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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 Communist  "Permanent revolution"  )

Version 6.0

Skepticism and Pseudoscience  > Who Rules America > Neoliberal Brainwashing

News An introduction to Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Definitions of neoliberalism Alternatives to Neoliberalism Anti-globalization movement
Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Brexit Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Casino Capitalism Neoliberal Brainwashing Neoclassical Pseudo Theories Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult
Key Myths of Neoliberalism Neoliberalism and Christianity Zombie state of neoliberalism and coming collapse of neoliberalism Alternatives to Neo-liberalism Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization Ronald Reagan: modern prophet of profligacy Milton Friedman -- the hired gun for Deification of Market
Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neocons New American Militarism Anti-globalization movement Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Psychological Warfare and the New World Order: The Secret War Against the American People Inverted Totalitarism
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism Neoliberal corruption Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy Corruption of Regulators In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom'
Elite Theory The Iron Law of Oligarchy Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions Gangster Capitalism Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure
If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Super Capitalism as Imperialism Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality Blaming poor and neoliberalism laziness dogma Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime
Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump The Deep State Predator state Disaster capitalism Harvard Mafia Small government smoke screen Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"
The Great Transformation Monetarism fiasco Two Party System as polyarchy Republican Economic Policy      
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment History of neoliberalism 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

Due to the size the introduction was moved to a separate page --  Neoliberalism: an Introduction


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(Research materials to the paper Neoliberalism: an Introduction)

Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2016 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2015 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2014 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2013 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2011 Neoliberalism Bulletin 2009 Neoliberalism Bulletin 2008

[Sep 26, 2016] Report: New Data Disproves US Corporations False Narrative on Taxes

Notable quotes:
"... Originally published at Tax Justice Network ..."
"... Corporations used to contribute $1 out of every $3 in federal revenue. Today, despite very high corporate profitability, it is $1 out of every $9. ..."
"... As of 2015, U.S. corporations had $2.4 trillion in untaxed profits offshore. Another study, looking at S&P 500 companies, found they held $2.1 trillion as of 2014. This roughly five-fold increase from $434 billion in 2005 stems largely from anticipation of a tax holiday. ..."
Sep 263, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This short post extracts key findings from a new study by Americans for Tax Fairness and the Economic Policy Institute. We liked the summary and include it immediately below. One thing to keep in mind: taxes are a big element of economic policy by default, as in that they provide incentives and disincentives. The fact that Big Pharma and tech companies lower their tax rates through the use of clever structuring and tax havens and report higher profits is an economic privilege relative to other industries.

From the overview :

While the statutory tax rate on corporate income is 35 percent, estimates of the rate corporations actually pay put the effective rate at about half the statutory rate. Driving this divergence between what corporations are supposed to pay and what they actually pay is a combination of offshore profit shifting and tax avoidance. Multinational corporations pay taxes on between just 3.0 and 6.6 percent of the profits they book in tax havens.

And corporations have become increasingly adept at making their profits appear to be earned in these tax havens; the share of offshore profits booked in tax havens rose to 55 percent in 2013. Almost half of offshore profits are held by health care companies (mostly pharmaceutical companies) and information technology firms. Because of the inherent difficulty in assigning a precise price to intellectual property rights, it is relatively easy for these companies to manipulate the rules so that U.S. profits show up in tax havens.

The use of offshore profit-shifting hinges on a single corporate tax loophole: deferral. Multinational companies are allowed to defer paying taxes on profits from an offshore subsidiary until they pay them back to the U.S. parent as a dividend. Proponents of cutting the corporate tax rate refer to profits held offshore as "trapped." This characterization is patently false. Nothing prevents corporations from returning these profits to the United States except a desire to pay lower taxes. In fact, corporations overall return about two-thirds of the profits they make offshore, and pay the taxes they owe on them.

Further, there are numerous U.S. investments that these companies can undertake without triggering the tax. In short, deferral provides a mammoth incentive for multinational corporations to disguise their U.S. profits as profits earned in tax havens. And they have responded to this incentive: 82 percent of the U.S. tax revenue loss from income shifting is due to profit shifting to just seven tax-haven countries.

Firms have also become increasingly adept at manipulating the rules here in the United States to avoid taxation. Lower tax rates on "pass-through" business entities and poor regulatory responses have given firms the chance to reorganize as "S-corporations" or opaque partnerships in order to avoid paying any corporate income tax at all.

This intentional erosion of the U.S. corporate income tax base has real consequences. Rich multinational corporations avoiding their fair share of U.S. taxes means that domestic firms and American workers have to foot the bill. It also means that corporations are not paying their fair share for our infrastructure, schools, public safety, and legal systems, despite depending on all of these services for their profitability.

Originally published at Tax Justice Network

From Americans for Tax Fairness, a major new report about corporate taxes in the United States. It's called Corporate Tax Chartbook: How Corporations Rig the Rules to Dodge the Taxes They Owe, and it contains many useful facts, such as this:

And there are plenty more striking facts. Just for example:

And here's a picture pointing to the "big six" corporate tax havens, which we've noted before:

Now read the report .

Further reading: Corporate tax

Report: why we need to tax corporations now, more than ever

Ten reasons to defend the corporate income tax

allan September 23, 2016 at 7:02 am

"It also means that corporations are not paying their fair share for our infrastructure, schools, public safety, and legal systems,"

and two more:

1. Federal R&D, which provides the lifeblood for pharma and tech, in terms of both basic research
and a highly trained workforce.

2. DoD. But funding and fighting in the Forever War is for little people.

Ignacio September 23, 2016 at 7:08 am

:-(

What about mergers. Do they not only facilitate monopolies but tax evasion?

The IP stuff, the inverted balance sheets of those companies and their opaque allocation of revenues is the "dark matter" economists talk about euphemistically?

Robert Hahl September 23, 2016 at 9:11 am

I presume these offshore profits are not held in cash but are moved into U.S. Treasury bonds and other investments. What happens to the profits and losses from those? Are they eventually returned to the U.S. and taxed?

DJG September 23, 2016 at 9:22 am

Yves: Thanks for this. Still another area of bipartisan connivance and neglect. And there is a real irony about the Netherlands, which has been doing a lot of virtual signaling with regard to Greece (especially) and Italy, being a major tax haven. I guess that it is easy to balance the budget with all of that funny money floating around.

Luxembourg? My solution is just to give it to France as a new département.

Robert Hahl: Don't count on profits not being held in cash. There are some indications, and Yves has published posts about them, that companies indeed are hoarding cash.

Paul Tioxon September 23, 2016 at 10:21 am

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/real_estate/commercial/City-Council-bill-seeks-to-crack-down-on-real-estate-transfer-tax-dodgers.html

You do not have to leave your backyard to find the same tax avoidance built into the capitalist system. Here in Philadelphia, during a 2nd wave of large scale real estate investment in the 10s of $Billions$, property is sold off for development parcels or after the development is completed, fully rented and a juicy source of rental for years and years to come. You would think the city government would reap some kind of windfall, that the school district funded by annual real estate taxes based on market value, but of course, the crony capitalism assures that tax avoidance strategies, all perfectly legal due to the laws written by the 1%, the self dealing loopholes will prevail.

