An Elephant on Thin Ice

At bottom, American sanctions are a bluff, effective only so far as their military might is capable of intimidating smaller, weaker nations.

And It’s a Rogue

I pick up The Washington Post the other day. It’s a good paper, or used to be. Now it seems to be astride the American war elephant. Where there were formerly sober headlines we now have insults, innuendo, threats and hyperbole. At first glance it seems to be due to an supposed imminent Russian threat to the Ukraine. But I smell a back story.

From the Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2022

In December 2021, Russia presented draft treaties to the US and NATO, demanding a complete overhaul of Europe’s security architecture. Russia stressed the principle of indivisible and equal security for all countries, as agreed by all 56 members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) at Istanbul (1999) and reaffirmed at Astana (Kazakhstan, 2010). Members expressly agreed not to strengthen their security at the expense of other members’ security. The US is a signatory.

President Putin warned that if the West continued its aggressive policies (NATO’s expansion and missile deployment in eastern Europe), Russia would take ‘military-technical’ reciprocal measures. He said, “they have pushed us to a line that we can’t cross.”

The Washington Post Is Not Content

But here The Post shows signs of discontent, beginning with the headline: Xi meets Putin in show of solidarity as U.S. warns against helping Russia evade Ukraine-linked sanctions. So, President Xi of China meets Presiden Putin of Russia, two sovereign nations essentially on opposite ends of the world. The occasion is the inauguration of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. It’s a meet and greet. Why is the U.S. “warning” them. Is it a warning or a threat? It sounds more like the latter.

The rub on the part of the Americans apparently has to do with Russia parking eight divisions of troops on their own territory some 175 kilometers distant from the Ukraine border. The Post seems to find that intolerable. Both Ft. Bliss and Laughlin Air Force Base in the State of Texas sit virtually on the Mexican Border. Does The Post find that intolerable? Of course not. As for “Ukraine-linked sanctions,” what’s the U.S. have to do with Ukraine and Russia’s family feuds, and what gives them the authority to “sanction” the Russians for assembling troops in their own territory or for “showing solidarity” between the Russian and the Chinese maximum leaders. To an impartial observer all of this looks absurd. From here it looks as if the U.S. is primarily interested in tarring Russia with the same old brush, blocking the new Nordstream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany and, voilá, selling American shale gas to Europe.

President Biden Stands Alone

President Biden was not present at the Olympic Inauguration party. He preferred to stand off, ordering a mini boycott of the games ostensibly as a protest against Chinese “human rights abuses.” Meanwhile, from here the Chinese government’s treatment of their Uyghur minority looks less gruesome than that which the American homeless and prison populations suffer at the hands of their own government. Even so, the American-led worldwide media initiative likes to refer to “the “Uyhgur genocide.” They need to document themselves on “genocide.” Ask any Jew.

President Putin took advantage of the absence of the leader of the Free World to offer the Chinese President Xi Jinping a new gas pipeline direct to China. It looks like a perfect capitalistic solution between a country that has too much natural gas and another that has too little.

The Chinese-Russian joint statement at the end of the meeting was quite clear:

Russia and China stand against attempts by external forces to undermine security and stability in their common adjacent regions,” the statement said, and “intend to counter interference by outside forces in the internal affairs of sovereign countries under any pretext.

The Washington Post

Have the Americans forgotten they were the ones who engineered the fall of Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014 and the ensuing ascent of the right-wing, free-market goverment that was in the American script? What, then, has subsequent U.S. diplomacy achieved by organizing the current Ukraine brouhaha? Either not much–Ukraine’s comedian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, himself, is trying to ease his country out of the fray–or a great deal–they have managed to drive their two most significant adversaries into a public statement of mutual military solidarity. That’s quite an achievement. Unfortunately for the Americans, it’s on the wrong side of the ledger.

The Ongoing U.S. Sanctions Issue

For many years we’ve watched the Americans place debilitating–or mortal–sanctions on countries that displease them, the most egregious being the cases of Cuba–which has plagued the lives of the Cuban people for 60 years and continues implacably–and Iraq, where the morbidity toll began with 500,000 children. A recent headline proclaims: “U.S. warns China against helping Russia dodge Ukraine-related sanctions.” On Feb. 3, State Department spokesman Ned Price warned Chinese firms that they would face “consequences” if they sought to help Russia evade potential sanctions. (Reuters) What “consequences are these? China is a first-rate economic power that happens to have the largest army and navy in the world, the fastest and trickiest hypersonic missiles and the coolest commanding heads. And they have recently been driven into the arms of the Russians. Is President Biden sure he wants to threaten them both? An overt threat is, after all, a covert challenge.

With American sanctions ripping around the world like the thunderbolts of Zeus, maybe we should look into their legitimacy. Not surprisingly the only authorizations to be found are those issued by American authorities themselves:

It turns out there are two brands of sanctions, those authorized by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which are the only ones that are granted international legality, and those issued unilaterally by individual nations. The American sanctions belong to the latter group and, therefore, enjoy no legal validity whatsoever on the world stage. They’re just posturing. Ironically, the United States, who looks upon the United Nations with disdain and has failed to join a multitude of UN initiatives, occasionally supports UN resolutions against nations it considers enemies.

Among the treaties unsigned or unratified by the United States, a few have been singled out by organizations such as Human Rights Watch (2009), as extremely important, and the United States’ reluctance to ratify them problematic. Among them are the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), the Ottawa Treaty (Mine Ban Treaty), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). The United States is also one of the few countries not to have ratified the Kyoto Protocol. And there are at least 45 more unsigned or unratified UN treaties on the list compiled by Wikipedia.

An American Offer You Can’t Refuse

At bottom, American sanctions are a bluff, effective only so far as their military might is capable of intimidating smaller, weaker nations. The U.S. rogue elephant is effectively making the citizens of the entire world an offer they can’t refuse. How long will this familiar mafia strategy continue to function? Presumably it will last until another nation–or combination of nations–dares to challenge them, both economically and militarily. Coincidentally, I have just finished a fascinating book that deals with this very subject. Written by British academic, Martin Jacques, it is called When China Rules the World. One wonders, is the elephant edging onto thin ice already?


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The Conspiracy to Conceal Conspiracies

“If you can only remember two things, rememember this: ‘Governments lie’. If you can remember three, remember, ‘All governments lie.'” I.F. Stone

Truth and Untruth Both Lurk in Plain Sight

“Oh, him, he’s an anti-vaxxer, a dangerous crazy. Don’t pay any attention to what he says. The 9/11 Truth Movement? Them too. They’re all conspiracy theorists.” Well, not exactly. These are the two contrasting examples cited by Jaron Harambam, the Netherlands sociologist whose specialty is studying the subject of conspiracy theories and who argues in his recent book, Contemporary Conspiracy Culture: Truth and Knowledge in an Era of Epistemic Instability, that “we need to focus on the meaning, diversity and context of different conspiracy theories, as well as the people who suscribe to them.”

That seems to make sense, but how do we distinguish one from the other? That is the problem often posed by controversial affirmations on vital subjects. But is it enough to dismiss questionable truths by merely pasting a “conspiracy theory” label on them without taking a serious look at them? That seems to be the default reaction in the United States. If something is true, but is uncomfortable for important people or institutions, the most expedient way to deal with it is by heaping it with ridicule and denial until it fades out of sight. This procedure requires no research, no independent investigations, nor public debate, and it’s free. Who could ask for a more perfect method for curtailing debate and cloaking the truth?

Which is emphatically not to say that all “conspiracy theories” are baseless. Far from it, but when they all get lumped together in the same trick bag, it’s hard to tell them apart. How do you manage that? You do your homework. You read, compare versions of events, evaluate the sources, and weigh the probabilities. Then you make a considered decision based on all the facts you can muster. Yes, it can be work, but it is the most reliable way of getting to the truth. Admittedly, many conspiracy theories may not stand up to the truth. But, to the dismay of some important people, organizations and institutions, some will.

Harambam charcacterizes the 9/11 Truth Movement as “rather different, people who challenge the mainstream narrative of 9/11 with completely factual and scientific evidence.” He adds, “These activists profess knowledge of physics, construction and explosives, and ground their legitimacy in expertise. Harambam concludes, “Conspiracy theories are not uniform, nor should our engagements with them be.”

Kennedy Deserves Better

Another historic case that belongs alongside the 9/11 Truth Movement for plausibility, after about a half century of rich and varied independent investigation, is that of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. I’m not sure if anyone is prepared to make a firm accusation in the matter, but it should at least be freely aired. That has not happened, and doesn’t look about to. The case carries an additional factor that serves to intensify the smell of conspiracy: government collusion in efforts to occlude evidence relevant to the case. What possible explanation can there be for that, aside from blatant malfeasance?

