of the anti-corruption investigative organization, the Center for Public Integrity. "That's a question she will have to answer, every step of the way."

mkenney63 5 May 2015 20:39
It would be nice to know how much Saudi and Chinese money her "Foundation" has taken-in. I can tell you how much Bernie has taken - $0. Bernie, the only truly progressive in the race, raised $1.5 million in one day from ordinary working people like you and me who have the smarts to know who's really in their corner. When I look at Hillary I ask myself, do we really want parasitic people like this running our country? Is there anything she has ever touched that isn't tainted by a lust for money?
foggy2 gixxerman006 5 May 2015 20:38
I am in the process of reading the actual book. He does have actual sources for many things but what is missing is the information controlled by that now cleaned off server and the details of just who contributed to them, their foundation, and who hired them for those gold plated speeches. Those names never were made public and now the related tax forms are being "redone." Wonder how long that will take.

The author was able to get pertinent data from the Canadian tax base information and that is important because some of the heavier hitters are Canadians who needed help in the US and other places to make piles of money on their investments. And many statements made by people are documented as are some cables sent TO the state department.

AlfredHerring raffine 5 May 2015 20:33

It's funny that free-market Tea Party Republicans criticize the Clintons

There's a broad populist streak in the Tea Party. They may be social conservatives and opposed to government telling them they MUST buy health insurance from a private company (that's where it started) but on many issues they're part of the Teddy Roosevelt trust busting and Franklin Roosevelt New Deal traditions.

[May 03, 2015] US Goes Ballistic Over Ukraine as Both Sides There Wage Peace By William Boardman,

March 10, 2015 |

US and UK deploy troops to Ukraine, but they're just "advisors"

American combat troops deployed in Ukraine will soon number in the hundreds, at least, but US officials claim they're there only as "advisors" or "trainers," not as an in-place threat to Russia. Whatever advising or training they may do, they are also an in-place threat to Russia. US officials are also lobbying to arm Ukraine with "defensive" anti-tank rockets and other lethal weapons in hopes of escalating the fighting, maybe even killing some Russians. In other words, American brinksmanship continues to escalate slowly but recklessly on all fronts.

To the dismay of the Pentagon, the White House war crowd, and the rest of the American bloviating class of chickenhawk hardliners, the warring sides in Ukraine are disengaging and the ceasefire has almost arrived (March 7 was the first day with no casualties). The government in Kievand the would-be governments of the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk have been acting as if they're not hell-bent on mutually assured destruction after all. They've exchanged prisoners. They've agreed to double the number of ceasefire monitors to 1,000. They've pulled back their heavy weapons. Both sides have stopped the random shelling that has caused "heavy civilian tolls of dead and wounded," according to theMarch 2 report from the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.

The calmer heads of Europe, in Germany and France particularly, are presently prevailing over the fear-mongered countries closer to Russia who seem bewitched by US enthusiasm to subject Europe to yet another devastating war in which those near-Russia countries would be the first to feel the pain. But for now, most of Europe seems willing to accept the notion that the Russians have a rational view of their reasonable security needs, that the cost of further Russian advances outweighs any rational gain, and that all the mad babbling of bellicose Americans is just unprocessed cold war hysteria amplified by the need to deny decades of imperial defeats.

What is it with exceptional American irrationalists' love of war?

Still the manic American willingness to risk war with Russia, including nuclear war – over what, exactly? – keeps spinning out of Washington:

"NATO now exists to manage the risks created by its existence."

– Richard Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine

From the Russian perspective, NATO aggression has continued for the past 20 years. Secretary of State James Baker, under the first President Bush, explicitly promised the Russians that NATO would not expand eastward toward Russia. For the next two decades, at the behest of the US, NATO has expanded eastward to Russia's borders and put Ukrainian NATO membership in play. The unceasing madness of "US and NATO aggression in Ukraine" is argued forcefully by attorney Robert Roth in Counterpunch, who notes that US-sponsored sanctions on Russia are already, arguably, acts of war.

NATO continues to maintain nuclear weapons bases around Russia's periphery while adding more anti-missile missile installations. Anti-missile missiles to intercept Russian missiles are generally understood to be part of the West's nuclear first strike capability.

Then there's the months-old, expanding Operation Atlantic Resolve, an elaborate US-sponsored NATO show of force deploying thousands of troops to NATO countries that are also Russia's near-neighbors. Beginning in April 2014, Operation Atlantic Resolve started sending troops to Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland) that border Russia. Those troops remain, and Defense News reported that more US saber-rattling is coming:

The US military's plans to send troops into Romania and Bulgaria as a deterrence to Russian aggression could expand to include Hungary, the Czech Republic and Russia's southern neighbor, Georgia…. by the end of the summer, you could very well see an operation that stretches from the Baltics all the way down to the Black Sea….

In the Black Sea itself, NATO forces continue to project force through "training exercises" involving the Navies of at least seven nations: US, Canada, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria. NATO commander Gen. Philip Breedlove complained in late February that Russia had deployed "air defense systems that reach nearly half of the Black Sea" – as if it were surprising that Russia would respond to hostile military activity close to one of its oldest and largest naval bases, Sevastopol, in Crimea. Breedlove admits that NATO naval forces have approached Crimea, provoking Russian naval responses. Breedlove's warmongering reportedly upsets German officials, but they don't object publicly to American lies.

This pattern of provocation and response is familiar to those who know the Viet-Nam War, when similar US tactics provoked the so-called "Tonkin Gulf incident." That manipulated set of events, deceitfully described by the White House and dishonestly amplified by most American media, was used to gull a credulous and lazy Congress into passing the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, giving the president authority to wage that disastrous, pointless war. Watch for the sequel coming to a Black Sea theatre of war near you.

Congress is as eager for Ukraine War as it was for Iraq and Viet-Nam

War mongering has a large, noisy cheering section in Congress. Eleven American lawmakers including House Speaker John Boehner have signeda bi-partisan letter to President Obama demanding in the shrillest tones ("defend against further aggression") that the US ship lethal arms to the Kiev government now. The eleven Congress members (8 predictable Republicans and three veteran, dimwit Democrats) write about Ukraine what they had never had the wit or courage to say about US aggression in Iraq. They assert with grotesque oversimplification and false premises about "the crisis in Ukraine" that:

It is a grotesque violation of International law, a challenge to the west, and an assault on the international order established at such great cost in the wake of World War II.

Fatuous warmongering. At the end of World War II, Crimea was indisputably part of Russia (within the USSR) and the anti-Russian military alliance of NATO did not exist, much less had it pushed its existential security threat to the Russian border. You want an all-out, unambiguous assault on international law, look to Iraq and all the "little Iraqs" that the American hegemon executes with impunity and nearly endless destructiveness to peace, order, and culture.

The weak-kneed Democrats mindlessly signing on to this reflexive Republican rage to kill someone are: Eliot Engel of New York (Westchester County), lawyer – first elected in 1988, he's been a strong supporter of violence in Palestine, Kosovo, and Iraq (voting for the war in 2002); Adam Smith of Washington (Seattle), lawyer – first elected 1997, he's supported violence in Afghanistan and Iraq (voting for the war in 2001) and he sponsored a bill to allow the US government to lie to the people; and Adam Schiff of California (Burbank), lawyer – he's supported violence in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria (voting for the Iraq war in 2002). "Bi-partisanship" is pretty meaningless when the imperial warmaking ideology is monolithic, as in this basic lie also in the Boehner letter:

We should not wait until Russian troops and their separatist proxies take Mariupol or Kharkiv before we act to bolster the Ukrainian government's ability to deter and defend against further aggression.

The core of this lie is those "separatist proxies." That's an Orwellian phrase used to turn the roughly 5 million residents of the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk into un-persons. These 5 million people are predominantly Russian-speaking and ethnic-Russian. They have legitimate, longstanding grievances with Ukrainian-dominated governments in Kiev, especially with the current illegitimate one which is neo-Nazi-tinged and Russo-phobic.

It is important for these 5 million people seeking self-determination to disappear from the American argument for war sooner rather than later. The American war justifiers require "Russian aggression" as a crediblecasus belli, but the would-be war makers offer no credible evidence to support that propaganda claim ("Remember the Maine!").

The American news bubble distorts and excludes the world's realities

The blandly mindless media repetition of the phrase "Russian aggression" is a reliable measure of how much the news reports the government propaganda, at the expense of something like real world complexity. Dissenting voices are few in America's media world, and seldom heard, especially those who ask: "What aggression?"

Somehow, in the well-washed American collective brain, it's aggression when an oppressed minority declares its independence from its oppressors, the coup-installed Kiev government (and some of its predecessors). But that same scrubbed brain believes it's not aggression when another minority, aligned with foreign interests, carries out a violent overthrow of Ukraine's legitimately elected government.

Newsweek has demonized Russian president Vladimir Putin for months now, including on a cover with the headline "The Pariah" over a picture showing Putin in dark glasses that seem to reflect two nuclear explosions. (This imagery worked with deceitful perfection in 2002 when President Bush and Condoleezza Rice terrified audiences with the possibility that the "smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud.") Newsweek has even called for regime change in Russia. Newsweek is hardly alone in demonizing Putin without considering the realities of his situation. Others, like CNN, simply resort to calling him "completely mad," even though Russian actions have been largely measured and limited, especially when considered in the context of two decades of western provocation.

The New York Times got suckered by the Kiev government into running pictures "proving" Russian troops were in Ukraine, when they proved no such thing. This was not an anomaly among American media, according toRobert Parry in Consortium News:

At pivotal moments in the crisis, such as the Feb. 20, 2014 sniper fire that killed both police and protesters and the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 killing 298 passengers and crew, the U.S. political/media establishment has immediately pinned the blame on Yanukovych, the ethnic Russian rebels who are resisting his ouster, or Putin. Then, when evidence emerged going in the opposite direction – toward "our side" – a studied silence followed, allowing the earlier propaganda to stay in place as part of the preferred storyline.

When reality intrudes upon propaganda, reality must be discredited

In a somewhat mocking story about Russia's denunciation of US troops arriving in Ukraine as a threat to Russia security, the Los Angeles Timesgive roughly equal time to a NATO commander denouncing the Russian denunciation. The casual reader who stops halfway through the story is easily left with the impression that the Russians are behaving badly again and maybe sending lethal weapons is a good idea. Only in the last two paragraphs does the Times, quite unusually, report some real things that matter about Ukraine:

Ukraine, which proclaimed independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 as the communist-ruled federation was collapsing, had pledged to remain nonaligned, and in any case would need years to carry out reforms and assimilation of its armed forces with those of NATO before it could be inducted into the Western defense alliance.

But since the Russian-backed insurgency began ripping Ukraine apart, Kiev authorities have renounced the nonalignment pledge and set their course for eventual NATO membership.

The first of these two paragraphs is a partly reasonable explanation of why Russia would feel betrayed by the US and NATO. A nonaligned Ukraine remains an obvious possible alternative to the present conflict ignited by decades of NATO aggression.

The second paragraph serves as a warning, packaged as a justification based on a lie. The lie is that it's a Russian-backed insurgency that's ripping Ukraine apart, when Ukraine has been ripping itself apart for years, a reality that led to the coup-government in Kiev. The explanation – which is false – is that the insurgency has forced the Kiev government's hand, even though the government took power with EU and NATO links obviously in mind. The warning is that Ukraine may just join NATO as soon as it can.

Until Americans – and especially American policy makers – face fundamental realities in and about Ukraine, the risk that they will take the rest of us into an unjustified, stupid, and potentially catastrophic war will remain unacceptably high. One of the realities Americans need to face is that the Ukraine government is corrupt, as corrupt an some of the most corrupt governments in the world, and nothing the US has done is likely to change that any time soon. What any war would ultimately be about is: who gets to benefit from that corruption?

Ukrainians know this and despair as, for example, Lilia Bigeyeva, 55, a violinist and composer did when she told her family's storyfrom Dnipropetrovsk in central Ukraine:

I was born in Melitopol, raised in Zaporizhzhya, and have spent all of my adult life in Dnipropetrovsk. It hasn't been easy, this past year in Ukraine. The loss of Crimea is a tragedy, the war is a tragedy. And it's far from clear that our government and our people are really prepared to institute rule of law….