Now, a very successful real estate developer got himself elected to city council, along with a long suffering republican chamber of commerce guy. And THEY want to close some of the long standing loopholes that may have cost the city as much as $24Mil last year alone. Plus the ongoing depressed valuation used for the annual real estate tax bill.

Immanuel Wallerstein in his lectures has pointed the 3 main obstacles to profits that the Global Capitalist System must control in order to sustain growth.
1. The cost of inputs
2. The costs of wages and ancillary benefits such as social insurances for health, unemployment, and eventual retirement.
3. Taxes

This article speaks directly to #3, as does my local example. The ongoing war on tax avoidance as a necessary standing policy by capitalists is on the local, national and international levels. The universal rule of law begs the questions, who writes these laws, who interprets these laws, who benefits from these laws and why do they never change in a way that gives meaning to the authority of government as having authority to rule. The pretense that tax loopholes are perfectly legal is critical to maintain the social order and belief in the rule of law. When tax laws are rendered useless by legal mumbo jumbo, the authority of the state to govern must be called into question as well!

When people out in the street riot, loot and vandalize to show political dissatisfaction, that is criminal behavior, not legal, and has no loophole to excuse them. There is no question that the state must step in with its full power and authority and enforce the law, which is crystal clear in the case of rioting. There is no question that even local government must seek reinforcement from the military. Imagine a lawyer saying: "Well, the rioters are adopting a perfectly legal strategy of prosecution and jail avoidance by massing in numbers so large that they all can not be arrested, tried and convicted.

This constitutes not a crime against society, but the legitimate right to self determination in the face of a corrupt and meaningless system of democracy where the majority of the people are permanently relegated into menial economic toil to sustain the oversized wealth and power of the 1%. Clearly, this must considered protected political activity and freedom of speech, NOT violence in the pedestrian sense of a lone gun man holding up a liquor store. The socially redeeming value of large scale social change due to mob activity protects this crowd as political activists, not mere petty criminals. They are making the world a better place, not just stealing to benefit themselves as individuals. Just as people vote with their dollars, vote with their feet by moving to where jobs are, people are voting by rioting to correct the abuse of power not regulated by the meaningless ballot box which has been rendered useless and beyond reach."

Tracey September 23, 2016 at 8:17 pm

WOW Paul: why are you not writing for/with NC & Yves? Excellent commentary!

Synoia September 23, 2016 at 12:58 pm

given firms the chance to reorganize as "S-corporations"

That seem unliky as S corporation cannot be owner by other corporations and are limited to 100 shareholders.

Can you clarify that point, and explain further?

Yves Smith Post author September 24, 2016 at 2:39 am

On the one hand, Tax Justice Network is often fuzzy (as in wrong) on technical tax details. Tax is fiendishly complex. But on the other hand, the general idea that there may be ways to structure around this isn't crazy. As I recall, for instance, if I recall correctly, the publicly-traded PE firms are legal entities that own (or own the cash flows) of general partnerships.

Andrew Watts September 23, 2016 at 1:34 pm

So the government is subsidizing corporate profits through tax breaks, loopholes, and non-enforcement. This has the overall effect of re-distributing the wealth towards the upper end of the income spectrum and sponsors the creation of millionaires and billionaires. Who would have a problem with that?

That's not class warfare at all says this temporarily embarrassed trillionaire.

animalogic September 23, 2016 at 11:16 pm

How long will it be before an actual "trillionaire" emerges, I wonder ?

ilporcupine September 24, 2016 at 6:17 pm

i bet if you had a "birds-eye" view of all the money in all the accounts, both her and overseas, and ownership of shell companies stock, and on and on, you would find that that person exists already.

Pelham September 24, 2016 at 7:41 pm

Don't the mega-corporations write the thousands of pages of our corporate tax code? Congress just rubber stamps it, right?

Can't remember where I read it, but it has been suggested that the supposedly high corporate tax rate is there by design. The biggest players write in all the loopholes they need and more, burdening the small fry with the nominal rate and thus squelching any competition that the big guys might face from lesser competitors.

[Sep 27, 2016] Barack Obama's 'Asian pivot' failed. China is in the ascendancy

Notable quotes:
"... Conventionally the US is being outplayed but it is possible that it is playing a different game in which it is complicit in the transition from nation state to corporate oligarchy. Isn't that the Neoliberal end game? ..."
"... And the big problem with Trump's approach is that good ol' American corporations are the ones who are profiting wildly from business in China. They wanted access to the Chinese labor force, e.g. Walmart and every other manufacturer who now peddles goods made in China in US stores. They are the entities that cost western workers millions of jobs, creating massive trade deficits. They are wealthy beyond measure and anyone who wants to alter this system whereby American corporations manufacture in China and ship products around the world, inc. to the US, would have to fight them. And if anyone believes that Trump would succeed in this battle, they are delusional. ..."
Sep 27, 2016 | www.theguardian.com
Vermithrax , 2016-09-26 18:48:09
Before the pivot could even get underway the Saudis threw their rattle out of the pram and drew US focus back to the Middle East and proxy war two steps removed with Russia. Empires don't get to focus, they react to each event and seek to gain from the outcome so the whole pivot idea was flawed.

Obama's foreign policy has been clumsy and amoral. It remains to be seen whether it will become more so in an effort to double down. Under Clinton it definitely will, under Trump who knows but random isn't a recommendation.

Conventionally the US is being outplayed but it is possible that it is playing a different game in which it is complicit in the transition from nation state to corporate oligarchy. Isn't that the Neoliberal end game?

Boyaca , 2016-09-26 18:41:19
So the Rand Think Tank would sooner have war now than later. Who wouldda guessed that.

The Chinese want to improve trade and business with the rest of the world. The US answer? destroy China militarily. so who best to lead the world. I think the article answers that question unintentionally. The rest of the world has had it up to the ears with American military invasions, regeime changes, occupations and bombing of the world. They are ready for China´s approach to international relations. it is about time the adults took over the leadership of the world. Europe and the USA and their offspring have clearly failed.

AmyInNH , 2016-09-26 17:07:12
China has been handed everything it needs to fly solo: money, factories, IP, etc. Fast forwarding into the western civic model limits (traffic, pollution, etc.), its best bet is to offload US "interests" and steer clear.
No clear sign India's learned/recovered from British occupation, as they let tech create more future Kanpurs.
Shein Ariely , 2016-09-26 17:06:51
Obama failed worldwide.
Next USA president either Democrat or Republican will have a difficult job fixing his colosal mistakes in ME- Euroep-Asia
yermelai , 2016-09-26 10:12:58
The biggest mistake was to enact a policy shunning Russia, when Russia should be a key, partner of Europe and the US.

Was it really worth expanding NATO to Russia's borders instead of offering neutrality to former Soviet States and thus retain Russia's confidence in global matters that far out weigh the interests of the neo-cons?

Hermanovic yermelai , 2016-09-26 10:50:07
neutrality? Russia invaded non-NATO members Georgie, Ukrain, and Moldavia, and created puppet-states on their soil.