Yes, there was a hurried and slipshod official investigation, headed by Justice Earl Warren, a pillar of American judicial honesty. But it was neither thorough nor convincing. That brings up another question: can government authorities be trusted to excavate the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or are there some questions of security, diplomacy, or loyalty to be protected at the same time? That would preclude justice. I.F. Stone, the great American independent journalist, is quoted as saying, “If you can only remember two things, rememember this: ‘Governments lie’. If you can remember three, remember, ‘All governments lie.'”

What is truly remarkable in these cases in the United States is the extent to which a massive majority of citizens prefer just not to bother looking into so many vital issues, preferring to consign them to “conspiracy-theory” limbo. A quick Google search on the term will show you just how the playing field is tilted in favor of discrediting virtually everyone who proposes a seemingly unlikely or controversial theory. Almost all the Google articles are derogatory and refer more to “conspiracy theory subcultures” than to the questions at hand, as if anyone who subscribes to any conspiracy theory were an idiot. It’s not clear whether this inability to distinguish between fact and fiction is due to laziness or devious intentions. Coincidentally, almost none of the writers offer much evidence to sustain their affirmations. They don’t have to. Just labeling the issue a “conspiracy theory,” will satisfy the mostly bovine critical sense out there. One thing is certain. The Kennedy case will not be closed until all those papers are released.

Personal Favorites

While we’re on the subject of government intervention, maybe it’s time to drop one of my favorite conspiracy theories. Isn’t it at least possible that it was one of America’s all-powerful “intelligence” agencies that got the conspiracy-theory ball rolling? If they didn’t, they should have, judging by the wholesale confusion caused by the onslaught of “conspiracy theories” throughout the American population. That forms part of a couple of the spooks’ core skills: propaganda and thought control. What a wonderful, spacious, dark bin in which to tip the government’s dirty laundry, the larger part of which belongs to the intelligence community, itself. All the black ops, all the false flags, the regime change, the surveillance at home and abroad… It might have something to do with them being secret. Never mind. They were most likely just following orders. They’re clean cut American boys. They wouldn’t be involved in anything unchristian. Would they?

At bottom, though the Americans think they’re doing themselves a favor with the conspiracy-theories gambit, in reality they’re just adding liabilities to their assets. Too many people worldwide have done their homework on “theories” like Kennedy and 9/11, just to mention the most egregious cases, and are no longer hoodwinked by slick propaganda maneuvers. At the very minimum it’s clear by now that the Americans cannot be trusted. Just look at Russia’s situation today, hemmed in along their entire western border by NATO military bases and missiles, with the Americans baying for more in Ukraine. This, after American Secretary of State, James Baker, on February 9, 1990, famously assured Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, that NATO wouldn’t move “one inch closer” to Russia. The occasion of that promise, which was repeated several times during the proceedings, was the negotiations over the re-unification of Germany.

The next news we had on that, admittedly verbal, agreement–something that in Russian culture is to be honored–was when the Americans welched on it, alleging that it wasn’t in writing and it was made with the Soviet Union, not Russia. It’s almost as if an American Secretary of State’s word were not his bond. (See the full story here.) One wonders how many world leaders will find such a maneuver despicable. And how many of them will forget it? I don’t think that sort of forgetfulness abounds at the top of world governments, at least those that matter.


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When Nothing Is Unthinkable

“Take out your entire enemy, virtually risk-free.”

Strategic thinker, Herman Kahn, and his Kubrickian counterpart, Dr. Strangelove

What President Truman Taught Us

It was August 9, 1945 when Harry Truman, President of the United States, proved irrevocably that nothing is unthinkable. Truman had authorized the dropping of two nuclear bombs on Japan. They were loaded on two B29 bombers and flown to the island of Trinian, within striking distance of the Japanese homeland. On that August day they unleashed the second one, playfully called “Fat Boy,” over a second city in Japan. Any normal human being would agree that dropping the first nuclear bomb, which obliterated Hiroshima, was unthinkable, but to drop another one on Nagasaki, just three days later, surpassed all human understanding, thus firmly establishing the certainty that nothing–nichts, nada, niente, rien–was unthinkable.

This comes to mind after watching an eight-minute video on YouTube (Slaughterbots) suggested by Sue Halpern in a New Yorker article, “The Rise of A.I. Fighter Pilots.” The film is a spoof but it demonstrates convincingly the opportunities now offered by artificial intelligence for identifying and eliminating your enemies. An adequate adjective for these “opportunities” has yet to be invented, but we cannot permit ourselves the luxury of rejecting the possibility that the Slaughterbots will, sooner or later, be loosed on the world. President Truman convinced us of that.

Halpern’s New Yorker article traces in minute detail the process of applying artificial intelligence (A.I.) to the development and deployment of a robot fighter plane capable of winning a dogfight against a likely enemy. Actually the aircraft does have a pilot but Halpern makes clear that he or she is mainly set decoration aimed at complying with international regulations that require a human to be included in the killing loop. When push comes to shove we’ll see whether the excess pilot remains in that redundant cockpit. According to Halpern’s report, the robot executes virtually every maneuver faster and better than its human counterpart, and never requires a haircut.

The most fascinating aspect of the article is not the technology. At this stage in the game we can take that for granted. What really impresses is the magnitude of the whole project. There are some 600 firms participating, each one with its budget. One wonders how many more high-priority research programs exist and how many of them are as as unthinkable as the A.I. fighter plane or the Slaughterbots. Little wonder that critical seeds of President Biden’s social programs for the country have fallen on rocky ground.

Unthinkability Yesterday and Today

Herman Khan, a bright young man from Bayonne, New Jersey, raised in New York and Los Angeles, was one of the Rand Corporation’s leading lights in the 1950s, a specialist in war games and strategic futurology whose papers made important contributions to American foreign policy. When he left RAND, he founded his own thinktank, the Hudson Institute, which still functions today as a non-profit entity, a virtual hive of right-wing nationalist dwarves, financed by the usual suspects.

In 1960 Kahn published On Thermonuclear War, in which he looked on the bright side of a theoretical nuclear holocaust. According to his calculations, after an atomic war against Russia, the United States’ enemy of choice, there would still be enough Americans left to bury their dead. He thus became famous as the first strategist to admit to thinking the unthinkable. Insiders affirm that Stanley Kubrick’s extravagant Dr. Strangelove character was a composite based on Herman Kahn, the alleged conceiver of the Doomsday Machine, and the German rocket scientist, Werner von Braun.

Having come this far on the subject of unthinkability, we’re obliged to continue down that dark, crowded rabbit hole. Let’s start from the not-unreasonable premise that a functioning democracy presupposes a certain degree of honesty, decency, and good will among its practitioners. Anything less negates all democratic pretensions. Does the United States meet those vital conditions today? Clearly not. Today there are more weasels than rabbits in the hole, and the first priority of them all is bare-faced self interest–or worse, the interests of sinister movers and shakers–big pharma, big fossil fuels, big armament and big everything else–who formerly lurked in the shadows of Washington’s lobbying firms. Nowadays, thanks to legislation custom-designed by pliable legislators to facilitate the big guys’ sinister agendas, they have carte blanche everywhere and they can see to it that their word is law. How else can one explain a country where the pharmaceutical companies can collect multi-billion-dollar subsidies and then prohibit the government from negotiating the price when they come to purchase medications.

Then There’s Ukraine

Ukraine is all over the news these days, partly because of tensions along their long border with Russia and partly because the United States needs to take the world’s eye off their own lamentable condition. They seem to have realized only recently that the Chinese are winning the worldwide economic development race, and that their beloved country, the United States of America, is facing an imminent future when it will no longer be the world’s only superpower. It’s the first time that observers of Washingtonia have ever seen the American turtle on its back, and it’s unsettling as well as fascinating. They are in check today and will still be in check next week, and the coming checkmate is as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow.

This is America’s gravest geopolitical problem since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. It’s perhaps graver, as their victory over Japan was a foregone conclusion, and the Americans could depend upon the Russians to defenestrate the German Wehrmacht on the eastern front. Will the American response to China be a pondered, negotiated, carefully-cut-the-losses approach, or will they lose their cool and resort to bombast and hyperbole? Not to mention what they consider their strongest suit: war.