The war is very close to us, here in Dnipropetrovsk. Every day there's bad news. But we continue to play music, my pupils and I. Culture and art, these are the things that have always helped us through frightening times.

This was published in The Moscow Times on March 6, but it was originally recorded and distributed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In other words, there's no excuse, for anyone on any side, to say they didn't know what was happening to the Ukrainian people for the sake of geopolitical greed.


[Craigslist posting, edited, from Orange County, California, March 3, 2015.]

Ukrainian/Russian Men Needed $19/Hr (Oceanside, CA)

GTS (Glacier Technology Solutions LLC) – We are military contractors working directly with the US Marine Corps assisting them with their immersive simulation training program.

Currently, we are looking for role players of Ukrainian and/or Russian ethnicity and language skills. Need MEN ranging 18-65 years of age.

This is temporary, part time, on-call work based on need and availability.

At the moment, we are staffing for an upcoming training to take place on: March 29-31, 2015. The scheduled hours will vary from 8-12 hours per working day.

Compensation is $15.17/hr. plus another $4.02/hr. Health and Welfare benefit for up to 40 hours of work in a workweek. (Overtime rates will be paid if necessary). Register for work at:

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Activista 2015-03-10 13:22
NATO uses 'Russia threat' as excuse to halt defense cuts ...
these are make up threats to keep profit/militari sm/NATO going ...
EU does not want to pay 2% GDP to NATO ...
and US military expenditure and debt is growing ..$_in_2013.jpg.jpeg

jdd 2015-03-10 18:52

You have it backwards. While it may be less disturbing to believe that NATO exists merely to justify military spending, you have missed the point. NATO's was originally created as a military alliance against the Soviet Union, even though the Warsaw Pact was later dissolved, NATO was maintained and expanded to threaten and encircle Russia. Nuland, Carter and other believe that they can cause "regime change" in Russia, or alternatively win a "first strike" victory in a "limited nuclear war." Now, in response to the successful cease-fire, made possible by Putin's cooperation, we have EU Commissioner Juncker calling for an EU army to confront Russia. The response from a prominent Russian parliamentarian :

"In a nuclear age, extra armies do not provide any additional security. But they surely can play a provocative role...One should presume that a European army is seen as an addendum to NATO...never, even in the darkest days of the Cold War, had anyone dared to make such a proposal." If only it were merely about military spending.

and continue to provoke the Russians

lorenbliss 2015-03-11 02:13

If I did not know better, I would assume there is someone in the State Department channeling Hitler, someone in the Defense Department channeling Goering, someone at Homeland Security channeling Himmler and someone at the head of the media monopoly channeling Goebbels.

And in their resurrected madness -- exactly as in 1941 -- they are forgetting the lessons the Scythians taught the Persians and the Scythians' Russian descendants taught the Teutonic Knights, the Mongols and Bonaparte, not to mention the lessons Hitler, Goering, Himmler and Goebbels were themselves taught by the Russian "untermenschen."

Such are the darkest times in our species' history...

REDPILLED 2015-03-10 17:13


No nation shall DARE defy the United States and its Puppets by attempting to be truly independent! That right is reserved only for the God-chosen United States.

wantrealdemocracy 2015-03-10 20:06

Too bad the "God chosen United States" is not independent. Our nation is under the control of Israel. Israel wants this war against Russia, and all those wars in the Middle East, so that the Christians and Muslims will kill each other leaving Israel the winner. The state of Israel and the Zionists will then control the whole world. That is the 'New World Order' you have heard about.

arquebus 2015-03-10 17:20

NATO aggression? When you see NATO tanks rolling across the border in an armed attack against Russia, then come talk to me about aggression. Has not happened and is unlikely to happen.

What we really have here is Putin and the Russians paranoia and inability to get over the German invasion of 1940...something that happened 75 years ago.

skeeter 2015-03-10 19:07

Quoting arquebus:
NATO aggression? When you see NATO tanks rolling across the border in an armed attack against Russia, then come talk to me about aggression. Has not happened and is unlikely to happen.

What we really have here is Putin and the Russians paranoia and inability to get over the German invasion of 1940...something that happened 75 years ago.

Let's get real...the Europeans are threatening to bring Ukraine into NATO, a military alliance established and maintained to challenge the Soviet Union. No Russian leader in his right mind could stand by and let this happen. Imagine if the Soviets had approached Mexico or Canada a few years ago and tried to convince them to join the Warsaw Pact. The Russians paranoid...can you blame them?

Agricanto 2015-03-10 19:23

First I read the (very excellent) piece of journalism from people like William Boardman.

Then I "scroll to the troll" and give the predictable right wing doublethink a thumbs down.

Then I go to PayPal and give RSN 10bux all the while complaining that trolls don't pay to clog up important discussions on RSN. Penny a word from the troll factory is all I ask.

Merlin 2015-03-10 21:05

Agricanto 2015-03-10 19:23

Spot on and well said!

jsluka 2015-03-11 00:15

If Russian troops began to maneuver on the US border, like US troops (NATO) are now doing on the Russian border, the US would go "ballistic." That's called "hypocrisy," by the way.

MJnevetS 2015-03-13 14:52

"Russia already did that and invaded killed people and are feeding a false insurgency that is being dubbed freedom fighters .. they even shot down a domestic airliner in the summer flying over that territory over the UKraine from Amsterdam. don't you know the news even on this subject"

There is a sad lack of facts in these statements. NY Times had to retract the allegations of a 'Russian Invasion', as the evidence proved to be fabricated. The only 'false insurgency' was the coup initiated by the US and with regard to the shooting down of the commercial liner, show me one SINGLE piece of evidence that Russian backed rebels were involved. It was a false flag operation and when people demanded evidence over propaganda, the news story magically disappeared, as the evidence would show that it was a terrorist attack by the Nazis currently in control of Ukraine.

jdd 2015-03-11 08:15

When you "see NATO tanks rolling across the border in an armed attack against Russia" it will not be the time to converse with you, but rather then you may kiss your loved ones a final goodbye as that will be the beginning of a war of human extinction, all over within an hour.

Thank goodness for Putin and s few sane voices in the West who are trying to avoid ever getting to that point while others in the West, such as the Newland gang, seem hell-bent on making it happen.

Activista 2015-03-11 20:36

... see NATO bombers in Libya, Yugoslavia .. US troops in Kosovo US Sending 3,000 Troops To Latvia, Estonia ...
International Business Times
2 days ago - An Abrams main battle tank, for U.S. troops deployed in the Baltics as part of NATO's Operation Atlantic Resolve, left the port in Riga, Latvia ....

Trish42 2015-03-10 18:03

When will Americans ever get their collective head out of their ass and start looking at the world from others' points of view? We have gotten sucked into the propaganda about Ukraine, never checking other sources or verifying what we "know" to see if there was any evidence that would support our intervention. Sound familiar? We've got to get the war-mongers out of DC!!

Kev C 2015-03-10 21:19

Allow me to explain why they won't. Education. The entire system is based on US centric thinking and behaviour. There is limited information available about the rest of the world and what there is is painting the US as the God Given Saviour of humanity. Hell they won the war after all. Single handed. They saved the UKs ass by coming to our rescue didn't they? Not!

Until the vast majority of Really decent but hypnotized Americans get the real info they will continue to believe what they are told because there isn't really an alternative to the Faux news/MSN bullshit and the pre programmed education system. Its not the peoples fault. The system was rigged long before they were born.

dsepeczi 2015-03-11 09:38

Quoting Trish42:
When will Americans ever get their collective head out of their ass and start looking at the world from others' points of view? We have gotten sucked into the propaganda about Ukraine, never checking other sources or verifying what we "know" to see if there was any evidence that would support our intervention. Sound familiar? We've got to get the war-mongers out of DC!!
Sadly, I'm starting to believe the answer to your question is ... "Never". If Iraq wasn't a big enough, loud enough, and obvious enough mistake to wake up ALL Americans to the fact that our government lies to us and we should take everything they say with a grain of salt and request that they provide solid proof of their allegations against another nation ... I can't think of any event that will. :(

pbbrodie 2015-03-11 09:45

"get warmongers out of Washington."
Yes, especially the complete idiots who are making insane comments about "limited nuclear war." There is no such thing as limited nuclear war. Once one is exploded, it is all over.

Johnny 2015-03-10 18:15

How soon we forget. The U.S. must punish Russia, and, more importantly, divert the attention of Russia from the Middle East, because Russia has supported Syria, which is an obstacle to open war against Iran, because Iran arms Hezbollah, and the last time the Zionists invaded Lebanon, Hezbollah chased them out. Hezbollah is an obstacle to annexation of the whole area by Israel. And now that the Zionists smell the opportunity to induce the U.S. to attack Iran, they are creating another front on which Russia must try to defend itself and its allies. The U.S. Congress is not the only part of the U.S. government that Jewish supremacist banksters have bought, lock, stock, and barrel. (Before some asshole starts to howl about anti-Semitism, let him explain why we should not criticize other proponents of racism, such as white supremacists; Zionism, after all, is merely warmed over Nazism, with a different "chosen" people and different victims.)

dquandle 2015-03-10 20:05

In fact, the neo-nazis now in control in the US/NATO supported Ukraine have been blatantly anti-semitic for decades, having supported the Nazis at that time and are even more egregious now.

"For the first time since 1945, a neo-Nazi, openly anti-Semitic party controls key areas of state power in a European capital. No Western European leader has condemned this revival of fascism in the borderland through which Hitler's invading Nazis took millions of Russian lives. They were supported by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), responsible for the massacre of Jews and Russians they called "vermin". The UPA is the historical inspiration of the present-day Svoboda Party and its fellow-travelli ng Right Sector. Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok has called for a purge of the "Moscow-Jewish mafia" and "other scum", including gays, feminists and those on the political left."

Taken from

And these, fully supported and paid for supported by the ostensibly "Jewish" Nuland and Obama's heinous State Department.

See also e.g.

Radscal 2015-03-11 00:24

In addition to Ms. Nuland and her PNAC founding husband, Robert Kagan, two of the three Democrats cited by Mr. Boardman as signees on the "arm Ukraine" letter are Jewish. In fact, Congressman Engel is of Ukrainian Jewish ancestry.

As the "protests" in Ukraine grew in late 2013/early 2014, Ukrainian Jewish groups reported skyrocketing cases of anti-Semitic rhetoric and attacks. But those reports were buried by Zionist organizations who insisted that Russia was the real threat to Ukrainian Jews, not the frigging Nazis in Ukraine!

At first, this sort of thing confused me, before I realized it wasn't a Jew against Jew thing. This is Zionist fascists supporting Nazi fascists.

Vardoz 2015-03-10 22:23

Sorry it just boils down to profits and power and any excuse to wage endless war for profits period end of story.

L.S. 2015-03-10 20:06

I do not agree with these conclusions. I don't believe that the U.S. and U.K. are invested in military action. Those troops are advisors and instructors. This interpretation is very cynical and pessimistic and I don't buy it.

My background is International Relations and I am watching the chess pieces on the board and I challenge this interpretation and find it very unhelpful and in itself can be contributing towards War rather than supporting the diplomatic actions towards Peace.

Merlin 2015-03-10 21:02

L.S. 2015-03-10 20:06

So talk to me about the advisors that Eisenhower put in Viet Nam. Then talk to me about Kennedy expanding on their number. Then talk to me about the Viet Nam War.

You state:

"My background is International Relations and I am watching the chess pieces on the board and I challenge this interpretation"

I challenge YOU because either you a not what you claim or you sure did not learn very much.

Kev C 2015-03-10 21:24

If you don't see what is happening now then your a lousy chess player. Don't give up though. Practice makes perfect. However beware there are not many nations left that haven't been smeared then bombed by the US and we are running out nations and out of time before the US blow all our asses off the face of the planet for that self serving act of pathetic vanity which will be countersigned in hell with 'Property of The US Military.'

jsluka 2015-03-11 00:17

"Advisors and intructors" - Don't be naive. And what happens when some of them get killed? What is the likelihood or statistical probability of escalation after that? This is clearly provocative and dangerous and does absolutely nothing for "peace" or "security" of anyone.

Radscal 2015-03-11 00:27

L.S. "...I am watching the chess pieces on the board..."

Does your use of that analogy imply that you read Ziggy Brzezenski's 1998 book, "The Grand Chessboard," in which he explains why the U.S. must take control of Ukraine as key to controlling Eurasian resources, and ultimately to conquer Russia and China?