The Jremlin-rules are simple: the former Sovjet states should be ruled by a pro-Russian dictator (Bella-Russia, Kazachstan, etc. etc...). Democracies face boycots, diplomatic and military support of rebels, and in the end simply a military invasion.

The only reason why the baltic states are now thriving democracies, is that they are NATO members.

Boyaca Hermanovic , 2016-09-26 18:57:23
And the USA invaded Vietnam, Panama, Nicaragua with the contras, Iraq, Afghanistan, are currently bombing the crap out of another dozen nations, has militarily occupied another 100 nations with their bases and you are worried about Russia with Georgia and The Ukraine? What in Hades is wrong with this picture?
macel388 , 2016-09-26 10:08:03
"Barack Obama's 'Asian pivot' failed. China is in the ascendancy" says the heading.

So Obama's "Asian pivot" was meant to thwart China's development.

MicheNorman , 2016-09-26 09:36:41
When Obama took office his first major speech was in Cairo - where he said
"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world," US President Barack Obama said to the sounds of loud applause which rocked not only the hall, but the world. "One based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles-principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."

He displayed a dangerous mix of innocence, foolishness, disregard for the truth and misunderstanding of the nature of Islamic regimes - does the West have common values with Lebanon which practices apartheid for Palestinians, Saudi, where women cannot drive a car, Syria, where over 17,000 have died in Assad's torture chambers, we can go on and on.

And on China - Trump has it right - China has been manipulating its currency exchange rate for years, costing western workers millions of jobs, creating massive trade deficits and something needs to be done about it.

ReinerNiemand MicheNorman , 2016-09-26 10:21:20
" America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles-principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. "
He spoke about the whole of Islam, not specific " Islamic regimes ". And he is correct on it. All religions share a great deal of values with the USAmerican constition and even each other .
The overwhelming majority of USAmerican muslims have accepted the melting pot with their whole heart, second generation children have JOINED its fighting forces to protect the interest of the uSA all over the world. Normally this full an integration is reached with the third generation.

The west has won against those religious fanatics. How else to explain that exactly the people those claim to speak turn up with us?

Calvert MicheNorman , 2016-09-26 11:21:45
And the big problem with Trump's approach is that good ol' American corporations are the ones who are profiting wildly from business in China. They wanted access to the Chinese labor force, e.g. Walmart and every other manufacturer who now peddles goods made in China in US stores. They are the entities that cost western workers millions of jobs, creating massive trade deficits. They are wealthy beyond measure and anyone who wants to alter this system whereby American corporations manufacture in China and ship products around the world, inc. to the US, would have to fight them. And if anyone believes that Trump would succeed in this battle, they are delusional.
hartebeest , 2016-09-26 09:35:14
"These two juggernauts are on a collision course" is far too alarmist. Relying mainly on right-wing US thinktanks for analysis doesn't help. Interesting in particular to see RAND is still in its Cold War mindset. There's famous footage of RAND analysts in the 60s (I think) discussing putative nuclear war with the USSR and concluding that the US was certain of 'victory' following a missile exchange because its surviving population (after hundreds of millions of deaths and the destruction of almost all urban centres) would be somewhat larger.

China's island claims are all about a broader strategic aim- getting unencumbered access to the Pacific for its growing blue water navy. It's not aimed at Taiwan or Japan in any sort of specific sense and, save for the small possibility of escalation following an accident (ships colliding or something), there's very little risk of conflict in at least the medium term.

It's crucial to remember just how much China and the US depend upon each other economically. The US is by far China's largest single export market, powering its manufacturing economy. In return, China uses the surplus to buy up US debt, which allows the Americans to borrow cheaply and keep the lights on. Crash China and you crash the US- and vice versa.

For now, China is basically accepting an upgraded number 2 spot (along with the US acknowledging them as part of a 'G2'), but supporting alternative governance structures when it doesn't like the ones controlled by the US/Japan (so the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the BRICS etc.).

This doesn't mean that the two don't see each other as long term strategic and economic rivals. But the risks to both of rocking the boat are gigantic and not in the interest of either party in the foreseeable future. Things that could change that:

a. a succession of Trump-like US presidents (checks and balances are probably sufficient to withstand one, were it to come to that);
b. a revolution in China (possible if the economy goes South- and what comes next is probably not liberal democracy but anti-Japanese or anti-US authoritarian nationalism);
c. an unpredictable chain of events arising from N Korean collapse or a regional nuclear race (Japan-China is a more likely source of conflict than US-China).

MrMeinung , 2016-09-26 09:13:57
The west has been long living under the illusion that the so called globalised world would be beneficial for all.

Now we are waking up to the realisation that we are the big loosers of globalisation.

Time for a change of plan.

freeandfair MrMeinung , 2016-09-26 14:29:49
"The west has been long living under the illusion that the so called globalised world would be beneficial for all. "

No, actually they thought it would be beneficial for the Western countries mostly. And it was, but whatever benefits developing countries received allowed them to rise to the level of a potential future threat to the unquestionable Western dominance. And now the US is looking for a way to destroy them preemptively. The US is paranoid.

Zami99 , 2016-09-26 08:30:36
The writing is on the wall: the future is with China. All the US can do is make nice or reap the dire consequences. If China can clean up its human rights record, I would be happy to see them supplant or rival the US as a global hegemon. After all, looked at historically, haven't they earned it? - An American, born and bred, but no nationalist
Calvert Zami99 , 2016-09-26 11:24:26
Well, that is naïve. Look at China and how the Chinese people are governed. Look at the US. And please don't tell me you don't see a difference. I'll take a world with the US as the global hegemon any day.
Leandro Rodriguez Zami99 , 2016-09-26 16:15:42
The US never cleaned up their human rights record...
Sven Ringling , 2016-09-26 08:16:37
A regional counter balance is needed. Cooperation is hindered by Japan. They should be the center point of a regional alliance strong enough to contain China with US help, but it doesn't work: whilst everybody fears China, everybody hates Japan.
The reason is they failed miserably to rebuild trust after WWII, rather than going cap in hand, acknowledging respondibility for atrocities and other crimes and injustice, and compensate victims, they kept their pride and isolation. They are now paying the price - possibly together with the rest of us.
Maybe a full scale change after 7 decades of to-little-to-late diplomacy can still achieve sth.
The ass the US should kick sits in Tokyo - something they failed to do properly after WWII, when they managed it well in West Germany (ok - they had help from the Brits there, who for all their failings understand foreign nations far better), where it facilitated proper integration into European cooperation.
ArabinPatson , 2016-09-26 07:28:26
I think this "ascendancy" and nationalistic fervour is actually a sign of internal turmoil. Countries that do well don't need to crack down on dissidents to the point of kidnappings or spend millions of stupid man made islands that pisses everyone off but have all the military value of a threatening facial tattoo. The South China Sea tactics is partially Chinese "push until something pushes back" diplomacy but also stems from the harsh realisation that their resources can be easily choked of and even the CPC knows it can't hold down a billion plus Chinese people once the hunger sets it.