Their moves thus far have seemed silly, as well as dangerous. After threatening and insulting the Russians at the negotiating table the US state department has demanded of Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, that Russia retire their troops from the Ukraine border, seemingly unaware that the Russian troops are sitting on their own territory, around 160 miles from the border. Meanwhile the U.S. and U.K. are flying arms and ammunition into Ukraine from stockpiles thousands of miles away in their respective countries, as if that weren’t a provocation. Why is NATO playing a role in this affair, anyway? Neither Ukraine nor Russia belong to NATO. This is a family affair. Furthermore, are the Americans sure Ukraine needs to join NATO? They are already threatening Russia by a semi-circle of missile bases in current NATO countries close by its borders.

Galloway’s Helpful Solution

George Galloway is a former member of the British parliament from Scotland and commentator for RT America. (Full disclosure: RT is a Russian communist English-language news service based in Washington, D.C., not far from the White House.) Galloway has made what he considers a reasonable proposal for resolving the Ukraine deadlock. With his wry Scottish sense of humor, he says that Russia should establish military bases in Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela so the Americans can begin to get the picture.

The Americans Lower the Benchmark

What proper country prioritizes war initiatives over the health, education, and welfare of its own citizens? What decent country has inserted so many loopholes and stumbling blocks in its legislative and judicial processes that laws benefitting its citizens are virtually impossible to pass, while the aforementioned drug companies are writing their own tickets? Can anyone name a modern, industrialized country which lacks even the most elemental standards of equality and opportunity for all of its citizens, regardless of race, religion or sexual inclinations? Or a nation that is currently carrying out a concerted state-by-state campaign to prevent a large segment of the society from being able to vote? I can only think of one. And all of this skullduggery and malfeasance is taking place in that country which is allegedly a beacon of democracy for the entire world, a universal role model. Who alleges that? Well, they do.

But Western Democracy, especially the severely-crippled American version, is not a one-size-fits-all solution for other countries if, indeed, it’s even a viable system for their own. In order to acknowledge that we must desist from considering “democracy” as the worldwide default setting, and stop believing the false equivalence, socialism=evil , when the reality is quite the contrary. There are other valid ways to approach the issue of governance. There’s Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and, yes, China.

Martin Jacques is a celebrated British intellectual who has been taking China seriously for decades. He devotes a lot of space in the new edition of his 2009 book, When China Rules the World, to explaining the legitimacy of China’s brand of communism/state capitalism, based on the singularities of Chinese history. If the proof is in the pudding, he makes a convincing case, after China’s non-democratic government has succeeded, with the massive approval (in the 90+ percentile) of the Chinese people, in lifting more than a billion of their citizens out of ignorance and poverty. That is something that, in 1978, when the Chinese economic comeback was launched, the entire world considered unthinkable.

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Are There No Limits to Your Evil, America?

Today the United States exports weapons of mass destruction. Cuba exports doctors.

Are You Blind, Deaf and Dumb?

Granada, Spain, Jan. 17, 2022–I ran across this headline the other day in the Washington Post: “In America, a child is shot every hour, and hundreds die.” It was followed by an article about 13 young people–one by one–who had been killed by firearms in America in 2021. I thought I was inured to lurid headlines from the US, but this one jolted me profoundly. It opened the floodgates to outrage that had been building for decades. There were photographs of all the children before they were killed. If you click on their pictures you can read their stories. I read the first one. I couldn’t face the rest.

The Post reports in the same article:

All of them were killed in an epidemic unique to the United States, where, on average, at least one child is shot every hour of every day. Many survive, but many others do not. In the nation’s capital, nine children were killed in gun homicides last year. In Los Angeles, 11 were fatally shot. In Philadelphia: 36. In Chicago: 59. Those figures don’t include the hundreds of other kids who died in accidental shootings and by suicide.

The Washington Post

Wait, There’s More

It’s not just American firearms policy that cries out to heaven–and to the world community. It’s everything else: the prepotency, the inequality, the racism, the prison population, the incessant meddling in other people’s countries, the utter disrespect for everyone everywhere except their own crop of venal magnates and politicians, the cynical arms trafficking, the imposition of American-style faux democracy and “free” markets, their pretensions that their land of ignorance and arrogance is a model for the whole world to follow… What is the world supposed to think about American diplomats at the highest level whose discourse is limited to threats and insults–Blinkenisms? What about all the cynical regime-change operations and other black ops, which Hollywood converts into profit? What demon issued the Americans their license to kill?

They try to cloak all of these 57 flavors of dystopia in a rancid fog of anti-communism and rabid militarism, lies and hypocrisy. They have become masters of the art of converting adversaries into enemies. They would rather bomb your house than talk to your leaders. What about the dead, the maimed, and the refugee families they leave in their wake, millions of them?

The Case of Cuba

Then there’s Cuba, one of the most grotesque examples of inveterate American evil in our time. The story begins in 1959 when Fidel Castro leads a guerilla army to overthrow the seven-year dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista and proclaim a revolutionary socialist state in Cuba. Batista had enjoyed the support of the American government, thanks to his feral anti-socialist policies. In 1960, after Castro nationalizes all foreign assets in Cuba, American President Dwight Eisenhower freezes Cuban assets in the US and imposes a trade embargo which is still in effect in 2022, having been “reinforced” several times over the past six decades. The repercussions on the lives of the Cuban people were predictably grave and have lingered on until today, despite repeated international appeals. The American recalcitrance seems more due to a monumental fit of pique complicated by the usual hysterical anti-communism than to substantive issues.

Besides umpteen CIA-organized attempts on Castro’s life and biological- warfare attacks on Cuban crops, the US backed a full-fledged invasion by some 1,200 CIA-trained-and-financed Cuban-exile troops on April 17, 1961. The invasion was an immediate disaster due both to the Cuban military’s fast and effective response–the pathetic little Cuban air force sank all the invaders’ escort ships in a day–and the lack of local support for the armed exiles. The principal results of the exercise were the strengthening of Fidel Castro’s government at home and its prestige abroad, including closer ties with the Soviet Union, which reinforced Cuba’s defenses. That reinforcement culminated in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, a deadly-serious Keystone Cops confrontation between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier, Nikita Khruschev. President Kennedy was assassinated the following year on the street in Dallas, Texas. Comandante Fidel Castro died in his bed of natural causes 53 years later at the age of 90. Still Cuba resists. Today the United States exports weapons of mass destruction. Cuba exports doctors.

Unlikely Country Steals a March

Meanwhile, while the Americans were busy huffing and puffing and blowing houses down, an unlikely far-off country stole a march on them. When they finally began to wake up from their neo-con dream, they found themselves confronted by the greatest-ever threat to their presumed hegemony: a heretofore backward, irrelevant, communist, atheist country called China. By the time this shocking new reality registered, with the Asian giant’s economic growth rate having approached 10% between 1978 and 1992, China was out of reach.

What now? Having ceded their industrial preeminence to China decades ago, the only recourse left to the American plutocracy is its massive military establishment. Even in that department, however, the Chinese are hard to intimidate, short of resorting to the Americans’ preponderance in nuclear weapons. A nuclear response, of course, is insane. But does anyone with two fingers of forehead consider the American establishment to be even remotely sane? They, themselves, have unabashedly, if tacitly, affirmed the contrary. Look no further than once and possibly-future President Donald Trump, the semi-literate guttersnipe, pockets stuffed with cash, who makes Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini look like Aristotle and Plato.

American military strategy is increasingly dependent on its fleet of giant, nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. These monsters are 333 meters in length, longer than three football fields. There are currently 11 of them and three more are projected. That’s enough, in any case, to virtually corral the entire Chinese east coast in a semi-circle of deadly naval aviation. But that bucket, too, has a hole in it. According to industry experts, China’s DF-ZF hypersonic anti-ship missiles, online since 2019 and which fly unpredictable trajectories at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10 (3,800-7,600 miles per hour), look pretty formidable. Are the American super carriers capable of defending themselves against this Chinese defensive threat? It remains to be seen, but it is in no way assured. According to, China is not the only country to have hypersonic anti-ship missiles. Russia, Iran, and India are also in the race.

American History is a Rap Sheet

When, in the United States, is enough, enough? The recent history of that great country reads like a rap sheet, reflecting every imaginable flavor of criminality. In fact, in the past couple of decades it looks as if the American powers that be have been re-importing their own policies elaborated for castigating the people of enemy countries and applying them to their own citizens. I refer to economic sanctions in the form of skewed tax laws, unreasonable incarceration policies, massive surveillance programs, horrendous wealth inequality, white-supremacist racial injustice, abandonment of basic welfare responsibilities, blockades of health and education opportunities, rigged courts of justice, unsafe and mortally unfair public safety procedures… Americans can no longer trust their police and their courts.