RODNOX 2015-03-11 05:14

history has shown the USA always has some underhanded agenda--some self serving plan---and often plays BOTH sides of the problem--just to escalate it----WHEN WILL WE STOP THEM ????? THIS IS TRULY THE 1 % IN ACTION--WE--THE PEOPLE ARE NOT THE PROBLEM

wrknight 2015-03-12 20:47

Quoting L.S.:
I do not agree with these conclusions. I don't believe that the U.S. and U.K. are invested in military action. Those troops are advisors and instructors.

Like the advisors the U.S. sent to South Vietnam in the 1950's.

Archie1954 2015-03-10 20:16

Exceptional, indispensable? More like irrational, despicable! What we need is for Putin to call up Obama and tell him point blank that if the US doesn't get the hell out of Ukraine, Russia will make it! If you don't think it can, think again!

jsluka 2015-03-11 00:20

I appreciate your emotion here, but that would be really really scary because I imagine the US would respond with even greater belligerance and "justify" it by saying "Putin is threatening us" - even though, ironically, it is the US that is doing all the threatening.

Vardoz 2015-03-10 21:17

It's more like war madmen then warmongers and it's all very frightening. Putin is crazy too and we have no right getting involved so that the Fuking military can make profits!!!! Enough!!!!! Our military is out of control with a suicidal war agenda and they don't care about the consequences or the collateral damage. It's just war all around, kick out the jams no matter how many die- they don't give a damn. Seemed like Germany was making some constructive headway and Merkel should tell the US where to go. This is all so dirty and obscene and wrong.

Radscal 2015-03-11 00:33

You do know that the U.S. was not even invited to the peace talks, right?

Similarly, it was EU members, Russia and then-president Yanukovych who signed the agreement with the Maidan Protest leaders on 2/21/14 in which Yanukovych acquiesced to every one of their demands.

That was when Vickie Nuland's "Fuck the EU" plan went into action and the neo-nazis stormed the government buildings, including the Parliament and drove about 2 dozen Members of Parliament and the President to flee for their lives.

And that, is why those who followed the events call it a "coup."

jdd 2015-03-11 07:28

The ceaae-fire came about because the "Normandy Four" excluded the US and UK, whose participation would have guaranteed failure. Now the efforts of all, but especially that of Putin have led to a fragile peace. The response from a disappointed Victoria Nuland crowd continues to speak of sending arms and "advisors" to Ukraine in order to throw gasoline on the embers.

dsepeczi 2015-03-11 08:21

Quoting ericlane:
Another moronic article. Who do you think was behind the peace deal?
Ummm. I believe the organizers of that peace deal were Europe, Ukraine and Russia. The US, wisely, was not invited to the table.

jsluka 2015-03-11 00:13

Is "US Goes Ballistic" a scary pun here? I.e., as in "nuclear armed ballistic missiles". Also, isn't that how it all started in the Vietnam War - with "advisors"? This is batcrap crazy, but then many people have now begun to realise that US politicians have become homocidally psychotic. It's "back to the future" and return of Dr. Strangelove. 2015-03-11 06:22

We have no business in Ukraine, we have no business antagonizing the Russians. We Slavs have been demonized, mocked and denigrated as imbeciles and barbarians by the West for centuries. Stay the hell away from us, already. We don't need to be like you.

Buddha 2015-03-11 17:10

"To the dismay of the Pentagon, the White House war crowd, and the rest of the American bloviating class of chickenhawk hardliners, the warring sides in Ukraine are disengaging and the ceasefire has almost arrived (March 7 was the first day with no casualties)."

John McCain's dick just got limp again. Oh well, there is always ISIS and Iran to try to stoke up WWIII, right Uncle Fester?

Kootenay Coyote 2015-03-16 10:12

"Until Americans, and especially American policy maker, face fundamental realities in and about Ukraine….". Or any fundamental realities, for that matter: cf. Global Warming. The nearest thing to reality that's considered is that of the weapon makers & warmongers, & that's pretty meagre.

[May 03, 2015] Hillary Clinton The International Neocon Warmonger, by Webster G. Tarpley

April 13, 2015 |

As the National Journal reported in 2014, even the pathetically weak anti-war left is not ready to reconcile with Hillary given her warmongering as Secretary of State. And with good reason. Scratching just lightly beneath the surface of Hillary Clinton's career reveals the empirical evidence of her historic support for aggressive interventions around the globe.

Beginning with Africa, Hillary defended the 1998 cruise missile strike on the El Shifa pharmaceutical plant in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, destroying the largest producer of cheap medications for treating malaria and tuberculosis and provided over 60% of available medicine in Sudan. In 2006 she supported sending United Nations troops to Darfur with logistical and technical support provided by NATO forces. Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi was outspoken in his condemnation of this intervention, claiming it was not committed out of concern for Sudanese people but "…for oil and for the return of colonialism to the African continent."

This is the same leader who was murdered in the aftermath of the 2011 NATO bombing of Libya; an attack promoted and facilitated with the eager support of Mrs. Clinton. In an infamous CBS news interview, said regarding this international crime: "We came, we saw, he died." As Time magazine pointed out in 2011, the administration understood removing Qaddafi from power would allow the terrorist cells active in Libya to run rampant in the vacuum left behind. Just last month the New York Times reported that Libya has indeed become a terrorist safe haven and failed state— conducive for exporting radicals through "ratlines" to the conflict against Assad in Syria.

Hillary made prompt use of the ratlines for conflicts in the Middle East. In the summer of 2012, Clinton privately worked with then CIA director and subversive bonapartist David Petraeus on a proposal for providing arms and training to death squads to be used to topple Syria just as in Libya. This proposal was ultimately struck down by Obama, reported the New York Times in 2013, but constituted one of the earliest attempts at open military support for the Syrian death squads.

Her voting record on intervening in Afghanistan and Iraq is well known and she also has consistently called for attacking Iran. She even told Fareed Zakaria the State Department was involved "behind the scenes" in Iran's failed 2009 Green Revolution. More recently in Foreign Policy magazine David Rothkopf wrote on the subject of the Lausanne nuclear accord, predicting a "snap-back" in policy by the winner of the 2016 election to the foreign policy in place since the 1980s. The title of this article? "Hillary Clinton is the Real Iran Snap-Back." This makes Hillary the prime suspect for a return to the madcap Iranian policies that routinely threaten the world with a World War 3 scenario.

Hillary Clinton is not only actively aggressing against Africa and the Middle East. She was one of the loudest proponents against her husband's hesitancy over the bombing of Kosovo, telling Lucina Frank: "I urged him to bomb," even if it was a unilateral action.

While no Clinton spokesperson responded to a request by the Washington Free Beacon regarding her stance on Ukraine, in paid speeches she mentioned "putting more financial support into the Ukrainian government". When Crimea decided to choose the Russian Federation over Poroshenko's proto-fascist rump state, Hillary anachronistically called President Putin's actions like "what Hitler did in the '30s." As a leader of the bumbled "reset" policy towards Russia, Hillary undoubtedly harbors some animus against Putin and will continue the destabilization project ongoing in Ukraine.

Not content with engaging in debacles in Eastern Europe, she has vocally argued for a more aggressive response to what she called the "rollback of democratic development and economic openness in parts of Latin America." This indicates her willingness to allow the continuation of CIA sponsored efforts at South American destabilization in the countries of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil.

It is one of the proud prerogatives of the Tax Wall Street Party to push out into the light the Wall Street and foundation-funded Democrats. The final blow to Hillary's clumsy façade comes directly from arch-neocon Robert Kagan. Kagan worked as a foreign policy advisor to Hillary along with his wife, Ukraine madwoman Victoria Nuland, during Hillary's term as Secretary of State. He claimed in the New York Times that his view of American foreign policy is best represented in the "mainstream" by the foreign policy of Hillary Clinton; a foreign policy he obviously manipulated or outright crafted. Kagan stated: "If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue…it's something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else." What further reason could any sane person need to refute Hillary? A vote for Hillary is a vote for the irrational return to war.

The "Giant Sucking Sound": Clinton Gave US NAFTA and Other Free Trade Sellouts

"There is no success story for workers to be found in North America 20 years after NAFTA," states AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. Unlike other failures of his Presidency, Bill Clinton can not run from NAFTA. It was Vice President Al Gore, not a veto-proof Republican congress, who lobbied to remove trade barriers with low-wage Mexico.

The record of free trade is clear. Multinational corporations and Wall Street speculators realize incredible profits, wages remain stagnant in the US, poverty persists in the developing world, and the remaining industrial corporations in America and Canada are increasingly owned by Chinese, Indian and other foreign interests.

America's free trade policy is upside down. Besides Canada, Australia and Korea, most of our "free" trade partners are low-wage sweatshop paradises like Mexico, Chile, Panama, Guatemala, Bahrain and Oman. The US does in fact apply tariffs on most goods and on most nations of origin – rates are set by the US International Trade Commission (USTIC), a quasi-public federal agency.

Since a German- or Japanese-made automobile would under USITC's schedule be taxed 10% upon importation, Volkswagen and Toyota can circumvent taxation by simply building their auto assembly plants for the US market in Mexico. In Detroit, an auto assembly worker is paid between $14 and $28/hour, ($29,120-$58,240/yr); hard work for modest pay. In Mexico, the rate varies from $2-5/hour.

In China, all automobile imports regardless of origin are tariffed as high as 25%. This allows the Chinese to attract joint ventures with Volkswagen and Toyota, and to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, "keep the jobs, the cars and the money."

NAFTA-related job loss is not a question of productivity, currency manipulation, "fair trade," environmental standards, etc. While these issues are not trivial, free trade – as Lincoln's advisor Henry C. Carey proved – is a matter of simple accounting. Can an American family survive on $4,160/year ($2/hr)? If not, cars and their components will be built in Mexico. If we want cars built in the United States, the only solution is a general tariff (import tax) reflecting the difference between those wage standards, like the very tariffs repealed by Bill Clinton.

In the United States the "runaway shop" under NAFTA and CAFTA has sent trade deficits and unemployment soaring while wages drop relative to the cost of living. Yet Mexico and other "partners" receive no benefit either. Many manufacturing sectors in Mexico pay wages lower than the equivalent sector in China. Mexico is now the world leader in illegal narcotics exportation and weapons importation. The poverty level between 1994 and 2009 remained virtually identical. (52.4% – 52.3%). The shipping of raw materials to Mexico comprise the majority of so called American "exports". The finished products from these exports are assembled and sold back to the United States at slave labor prices.

Don't expect Hillary to behave differently with the coming "Trans-Pacific Partnership," which seeks to replace an ascendant China with less-developed Vietnam and Malaysia. Vietnam would overtake India-allied Bangladesh in the global apparel trade, and Malaysia has a high-tech manufacturing sector poised to rival China's. With America's manufacturing economy in shambles, the Clinton machine can now be redirected to geopolitical maneuvers.

Article licensed under Creative Commons

The articles on Voltaire Network may be freely reproduced provided the source is cited, their integrity is respected and they are not used for commercial purposes (license CC BY-NC-ND).

[May 03, 2015] Bernie Sanders calls for 'political revolution' against billionaire class

May 03, 2015 | The Guardian
marshwren ExcaliburDefender

As i've written before, it's actually very astute of Sanders to elide around Clinton rather than attack her head-on (best to leave that to the loony Right). All he has to do is present a full-policy spectrum alternative to Clinton's corporatism, neo-con affiliations, elite (glass-ceiling) feminism, support for fracking/KXL, TPP-like trade agreements, etc., and let support his his policies drive his campaign in the positive sense, than to run against Clinton in the negative sense.

There are serious limits to both how far "left" Clinton can go and how sincere her 'campaign conversion' to progressive policies really is; which will be exposed the moment she starts assembling her campaign managers/speech-writers, economic and foreign policy adviser teams, which will be soon enough. [As Napoleon Bonaparte said, "Never interrupt an opponent when they're making a mistake"] One of the best things Sanders could do here is to start that process himself with a 'shadow cabinet' as surrogate speakers on specific policy areas (eg, getting Robert Reich back in as Labor Sec.). And i'm serene in the confidence that once "democratic socialism" is honestly explained to U.S., there will be far more support for it than you can imagine.