China is facing the dilemna that as it brings people out of poverty it reduces the supply of the very cheap labour that makes it rich. You can talk about Lenovo all you want, no one is buying a Chinese car anytime soon. Nor is any airline outside of China going to buy one of their planes. Copyright fraud is one thing the West can retaliate easily upon and will if they feel China has gone too far. Any product found in a western court to be a blatant copy can effectively be banned. The next step is to refuse to recognize Chinese copyright on the few genuine innovations that come out of it.

Plus the deal Deng Xiaoping made with the urban classes is fraying. It was wealth in exchange for subservience. The people in the cities stay out of direct politics but quality of life issues, safety, petty corruption and pollution are angering them and scaring them hence the vast amount of private Chinese money being sunk into global real estate.

The military growth and dubious technobabble is just typical Chinese mianzi gaining. If you do have a brand new jet stealth jet fighter, you don't release pictures of it to the world press. They got really rattled when Shinzo Abe decided the JSDF can go and deliver slappings abroad to help their friends if needed. Because an army that spends a lot of time rigging up Michael Bayesque set maneuvers for the telly is not what you want to pit against top notch technology handled by obsessive perfectionists.

No one plays hardball with China because we all like cheap shit. But once that is over then China is a very vulnerable country with not one neighbour they can call a friend. They know it. Obama hasn't failed.. It's the histrionics that prove it not the other way round.

250022 ArabinPatson , 2016-09-26 11:34:31
Fundamentally incorrect.

The labour supply is assured because there are still multi millions in poverty and signing up as cheap labour is exactly what brings them out of poverty.

I assume you've never been to China and therefore have never heard of Chunyun, the largest human migration in the world. This is partly the ruralites returning home from the cities with their years spoils. This year individual journeys totalled almost 3bn.

No-one is buying a Chinese car? Check the sales for Wuling. They produce the small vans that are the lifeblood of the small entrepreneur. BYD are already exporting electric buses to London. The likes of VW, BMW, Land Rover, are all in partnership with Chinese auto-makers and China is the largest car market in the world.

Corruption has been actively attacked and over a quarter of a million officials have been brought to book in Xi's time in office. The pollution causing steel and coal industries are being rapidly contracted and billions spent on re-training.

Plus the fact that while the Chinese are mianzi gazing, the last thing they think about is politics. They simply don't want to know.

By the way, China is reducing it's land army by a third over the next few years and has just concluded very constructive summits with all it's neighbours during last weeks ASEAN bunfight.

The conclusion is that bi-lateral talks, not US led pissing contests are the way forward.

http://english.sina.com/china/s/2016-09-26/detail-ifxwevmf2233637.shtml

LordLardy1215 , 2016-09-26 05:55:19
The pivot failed second Snowden turned up in Hong Kong. Asia as a consequence doesn't trust US. Snowden revealed that US was protecting its economic interests as opposed to any love for a distant region of the World. Simple reality but as someone from Western World would have preferred that pretence we all knew had been left in the cupboard and not in effect humiliated nations into taking more negative US stance. Agree that China will take decisive action against nations that once humiliated and tortured their citizens - when is the question and any dreams anyone has of a united alliance against China is out with the fairies or been drinking same Koolaid as Snowden and his supporters.
Jonathan Scott , 2016-09-26 05:05:24
I disagree with the idea that the Asian pivot has failed because it has not happened.

What has happened is the ICA has ruled against China in the SCS and US buildup in Guam has been accelerated.

Also, China still has little force projection and a soon to collapse economy.

alfredwong Jonathan Scott , 2016-09-26 05:44:58
"What has happened is the ICA has ruled against China in the SCS..."

Nothing new. The UN Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf had also ruled against the UK and the International Court of Justice had ruled against the US.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/mar/29/falkland-islands-argentina-waters-rules-un-commission

http://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-defiance-of-international-court-has-precedentu-s-defiance-1467919982

"Also, China still has little force projection"

A country only needs a lot of force projection if it seeks to dominate the world.

"and a soon to collapse economy."

You are entitled to have such dream.

vidimi Jonathan Scott , 2016-09-26 09:41:28
a collapse of the chinese economy would collapse the american economy as well
ChristosHellas , 2016-09-26 04:17:59
Fascinating & well structured article - except for one glaring omission - the LNP selling of the Port of Darwin to a Chinese Government business. Yeh, sure it's a '99 year lease' but for all effective purposes it's a sellout of a strategic port to the Chinese Government.

Just look at how gobsmacked the US Military & President were over such a stupidly undertaken sale by the LNP. This diplomatically lunatic sell off by the LNP of such a vital national asset has effectively taken-out any influence or impact Australia may have, or exert, over critical issues happening on our northern doorstep.

If there was ever a case for buying back a strategic national asset, this is definitely the one. Oh, if folks are worried about the $Billions in penalties incurred, simple solution - just stop the $Billions of Diesel Fuel Rebates gifted to Miners for, say, 10 years..... Done!

JeffAshe , 2016-09-26 04:05:15
America is in terminal decline, beset by economic and fiscal crises, sapped by imperial overstretch, a victim of a cosmopolitan ennui and fecklessness, divided politically and culturally, belligerent and militant to the extreme. An empire in decline is at its most dangerous. America today is a far greater threat to world peace than China. Simply witness America's accommodation of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the odious Saudi theocracy, and how its insane policy in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan has led to hundreds of thousands of lives lost and millions displaced. Europe is under siege by endless tides of refugees that are the direct consequence of America's neo-Conservative and militant foreign policy. Meanwhile, America's neo-liberal economic and trade policies have not only decimated her own manufacturing base and led to gross inequality but also massive dislocations in South America, Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Tired, irritated, frustrated, exhausted, cynical, violent, moral-less, deeply corrupt, and rudderless, America is effectively bankrupt and on the verge of becoming another Greece, if not for the saving grace of the petro-Dollar. Europe would be well-advised to keep the Yanks at arm's length so as to escape as much as possible the fallout from her complete collapse. As for Britain, soon to be divorced from the EU, time draws nigh to end the humiliating, one-sided servitude that is the 'Special Relationship' and forge an independent foreign policy. The tectonic plates of history is again shifting, and there nothing America can do to stop it.
scss99 JeffAshe , 2016-09-26 05:14:43
I don't know America probably occupies the most prime geographical spot on the planet, and buffered by two oceans. It doesn't have to worry about refugees and the other problems and ultimately they can produce enough food and meet all of its energy needs domestically. And it's the third most populous nation on earth and could easily grow its population with immigration.

The US has no significantly greater percentage of debt than any of the other Western nations except Germany. If you think the Americas bankrupt then you'd have to think a whole lot of other nations including the UK is as well.

Given the facts it would be daft a write off America. Every European nation have lost their number one spot in history and they seem to be doing just fine. Is there some reason why this can't be America's destiny as well? Does it really have to end in flames?