Let’s wind up with another Washington Post headline that will make your day. It’s from Hamtramck, Michigan: “Judge shames 72-year-old cancer patient too weak to tend to his lawn.” The article quotes the woman judge as saying, “If I could jail you for this, I would.” Admittedly, the old gentleman had a feeble excuse: “I’m sick.”


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The Markaz Review Publishes a Look at the Current State of American Democracy by an Exiled Ex-American

What is American democracy today, but a dried, empty chrysalis after the butterfly has departed? At bottom, democracy is just a means to an end and that end, according to Thomas Jefferson in the American Declaration of Independence, is “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The Markaz, a laudable NGO that promotes understanding between the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian worlds, features in their monthly Markaz Review, a piece on the current state of American democracy, written from a long way off. Here it is: (Click on the headline in the box that appears.)

Look Out! America Is Desperate

The Americans’ egregious lying and deception–pages out of a rancid cold-war playbook–quickly evolve into dangerous brinkmanship that places the entire world in jeopardy.

No Cause for Sabre Rattling? Never Mind, They’ll Improvise One

It is fascinating to see how the United States is impaling itself like a butterfly on a military map of the world. In keeping with their traditional WDWTFWP (We-do-whatever-the-fuck-we-please) agenda, they are busy laying the groundwork for wars far from home on opposite sides of the world, and with both of the most notorious cases based on false pretenses. The Ukraine brouhaha has its roots in the American-sponsored ousting of that country’s democratically-elected president in 2014 and the subsequent CIA-fomented “civil war.” Long experience has taught the Gringos that a proxy war is more profitable than fighting yourself.

As for the Taiwan “emergency,” it is due to the Americans’ bad faith in denying a fact that they specifically agreed to in a September 13, 2016 State Department Fact Sheet: Taiwan is legitimately Chinese territory. Both of these conflicts admitted of negotiated solutions at the outset but in both cases the American response was to rush into the breach with–arms deals. For that is largely what all the American sabre rattling is about: the war business.

It’s Not about Winning Wars

We must keep in mind the principal objective of America’s arms-peddling projects. It’s not to win wars–as they have so lavishly demonstrated in every war they have waged since World War II–but to nourish the hyper-bloated balance sheets of the American war industries. War makes for wonderful business.

In the good old days, before Russia’s decisive armament innovations and China’s rise to economic prominence, the United States essentially cornered the market on military hardware. But in recent years they have increasingly been taken by surprise. The Russians’ new S-500 Prometheus surface-to-air /anti-ballistic missile, with a range of around 600 kilometres (370 miles) is about to go online–and on the market. It is effective against intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as hypersonic cruise missiles and aircraft, and rumor has it, perhaps even satellites. According to The Buzz, a Syria-based S-500 obtained a lock-on on an F-35 on June 20,2021. The S-500 is so superior to its American Patriot counterpart that even US allies–notably Turkey–have placed their order, and India is looking like a potential client.

Russia was also the first country to produce hypersonic missiles that fly at least five times the speed of sound in zig-zag trajectories. The Chinese weren’t far behind, though their hypersonic weapon still requires a bit of tweaking. Last August they flew it on a low trajectory all the way around the world before striking just 19 miles off the target. The hypersonics can allegedly be very effective against aircraft carriers. John Harper writes in National Defense Magazine:

Carrier battle groups include ships equipped with advanced air-and-missile defense systems such as Aegis. But hypersonics pose a unique threat compared to traditional ballistic and cruise missiles, analysts say. Although today’s ballistic missiles can achieve hypersonic speeds, they tend to follow a predictable flight path that is easier to track.

The CSBA report warned that the new missiles would significantly lower or negate the effectiveness of U.S. air defenses even if the carrier strike group were operating as far as 1,000 nautical miles from the launch site. Anti-ship weapons may be able to speed past interceptors, while their flight paths could exploit seams between current high- and low-altitude U.S. air-and-missile defense systems, it explained.

National Defense Magazine

Faced with this daunting new challenge to ships on the high seas, posed by both Russia and China, how does the Pentagon decide to proceed? They are currently programming the construction of three new  Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs)–at something like $13 billion a pop. I am not a naval strategist but I am already asking myself approximately how many hours can those American super carriers be expected to survive in a 21st-century shooting war.

USA–How and Where to Strut Their Stuff

The US currently has 11 nuclear aircraft carriers, more than any other country in the world. They’re also the largest; their total deck area is more that double that of all the rest of the world’s carriers together. Three new ones will bring the total up to 14. Where do they propose to float all these extravagant boats? Let’s look at where are they currently concentrating their naval resources. Curiously, it’s in the Black Sea, which is Russia’s Caribbean, and the South China Sea, whose name speaks for itself. These are purely defensive measures, mind you, not intended in any way as provocations. It’s only as if the Chinese were pacifically strutting their naval power off the coasts of Maryland and California.

All of this armed arrogance is reminiscent of the time after the Second World War when the United States was the undisputed preeminent military power in the world, when most of the rest of the world was flat on its back. But times have changed. It’s as if they haven’t noticed. Or they don’t want to acknowlege the new realities, believing desperately that jacking up the massive “defense” budget every year will save them and their splendid way of life. One is reminded of the mega-nostalgia that Great Britain harbored for the Empire, until it dragged them into Brexit’s blind alley. Today “Great Britain” sounds like a serious misnomer for a chilly, damp, lonely, little island lost in the North Atlantic. Is the United States convinced it should be following the same game plan?

The Waning Power of the Same Old Lies

The Americans’ egregious lying and deception–pages out of a rancid cold-war playbook–quickly evolve into dangerous brinkmanship that places the entire world in jeopardy. Other countries are overtaking the United States on all fronts, and by leaps and bounds. Britain’s eminent China specialist, Martin Jacques, the author of The Post-Western World, commented the other day on The Thinkers’ Forum, that, by the experts’ best estimates, in 2035 the Chinese economy would be double that of the US. That’s just 14 Christmases away.

Meanwhile, the American response to evolving world events is a combination of petulance and nostalgia summed up in the shopworn, “The Russians are coming…” That story may find buyers in Idaho and Mississippi, but it has lost most of its gloss in the real world. What we are seeing these days on the part of the American leadership is panic induced by myopia. They are blinded by the fear of the rising status of both Russia and China. The Yanks being Yanks, the only response they can conceive of is military, the exact worst possible choice.

Neither of their formidable adversaries has spent its time and treasure in the past few decades waging fruitless ideological wars nor surrounding their adversaries with military bases, nor delivering democracy via intelligent drones. China has not saddled itself with the conflicts and complications of religion: no freebooting, down-dumbing megachurches, no private-airliner televangelists, no horny chief executives with racy “spiritual advisors,” no heads of diplomacy bovinely awaiting “the rapture.” China is thus free of politicians at the highest levels of government awaiting–and promoting–an imminent Armageddon, unlike the illuminated American leaders who feel they needn’t bother about solving the problems of the here and now. As they see it, their important work begins after we–and they–are all dead.

Permanent War Is an American Scam

Although there’s no profit in losing wars, the shrewder Americans don’t need victories to make astronomical profits. All they need is for their brilliant communications industry, the greatest creators of public opinion since the New Testament–to sow danger and instability around the world.

They warn of the imminent Russian threat to Europe, the Islamic terrorism threat to the Middle East–and Manhattan–and the wily Chinese threat to the Far East and further afield. It’s an arms peddlar’s paradise out there, and the Americans have been exploiting it adroitly for more than half a century. Every one of those perceived or invented threats to the “Free World” requires its corresponding counterthreat. And that presents one of history’s most lucrative business opportunities. So the wheels of the US arms industry never stop. Never mind that most of these perceived dangers are contrived. In fact, the principal danger is that posed by the Americans themselves, armed to the teeth and led by sociopathic leaders nurtured in a culture of agression, hypocrisy, and deception, while embracing a demented, take-over-the-world agenda. America’s leaders are just as much victims of the prevailing exceptionalist myths as the rest of the country. They went to the same schools.

NATO: Protection Racket, Distribution Center and More

The Americans have been singularly successful selling their world view and all the glittering death toys that accompany it. One of their principal distributors is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an American-engendered military alliance created in 1949 in the wake of the 1947 National Security Act. This enabling legislation opened the doors, a couple of years later, to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), regime-change and black ops specialists, and the National Security Agency (NSA), the world’s foremost wire tapper, signals grabber and hacker. The NSA allegedly has more personnel and a bigger budget than the CIA. Nobody really knows what goes on at the bottom those two murky ponds. What little we do know is thanks to brave and selfless whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. Will we ever know all the facts? Not if the US government’s latest foot-dragging on the release of the JFK assassination papers is any indicator.