ExcaliburDefender Dean Hovey 3 May 2015 12:58

I'll vote for whichever democratic candidate is selected in the general. Don't know who I'll vote for in the primary yet, or if will make a difference when my state has a primary.

Don't want the bombs dropping in Iran, roll back of the ACA, or NRA rule.


David Linsell 3 May 2015 12:50

I think it's terribly sad that one of the few who actually care about social justice & the American working class is almost considered a joke by mainstream America. Come to Europe Bernie, we love you!

bcarey 3 May 2015 12:10

Bernie Sanders is exactly correct. He is not afraid to point at the elephant in the room.

Dean Hovey 3 May 2015 12:07

I can hear the question now: "Why would you back a loser?"

Yes, I'm backing Bernie, with my vote and a tiny bit of discretionary income.

The question begs the question by assuming Bernie Sanders cannot win. It fails to account for the disillusionment over two years of Barack Obama's appeasement of right-wing pols and the strong possibility that Hilary will be the "other Republican" in the presidential race. Hilary, like Obama, can "strap on" progressive talking points, but her Velcro Values will be discarded as soon as she grasps victory.

So, really, what is there to lose by backing Bernie? A Corporate Democrat is much like a Corporate Republican. Vote for either one, and you've lost--unless you're among the 1%.

[May 03, 2015] How U.S. Journalists Inflame Middle East Sectarianism - e.g. Liz Sly

May 03, 2015 |

Sectarianism in the Middle East is regularly inflamed by the Sunni Salafi/Wahhabi groups and countries in the Middle East. It is directed against all other strains of Islam as well as against all other religions.

But as the "western" governments and media favor the Saudi Arabian side and often denigrate the "resistance" side, be it Shia, Sunni or whatever else, they insist that it is the Shia side that is preaching sectarianism. One can often experience this with reports on speeches of Hizbullah leader Nasrallah who is always very careful to not ever use sectarian language. When Nasrallah condemns Takfiri terrorists like AlQaeda and the Islamic State as non-Muslim and calls them the greatest danger to Sunnis, Shia and Christians alike the "western" media like to report that he warns of Sunnis in general and is thus spreading sectarianism.

Many such reports come from "western" reporters who are stationed in Beirut, speak no Arabic and depend on the spokespersons and translators in the offices of the Saudi-Lebanese Sunni leader Hariri. For an ever growing collection of typical examples see the Angry Arab here and here.

The finding of non-existent sectarian language in "resistance" leaders' communications and the emphasizing of it has been internalized by "western" reporters. You can clearly see the process in the exemplary Twitter exchange copied below.

Liz Sly is the Middle East correspondent for the Washington Post in Beirut and does not speak Arabic. Elijah J. Magnier is Chief International Correspondent for the Kuwaiti TV station AL RAI. He speaks Arabic and has covered the war on Iraq and other wars on the ground for decades.

The issue at hand is a defense bill in front of the U.S. Congress which refers to Sunni militia, Kurds and other groups in Iraq as distinguished "countries" which are to be armed separately from the state of Iraq. "Divide and rule" writ large. Many Iraqi politicians including the Prime Minister have spoken out against it. The Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr warned of the consequences should the bill go through which he says would include an unleashing of his troops against U.S. interests.

Notice how Liz Sly insist on a sectarian aspect/intent in Sadr's proclamation even when there clearly is none. She keeps in insisting on it even after she gets pointed to an official denial of any sectarian intent by a Sadr spokesperson. The exchange:

Liz Sly 17h17 hours ago
Moqtada Sadr to the US: if you arm Iraq's Sunnis, we will fight Americans in Iraq. …

Elijah J. Magnier 8h8 hours ago
@LizSly Moqtada didn't say that …

Liz Sly ‏ 6h6 hours ago
@EjmAlrai Didn't mean literally fighting US troops, but to fight against US presence in Iraq. Presumably would hit embassy, personnel etc?

Elijah J. Magnier 6h6 hours ago
@LizSly U r right as Moqtada said he will fight USA in Iraq and abroad but didn't say if Sunni are armed.

Elijah J. Magnier ‏ 5h5 hours ago
@LizSly "We shall hit US interest in Iraq & abroad, as possible, ', if US approves supporting each religion independently",

Liz Sly ‏ 5h5 hours ago
@EjmAlrai Right, he means if Sunnis are armed directly by the US under that weird bill

Elijah J. Magnier 5h5 hours ago
@LizSly I spoke to S. Ali Seism who said it is not directed to Sunni but 2 all religions (incl Kurds) as there are more than Sunnis in Iraq.

Elijah J. Magnier ‏ 5h5 hours ago
@LizSly In fact the communique' doesn't say in any line the word "Sunni" but "all religions".

Liz Sly ‏ 5h5 hours ago
@EjmAlrai The bill is aimed at arming Sunnis and my tweet makes it clear Muqtada is against the US arming Sunnis, not against arming them

Elijah J. Magnier 5h5 hours ago
@LizSly Moqtada communique' clearly didn't mention Sunni: "Not arming religions": Fayli, Turkman, Sunni, Shia, Yazidi... Feel free.

Liz Sly ‏ 5h5 hours ago
@EjmAlrai Ok, but it's clear he's against a bill whose goal is to permit the US to directly arm Sunnis, not eg Fayli. As are many Iraqis.

The last paragraph of Sadr's statement says:

American should know that if it wants to exacerbate sectarian sentiment, we would continue to tread on the path of national unity. Let sectarianism fall out of existence! This is the very sectarianism that seeks to create [artificial] borders.

The U.S. Congress introduces a law that would exacerbate sectarianism in Iraq. Muqtada al-Sadr responses with a statement explicitly speaking out against sectarianism. Liz Sly insist that it is therefore Sadr who is playing a sectarian card.

Is this insistence by Liz Sly on sectarian "Shia leader Sadr is against Sunnis" justified by anything but sly, willful exaggeration, and even falsification, of what Sadr wrote? Who is the sectarian here?

Posted by b at 11:24 AM | Comments (54)

Mike Maloney | Apr 30, 2015 11:56:41 AM | 1

Another good example of this is the NYT story from yesterday, An Eroding Syrian Army Points to Strain, about various religious sects and ethnic groups in Syria losing confidence in the SAA. Penned by Anne Barnard and Eric Schmitt, it is clearly a CIA-sponsored tale, built mostly out of quotes from an anonymous "Syrian with security ties."

The chief target of the anonymous source's ire is of course Hezbollah.

Amer | Apr 30, 2015 3:03:25 PM | 2

Non-sectarian nature of the resistance...This point needs to be made over and over again.

Funny that this Scott Horton interview from 2 days ago focuses exact same point about Syrian government as in reality non-sectarian and pluralistic:

Based on bizarre story of military vet moving to live in Syria:

james | Apr 30, 2015 3:39:11 PM | 4

thanks b. given the background on this, i'm inclined to believe it's intentional. or is it that it fits with the constant mantra on the problem in the middle being one of sectarian conflict that the usa and the west want to always present?

@2 mike. thanks more of the same bs from the same sources, in this case cia, although i they aren't referenced in the article.. nyt - cia/blackhouse mouthpiece..

KerKaraje | Apr 30, 2015 4:04:42 PM | 5

The "Hooligan theory"...

"It is extremely delusional and childish to assume that tens of thousands of well-armed and battle-hardened Jihadists who have gotten accustomed to roaming their (and other people´s) country to kill "infidels", "apostates", "traitors" (e.g. fellow Sunnis who fight in the Syrian army) or simply "Shabiha" (a derogatory expression used to defame and dehumanize all kind of Sunni and non-Sunni militias and civilians who reject the rebels) would lay down their weapons and re-enter their ordinary civilian life on the day the Syrian government falls and Assad is killed..."

Wayoutwest | Apr 30, 2015 5:03:43 PM | 7

Al Sadr and his Iranian allies don't want any US involvement in Iraq. He certainly doesn't want the Kurds armed by anyone for obvious reasons and the Sunni tribes are considered a possible threat especially because they remember how Sadr's Mahdi Army carefully planned and viciously executed the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad's Sunni civilian population. Actions speak much louder than words.

Nasrallah has to carefully chose his words because the Shia are a minority in Lebanon but again actions are more telling than words. Hezbollah attempted to overthrow the government of Lebanon to create a Shia led Islamic Republic which I think is still their goal.

Deebo | Apr 30, 2015 5:20:57 PM | 8

I wonder what would happen if the media started talking about US support for Jewish terror groups ???

@ WOW as per usual your talking shit. Maybe you should ask sadr about his father and unclear death, while their killers were at the time roaming around free under US protection, kinda the same as KSA now

I really do admire your methods of being a paid propagandist ! Whether your in India or Tel Aviv or receive your pay checks from them, you really do have a way of talking doo doo

Yes maybe you should ask the nuns of maloola that your friends Way Out West seemed to have forgotten about if Hezbollah wants a Islamic Republic

You clearly are a Zionist because you seem to know enough about the Middle East, yet those who know as "much" as you so would not generally distort the truth unless they had an agenda, and most people who tread your path and masturbate heavily Iran Syria Hezbollah are generally yids

Sorry dude u have been exposed

I also wonder if Israel will comply with UNIFIL new resolution demanding they withdraw from all Lebanese territory and stop violating its air space

Israel sure is a funny country shame they cant beat a "rag tag" militia lol

jfl | Apr 30, 2015 6:34:50 PM | 10

' sly, willful exaggeration, and even falsification ' is the basis for the US aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine ... the issue is not so much the sly exaggerators and falsifiers in the government ... all 546 of those at the top are owned lock, stock and barrel by the aggressors, and so, of course, are their mouthpieces and hired hands ... but us, zombified cogs on the wheels of imperial slaughter, sitting on our thumbs and switching from cnn, to foxx, to msnbc eating popcorn and the 'news' along with. At what point do you call our self-delusion willful, and how long ago was that point passed?

The only people among us asserting ourselves are Americans of color, who've been pinched, lynched, and gunned down in the streets long enough. For far too long, of course, but now, with a black president and successive attorneys general leading the charge against them, black Americans have given up all hope of help from above/outside their own ranks.

White/Black - Sunni/Shia - Xtian/Muslim ... divide, devastate and destroy worldwide. The US is as monstrous in 2015 as Germany was in 1935, but no one seems to notice. And the EUnuchs, Israel and the KSA are filling in for Italy and Japan.

Jen | Apr 30, 2015 7:19:59 PM | 11

I see this tweet exchange between Sly and Magnier as an example of Sly having been told by her employer (and probably the US govt through its embassy) to ratchet up the Sunni / Shia sectarian divide whenever and wherever possible. In addition Sly seems quite brainwashed and primed to see sectarianism even where it doesn't exist. This would explain her idiotic responses to Magnier's tweets.

The US govt is using identity politics as part of its "divide and rule" strategy to set different religious and ethnic groups at one another's throats. To their credit, people like Moqtada al Sadr and Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah among others recognize that this strategy encourages tensions between and among various groups leading to continuous instability, turbulence and chaos that the US and other foreigners can use to their advantage.

The Western media is also at fault for deploying to the Middle East and other areas around the world as foreign correspondents people who have no background knowledge or understanding of the peoples, languages and cultures in the areas they have to report on.

Virgile | Apr 30, 2015 8:44:33 PM | 12

Liz Sly and Ann Barnard are the mini-version of the notorious Judith Miller, the NYT journalist that has been the promoter of lies that lead to the Iraq war.

Judith Miller was on Israel payroll. Whose payroll Liz Sly and Ann Barnard are on?

Lone Wolf | Apr 30, 2015 10:59:21 PM | 15


Thanks for yet another enlightening post about the inner workings of the so-called MSM. Their efforts to reproduce a narrative that combines official government views with those of the WaPo's editorial board are truly pathetic.


why do we not hear from liz sly herself... hey liz what do you think of these allegators made against you in this article by the blogger

i await your reply

Good try, but no cigar. You will wait until hell freezes over. She cannot step down from her clay feet pedestal to answer a commoner's question. No sir. She would be fired if she does for violation of...submission.


Hezbollah attempted to overthrow the government of Lebanon to create a Shia led Islamic Republic which I think is still their goal.

This time, Way-out-there outdid himself, his ignorance about Hezbollah, Lebanon and the Shia, of galactic proportions.