JeffAshe scss99 , 2016-09-26 06:30:08
I suppose a post-collapse America would eke out a reduced existence, probably as prosperous as Mexico is today, in a best case scenario that is. It's likely America will balkanize, social order will completely break down, with her polity broken into many small pieces and fiefs, each armed to the teeth and tussling with others for limited resources. I foresee Canada will seal her borders and China paying for the decommissioning of America's nuclear arsenal and submarines.
johnnypop , 2016-09-26 03:59:25
Looking to the US to box China in, or stop its aggressive policies, is unrealistic. It must be the combination of nations in the area working together to stop the Chinese. The US can help but it is the nations most directly affected that must take action. One good thing is the Japanese are finally getting over the "constitutional" thing and are acknowledging that they are going to have to much more responsible for their own security in the future. SE Asian nations working for stronger ties with India is also good.
itsfridayiminlove johnnypop , 2016-09-26 04:30:12
Unfortunately, China has divided and conquered certain countries in SE Asia. This is the reason why ASEAN couldn't issue a joint statement against Chinese actions since all of its members should approve the content of the statement. China has won over Laos and Myanmar.
rpncali4nya itsfridayiminlove , 2016-09-26 05:39:49
Laos and Myanmar should be kicked out of ASEAN. That would solve everything.
macel388 itsfridayiminlove , 2016-09-26 14:17:29
"China has divided and conquered certain countries in SE Asia."

These certain SE Asian countries would say that it's because they are not willing to be Uncle Sam's "yes man".

indigoian , 2016-09-26 03:55:55
we've only ourselves to blame for buying all those wonderfully cheap products that our turncoat companies happily made in china using massively underpaid labor.

We, the consumer, have the ultimate power in society - if only we used it collectively. We can still stop the rise by voting with our wallets.

Kamatron indigoian , 2016-09-26 16:21:36
Go on then, maybe you should start by boycotting all China made goods.

Good luck with that thought. Might prove to be a tad idealistic and stupid.

CalvinLyn , 2016-09-26 03:47:56
The US is still so very powerful but the problem is they feel powerless from time to time with their hammer in hand against flying mosquitos. Why they always wanted to solve problems using force is beyond stupidity.

Pivot to Asia is about one thing only, sending more war ships to encircle China. But for what purpose exactly? It does one thing though, it united china by posing as a threat.

hobot CalvinLyn , 2016-09-26 04:44:28
It also destabilises the entire region. Something the Americans are masters of.
Stieve , 2016-09-26 02:09:34
Those blaming Obama most stridently for not keping China in its box are those most responsible for China's rise. American and Western companies shafted their own people to make themselves more profit. They didn't care what the consequences might be, as long as the lmighty "Shareholder Value" continued to rise. Now they demand that the taxes from all those people whose jobs they let go be used to contain the new superpower that they created. As usual, Coroporate America messes things up then demands to know what someone else is going to do about it
indigoian Stieve , 2016-09-26 03:49:04
All very true -- I would add to that by saying we, the consumer, are at least partly culpable. We(western populations) bought those products that our companies 'made in china'.

We all turned a blind eye as long as our shopping carts were filled with ever cheaper items.

MountainMan23 , 2016-09-26 01:49:38
Were the US to form a cooperative instead of confrontational relationship with China the world would be a better place. The same could be said for the US relationship with Russia.

Of course the military-industrial-banking-congressional complex that governs Washington's behavior would not be happy. WIthout confrontation the arms industries can't sell their weapons of war, banks' profits take a hit and congress critters don't get their kickbacks, err, "donations".

freeandfair MountainMan23 , 2016-09-26 02:02:27
The US doesn't know what the word "cooperation" means. To Americans "cooperation" means giving orders and others following them.
LivingTruth , 2016-09-26 00:41:25
America has this absurd notion that it must always be number 1 in world whatever that means
world could be better when east is best
Zhubajie1284 , 2016-09-26 00:16:50
Given the way the US government has screwed the Philippines over steadily since 1898, it's not surprising that Pres. Dutarte has decided to be friendly with his neighbor.

Obama of the Kill List lecturing other countries about human rights abuses! What hypocrisy.

thomasvladimir , 2016-09-26 00:11:36
fuck his pivot.....this ain't syria.....having destroyed the middle east it was our turn.....this is americas exceptionalism........stay #1 by desabilising/destroying everyone else.....p.s. shove the TPP also..........
Fabrizio Agnello , 2016-09-25 23:45:41
The real question is why should not China be more dominant in Asia... i understands the USA tendency especially since the fall of the soviet union at seing themselves as the only world superpower. And i understand why China would like to balance tbat especially in her own neighborhood.
Is what China doing in the south china sea different from what the USA does in the gulf of Mexico or in Panama... not to mention that Chi a is litterally surounded by US bases that sit squarely across all its sea trading routes: Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Fillipines,... and considering that the chinese have a long memory of werstern gunboat diplomacy and naval for e projection, if i was them i would feel a little uncomfortable at how vulnerable my newfound trade is... especially when some western politician so clearly think that china needs to be contained...
Bogoas81 , 2016-09-25 23:44:41
China has been accumulating debt at unprecedented rates to try to maintain faltering growth.

In 2007 Chinese debt stood at $7 trillion. By 2014 it had quadrupled to $28 trillion. That's $60 billion of extra debt every week.

It's still rising rapidly as the government desperately tries to keep momentum.

Much of this money has been funnelled into 'investments' that will never yield a return.

The most almighty crash is coming. Which will be interesting to say the least.

RodMcLeod Bogoas81 , 2016-09-26 00:07:24
Now that is interesting but odd. They are buying phuqing HUGE swathes of land in Africa, investing everywhere they can on rest of the planet. All seemingly on domestic debt then.
Bogoas81 RodMcLeod , 2016-09-26 10:09:36
Yes. The Japanese went on a spending spree abroad in the 1980s, while accumulating debt at home, and when that popped the economy entered 20 years of stagnation, as bad debts hampered the financial system.

The Chinese bubble is far larger, and made worse by the fact that much of the debt has been taken on by inefficient state owned enterprises and local government, spending not because the figures make sense but to meet centrally-dictated growth targets. Much of the rest has been funnelled into real estate, which now makes up more than twice the share of the Chinese economy than is the case in the UK. Property prices in some major Chinese cities have reached up to 30 times local incomes, making London look cheap in comparison.

There is also a huge 'shadow' banking system in China which means no-one really knows who owes money to whom, which will make it impossible to be confident in who remains creditworthy when the crisis occurs. Estimates are that bad debts (non-performing loans) by Chinese banks already total more than $2 trillion and are rising fast: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/09/22/fitch-warns-bad-debts-in-china-are-ten-times-official-claims-sta/

wumogang , 2016-09-25 22:44:50
TPP is practically written by the lobbyists from the multi-international corporations that exploit every possible tax laws, labor laws, environmental and public health regulations, legal representations and consequences. It is imperialism 2.0 in the 21st century, exclusively serving the interests of top point one percent while greatly depressing the wages of middle class; it is overwhelmingly opposed by the public opinion, law makers of all sides and current president candidates. There is zero chance Obama could make it through legislation before his exit; Clinton will not even consider bringing it back if she wins the election because she already flip-flopped once on the issue during her campaign; and it would seriously damage her chance of re-election if she does. As for Trump, I leave it to anyone's imaginations.
Narapoia01 wumogang , 2016-09-26 01:53:17
Don't believe for a second Hillary won't ram through a version of the TPP/IP if she wins. What she's actually said is that she's against it in its current form

Remember she is part of an owned by the 0.1% that stand to benefit from the agreement, she will do their bidding and be well rewarded. A few cosmetic changes will be applied to the agreement so she can claim that she wasn't lying pre-election and we'll have to live with the consequences.

sanhedrin , 2016-09-25 22:22:22
I find the United States of America more frightening each day
thomasvladimir sanhedrin , 2016-09-26 00:53:38
failing flailing empire.......classic insanity
moderatejohn , 2016-09-25 22:11:11
The best bet is for the US to build at least a hundred thousand 6 megaton warheads, more ballistic subs and advanced stealth missiles to ensure a nuclear war with the US will mean total global destruction. And forget about America being an empire any longer. The GOP has systematically allowed the USA's infrastructure to crumble so a very few rich people can pay less taxes, and they have aided big business fleecing of US citizens, for example, GOP operative, Pam Bondi, refusing to charge Trump for his highly fraudulent Trump U, after she was showered with thousands of dollars in bribe money. Pam Bondi hates Americans so much she allowed Trump to keep his ill gotten gains and disallowed any compensation for the American victims.