Though NATO was theoretically created as an anti-communist defensive pact (anti-communism is the magic elixir), it soon became clear that it was much more than that. NATO talking points unceasingly revolved around the imminent danger of Soviet arms and ill intentions, and the fact that NATO nations were dangerously under-armed. Not to worry, the Americans would sell them all the materiel they needed.

NATO began with 12 founding members and has since reached a total of 30, the most recent additions being Montenegro in 2017 and North Macedonia in 2020. The boost in membership was largely thanks to a NATO recruiting campaign among ex-Soviet satellite states after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The principal byproduct of this initiative is a string of NATO (American in essence; NATO’s chief military officer, the supreme Allied commander Europe, has always been an American) bases forming a semicircle around western Russia. NATO maintains that this array of missiles close to the Russian border is a strictly defensive measure. Russia, understandably, does not agree. A report from The Guardian (30 Nov. 2021) features Russian president, Vladimir Putin saying:

“You asked about Ukraine, where are these red lines?” he said in televised remarks during an investment conference. “They are above all in the creation of threats to us which could come from [Ukraine].”

In particular, he warned against the stationing in Ukraine of missile defence systems similar to those in Romania and Poland. Putin claimed they could serve as cover to deploy offensive weapons such as Tomahawk missiles capable of reaching Moscow in minutes.

“We would have to create a similar threat for those who are threatening us,” he said, warning that Russia could deploy hypersonic missiles. “And we can do that already now,” he added.

The Guardian

The frosting on the NATO cake is their terrorist-program-in-Europe initiative that poisoned European politics for decades and may have left some of its operatives on the loose. When it came to light in the Italian courts in 1990 they dubbed it “Operation Gladio.” I wrote a long piece on it in April of 2020.

American Arms Business Not Limited to Europe

American wheeling and dealing in armament is not limited to European countries. The latest succulent operations to surface in the world media are the deals made with Taiwan and Australia. The former is Chinese territory by common agreement since 1971 so that issue settles itself, but Australia? And to the tune of eight nuclear submarines? How do the Americans manage to close these fantasmagoric arms deals and enroll these unlikely allies against shadowy enemies? It’s almost as if the Americans are trying to provoke China to behave as a dangerous enemy.I want to propose a Congressional Medal of Honor for the genius who closed that submarine deal on the Aussies. China is Australia’s most important trading partner–providing a substantial chunk of their economy. The Chinese also have the largest armed forces in the world. Do the Aussies really want to provoke them? It doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t have to. The world is ruled by whims and miffs, business deals and interests, not sense. Let’s just look for the simplest possible solution. There’s always a thriving market for running dogs avid for ever-juicier bones. It is through them that powerful economic interests can influence geopolitical outcomes. All that these powerful interests–governments, industries, banks, big farma, big anything–have to do is to bribe a few well-placed government power brokers in order to influence key decisions. Some of these operations are kept secret, but some of them are flaunted in the world media. The Australian submarine deal is one of these. The Aussies are proud of themselves, like a six-year-old who has just managed to pull the pin on a hand grenade.

Back to Reality

The American portrayal of Chinese policy is the exact opposite of the truth. The Chinese are not the warmongers. They are not surrounding their adversaries with military bases, nor constructing fanciful “defensive alliances” to coerce them. China’s remarkable success in economic development is based not on military threats and black ops but on respect and mutually beneficial cooperation with developing countries–71 at last count.

It is precisely the wealth not misspent on militarism that has permitted the Chinese to invest in their country’s future. The American policy of creating military threats that oblige them to bankrupt themselves matching the Americans in an arms race cannot work on the Chinese the way it worked on the Russians. It was deployed too late. The Chinese were already off and running, and the Americans already trillions of dollars in debt to them.

Then there’s the US propaganda attack on China for its brutal treatment of their Uyghur Muslim minority. This is the ultimate surreal example of the American pot calling the Chinese kettle black. The Americans’ grave concern over civil rights violations in Xinjiang province’s Tarim Basin smell moldy indeed in view of their own heinous racist abuses from Mississippi to Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, Serbia, Libya, and countless other places. Do the Chinese even have a word for “lynching,” or do they have to borrow it from the American language?

Pre-Cooked American Public Opinion

Where the American yarn spinners can sell their tainted goods is in their own country. American public opinion is pre-cooked. All the lies and myths are readily at hand, the exceptionalism, the uber-patriotism, the racism, the wily Chinese communist enemies, and the “brotherhood from sea to shining sea.” With all this previous conditioning, it’s easy for the Pentagon to send American young people into harm’s way in pointless ideological and commercial wars. And once they get there the support-the-troops pavlovian phenomenon clicks in at home.

The CIA, which orchestrates much of the patriotic drumbeat is virtually a hermetic country unto itself. Its existence is built on foundations of absolute secrecy used to obfuscate the highest elected offices in the land. How do they manage to keep vital secrets from the US Congress and the President himself? They are partial to a ploy called “plausible denial.” By not informing the country’s elected elites of their most egregious operations such as their bloody regime-change operations abroad and domestic surveillance at home, the CIA and the NSA allege that they are not depriving the highest levels of government of vital strategic information. They are actually shielding them from responsibility for some of the country’s most heinous and far-reaching black ops. When they eventually come to light, the response is, “The President knew nothing of this program.” That’s plausible deniability.

What’s Next? Will It Be the End?

The simple truth is: we don’t know if the end is near. If the President of the United States himself can be kept in the dark, how are the citizens of the US and the world supposed to know anything? We have to guess. And given the intellectual and moral stature of America’s leaders, and their behind-the-scenes big-bucks handlers, an impartial outside observer cannot venture even to guess what comes next, nor when. The fact that their American backs are against the wall might encourage them to take desperate measures. Will they try taking on Russian and China in tandem. We can only hope not, and try to forget the depressing old truism: “hope is not a strategy, and a wish is not a plan.”


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Future? What Future?

Don’t they realize that they will ultimately be swept up in their own maelstrom?

The Grimmest Fairy Tale

We’re accustomed to talking glibly about “the future” as if it were a given. “There always has been a future, hasn’t there,” you may say. Yes, it always has been something we could take for granted, but now it’s not. Now life as we know it on this planet is not assured a future.

How did that happen? One thing is certain: it didn’t happen by “fate” or accident. It didn’t happen due to puerile biblical prophesies, and it didn’t happen by natural disasters, not in the first place, anyway. Those natural disasters were provoked by mankind. (I’m going to permit myself this gender transgression, as most of the floods and firestorms, droughts and extinctions, were caused, directly or indirectly, by men, not women.)

But it’s not complicated. What threw the future of the world into grave uncertainty was greed, but not any old greed. It was–and is–greed hyped up by technology the way the garden shovel was superceded by the bulldozer and the power shovel. It’s a terrifying, mortal, previously unthinkable greed that ruthless men have loosed upon the world.

From Thom Hartmann on the LA Progressive Newsletter yesterday:

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his 1933 inaugural address about an earlier generation of Republican obstructionists: “They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

How Stupid Are These Consummate Businessmen, Anyway?

Don’t they realize that they will ultimately be swept up in their own maelstrom? No, they don’t. They think their astronomical treasure will protect them but it won’t. They are convinced of that because they’re drunk on wealth, power and self deception. Just as they have left us bereft of a future they have done the same for themselves. Cold consolation for us.

Where do these mega-cannibals come from? These shrewd exploiters come principally from an upstart nation that was founded two-and-a-half brief centuries ago in a broad, green, far-off land populated by tribes of primitive peoples living wholesome–which is not to say warless–subsistence lives. The founders of this new nation promptly dispatched the natives to the happy hunting grounds. By the mid-19th century they had conquered that broad, green land from coast to coast. They called it the United States of America.

Sadly for history, that procedure of genocide and spiralling profit off the rich land became the playbook for the Americans. (They called themselves “Americans” as if the sum of two entire continents belonged exclusively to them.) The world had seen many conquerors before, but these self-styled Americans added a new ingredient to the recipe. They told the world they were not conquerors, but liberators. They took something they called “freedom” and a primitive, warmed-over miracle religion they called “christianity” with them. These seemingly inoccuous innovations not only promised their victims a pleasant life on earth but also a dandy afterlife.

This sort of balderdash can be labeled “voodoo hypocrisy,” as none of it was true nor ever would be. Instead it became one of the most fearful arms in the American arsenal, thanks more to their outstanding-if-mendacious salesmanship, than to the merit of their product.