I see this tweet exchange between Sly and Magnier as an example of Sly having been told by her employer (and probably the US govt through its embassy) to ratchet up the Sunni / Shia sectarian divide whenever and wherever possible. In addition Sly seems quite brainwashed and primed to see sectarianism even where it doesn't exist. This would explain her idiotic responses to Magnier's tweets.

Bingo. Great summary of the whole guacamole. Thanks.

mcohen | May 1, 2015 7:33:08 AM | 20

Re: lone wolf.15

.....this chick has got the goods....British intellectuality and all

liz sly and emma sky........

..wondered what happened to the biographer....maybe she got the cigar

lol?.......league of liars

mcohen | May 1, 2015 7:57:01 AM | 21

emma sky wrote this in petraeus is back in iraq looking almost a year later and .....and .......and liz on the sly is tweeting about ........not sure what .....anyone understand this stuff,

there is so many billions up for grabs the whole thing looks like one big criminal exercise.....

one thing is for sure ....sectarianism is just a cover, surely a religion would not stoop this low

In his June 19 statement, U.S. President Barack Obama said,

"Iraqi leaders must rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for Iraq's future. Shia, Sunni, Kurds -- all Iraqis -- must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence."

Obama is right to pressure Iraqi politicians to form a new government, rather than insisting that they support Maliki. He correctly recognized that any military options would be effective only if they were in support of an overall political strategy that a new broad-based government agreed to.

The United States has a key role to play in helping broker a new deal among the elites that creates a better balance among Iraq's communities. A new broad-based Iraqi government will need to win back the support of Sunnis against ISIS -- and the Obama administration should be prepared to respond positively to requests for assistance to do so.

farflungstar | May 1, 2015 12:26:13 PM | 25

From Feb 22 - old news, I know:

General Clark reveals that Daesh is an Israeli project

"General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Commander of NATO, told CNN that the Islamic Emirate ("Daesh") had been "created by our friends and allies to defeat Hezbollah."

General Clark thus clearly put into question the responsibility of Israel.

Since 2001, General Clark has been the spokesman for a group of senior officers opposed to Israeli influence on the foreign policy of the United States, its aggressive imperialist developments and the remodeling of the "Greater Middle East". He had opposed the deployment of troops in Iraq, and wars against Libya and against Syria." (With accompanying video).

Some reminder regarding pretend-journalists/model-type cupcakes you may wanna put the boots to (well not Emma Sky) slanting stories to influence people to believe that USSA, Israel and KSA ONLY are fighting ISIS, Daesh, ISIL, Al-Qaeda, whatever name their bosses want to give them this week.
Selling lies thru their fascist party dolls taking pouty selfies on the side.

Lone Wolf | May 1, 2015 7:34:26 PM | 38



Even Wikipedia had to give in and publish a marginal note about "Israeli censorship" (sure, they don't call it lies.) FYI.

2006 Lebanon War

"...Hezbollah rocket attacks also targeted and succeeded in hitting military targets in Israel. The Israeli military censorship was, however, very strict and explicitly forbade Israel-based media from reporting such incidents. The war time instruction to media stated that "The Military Censor will not approve reports on missile hits at IDF bases and/or strategic facilities."[131] A notable exception was the rocket attack 6 August, on a company of IDF reservists assembling in the border community of Kfar Giladi, which killed 12 soldiers and wounded several others. Initially Israel did not confirm that the victims were military but eventually relented..."

So? Figures lie and liars figure...

guest77 | May 1, 2015 8:43:15 PM | 40

In fact the subject of this post and that of the last Ukraine famine post are very similar. It is the same game being played, with many of the same methods. Make no mistake: given its position so far from.the consequences of sparking these deep-seated ethnic conflicts, the sheer fact of any fighting, no matter what the outcome, is a "victory" for.our cynical masters. Nothing new - similar games were.played in Nicaragua w the Miskito (sorry for spelling). Its quite remarkable display split people and turn them against one another. People w/ hundreds of years of peaceful coexistence.

Lone Wolf | May 1, 2015 11:28:10 PM | 44


...It's been evident for some months that Israel was trying to turn Hizbullah's flank.

Good point. No better proof can be found of the proxy links between ISIS and Israel than ISIS drive into the Qalamoun Mountains. mcohen@30, 34 is way off line with his opinions about Hezbollah's "miscalculations." Just recently, Syria's Defense Minister visited Iran and got all the support Syria needs, and more to continue its existential fight against the Axis of Terror, US/Israel/KSA et al.

The war on Syria has geopolitical repercussions beyond the region, and neither Iran, nor Iraq, or Russia will allow the fall of Assad. Hezbollah will not allow the taqfiris control of the Qalamoun and surroundings, for obvious strategic reasons; ISIS would have direct access to the Bekaa Valley. Iran will not permit the taqfiris to succeed in their efforts to drive a strategic wedge against Hezbollah, which will expose Syria's northern front and Lebanon; Iraq cannot afford losing Syria to the taqfiris and get surrounded by a hostile sea of Sunnis, and Russia will support Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah efforts to avoid cutting Syria in two on a SW/NE axis, that will effectively isolate the port of Tartus, Russia's naval base on the Mare Nostrum.

Shaykh Hassan Nasrallah is not a man prone to miscalculations, whether political or military and he learns from his mistakes. For example, he admitted the Israeli response to the kidnapping and killing of Israeli soldiers that ignited the 2006 Summer War, was a surprise for Hezbollah, which didn't expect such a reaction, even though Israel had concrete plans after getting kicked out of southern Lebanon in 2000, to bomb Lebanon as a punishment for not disarming Hezbollah. Hezbollah intervention in Syria, after Nasrallah deemed the taqfiris an "existential threat" for the Shiites and Lebanon has been confirmed correct by later developments.

Martin | May 2, 2015 8:18:24 AM | 49

Washington Post is making laugh of itself:

"If what is happening in Baltimore happened in a foreign country, here is how Western media would cover it:

International leaders expressed concern over the rising tide of racism and state violence in America, especially concerning the treatment of ethnic minorities in the country and the corruption in state security forces around the country when handling cases of police brutality. The latest crisis is taking place in Baltimore, Maryland, a once-bustling city on the country's Eastern Seaboard, where an unarmed man named Freddie Gray died from a severed spine while in police custody.

Black Americans, a minority ethnic group, are killed by state security forces at a rate higher than the white majority population. Young, black American males are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than white American males.

The United Kingdom expressed concern over the troubling turn of events in America in the last several months. The country's foreign ministry released a statement: "We call on the American regime to rein in the state security agents who have been brutalizing members of America's ethnic minority groups. The equal application of the rule of law, as well as the respect for human rights of all citizens, black or white, is essential for a healthy democracy." Britain has always maintained a keen interest in America, a former colony.

Palestine has offered continued assistance to American pro-democracy activists, sending anti-tear-gas kits to those protesting police brutality in various American cities. Egyptian pro-democracy groups have also said they will be sharing their past experience with U.S.-made counter-protest weapons.

A statement from the United Nations said, "We condemn the militarization and police brutality that we have seen in recent months in America, and we strongly urge American state security forces to launch a full investigation into the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. There is no excuse for excessive police violence." The U.N. called on the United States to make a concerted effort to make databases of police violence public to improve transparency and cut down on corruption in the justice system.

International analysts predict the seeds of a so-called "American Spring," fomented by technology. "It's amazing what social media is doing for the cause of justice in America," said a political rights analyst based in Geneva. "The black youth of America are showing what 21st-century civil rights activism looks like, using technology, social media and a decentralized organizing strategy to hold authorities accountable and agitate for change. These kids represent what modern-day freedom fighting looks like. The revolution will be tweeted, Periscope-d and Snapchatted."

Local leaders in the American township of Baltimore imposed a state of martial law this week after peaceful protests turned violent. In response, countries around the world have advised darker-skinned nationals against non-essential travel to areas noted for state violence against unarmed people of color, especially in recent hot spots such as New York, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Ohio, California, Michigan, Virginia and now Maryland.

International human rights groups have appealed to the global community to facilitate asylum for America's ethnic black minorities. When asked whether the European Union was willing to take on more black refugees risking their lives in fleeing American state violence, an E.U. human rights spokesman said: "More black refugees? We are dealing with our own Mediterranean crisis, so now is not really a good time for that for us. Furthermore, we believe in American solutions to American problems." The African Union has not responded to requests for comment.

American government officials took to state media, characterizing the protesters as "thugs," a racially coded word increasingly used to describe black males in America. Commentators in national media have frequently compared the protesters and riots to various characters and events from the popular television series "The Wire," set in early-2000s Baltimore.

America's ethnic blacks have been displaced from many of their communities due to a phenomenon experts on the region call "gentrification," when wealthier residents move into a lower-income area. Baltimore is no exception to this trend, with some areas seeing home values rise as much as 137 percent after corporate dollars move in on opportunities in poverty-stricken areas.

Resident Joe Smith, a member of the white majority ethnic group, said outside of a brand-new Starbucks near Baltimore's Inner Harbor, "I don't know why these blacks are destroying their own communities. Why don't these people follow Martin Luther King's example? Those guys got it good from the police back then too, but they didn't try to rise up and fight back and make everyone uncomfortable, you know?"

Jesrad | May 2, 2015 8:02:41 PM | 51

The media in Mordor has been all "sectarianism" all the time, since late 2003. They needed an explanation for the ongoing violence in Iraq, besides "guerilla war", which was completely unacceptable with an election approaching.

So they invented the nonsense that the Iraqis were attacking themselves and the noble Orcs were desperately trying to prevent it. I think the nonsense was that al-Ciada was targeting the anti-occupation Arabs to provoke a civil war thereby forcing the occupation to continue since they were 'winning' and about to leave. Apparently al-ciada hadn't heard about the permanent bases. This protection conveniently involved treating the Arab population like the Palestinians and putting them under guard behind concrete and barbed wire wherever possible.

Why the pro-occupation Kurds didn't need to be forced into dozens of bantustans, was something I've never seen asked by anyone. That the Iraqi population was heavily intermarried and had never had a 'civil war' or any history of 'sectarian violence' was also deemed not newsworthy.

After 10+ years of even the 'alternative' media repeating this garbage it has become accepted as fact among the limited portion of the population who are even vaguely aware of the endless colonial wars.

U.S. Hasn't Helped Kiev's "Endless Dysfunction" by Michael S. Rozeff

Criticism of Kiev's administration and its war against Donbas likewise strikes some as pro-Russian. This too is a false conclusion. The making of war by any state against breakaway regions or regions seeking autonomy or constitutional changes or secession is anti-libertarian.

Balazs Jarabik, who is associated with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and who focuses on Ukraine, has an article titled "Ukraine: The War Must Go On?". It's a pertinent article because both sides are re-arming and both sides are more skilled now at war. Renewed fighting, if serious war breaks out again, will be more devastating than the earlier engagements. It will likely enter new areas and, in the process, undermine Ukraine altogether.

Jarabik writes "As terrible as it sounds, Kyiv's endless dysfunction is the Kremlin's most powerful ally in the current crisis—a point that is glossed over in Western policy debates on sending lethal aid to Ukraine."

Critics of the libertarian positions on Ukraine should read and heed what the non-libertarian Jarabik says about Kiev and Ukraine. U.S. and NATO aid, bank financing, training and military advice are not helping Ukrainians. Quite the opposite.

The libertarian refrain calling for U.S. disengagement from Ukraine (and other of the Empire's venues) strikes some as being either pro-Russian or not anti-Russian enough. This is a false conclusion that doesn't follow from a non-interventionist stance. It only follows from a non-libertarian perspective of supposing that the U.S. should be helping Ukraine achieve independence from Russian pressures. But such so-called help is destroying Ukraine and promises worse to come.

Criticism of Kiev's administration and its war against Donbas likewise strikes some as pro-Russian. This too is a false conclusion. The making of war by any state against breakaway regions or regions seeking autonomy or constitutional changes or secession is anti-libertarian.