Nobody hates America more than Republicans. Except for a very narrow slice of right wing religious extremist eltitists who they view as infinitely entitled to the sweat, blood, tears and broken dreams of hundreds of millions of Americans, the GOP proves time and again how deep their hatred runs, even stopping 9-11 first responders from getting healthcare for health problems they got saving Americans. China, just like the GOP, is sick of hearing about human rights. The GOP and China share a deep hatred for America's Constitutional rights and freedoms for every citizen, so both will work tirelessly to destroy America.

The only thing that will stand in the way of China destroying America is mutually assured extinction via nuclear war. Nothing, however, will stand in the way of Republicans destroying America, least of all, China. Still, if China wants to start bombing US cities, it's time to unleash hell and make China extinct. And as the GOP transfers all the middle class wealth to a few psychopathic American-hating elitists if we don't have those nukes, will be sitting ducks because America will not be able to afford any sort of global military after the GOP destroys the middle class.

China knows the US middle class is the only thing that provides the production capacity to create the world's most advanced military, so China will chuckle tongue in cheek while Republicans destroy America...doing China's job for them. To say Republicans are sociopathic traitors is the understatement of the century, unless your China, then Republicans are your best pals.

Ubermensch1 , 2016-09-25 21:43:18
Well done all you globalists for failing to spot the bleedin obvious...that millions of homes worldwide full of 'Made In China' was ultimately going to pay for the People's Liberation Army. Still think globalisation is wonderful ?
kbg541 Ubermensch1 , 2016-09-25 22:31:38
Quite. How can you believe in a liberal, global free market and then do business with the Socialist Republic of China, that is the antithesis of free markets. The name is above the door, so there's no use acting all surprised when it doesn't pan out the way you planned it.
moderatejohn Ubermensch1 , 2016-09-25 22:40:32
Anything good can be made evil, including globalization. Imagine fair trade completely globalized so very nation relies on every other nation for goods. That type of shared destiny is the only way to maintain peace because humans are tribalist to a fault. We evolved in small groups, our social dynamics are not well suited to large diverse groups. If nation has food but nation B does not, nation B will go to war with nation A, so hopefully both nations trade and alleviate that situation. Nations with high economic isolation are beset by famines and poverty. Germany usually beats China in total exports and Germany is a wonderful place to live. It's not globalization that is the problem, it's exploitation and failure of our leaders to follow and enforce the Golden Rule.
BelieveItsTrue Ubermensch1 , 2016-09-25 23:00:58
Roll out the barrel.....
Well said and you are so right.
15 years ago, I had a conversation in an airport with an American. I remarked that, by outsourcing manufacturing to China the US had sold its future to an entity that would prove to be their enemy before too long. I was derided and ridiculed. I wonder where that man is and whether he remembers our conversation.

Globalisation is another word for one world government and all that brings, one currency, one police force, taxation, dissolution of borders, an end to sovereignty and all of our hard won freedoms. Freedom is a thing of the past, with MSM owned by the globalist elites, enforcing a moratorium on truth, and a population that has no idea what is going on behind the scenes.

I despair of "normalcy bias" and the insulting term "conspiracy theorist". People have lost the ability to work things out for themselves and the majority knows nothing about Agenda 21 aka Sustainable Development Goals 2030, until the land grabs start and private ownership is outlawed.

Heaven help us.

KhusroK , 2016-09-25 21:33:12
... the study also suggests that, if war cannot be avoided, the US might be best advised to strike first, before China gets any stronger and the current US military advantage declines further ..

Another brilliant thought from Rand; when in doubt, shoot from the hip ....

Zhubajie1284 KhusroK , 2016-09-25 23:45:45
They tell their employers what they want to hear.
jgbg KhusroK , 2016-09-26 00:16:18
For a few years now, the Global Times (an English language newspaper, owned by the Chinese Communist Party) has been publishing articles about Chinese claims int he South China Sea, about the growth of Chinese military power and of a limited war with the USA in the South China Sea. Nobody in the west has paid much attention, because they were too busy looking at Ukraine, Russia and now, Syria.

China already has one nuclear powered aircraft carrier and is constructing a second one. Aircraft carriers are not need to defend one's own country - air bases within a country provide the infrastructure for self defence. Aircraft carriers are used to project military power far from your own shores.

It is probably inevitable that China will eventually supercede the USA as the world's dominant superpower. It remains to be seen how that transition will unfold.

freeandfair KhusroK , 2016-09-26 01:04:05
Do Americans not realize that Chinese and Russians read this too and plan accordingly? This is madness.
I am fairly certain preemptive strikes are against international law. Why nobody has the guts to call the US out on this kind of illegal warmongering?
RodMcLeod , 2016-09-25 21:31:06
Like to add that as a powerhouse, Chinese investment in the west could be huge. They are hardly likely to take offensive action against their own investments are they?

Insisting on humane, moral supply chains is the best way of influencing China on human rights. Thats capitalism folks.

Cervant3s RodMcLeod , 2016-09-25 21:39:12
The great powers were heavily linked with one another by trade and investment in 1914...
KhusroK , 2016-09-25 21:24:54
1. With respect, Mr Tidsall is badly off track in painting China as the one evil facing an innocent world.

2. The fact is that US' belief in and repeated resort to force has created a huge mess in the Middle East, brought true misery to millions, and truly thrown Europe in turmoil in the bargain.

3. Besides this Middle East mess, the US neoliberal economic policies have wreaked havoc, culminating in an unprecedented financial and economic crisis that has left millions all over the world without any hope for the future

4. Hence Mr Tidsall's pronouncement:

This dilemma – how to work constructively with a powerful, assertive China without compromising or surrendering national interests – grows steadily more acute.


Ought to read:

This dilemma – how to work constructively with a powerful, assertive United States without compromising or surrendering national interests – grows steadily more acute.

5. US would be better advised to focus on its growing social problems, evident in the growing random killings, police picking on blacks, etc, and on its fast decaying infrastructure. We now read that China has the fastest computer, the largest telescope, etc, whilst US just kills and kills all over the world.