Greed Makes the World Go Round

Greed, as we know, is ongoing, like a perpetual-motion machine, only better. Not only does it continue to run; it continues to grow, like compound interest. That’s how unscrupulous American speculators and usurpers coopted everyone’s future and started playing fast and loose with it. They discovered that the most lucrative business of all was the arms trade. It’s the only enterprise where the products are promptly blown to smithereens, creating a perpetual market for the violent death of mainly people with funny names in far-off countries. The flaw in this impeccable plan was the same one all over again. These free-market freebooters discovered the atomic bomb and, by extension, the one winter–the nuclear winter–that not even the Eskimos can escape from. So the exploiters are now in the same boat with those they exploit. Nevertheless, they pretend not to notice. The bizness must go on.

Throughout this entire historical process–though historically it wasn’t actually very long–these unspeakable American men covered themselves with a magical blanket of legitimacy. They were, after all, constructing the Free World. How did they manage to achieve that respectability? The same way they managed everything else. They bought it. They didn’t mess around. They went straight to the Congress of the United States. And they bought it.

Which Brings Us to the Brink

Today humankind’s future on this earth rests on a knife’s edge that can cut either way, but not with equal probability. With those slick American entrepreneurs ferreting around the known world provoking powerful potential enemies by ringing them with warships and nuclear-missile bases, the odds look decidedly in favor of some sort of imperialist Armageddon. Why would they do such foolish things? You don’t even need to ask. Just refer to their agenda, which is their deadly script. Your possibilities of surviving? They’re nearing zero.

The plain laws of probability tell us that, after so many near misses on so many fronts, including so many slip ups, from near nuclear launches to the three-trillion-dollar, fruitless-for-all-but-the-parasites Afghan War, the definitive wipeout is now approaching inevitability.

Above us, on Olympus, from where we thought the gods looked after the wellbeing of humanity, it turns out there are only malevolent, self-serving dwarves. What do you think your chances are with them? How do we know who they are? It’s easy, just read the paper. You will have to discard the words but you’ll get the drift just humming along with the music and watching the shit that’s going down.


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Why Republicans Celebrate the Dumbing Down of America

The flag is just a rag but America remains enslaved to the atavistic mental claptrap of patriotism, imperialism and militarism that it supposedly represents.

They’re Fixing the System So the Less Educated and Most Gullible Vote for Them

In the good old days the more wealth an American had the more likely he or she was to vote Republican. It made sense. The Grand Old Party was the one that coddled the rich, protecting them from regulations on their businesses and high taxes on their incomes. Today in the US, although richer citizens are still more likely to vote than poorer people, there is a new element in the mix–the stupidity factor–that is gaining weight in the struggle. That factor has to do with the educational level of voters. Some astute Republicans have discovered this relatively new development in election trends over the past 30 years, and it has occurred to them to look at the upside of the phenomenon for their party.

If voters with less education and higher stupidity quotients are more inclined to vote Republican, the secret of winning elections is to foment less education and more stupidity. This fact should vastly improve Republican results in elections at all levels, local, state and national. The brief Trump Era added another variable to the election equation, the dumbed-down factor. The Republican thinkers have discovered that just three straightforward measures will permit the GOP to win a mass of new votes in upcoming elections from a notably undereducated and highly racist sector of American citizenry.

The first step in this Dumb-Down Strategy has been underway for decades, so all the Republicans have to do is to continue to foment it. It’s the lowering of standards in American K-12 schools because, though the US has some of the world’s most distinguished institutions of higher education, their K-12 schools are lamentable by international standards, placing 26th in a ranking headed by China, America’s bitter pill.

According to Keri D. Ingraham, director and fellow of the American Center for Transforming Education:

Here’s the sad truth. Twenty-five countries outperform U.S. K-12 students. Those leading the way are China, Hong Kong, Finland, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Canada. China’s students not only place first overall, but they dominate each individual subject as well. U.S. students straggle in at 33rd in math, 23rd in science, and 17th in reading.

The majority of U.S. public school students do not achieve grade level proficiency. The Nation’s Report Card reveals that only 28.7 percent of 4th-graders, 26.4 percent of 8th-graders, and a mere 22.8 percent of 12th-graders reach basic proficiency levels averaged across seven subjects (civics, geography, mathematics, reading, science, U.S. history, and writing) on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests. In other words, over 71 percent of our students lack basic academic proficiencies at the end of their 13-year K-12 schooling.–Dumbing Down K-12 Education by Keri Ingraham

The second step in the plan to take electoral advantage of America’s dumbed-down electorate is to pitch the election discourse to the least educated Americans. As we might expect, these are the voters who respond best to populist, racist demagogic rhetoric. Donald J. Trump was, of course, sent from heaven to deliver those messages. Step three is to implement, state by state, a meticulous set of restrictive voting laws designed to limit severely access to the polls by groups most likely to vote against the Republicans. That is black and brown Americans and other minorities. This furibund program is being implemented all over America as we speak. Unless it is halted by the courts, an unlikely outcome given their carefully prepared, right-wing composition, both the 2022 mid-term and the 2024 presidential elections will have interesting outcomes.

These Are the Indicators

Young people hardly read any more. They are too busy being entertained in an all-enveloping universe of electronic devices. “Pop culture” carries the day. The young people who are the future of America will soon be travelling–and leading–without a map or a compass, without criteria to guide them. A cursory look at today’s United States Congress tells us that this process is already under way. The whole Trumpian ethos–which has left a profound imprint on American politics, and may be back in 2024–has its roots in profound, arrogant ignorance.

Neighborhood bookstores are disappearing. Those warm, cosseting places where one could stroll and sample, actually pick up and savor a variety of books at leisure, are gone. Those places fomented reading, learning and quiet reflection, and they have been supplanted by the Amazon delivery robot.

Intellectual crutches are available to everybody online. As long as we have Google nobody needs to know anything. It’s all there–for free. As for reading 1,000 pages of Tolstoy, who needs it? Those twenty bucks can more profitably be spent on the lottery.

Perhaps the most pernicious factor in this whole vortex of ignorance is the milieu. Not only does a young person not read; none of his friends do, nor any of theirs. Nor do his parents, nor the former and possibly next President of the United States.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Reminds Us (in a book) of the Danger of the Stupidity Epidemic

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, author of On Stupidity, paid with his life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a young Lutheran pastor Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was outspoken from the beginning in his opposition to Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich. Arrested at his parents’ home on April 4, 1943 he was shunted from prison to a series of concentration camps before being hanged at Flossenbürg concentration camp on April 9, 1945, at the age of 39, just two weeks before Allied troops liberated the camp. While he awaited his execution he wrote Letters and Papers from PrisonOne of these essays, entitled On Stupidity, records some of the problems which Bonhoeffer saw at work in Hitler’s rise to power. Though Bonhoeffer and his work have lately been- coopted by the evangelical right, his life and work speak eloquently for themselves. He comments in his essay, On Stupidity:

“Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. … The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.”

This warning/condemnation of harmful herd stupidity is as relevant today in the United States as it was in the Germany of the 1940s. The proof of the pudding would become clear to many misled Americans if ex-President Donald Trump were to win the Republican candidacy and the Presidency in the 2024 presidential election. By then it would be too late and dumbed-down America’s experience of manipulated voters and rigged elections would enter into history as the definitive case study of massive election success based on a deliberately dumbed-down electorate.

Umair Haque, who publishes today’s most lucid commentary regarding the American nosedive, on, has written recently:

To say that little Johnny shouldn’t have to learn about slavery is only to say that he should be able to on being ignorant, and perhaps a bigot, like his parents — the Trumpists — are. And if he beats up a few minorities at school, harasses them, insults them…well, that’s just boys being boys. Just like, apparently, only white dudes get to be CEOs because everyone else is dumber than them, I guess. You see my point.

These are old, old fears. You have to understand them that way to really know them. White Americans have lived with these fears since they colonised the land. The Natives were attacking them. The slaves would rebel. They’re coming for our wives and kids are the oldest, most primal fears in the white American imagination. And here they are, being used to drive white America into a mindless rage, all over again.

Umair Haque on

Who Profits from Exploiting the Under-Educated?

The American sea of ignorance provides rich fishing for glad handers, witch doctors, militarists and other opportunists in the United States Congress. Their agendas all coincide on one point: re-election is the ultimate good, and they pursue it at all costs. Big business interests knew that for a long time but couldn’t take full advantage of the situation until the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision (January 21, 2010), which gave corporations and some other institutions the status of persons with the same right to contribute freely to election campaigns. Money can buy elections and that decision opened the floodgates to a massive symbiotic relationship between big business and the country’s legislators at all levels.