Both U.S. disengagement from Kiev and criticism of Kiev's war-making are policies that will help, not harm, ordinary Ukrainians. Sons will not be drafted, ill-trained, ill-equipped and sent into unwinnable and destructive wars. The government won't go bankrupt in the process. Huge debts won't be levied on generations of Ukrainians. The currency won't crash, as it has, destroying the wealth of anyone holding it, small savers or holders of debt denominated in that currency. Resources can be put toward peaceful purposes. Similarly, people in Donbas won't face the severe destruction wrought by war. Refugees can come home. People won't be driven from their homes. Population centers, ranging from villages to major cities, won't be shelled.

The war-making and other related decisions are promoted by the U.S. and NATO. The U.S. is re-arming one side and improving the weaponry. The Russians are re-arming the other side, and that side too will bring in new ways of fighting. The level of destructiveness can only escalate as a consequence of a U.S. and Kiev decision to bring Donbas back into Ukraine by military means.

Libertarian calls for the U.S. completely out of Ukraine are for the good of Ukrainians themselves, although surely not all of them. This policy doesn't satisfy Ukrainian nationalists who insist on union of west and east, come hell or high water. Hell it may be.

[May 02, 2015] US Foreign Policymakers Cannot Be Trusted by Sheldon Richman,

April 23, 2015 |

The megalomaniacs of the Washington power elite actually think they can mold the Middle East to their specifications. No calamity resulting from their clumsy machinations ever causes them to rethink this preposterous conceit.

Look at some of their more recent handiwork. In 2003, on the basis of shoddy intelligence if not conscious lies, President George W. Bush had the U.S. military overthrow Iraqi dictator (and former ally) Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim whose secular regime discriminated against the Shia majority. With Saddam gone and his Ba'ath party dispersed, the Shiites inevitably assumed power, assisted by American forces that put down a Sunni insurgency and enabled Shiite militias to ethnically cleanse most of the capital, Baghdad. Millions were killed, injured, and displaced.

Next door, of course, is the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been America's bête noir since 1979, when a revolution overthrew the U.S.-backed autocratic shah and militants held American hostages, 26 years after the CIA helped to oust a prime minister and restore the shah to power. Iraq under Saddam had also been Iran's enemy; he launched an eight-year war of aggression against the Islamic Republic in the 1980s, aided by the United States. (Among other assistance, US satellite intelligence helped Saddam wage chemical warfare against the Iranians.) In balance-of-power terms, Saddam was the counterforce that checked Iranian influence. But now Saddam's regime was gone.

One did not need to be an expert to know that Iran would benefit. Iraq's sectarian Shiite prime minister from 2006 to 2014, Nouri al-Maliki, was favored by Iran, as is his successor, Haider al-Abadi. Even Bush administration's original pick to lead post-Saddam Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi, had long been close to Iran.

So despite some 30 years of America's cold, covert, cyber, and proxy war against Iran, the Bush administration was indispensable in helping Iran gain greater influence in the Middle East.

This influence has grown even greater now with the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which was a predictable consequence of Saddam's overthrow and sectarian Shiite rule, before which there was no Sunni al-Qaeda in Iraq, much less ISIS, its even more virulent offshoot. The Obama administration has assumed the lead in the effort to "degrade and destroy" ISIS, which is officially regarded as a "threat to the homeland," but Obama's method is largely confined to airpower, with only a small force on the ground. Most analysts believe that airpower alone will not suffice. The fight on the ground in Iraq is being handled by that country's Shiite army and an assortment of vengeful Shiite militias, making the Sunnis fearful of sectarian violence and even accepting of the brutal and intolerant ISIS. Who advises these forces? None other than Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani of the Iranian Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution and commander of the Quds Force, a division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Soleimani reportedly is playing a major role in the current effort to retake Takrit, Saddam's hometown, from ISIS.

This objectively places the United States on the same side as Iran, but the Obama administration cannot acknowledge this without granting Iran prestige. Indeed, American and Israeli officials worry that the price of defeating ISIS will be a Middle East dominated by Iran as never before.

Of course, ISIS also controls territory in next-door Syria, which is ruled by Iran's ally Bashar al-Assad, a member of a minority Shiite sect whose regime is embroiled in a civil war. Obama has called for Assad's departure, but Assad is also fighting ISIS (as well as Syria's al-Qaeda franchise), putting him, too, objectively on America's side.

The question arising from this tangled tale is: What were the American and Israeli advocates of war with Iraq thinking back in 2003? Was their plan to build up Iranian influence in order to justify war and regime change? That would explain why advocates of the Iraq policy are trying to torpedo multilateral talks with Iran over its nonexistent nuclear weapons program. But war with Iran, which is much larger and more populous Iraq, would be a catastrophe.

In light of all this, should Americans trust their lives and well-being to the arrogant Washington power elite?

Sheldon Richman is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, which is based in Oakland, California.

[May 01, 2015] Anatol Lieven reviews 'The New American Militarism' by Andrew Bacevich · LRB 20 October 2005

Amazingly insightful review !!!
The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War by Andrew Bacevich
Oxford, 270 pp, £16.99, August 2005, ISBN 0 19 517338 4

A key justification of the Bush administration's purported strategy of 'democratising' the Middle East is the argument that democracies are pacific, and that Muslim democracies will therefore eventually settle down peacefully under the benign hegemony of the US. Yet, as Andrew Bacevich points out in one of the most acute analyses of America to have appeared in recent years, the United States itself is in many ways a militaristic country, and becoming more so:

at the end of the Cold War, Americans said yes to military power. The scepticism about arms and armies that informed the original Wilsonian vision, indeed, that pervaded the American experiment from its founding, vanished. Political leaders, liberals and conservatives alike, became enamoured with military might.

The ensuing affair had, and continues to have, a heedless, Gatsby-like aspect, a passion pursued in utter disregard of any consequences that might ensue.

The president's title of 'commander-in-chief' is used by administration propagandists to suggest, in a way reminiscent of German militarists before 1914 attempting to defend their half-witted kaiser, that any criticism of his record in external affairs comes close to a betrayal of the military and the country. Compared to German and other past militarisms, however, the contemporary American variant is extremely complex, and the forces that have generated it have very diverse origins and widely differing motives:

The new American militarism is the handiwork of several disparate groups that shared little in common apart from being intent on undoing the purportedly nefarious effects of the 1960s. Military officers intent on rehabilitating their profession; intellectuals fearing that the loss of confidence at home was paving the way for the triumph of totalitarianism abroad; religious leaders dismayed by the collapse of traditional moral standards; strategists wrestling with the implications of a humiliating defeat that had undermined their credibility; politicians on the make; purveyors of pop culture looking to make a buck: as early as 1980, each saw military power as the apparent answer to any number of problems.

Two other factors have also been critical: the dependence on imported oil is seen as requiring American hegemony over the Middle East; and the Israel lobby has worked assiduously and with extraordinary success to make sure that Israel's enemies are seen by Americans as also being those of the US. And let's not forget the role played by the entrenched interests of the military itself and what Dwight Eisenhower once denounced as the 'military-industrial-academic complex'.

The security elites are obviously interested in the maintenance and expansion of US global military power, if only because their own jobs and profits depend on it. Jobs and patronage also ensure the support of much of the Congress, which often authorises defence spending on weapons systems the Pentagon doesn't want and hasn't asked for, in order to help some group of senators and congressmen in whose home states these systems are manufactured. To achieve wider support in the media and among the public, it is also necessary to keep up the illusion that certain foreign nations constitute a threat to the US, and to maintain a permanent level of international tension.

That's not the same, however, as having an actual desire for war, least of all for a major conflict which might ruin the international economy. US ground forces have bitter memories of Vietnam, and no wish to wage an aggressive war: Rumsfeld and his political appointees had to override the objections of the senior generals, in particular those of the army chief of staff, General Eric Shinseki, before the attack on Iraq. The navy and air force do not have to fight insurgents in hell-holes like Fallujah, and so naturally have a more relaxed attitude.

To understand how the Bush administration was able to manipulate the public into supporting the Iraq war one has to look for deeper explanations. They would include the element of messianism embodied in American civic nationalism, with its quasi-religious belief in the universal and timeless validity of its own democratic system, and in its right and duty to spread that system to the rest of the world. This leads to a genuine belief that American soldiers can do no real wrong because they are spreading 'freedom'. Also of great importance – at least until the Iraqi insurgency rubbed American noses in the horrors of war – has been the development of an aesthetic that sees war as waged by the US as technological, clean and antiseptic; and thanks to its supremacy in weaponry, painlessly victorious. Victory over the Iraqi army in 2003 led to a new flowering of megalomania in militarist quarters. The amazing Max Boot of the Wall Street Journal – an armchair commentator, not a frontline journalist – declared that the US victory had made 'fabled generals such as Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian seem positively incompetent by comparison'. Nor was this kind of talk restricted to Republicans. More than two years into the Iraq quagmire, strategic thinkers from the Democratic establishment were still declaring that 'American military power in today's world is practically unlimited.'

Important sections of contemporary US popular culture are suffused with the language of militarism. Take Bacevich on the popular novelist Tom Clancy:

In any Clancy novel, the international order is a dangerous and threatening place, awash with heavily armed and implacably determined enemies who threaten the United States. That Americans have managed to avoid Armageddon is attributable to a single fact: the men and women of America's uniformed military and its intelligence services have thus far managed to avert those threats. The typical Clancy novel is an unabashed tribute to the skill, honour, extraordinary technological aptitude and sheer decency of the nation's defenders. To read Red Storm Rising is to enter a world of 'virtuous men and perfect weapons', as one reviewer noted. 'All the Americans are paragons of courage, endurance and devotion to service and country. Their officers are uniformly competent and occasionally inspired. Men of all ranks are faithful husbands and devoted fathers.' Indeed, in the contract that he signed for the filming of Red October, Clancy stipulated that nothing in the film show the navy in a bad light.

Such attitudes go beyond simply glorying in violence, military might and technological prowess. They reflect a belief – genuine or assumed – in what the Germans used to call Soldatentum: the pre-eminent value of the military virtues of courage, discipline and sacrifice, and explicitly or implicitly the superiority of these virtues to those of a hedonistic, contemptible and untrustworthy civilian society and political class. In the words of Thomas Friedman, the ostensibly liberal foreign affairs commentator of the ostensibly liberal New York Times, 'we do not deserve these people. They are so much better than the country … they are fighting for.' Such sentiments have a sinister pedigree in modern history.

In the run-up to the last election, even a general as undistinguished as Wesley Clark could see his past generalship alone as qualifying him for the presidency – and gain the support of leading liberal intellectuals. Not that this was new: the first president was a general and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries both generals and more junior officers ran for the presidency on the strength of their military records. And yet, as Bacevich points out, this does not mean that the uniformed military have real power over policy-making, even in matters of war. General Tommy Franks may have regarded Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense, as 'the stupidest fucking guy on the planet', but he took Feith's orders, and those of the civilians standing behind him: Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the president himself. Their combination of militarism and contempt for military advice recalls Clemenceau and Churchill – or Hitler and Stalin.

Indeed, a portrait of US militarism today could be built around a set of such apparently glaring contradictions: the contradiction, for example, between the military coercion of other nations and the belief in the spreading of 'freedom' and 'democracy'. Among most non-Americans, and among many American realists and progressives, the collocation seems inherently ludicrous. But, as Bacevich brings out, it has deep roots in American history. Indeed, the combination is historically coterminous with Western imperialism. Historians of the future will perhaps see preaching 'freedom' at the point of an American rifle as no less morally and intellectually absurd than 'voluntary' conversion to Christianity at the point of a Spanish arquebus.

Its symbols may be often childish and its methods brutish, but American belief in 'freedom' is a real and living force. This cuts two ways. On the one hand, the adherence of many leading intellectuals in the Democratic Party to a belief in muscular democratisation has had a disastrous effect on the party's ability to put up a strong resistance to the policies of the administration. Bush's messianic language of 'freedom' – supported by the specifically Israeli agenda of Natan Sharansky and his allies in the US – has been all too successful in winning over much of the opposition. On the other hand, the fact that a belief in freedom and democracy lies at the heart of civic nationalism places certain limits on American imperialism – weak no doubt, but nonetheless real. It is not possible for the US, unlike previous empires, to pursue a strategy of absolutely unconstrained Machtpolitik. This has been demonstrated recently in the breach between the Bush administration and the Karimov tyranny in Uzbekistan.