6. Mr Tidsall, may I request that you kindly focus on realities rather than come up with opinion that approaches science fiction

5566hh KhusroK , 2016-09-25 22:50:58
I agree that Mr Tisdall's treatment of the US is somewhat naive and ignorant. However couldn't it be that both countries are capable of aggression and assertiveness? The US's malign influence is mainly focussed on the Middle East and North Africa region, while China's is on its neighbours. China's attitude to Taiwan is pure imperialism, as is its treatment of dissenting voices on the mainland and in Hong Kong. China's contempt for international law and the binding ruling by the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal is also deeply harmful to peace and justice in the region and worldwide.

We now read that China has the fastest computer, the largest telescope, etc, whilst US just kills and kills all over the world.

Very superficial indeed - compare, just as one example, the number of Nobel prizes won by American scientists recently with those by Chinese. The US is still, in general, far ahead of China in terms of scientific research (though China is making rapid progress). (That is not intended to excuse US killing of course.)

BelieveItsTrue KhusroK , 2016-09-25 23:07:25
Oh well said. At least someone understands how the it works.
freeandfair KhusroK , 2016-09-26 01:06:32
The US follows the USSR path of increasingly ignoring the needs of its own population in order to retain global dominance. It will end the same as the USSR. That which cannot continue will not continue.
wumogang , 2016-09-25 20:23:25

Xi is not looking for a fight. His first-choice agent of change is money, not munitions. According to Xi's "One Belt, One Road" plan, his preferred path to 21st-century Chinese hegemony is through expanded trade, business and economic partnerships extending from Asia to the Middle East and Africa. China's massive Silk Road investments in central and west Asian oil and gas pipelines, high-speed rail and ports, backed by new institutions such as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, are part of this strategy, which simultaneously encourages political and economic dependencies. Deng Xiaoping once said to get rich is glorious. Xi might add it is also empowering.


The most realistic assessment on Xi and China.

The dilemma is clear: amid rising nationalism in both countries, China is not willing to have its ambitions curbed or contained and the US is not ready to accept the world number two spot. These two juggernauts are on a collision course.


A Grim and over-paranoid predicament: US is not in decline and need not worry about China's "ambition"; China is well aware it remains a poor nation compared to developed world and is decades behind of US in military, GDP per capital and science, that is not including civil liberty, citizen participation, Gov't transparency and so on. China is busy building a nation confident of its culture and history, military hegemony plays no part of its dream.
BelieveItsTrue wumogang , 2016-09-25 23:14:42

US is not in decline and need not worry about China's "ambition"

Oh come on, $20 Trillion in debt and with Social Security running out of money, there will be no more to lend the government.

China has forged an agreement with Russia for all its needs in oil ( Russia has more oil than Saudi Arabia) and payment will not be in US dollars. Russia will not take US$ for trade and the BRICS nations will squeeze the US$ out of its current situation as reserve currency. When the dollars all find their way back to the USA hyperinflation will cause misery.

Zhubajie1284 wumogang , 2016-09-25 23:49:17
The US sure looks in decline. Bridges falling into rivers, tens of millions homeless. Yet some how our elites can always find money for another war.
Riverdweller , 2016-09-25 19:33:09
Before the Chinese or anyone else gets any ideas, they should reflect on the size of the US defence budget, 600 billion dollars in 2015, and consider what that might imply in the event of conflict.
fragglerokk Riverdweller , 2016-09-25 20:14:35
a third of that budget goes in profit for the private companies they employ to make duds like the F35 - so you can immediately reduce that to 400 billion. The US have been fighting third world countries for 50 years, and losing, their military is bloated, out of date and full of retrograde gear that simply wont cut it against the Russians. Privately you would find that most top line military agree with that statement. They also have around 800 bases scattered world wide, spread way too thin. Its why theyve stalled in Ukraine and can't handle the middle east. The Russians spend less than $50 billion but have small, highly mobile forces, cutting edge missile defence systems (which will have full airspace coverage by 2017). The Chinese policy of A2D/AD or access denial has got the US surface fleet marooned out in the oceans as any attempt to get close enough to be effective would be met with a hail of multiple rocket shedding war heads. The only place where it is probable (but my no means certain) that the US still has the edge is in submarine warfare, although again if the Russians and Chinese have full coverage of their airspace nothing (or little) would get through.
Two theorys are in current operation about the election and the waring factions in the NSA and the CIA. 1) HRC wins but is too much of a warmonger and would push america into more wars they simply cannot win 2) there is a preference for Trump to win amongst the MIC because he would (temporarily) seek 'peace' with the Russians thus giving the military the chance to catch up - say in 3 or 4 years - plus all the billions and billions of dollars that would mean for them.

Overwhelming fire power no longer wins wars, the US have proved that year in year out since the end of the second world war, theyve lost every war theyve started/caused/joined in. Unless you count that limited skirmish on British soil in Grenada - and I guess we could call Korea a score draw. The yanks are bust and they know it, the neocons are all bluster and idiots like Breedlove, Power and Nuland are impotent because they don't have right on their side or the might to back it up. The US is mired in the middle east, locked out of asia and would grind to halt in Europe against the Russians. (every NATO wargame simulation in the last 4 years has conclusively shown this) Add to that the fact that the overwhelming majority of US citizens dont have the appetite for a conventional war and in the event of a nuclear war the US would suffer at least as much as Europe and youve got a better picture of where we are at.

goenzoy Riverdweller , 2016-09-25 20:48:37
Well it is just ABOUT money.Also during Vietnam and Iraq war US was biggest spender.
Nobody in US still thinks that Vietnam war was a good idea and the same applies to Iraq.Iraq war will be even in history books for biggest amount spend to achieve NOTHING.
Mrpavado Riverdweller , 2016-09-25 21:30:20
Chinese military spending is at least on a par with American. A huge part of American military money goes to personnel salary while China does NOT pay to Chinese soldiers for their service as China holds a compulsory military service system.
Liang1a , 2016-09-25 19:24:05
This article assumes China is evil and the US is the righteous protector of all nations in the SE Asian region against the evil China which is obviously out to destroy the hapless SE Asian nations. This assumption is obviously nonsense. The US itself is rife with racial problems. Everybody has seen what it had done to Vietnam. Nobody believes that a racist US that cares nothing for the welfare of its own black, Latino and Asian population will actually care for the welfare of the same peoples outside of the US and especially in SE Asia.

The truth is China is not the evil destroyer of nations. The truth is the US is the evil destroyer of nations. The US has brought nothing but bloodshed and destruction to the SE Asian regions for the last 200 years. The US had killed millions of Filipinos during it colonial era. The US had killed millions of Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. The US had incited pogroms against the ethnic Chinese unceasingly. The May 13 massacre in Malaysia, the anti-Chinese massacres in the 1960's and the 1990's in Indonesia, and many other discrimination and marginalization of ethnic Chinese throughout the entire SE Asia are all the works of the US. It is the US that is the killer and destroyer.

Therefore, it is a good thing that the evil intents of the US had failed. With the all but inevitable rise of China, the influence of the Japanese and the americans will inevitably wane. The only danger to China is the excessive xenocentrism of the Dengist faction who is selling out China to these dangerous enemies. If the CPC government sold out China's domestic economy, then China will become a colony of the Japanese and americans without firing a single shot. And the Chinese economy will slide into depression as it had done in the Qing Dynasty and Chinese influence in the SE Asian region will collapse.