Before long one of the principal roles of many (most?) lawmakers was as agents of powerful economic interests. The most egregious examples of this phenomenon today are the cases of Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Lea Sinema of Arizona, both captives of fossil fuel interests to the detriment of their party and constituents nationwide. There are many others, enough to to carry the day on any issue, from “defense” spending to coal, oil and natural gas subsidies. It’s a bi-partisan tradition. You can find legislators from both parties on the wrong side of the street, especially on issues of social justice, racism, militarism and voting rights, to name a few.

Tricking the Turkeys

The leitmotif that ran through the Trump administration was the dismounting of “big government,” and they were alarmingly successful at it. This is evident in Trump’s selection of members for his cabinet, ideologues instead of experts. Their job across the board was to cripple or eliminate government agencies that were vital to the health and wellbeing of the country and potentiate freebooter capitalism. The country has not recovered yet, neither in practical nor ideological terms. A lot of fallout from the Trump years has not been mopped up. Worse than that, a lot of Americans still think Trump was right, even though they were the first victims of his strip-the-country-of-its-defenses policies, and would vote for him if he were a candidate in 2024 .

It’s a classic case of the turkeys voting for Thanksgiving. How do unscrupulous, self-serving politicians convince the turkeys to vote in favor of their own extermination, whether figurative or, in the case of the military, literal. The flag is just a rag but America remains enslaved to the atavistic mental claptrap of patriotism, imperialism and militarism that it supposedly represents.

In the first place candidates for the Thanksgiving table have to be turkeys, i.e. undereducated. Eagles would not fall for such an obvious con. The explanation for such unthinkable barnyard gullibility lies in America’s traditions, myths, mores and folkways. It boils down to different flavors of myopic patriotism, baseless exceptionalism, and bare-faced mendacity on the part of America’s leaders, all part of the compost that fertilizes the American stupidity whose victims voted for a crooked, carnival barker President once–and may well do so again.

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America’s Testy Response to China

Is there any hope for a great country that has painted itself into a dark corner where the rich have been permitted to buy the democracy and tailor it to their own dubious purposes?

Did They Drop the Ball?

Meet Antony Blinken, the Secretary State that President Joe Biden appointed when he took office in January of this year. Blinken had a unique opportunity to shine on the world stage at the Anchorage (Alaska) meetings between China and the US.

CNN reported on the welcome accorded the Chinese: “In his opening remarks, Blinken initially said the US intends to defend the “rules-based order” without which there would be a “much more violent world” and said that Chinese activities in places like Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as its cyber attacks on the US and economic coercion of US allies, “threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability.”

In keeping with President Donald Trump’s benchmark diplomatic style, Antony Blinken opened the US-China meetings, with an aggresive litany of China’s supposed abuses in their region. Some observers at the event likened these remarks to China condemning US actions in Florida, Texas and Mississippi, insofar as all of the places mentioned by Blinken are, under international law and mutual agreement, subject to Chinese sovereignty. What about Taiwan? In a 1979 Joint Communique issued with the People’s Republic of China, the State Department of the United States “recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.” (Source: US Department of State)

China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi did not hold back in his rebuttal to Blinken: “We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image, and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world… Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.”

As I see it, any normal person reading this account of the American welcome to a high-level foreign representation whom they invited to travel thousands of miles to a vitally important meeting, would conclude that the American greeting was awkward, illogical and ultimately counterproductive. It doesn’t seem to make sense on any level: intellectual, social, strategic, and, least of all, diplomatic. What were the American representatives thinking? Have they so little intelligence, such a lack of sensibility, and a deficient sense of decency, that they are incapable of offering a simple welcome for openers?

I doubt that Blinken is unintelligent nor that his mother didn’t inculcate in him notions of sensibility, decency and simple good manners. But those niceties are shelved when it comes time to sit down face to face with someone the ruling magnates in his country consider an enemy. Because militarized America doesn’t have adversaries, it has enemies. And its officials don’t respond to logic, decency or common sense when they sit down at a meeting, only to the script incorporated into their country’s belligerent agenda. And that agenda includes military solutions almost exclusively. The business of America is war, and Secretary Blinken is not about to change that fact.

(See full transcript of US-China opening remarks in Anchorage. (Source: Nikkei Asia)

China Making Astonishing Progress

The Americans and the British never had much regard for China. Granted it was a huge country with rich resources, but it was half a world away as well as impoverished, disperse and its people were vexed for being exploited by foreigners. When we first hear the term “opium wars” most of us conjure up visions of the Imperial British authorities waging war to prevent those degenerate Chinamen from downgrading the country through widespread drug use. Later we learn that the truth was all the contrary. The British fought the opium wars in order to guarantee themselves the “right” to peddle opium to the Chinese, who were fighting to protect their countrymen from the degenerate British drug businessmen. Nothing ever changes. Colonialism is still about business.

Then came the Japanese imperialists with their hideous rape of Nanking in 1937-38. Curiously, neither the British nor the Japanese seemed aware that, during the previous twenty centuries of human history, China had dominated eighteen. That is not an insignificant historical anecdote. It is a telling clue to the future. And the future is now.

Over the past half century the Chinese have made massive advances with a minimum of military interventions. China is again in motion and, despite having the world’s largest army, the Chinese follow a non-violent game plan, advancing without truculence or bombast. Their emphasis is on hard work, bargaining and sharing. Their Belt and Road initiative is about trade, not war, about mutual benefits, not destruction. Instead of mounting a vast network of military bases across the world, they invested in China and the Chinese, elevating a sector of 800 million people out of deep poverty.

They knew it was going to be a long march but they are accustomed to that. Mao Zedong’s year-long, 5,600-mile retreat in the face of Chaing Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang Army in 1934-35 set the benchmark for Long Marches. Of the 100-200,000 men who set off from Jaangxi Province with Mao, only 8,000 reached the destination in Yan’an in Shaanxi Province in northern China a year later. From there the Chinese communists came back after 22 years to send the Chinese nationalist army fleeing to the Chinese island of Formosa (today Taiwan) and take over the ruling of the country. This heroic feat both inspired China’s communists and elevated Mao to the party’s leadership. The great Chinese comeback was under way.

They still have a ways to go, but they’re working on it, propelled by a real annual GDP growth rate between six and 10 percent since the mid-70s. The following figures help to explain why China makes the Americans nervous. They’re the comparative yearly figures for economic growth China-US for 2013-2018 (Data from IMF WEO Database, April 2020):

 US  1.682.572.861.492.272.802.28

These numbers sing a powerful song. At this rate China can be expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy sometime between 2028 and 2032. China is America’s most important source of imports and the US is indebted to them (as of 2021) $1.1 trillion. (Source: US Treasury Report)

The United States is China’s most important trading partner and China is the US’s third most important, after Mexico and Canada. Seen by an impartial observer China and the United States can be conceived as virtual Siamese twins, linked at their spines and with shared interests in virtually all fields, though they can never see eye to eye. Both are living in the critical era of the Covid 19 pandemic, each in their own way, the US with the highest Covid statistics in the world and China the lowest. Aren’t there things the US can learn from China in this field and others? Shouldn’t they be cooperating? The American agenda seems to preclude that possibility.

The Pentagon and the big American weapons providers don’t see the benefits of cooperation with China. They see just another opportunity to provoke a war and reap the usual harvest of profit and disaster. Never mind that this might be the Big One. They prefer to insult and threaten the Chinese, not only verbally but by converting the South China Sea into a playpool for American gunboats, and whipping up contrived “defense” alliances like the recent AUKUS initiative. This frankenstinian spawn unites the United States; their loyal Sancho Panza, Great Britain; and Australia in a palpably anti-China conglomerate. What do the Australians think they have to gain by offending their principal trading partner. Here are recent figures for Australia’s exports.

China: US$90.6 billion (43% of total Australian exports)
Japan: $19 billion (9%)
United States: $13.1 billion (6.2%) › countrysnapshot › AUS

The AUKUS agreement also includes the purchase of up to six nuclear-powered submarines from the US, the better to provoke the Chinese dragon. The aims of this trilateral defense initiative seem to be muddled from the outset. Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, is quoted in The Guardian on September 16, 2021: “But let me be clear. Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability,” as if an atomic submarine were not a nuclear weapon. Will the AUKUS “defense” partnership, which at bottom is a massive American arms deal, lead to a cold-war-style arms race? It would be remarkable if it didn’t.