The most important contradiction, however, is between the near worship of the military in much of American culture and the equally widespread unwillingness of most Americans – elites and masses alike – to serve in the armed forces. If people like Friedman accompanied their stated admiration for the military with a real desire to abandon their contemptible civilian lives and join the armed services, then American power in the world really might be practically unlimited. But as Bacevich notes,

having thus made plain his personal disdain for crass vulgarity and support for moral rectitude, Friedman in the course of a single paragraph drops the military and moves on to other pursuits. His many readers, meanwhile, having availed themselves of the opportunity to indulge, ever so briefly, in self-loathing, put down their newspapers and themselves move on to other things. Nothing has changed, but columnist and readers alike feel better for the cathartic effect of this oblique, reassuring encounter with an alien world.

Today, having dissolved any connection between claims to citizenship and obligation to serve, Americans entrust their security to a class of military professionals who see themselves in many respects as culturally and politically set apart from the rest of society.

This combination of a theoretical adulation with a profound desire not to serve is not of course new. It characterised most of British society in the 19th century, when, just as with the US today, the overwhelming rejection of conscription – until 1916 – meant that, appearances to the contrary, British power was far from unlimited. The British Empire could use its technological superiority, small numbers of professional troops and local auxiliaries to conquer backward and impoverished countries in Asia and Africa, but it would not have dreamed of intervening unilaterally in Europe or North America.

Despite spending more on the military than the rest of the world combined, and despite enjoying overwhelming technological superiority, American military power is actually quite limited. As Iraq – and to a lesser extent Afghanistan – has demonstrated, the US can knock over states, but it cannot suppress the resulting insurgencies, even one based in such a comparatively small population as the Sunni Arabs of Iraq. As for invading and occupying a country the size of Iran, this is coming to seem as unlikely as an invasion of mainland China.

In other words, when it comes to actually applying military power the US is pretty much where it has been for several decades. Another war of occupation like Iraq would necessitate the restoration of conscription: an idea which, with Vietnam in mind, the military detests, and which politicians are well aware would probably make them unelectable. It is just possible that another terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 might lead to a new draft, but that would bring the end of the US military empire several steps closer. Recognising this, the army is beginning to imitate ancient Rome in offering citizenship to foreign mercenaries in return for military service – something that the amazing Boot approves, on the grounds that while it helped destroy the Roman Empire, it took four hundred years to do so.

Facing these dangers squarely, Bacevich proposes refocusing American strategy away from empire and towards genuine national security. It is a measure of the degree to which imperial thinking now dominates US politics that these moderate and commonsensical proposals would seem nothing short of revolutionary to the average member of the Washington establishment.

They include a renunciation of messianic dreams of improving the world through military force, except where a solid international consensus exists in support of US action; a recovery by Congress of its power over peace and war, as laid down in the constitution but shamefully surrendered in recent years; the adoption of a strategic doctrine explicitly making war a matter of last resort; and a decision that the military should focus on the defence of the nation, not the projection of US power. As a means of keeping military expenditure in some relationship to actual needs, Bacevich suggests pegging it to the combined annual expenditure of the next ten countries, just as in the 19th century the size of the British navy was pegged to that of the next two largest fleets – it is an index of the budgetary elephantiasis of recent years that this would lead to very considerable spending reductions.

This book is important not only for the acuteness of its perceptions, but also for the identity of its author. Colonel Bacevich's views on the military, on US strategy and on world affairs were profoundly shaped by his service in Vietnam. His year there 'fell in the conflict's bleak latter stages … long after an odour of failure had begun to envelop the entire enterprise'. The book is dedicated to his brother-in-law, 'a casualty of a misbegotten war'.

Just as Vietnam shaped his view of how the US and the US military should not intervene in the outside world, so the Cold War in Europe helped define his beliefs about the proper role of the military. For Bacevich and his fellow officers in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, defending the West from possible Soviet aggression, 'not conquest, regime change, preventive war or imperial policing', was 'the American soldier's true and honourable calling'.

In terms of cultural and political background, this former soldier remains a self-described Catholic conservative, and intensely patriotic. During the 1990s Bacevich wrote for right-wing journals, and still situates himself culturally on the right:

As long as we shared in the common cause of denouncing the foolishness and hypocrisies of the Clinton years, my relationship with modern American conservatism remained a mutually agreeable one … But my disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute. Fiscal irresponsibility, a buccaneering foreign policy, a disregard for the constitution, the barest lip service as a response to profound moral controversies: these do not qualify as authentically conservative values.

On this score my views have come to coincide with the critique long offered by the radical left: it is the mainstream itself, the professional liberals as well as the professional conservatives, who define the problem … The Republican and Democratic Parties may not be identical, but they produce nearly identical results.

Bacevich, in other words, is sceptical of the naive belief that replacing the present administration with a Democrat one would lead to serious changes in the US approach to the world. Formal party allegiances are becoming increasingly irrelevant as far as thinking about foreign and security policy is concerned.

Bacevich also makes plain the private anger of much of the US uniformed military at the way in which it has been sacrificed, and its institutions damaged, by chickenhawk civilian chauvinists who have taken good care never to see action themselves; and the deep private concern of senior officers that they might be ordered into further wars that would wreck the army altogether. Now, as never before, American progressives have the chance to overcome the knee-jerk hostility to the uniformed military that has characterised the left since Vietnam, and to reach out not only to the soldiers in uniform but also to the social, cultural and regional worlds from which they are drawn. For if the American left is once again to become an effective political force, it must return to some of its own military traditions, founded on the distinguished service of men like George McGovern, on the old idea of the citizen soldier, and on a real identification with that soldier's interests and values. With this in mind, Bacevich calls for moves to bind the military more closely into American society, including compulsory education for all officers at a civilian university, not only at the start of their careers but at intervals throughout them.

Or to put it another way, the left must fight imperialism in the name of patriotism. Barring a revolutionary and highly unlikely transformation of American mass culture, any political party that wishes to win majority support will have to demonstrate its commitment to the defence of the country. The Bush administration has used the accusation of weakness in security policy to undermine its opponents, and then used this advantage to pursue reckless strategies that have themselves drastically weakened the US. The left needs to heed Bacevich and draw up a tough, realistic and convincing alternative. It will also have to demonstrate its identification with the respectable aspects of military culture. The Bush administration and the US establishment in general may have grossly mismanaged the threats facing us, but the threats are real, and some at least may well need at some stage to be addressed by military force. And any effective military force also requires the backing of a distinctive military ethic embracing loyalty, discipline and a capacity for both sacrifice and ruthlessness.

In the terrible story of the Bush administration and the Iraq war, one of the most morally disgusting moments took place at a Senate Committee hearing on 29 April 2004, when Paul Wolfowitz – another warmonger who has never served himself – mistook, by a margin of hundreds, how many US soldiers had died in a war for which he was largely responsible. If an official in a Democratic administration had made a public mistake like that, the Republican opposition would have exploited it ruthlessly, unceasingly, to win the next election. The fact that the Democrats completely failed to do this says a great deal about their lack of political will, leadership and capacity to employ a focused strategy.

Because they are the ones who pay the price for reckless warmongering and geopolitical megalomania, soldiers and veterans of the army and marine corps could become valuable allies in the struggle to curb American imperialism, and return America's relationship with its military to the old limited, rational form. For this to happen, however, the soldiers have to believe that campaigns against the Iraq war, and against current US strategy, are anti-militarist, but not anti-military. We have needed the military desperately on occasions in the past; we will definitely need them again.

Vol. 27 No. 20 · 20 October 2005 " " We do not deserve these people
pages 11-12 | 3337 words

[Apr 22, 2015] M of A - Ukraine Both Sides Touched By NATO Related Murder Of The Other Side

Apr 22, 2015 |

The Washington Post's Michael Birnbaum invented a new funny way to equalized victims and perpetrators of serious crimes:

MOSCOW — A pro-Russian Ukrainian journalist was gunned down in Kiev on Thursday, authorities said, a day after a Ukrainian politician supporting Moscow was found dead.

The killing of Oles Buzyna, 45, raised fears of a new wave of back-and-forth violence in the streets of Ukraine after a string of unsolved deaths that has touched both sides of the conflict between Ukraine's Western-allied government and pro-Moscow separatists.

Indeed the "unsolved deaths" "touched both sides" with eleven people on one side getting murdered while the other side covered up these murders as "suicides" and very likely also provided the killers.

Eight politicians of the Party of Region of former president Yanukovich, ousted in a U.S. inspired coup, were killed as were three journalists un-sympathetic to the now ruling coup government.

There is some curious connection between some of the recent killings and NATO. As RB at NiqNaq provides (recommended):

On Apr 14, a profile of Oles' Buzina was added to site (where Ukrainian government encourages people to fink the authorities on the people suspected of separatism); on Apr 15, Oles' Buzina was killed near his home with 4 shots. I (my correspondent – RB) looked up the Web address where they posted Buzina's address, and found that it's hosted on a NATO server.

The Niqnaq post provides details and screenshots demonstrating the connection to NATO. (A short take is also here.) I was myself researching the issue for MoA when I found that Niqnaq post and I can confirm the findings and add a bit.

Two names and personal data of persons recently assassinated in Ukraine were posted on a "nationalist" website shortly before those persons were killed. That website, screenshot) screenshot), is headlined:


Information for law enforcement authorities and special services about pro-Russian terrorists, separatists, mercenaries, war criminals, and murderers.

Next to some news pieces the site carries a list for download with some 7,700 names of "saboteurs" and "terrorists".

On a first view the name "" is anonymously registered through the U.S. company Wild West Domains.

A "traceroute" command shows that Internet Protocol requests to the server "" end in a datacenter in Dallas, Texas at and the IP number

A "nslookup" command with the input "" confirms in its output the registered IP Number to be "" (screenshot).

A reverse "nslookup" command with the input "" provides the output "". (screenshot).

"" is the Internet domain namespace registered and reserved for NATO. Why is a server for a website which is hunting for dissidents in Ukraine - some of whom have been killed - registered within the NATO Internet namespace?

After some additional research we find that the non-anonymous registration to "" is to one Vladimir Kolesnikov, 98 Lenin St, Velyka Oleksandrivka, Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine.

Further searching for Vladimir Kolesnikov we find that Mr. Kolesnikov has registered several other websites through Limestone Networks, Inc in Dallas, Texas.

Some of these website seem to be concerned with crypto payment, teletraining and unrelated stuff. Some others are related to the nasty "nationalist" side of the Ukraine conflict. asks for tip offs about "saboteurs" and "terrorists" and their operations while is a general "nationalist" news collection.

There is no hint of any NATO-relation in these other sides. A reverse nslookup like the one that shows a relation like between "" and "" does not deliver such results for the other website registered to Mr. Kolesnikov.

One possible explanation for the "" lookup result might be that the website was originally build or tested within the NATO namespace and later transferred outside without cleaning up some of the original name references.

Posted by b on April 17, 2015 at 03:06 PM | Permalink

james | Apr 17, 2015 5:45:27 PM | 1

thanks b.. any connection to nato is really riveting if true.. the fact all the people murdered are opposed to the present gang in kiev speaks volumes as well.. i hope some western msm will pick some of this up, but i highly doubt it.. it will be more bs like the wapo is famous for.. spewing propaganda 24/7, these media outlets make the prvada of previous times look like amateurs..

jfl | Apr 17, 2015 6:33:22 PM | 2

Excellent work, b. It is true that the MSM sill never publish anything like this ... but it is also true that the 'market' for news has been bifurcated at this point : those who want to know the truth are engaged in the search for it on their own and those who definitely do NOT want to know the truth are reading, viewing the MSM.

Attending to the MSM has become an act of complicity with the crimes of the empire in itself.

JerseyJeffersonian | Apr 17, 2015 6:43:55 PM | 3

So, death squads on the menu?

Ah, takes me back to those golden times in Iraq, El Salvador...

Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 17, 2015 11:55:44 PM | 5

I've come to appreciate the value of the "both sides" meme.

It's a 24ct guarantee that USrael or one of their "good friends" has been caught perpetrating inexcusable atrocities, upon civilians, which need to be urgently diluted.

The "Israelis" have turned it into an art form - an absolute necessity given that ALL the victims of the Shitty Little Country's insane anti-Palestinian hubris have been civilians.

It's quite clever in a cowardly, sneaky, "Israeli" kind of way...