At this point in the game the same question always arises: how do the Americans manage to dupe their allies into leaping carelessly into the ugliest stewpots? The Aussies also took part in the disastrous Vietnam debacle in the 60s and 70s. And in 2014, in a highly dubious decision, they committed US$11.5 billion to the purchase of 58 American-made, problem plagued F-35A Lightning II fighters. Since 2001, Australian forces suffered 38 combat deaths in the Americans’ Afghanistan clownshow. Do the Aussies never learn? Observed from afar this American penchant for implicating their friends in their military adventures seems utterly gratuitous. “But Australia is obliged to collaborate with the United States under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” the Aussie collaborators will say. “North Atlantic?” Yes, of course.

The Forever War Scam

Not all of the treasure lavished on America’s perpetual war project is lost. Part of it returns to American coffers in the form of payment for their ever-more-sophisticated and deadly armaments. Unfortunately, the American people at large never see nor benefit from the wealth generated by the arms trade. In fact, the arms trafficking merry go round amounts to an elaborate procedure to funnel America’s wealth from the wallets of taxpayers who finance the research and pay for the country’s formidable stockpile of arms and their delivery systems, into the exclusive pockets of the armament magnates.

Who are they? According to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics, five of the nation’s biggest defense contractors — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies and General Dynamics — generated enough profit in 2020 to spend a combined $60 million to influence American foreign policy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (Feb. 25, 2021), reveals that America’s armament industry skims a bit of the cream off the top of their earnings to keep the political pussycat lubricated. Over the last two decades they have given $285 million in campaign contributions and spent $2.5 billion on lobbying.

No Wonder Uncle Sam’s Alarmed

Part of the secret of China’s meteoric rise in the world is the money they didn’t have to spend on waging wars near and far, nor establishing hundreds of military bases around the world or sponsoring endless false-flag regime change operations. Add to the money not misspent the vast number of enemies not made by not invading anybody. Do the Americans think their regime-change penchant hasn’t created expensive enemies?

The Chinese won their civil war (1927-1949) and have spent their time since then building a prosperous peacetime. During the same period that the US was squandering tens of trillions (with a T) on bellicose follies, China was investing in its country and its people. Today they are extending their prosperity projects to the Middle East and Africa, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. Their strategy is to share, not invade, and it’s working, much to the chagrin of the American oligarchs.

China’s biggest international trade project was announced in 2013 and pursued enthusiastically since then. It is their Belt and Road Initiative and it is already achieving significant advances. According to its website, BRI is a transcontinental long-term policy and investment program which aims at infrastructure development and acceleration of the economic integration of countries along the route of the historic Silk Road. That silk road now crosses the Atlantic to bring economic development to countries such as Chile and Cuba, among others. According to the Belt and Road site, 71 countries are currently taking part in the Initiative, together representing more than a third of the world`s GDP and two thirds of the world`s population.

For a revealing insider’s overview of the Belt and Road railway project, see this article on Frédéric de Kemmeter’s website.

Is There Any Hope?

Is there any hope for a great country that has painted itself into a dark corner where the rich have been permitted to buy the democracy and tailor it to their own dubious purposes, relegating the onetime government to a merely decorative role? What happens when a society weaned on competition foresees a future in which it can no longer compete? Can it still learn valuable lessons from gentler, more humane and egalitarian countries? Or will it resort to even more desperate measures? These are the operative questions. Will the Americans find the answers in time?


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Stupidity Is a Mortal Illness

Stupidity denotes the inability of a person to understand something due to insufficient intelligence, thus leading to the misinterpretation of a fact. (

How Does The United States Manage to Remain World Leader in Covid 19 Mismanagement?

It’s a magical mix of of stupidity and greed in the most advanced country in the world that makes this seemingly impossible outcome inevitable. Every-man-for-himself, rugged-individualist Americans cannot win against a widespread, highly-contagious virus, regardless of their high tech and bags of money. Winning in this case requires an everyone-pulling-together effort for the common good. It sounds like socialism, doesn’t it. That’s because it is like socialism. Could that be why large segments of Americans are rejecting the collective effort–the masks, the social distancing and prophylactic measures? Whatever the case, stupidity rules.

Like everything else that’s mortally wrong with American society, the collosal losing response to the Covid 19 epidemic is a result of faulty philosophy. As much as Americans love a shooting war, there are no military solutions to a pandemic. Fighting a virus on the rampage requires the rigorous and uniform application of boring preventive measures that are disastrous for the economy in the short term. “Uniform” refers to all sections of the country, all creeds and political persuasions, rich and poor, black and white and all colors in between. America’s current approach to the problem–overlapping and conflicting authority at the federal, state and local levels, and tolerating organized resistence to vital public health measures–is a recipe for disaster. The current disaster has claimed 648,000 lives–and counting–thus far. More than 600,000 unnecessary deaths boggle the mind. This price is far too high. Even so, the country marches stupidly on.

Excremental Right-Wing Agendas Fertilize Stupidity

Is this stupidity catching? Yes, and it is highly contagious, thanks principally to the actions and omissions of low people in high places. The word and example of any state governor, legislator, or member of the United States Congress has a following, by default. They are, after all, elected by thousands or even millions of voters. What motivates these seemingly short-sighted politicians to lead their innocent followers into the hell of fatally-flawed public health policies?

Their justification conforms to mindless right-wing, laissez-faire agendas that extend to every aspect of American life, from hands-off-everything government policy to iron-clad opposition to regulating business. Political campaign planners rely on varied agendas to assure the fidelity of their candidates’ followers. These agendas may be ambitious like the megalomaniac Project for a New American Century or simple campaign slogans like “Make America Great Again.”

Everyone with two fingers of forehead understands these problems and their fatal outcomes, but too many adepts of ultra-conservative ideologies prefer to overrule common sense and sane public health policies with their noxious agendas. They not only harm themselves but do untold damage to people near and far (starting with their own elderly family members) by perpetuating the spread of the virus through deadly chain reactions. This is the stupidity of the thoughtless application of the Americans’ sacrosanct “individual freedom.” They are riding that tired old horse into their early graves.

The other collective that wields an unnatural–and unnaturally stupid– influence in American society is that of the merely rich. An American billionaire, no matter how crass, venal or damaging to others, enjoys massive admiration and support in that benighted country, though his or her only merit is posessing a lot of money, no matter how they came by it nor what foolish–or actually dangerous–initiatives they sponsor with it.

Stupidity Goes Hand in Hand with Other Undesirables

Supine stupidity does not come along by itself. It is usually accompanied by a group of undesirable friends and allies with equally noxious effects on American society. Hyper patriotism (and its first cousin, exceptionalism), and primitive religious cults are usually found in first rank of the mix. None of these phenomena are dangerous in and of themselves. As we used to say when we were kids, “It’s a free country.” However, taken together, they contribute to a mode of baseless, unfounded thinking that is not really thinking, rather the parroting of false premises that are useful to ruling elite. The most sinister friend of that group is militarism, fabulously profitable for a few, but mortally dangerous for millions in America and around the world. The patriotic and militarist lies, so easy to propagate in a naive society, have deep roots in America, and will take a long time, if ever, to uproot.

Who Suffers from the Pandemic?

Everybody suffers, some catastrophically, some less, but, directly or indirectly, everybody suffers. Nobody gets off scot-free… except the Chinese, who took universal, rational measures against the pandemic from day one, and never looked back.

Who Benefits?

The people and organizations who benefit from America’s current level of public-health stupidity are the usual suspects, the same elements who foment and reap benefits from an ignorant, arrogant and bigoted electorate on other playing fields. They’re the country’s smash-and-grab political demagogues first and foremost. Then, of course, there’s Big Pharma, already blessed with an iron-clad law (the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003), that prohibits the government from negotiating prices on medications sold to the Medicare system. Unless that legislation is amended, the economic results for drug companies from Covid vaccines and treatments can be expected to take their profits into another dimension.

What’s to Be Done?

The cure for countries that are occupied by stupidity is not hard to prescribe: it’s educating the country’s young people for life among one’s fellow human beings. The rest is secondary and falls into place once the matter of cordial coexistence is in hand. Though it’s not hard to recommend, this solution is one of life’s most difficult tasks to achieve. This is especially true in a country like the United States with a set of national values based on laser-beam self interest and darkest Darwinian competitiveness, with all of its powerful industrial and economic interests tearing through the society like an amoral buzz saw. Then there’s the question of size. Effecting any change in a land so extensive and varied is a monumental order. All of these elements coinciding make the most fundamental element in the mix–a willingness to convene among people of all types, conditions, and opinions–virtually unachievable. Until that first step is taken, however, nothing is possible. Will the Americans be able to make that move in time? Thereon hinges the future of their country–and the entire world–for better or for worse.


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