Fete | Apr 18, 2015 12:41:56 AM | 604/17/2015 19:57

Russian Spring

Commenting an appeal of Donbass community to the guarantors of the Minsk agreements, Presidents of Russia and France, Vladimir Putin and François Hollande as well as Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, the Chairman of Peoples Council of Donetsk Republic Andrey Purgin assumed that today's Kiev moves toward Ukrainian Nazism.

"Mass arrests and intimidation are common. Those who disagree to live with the Ukrainian ethnic nazism are prosecuted. The most active ones are incarcerated", asserted Purgin

According to him, thousands are jailed for their political convictions.

"Of course, there are calls to (international) community, to Merkel, Europe to interfer. Unfortunately, those live in framework of different (double) standards and are not going to do anything. Instead, they call to yield to Ukraine, where arrests and burning houses are taking place", added Purgin.


Why is a server for a website which is hunting for dissidents in Ukraine - some of whom have been killed - registered within the NATO Internet namespace?

Russian Defense Minister summed it up very well, at Moscow's annual security conference.

"The United States and its allies have crossed all possible lines in their drive to bring Kiev into their orbit..."

Lone Wolf | Apr 18, 2015 2:05:47 AM | 7

JerseyJeffersonian@3 is right on target reminding us of the infamous "Death Squads" in El Salvador and Iraq. Targeting of opposition figures by parallel security forces killing not-so anonymously, is an integral part of any regime hell-bent on imposing by force a quasi-fascist form of government.

The purpose is to inflict terror on a massive scale, a psychological war that aims at paralyzing others from opposing the regime. It is the ABC of any counterinsurgency manual, and it clearly shows the hand of the CIA behind the systematic killing of Yanukovich allies, perceived or real pro-Russian individuals/organizations/regional or city governments, as it happened recently in Kharkov, and a couple of days ago in Odessa.

This is lustration on a higher level, not just firing from government posts all of those considered "opposition," not enough for the Ukrainian neo-nazis, they have to be physically eliminated. As bastard children of nazi ideologues, they have to follow their German masters in their "purification" of society (lustration from Latin = purification), cleansing it from any elements that could endanger the "purity" of their new fascist dystopia.

The WaPo, a mouthpiece of Neoconland/Deep State, is an accomplice to murder not only in Ukraine, and has played a crucial role white-washing the crimes of the criminal Kiev junta from day one. Shame on you, Michael Birnbaum, you're justifying the slaughter of innocents just to keep a miserable job writing horseshit, and killing them a second time with your blatant lies.

CTuttle | Apr 18, 2015 2:23:51 AM | 8

Aloha, b...! Salon has a great interview with Stephen Cohen... The New York Times "basically rewrites whatever the Kiev authorities say": Stephen F. Cohen on the U.S./Russia/Ukraine history the media won't tell you

And here's a great article from Jeff Kaye... CIA Intervention in Ukraine Has Been Taking Place for Decades

james @1
i hope some western msm will pick some of this up, but i highly doubt it.

The western msm have picked up on it but to claim that an anti-Kiev oligarch who funded the Party of Regions is killing them off to cover his tracks over that funding.

Posted by: blowback | Apr 18, 2015 8:41:03 AM | 10

An organisation called the 'Ukrainian Insurgent Army' has claimed responsibility for the murders of Chechetov, Peklushenko, Miller, Kalashnikov and Buzina.

Posted by: Yonatan | Apr 18, 2015 9:29:19 AM | 11

CTuttle at 8 --

I second your recommendation. I spotted some short extracts at Russia Insider, and I share their recommendation that you read the whole piece. Here's a small sample, .

Q: In a historical perspective, do you consider Russia justified?

Well, I can't think otherwise. I began warning of such a crisis more than 20 years ago, back in the '90s. I've been saying since February of last year [when Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in Kiev] that the 1990s is when everything went wrong between Russia and the United States and Europe. So you need at least that much history, 25 years. But, of course, it begins even earlier....

Q: I take Kiev's characterization of its war in the eastern sections as an "anti-terrorist campaign" to be one of the most preposterous labels out there right now.

But, then, why did Washington say OK to it? Washington has a say in this. Without Washington, Kiev would be in bankruptcy court and have no military at all. Why didn't Washington say, "Don't call it anti-terrorist?" Because if you call it "anti-terrorism" you can never have negotiations because you don't negotiate with terrorists, you just kill them, a murderous organization with murderous intent....

So the United States has been deeply complicit in the destruction of these eastern cities and peoples....

Ever since the Clinton administration, we've bleated on about the right to protect people who are victims of humanitarian crises. You've got a massive humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine.... Where is Samantha Power, the architect of "right to protect?" We have shut our eyes to a humanitarian crisis in which we are deeply complicit. This is what's shameful, whether you like or don't like Putin. It's got nothing to do with Putin. It has to do with the nature of American policy and the nature of Washington—and the nature of the American people, if they tolerate this.

See also his comments on Yeltsin. Increasing ill and under the thumb of the oligarchs, he cozied up to Washington. Cohen reports that Medvedev, a number of years ago, advised that Zyuganov of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation had actually won the election that gave Yeltsin his final term.

Posted by: rufus magister | Apr 18, 2015 11:04:39 AM | 12

Terror in Odessa: mass arrests of protesters: 53 people reported detained at demonstration in support of local autonomy;

New detentions of peaceful protesters in Odessa: 30 people reported detained at Odessa rally for cultural autonomy and a peaceful solution to the civil conflict: "The People's Council [of Bessarabia] is the grassroots, peaceful initiative."

So far the People's Council of Bessarabia is looking like an effort to use what legal space seems to exist under current junta law to organize "within the system," while the Odessa People's Republic appears to be extralegal and separatist. But the reality is that there is no legal space within fascism for any opposition to organize:

Ukrainian Neo-Nazi march in Odessa

Posted by: Vintage Red | Apr 18, 2015 11:43:21 AM | 13

jj, lw, bb at 3, 7 & 10 --

Extrajudicial repression has been a staple of the ruling class since antiquity. See the murder of Tiberius Gracchus in the 2nd. cent. BC. But along with creating "insurgencies" (Nicaragua, Afghanistan) the Amercan Century has really made it one of its art forms. A sort of "Abstract Repressionism;" we're disinclined to think of the human cost, let alone accept responsibility for it.

Fort Russ has this report that the "Ukrainian Insurgent Army" (UPA) claimed responsibility for recent murders of regime opponents. Translator K. Rus says it could either be "the far right taking matters into their hands" or an attempt by the regime to distance itself, after posting the "wanted" notice.

If you want some good fantasy fiction writing, I'd recommend the Kyiv Post's weirdly informative article, Murders of two journalists, ex-lawmaker spook Kyiv. It begins, "The atmosphere was spooky in Kyiv on April 16 as news broke about the murder of a third prominent person in four days." Quite lit'ry, weren't it? It's the Party of Regions, it's the Russian, it's a scheme to disrupt Victory Day.

It goes on to some highly negative spin about Kalashnikov and Buzina, and finishes with short accounts of rash of "suicides" amongst regime opponents.

Meanwhile, repression is spreading in Odessa. A mixed group of local Maidan activists, police, and PravSek militiamen detained protesters. They wanted a free trade zone and were unhappy with utility prices and pensions. A clear and present danger. Whereabouts presently unknown. -- VR at 13, just saw yrs. I'll have to ck'out the NeoNazi bit.

It will be then no suprise that figures close to Poroshenko are arguing for mass internment and deportations for dissenters. The administration itself is advising on how to distort the Second World War for fun and profit. "Current defenders of Ukraine should be considered as successors of the winners over Nazism."

All one can say is, how bizarre!

Posted by: rufus magister | Apr 18, 2015 12:20:55 PM | 14

VR -- well that was depressing. In part 'cause it lead me to what the link called "Drunk With Permissiveness: Nazis Execute Journalist Buzina, Promise New Bloodshed." The page itself is a little more mundane, Ukrainian Insurgent Army Claims Responsibility for Death of Reporter Buzina. It provides further details than the Fort Russ account above.

It links the rise in violence to the recent proclamation of the collaborators as victors over their fascist patrons, taken as a green light for a bit of the ultra-violence. They promise "a ruthless insurgent battle against the traitors of the Ukrainian regime and Moscow henchmen..." They seem as good as their word. Too bad....

Posted by: rufus magister | Apr 18, 2015 12:44:54 PM | 15

Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?

The Thomas a Becket school of oppo neutralization...

Posted by: ǝn⇂ɔ | Apr 18, 2015 12:45:23 PM | 16

Another intresting find..


and you will get:

Admin Name: Ophelia Dingbatter
Admin Organization:
Admin Street: Box B 646
Admin City: Black Diamond
Admin State/Province: Alberta
Admin Postal Code: T0L 0H0
Admin Country: Canada
Admin Phone: +1.4039337890
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax:
Admin Fax Ext:
Admin Email:
Registry Tech ID:

2. Tech Name: Helmut Morscher

Tech Organization: Webby Inc
Tech Street: Box 646
Tech City: Black Diamond
Tech State/Province: Alberta
Tech Postal Code: T0L 0H0
Tech Country: Canada
Tech Phone: +1.4039337890
Tech Phone Ext:
Tech Fax:
Tech Fax Ext:
Tech Email:
Name Server: NS.WEBBY.COM

Google Helmut Morscher

"International Media Liaison
Maidan Alliance"

"International issues advisor
Maidan web-site"

Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 18, 2015 12:48:32 PM | 17

These incidents are so historically familiar. When reading your article b, I couldn't help thinking about Italy and the murders and terrorism that occurred through out the 1950's to 1980's. Incorrectly, many of our contemporaries believe that the Gladio which was created by NATO, the UK and the US is defunct. As revealed by Professor Daneile Ganser, Gladio is a live and well and operates globally. Yes, NATO is the culprit. Just as it was the instrumental culprit that was used as a tool in Kosovo for US interests. As for the monsters in Kiev, Reinhard Gehlen, one of the Nazi architects of the stay-behind-network would be proud.

Posted by: A.E.W | Apr 18, 2015 1:01:36 PM | 18

en1c at 15 -- Very droll! It's been renamed "plausible deniability" to suite modern sensibilities.

vr at 13 -- I followed your link.

Depressing, in part 'cause I followed this link there, "Drunk With Permissiveness: Nazis Execute Journalist Buzina, Promise New Bloodshed." It provides further details than the Fort Russ item cited at 14. Folks will have to find it on their own, I'm afraid. It wouldn't post my link from Sputnik -- though the link in the preview worked. Others have had that problem.

"We are unfolding a ruthless insurgent battle against the traitors of the Ukrainian regime and Moscow henchmen...." They claim five murders, including Kalashnikov and Buzina. So they look to be as good as their word. Too bad.

Posted by: rufus magister | Apr 18, 2015 1:07:53 PM | 19

@18 Poroshenko will call it Russian propaganda. MSM will just ignore it.

Posted by: dh | Apr 18, 2015 1:32:55 PM | 20

Thank you for your links, CTuttle @ 8. I don't know Stephen Cohen very well, but I took a dislike to Katherine his wife way back when the Nation came out so strongly against Ralph Nader as a candidate, and seeing her on Charlie Rose didn't warm me to her either. There are some folk on the 'left' who need to come right out and admit they have been wrong to endorse anti-common-folk principles in the past, due to the damage they have caused by supporting the oligarchs.

They are taking a page out of Putin's book: he was in government during the Yeltsin era when policies were strongly skewed to get along with US oligarchies and Russia's own. Putin has changed course, no two ways about it, and his people as a consequence love him. I just hope these folk will have the same intention - Katherine, you will have to stop sniping at Ralph if you want us to love you.

Posted by: juliania | Apr 18, 2015 3:45:28 PM | 21

The problem of Ukrainian nationalism is that they do not have "democratic template", heroes of the past were hetmans, otamans and fascists. To be patriotic, you have to be bloody minded. So patriots are murdering enemies of the people, and the West gives green light by giving aid and not raising stink. [disclamer: I do not despise patriotism, but like love and religion, it can motivate excesses including murder, mass murder, lies, mass lies and so on, emotional attachment can be a positive force, but as we know, it is not always the case. Below, "patriot" describes the self-assessment.]

The Newsweek story that b found is extremely symptomatic. American patriots in the media are following the official clues how to cover stories from the confusing lands outside our borders. Apparently, in the case of