Therefore, the task before the CPC government is to ban all foreign businesses out of China's domestic economy, upgrade and expand China's education and R&D, urbanize the rural residents and expand the Chinese military, etc. With such an independent economic, political and military policies, China will at once make itself the richest and the most powerful nation in the world dwarfing the Japanese and American economies and militaries. China can then bring economic prosperity and stability to the SE Asian region by squeezing the evil Japanese and americans out of the region.

mark john Mcculloch , 2016-09-25 19:22:11
Lets be honest what has Obama achieved,he got the Nobel peace prize for simply not being George Bush Jr he has diplayed a woeful lack of leadership with Russia over Syria Libya and the Chinese Simply being the first African American president will not be a legacy
outfitter , 2016-09-25 18:54:08
Do you know of one Leninist state that ever built a prosperous modern industrial nation? Therein lies the advantage and the problem with China. China is totally export dependant and therefore its customers can adversely affect its economy - put enough chinese out of work and surely political instability will follow. A threatened dictatorship with a large army, however, is a danger to its neighbors and the world.
fragglerokk outfitter , 2016-09-25 20:26:17
China are now net consumers. You need to read up on whats happening, not from just the western press. They are well on their way to becoming the most powerful nation on earth, they have access (much like Russia) to over two thirds of the population of the worlds consumers and growing (this is partially why sanctions against Russia have been in large part meaningless) China will never want for buyers of their products (the iphone couldnt be made without the Chinese) with the vast swaithes of unplumbed Russian resources becoming available to them its hard to see how the west can combat the Eurasians. The wealth is passing from west to east, its a natural cycle the 'permanant growth' monkies in the west have been blind to by their own greed and egotism. Above all the Chinese are a trading nation, always seeking win/win trading links. The west would be better employed trading and linking culturally with the Chinese rather than trying to dictate with military threats. The west comprises only 18% of the global population and our growth and wealth is either exhausted or locked away in vaults where it is doing no one any good. Tinme to wise up or get left behind.
deetrump , 2016-09-25 18:17:06
Tisdall...absolute war-monger and neo-con "dog of war". Is this serious journalism? The rise of China was as inevitable as the rise of the US in the last century..."no man can put a stop to the march of a nation". It's Asias century and it's not the first time for China to be the No 1 economy in the world. They have been here before and have much more wisdom than the west...for too long the tail has wagged the dog...suck it up Tisdall!
Dante5 , 2016-09-25 17:56:56
The US grand strategy post-Bush was to reposition itself at the heart of a liberal economic system excluding China through TTIP with the EU and TPP with Asia-Pac ex. China and Russia. The idea was that this would enable the US to sustain its hegemony.

It has been an absolute failure. Brexit has torpedoed TTIP and TPP has limited value- the largest economy in the partnership, Japan, has been largely integrated in to the US for the past 70 years.

IMO the biggest failure of the US has been hating Russia too much. The Russians have just as much reason to be afraid of China as the US do and have a pretty capable army. If the US patched things up with the Russians, firstly it could redeploy forces and military effort away from the Middle East towards Asia Pac and secondly it would give the US effective leverage over China- with the majority of the oil producing nations aligned with the US, China would have difficulty in conducted a sustained conflict. It's old Cold War thinking that has seen America lose its hegemony- similar to how the British were so focused on stopping German ascendancy they didn't see the Americans coming with the knife.

Advaitya , 2016-09-25 17:54:49
America is reaping the fruits of what they sowed during the time of Reagan. It was never a good idea to outsource your entire manufacturing industry to a country that is a dictatorship and does not embrace western liberal democratic values. Now the Americans are hopelessly dependent on China - a country that does not play by the rules in any sphere - it censors free speech, it blatantly violates intellectual property, it displays hostile intent towards nearly all South East Asian countries, its friends include state sponsors of terror like Pakistan and North Korea, it is carefully cultivating the enemies of America and the west in general.

In no way, shape or form does China fulfill the criteria for being a trustworthy partner of the west. And yet today, China holds all the cards in its relationship with the west, with the western consumerist economies completely dependent on China. Moral of the story - Trade and economics cannot be conducted in isolation, separate from geopolitical realities. Doing so is a recipe for disaster.

Kamatron Advaitya , 2016-09-25 21:46:36
The arrogance is breathtaking.

Embrace western liberal values? Exactly what is that?

A sense of moral and ethical superiority?

Freedom to kill unarm black people?

Right to invade other countries?

Commit war crimes?

That kind of Western liberal values?

freeandfair Advaitya , 2016-09-26 01:15:38
The Us is reaping the results of its arrogance, you got that part right.
humdum , 2016-09-25 17:24:35
Mr Tisdall should declare his affiliation, if any, with the military-industrial complex.
It is surprising coming from a Briton which tried to contain Germany and fought two
wars destroying itself and the empire. War may be profitable for military-industrial complex
but disastrous for everyone else. In world war 2, USA benefited enormously by ramping
up war material production and creating millions of job which led to tremendous
prosperity turning the country around from a basket case in 1930s to a big prosperous power
which dominated the world till 2003.
Nuno Cardoso da Silva , 2016-09-25 17:16:24
US insistence on being top cat in a changing world will end up by dragging us all into a WW III. Why can't the US leave the rest of the world alone? Americans do not need a military presence to do business with the rest of the world and earn a lot of money with such trade. And they are too ignorant, too unsophisticate and too weak to be able to impose their will on the rest of us. The (very) ugly Americans are back and all we want is for them to go back home and forever remain there... The sooner the better...
HotPotato22 , 2016-09-25 17:12:13
The world is going to look fantastically different in a hundred years time.

Points of world power will go back to where they was traditionally; Europe and Asia. America is a falling power, it doesn't get the skilled European immigrants it use to after German revolution and 2 world wars. And it's projected white population will be a minority by 2050. America's future lies with south America.

Australia with such a massive country but with a tiny population of 20million will look very attractive to China. It's future lies with a much stronger commonwealth, maybe a united military and economic commonwealth between the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Even without the EU, Europe is going to have to work together, including Russia to beat the Chinese militarily and economically. America will not be the same power in another 30-50 years and would struggle to beat them now.

China are expansionists, always have been. War is coming with them and North Korea sometime in the future.

Alex Wijaya , 2016-09-25 16:23:04
From the article above, it is clear who is the more dangerous power. While China is aiming to be the hegemon through economic means like the neo silk road projects, the US is aiming to maintain its hegemon status through military power. The US think thank even suggest to preemptive strike against China to achieve that. This is also the problem with US pivot to Asia, it may fail to contain China, but it didn't fail to poison the atmosphere in Asia. Asia has never been this dangerous since the end of cold war, all thanks to the pivot.
arbmahla Alex Wijaya , 2016-09-25 18:17:41
Obama is trying to maintain the status quo. China and N. Korea are the ones pushing military intimidation. The key to the US plan is to form an alliance between countries in the region that historically distrust each other. The Chinese are helping that by threatening everybody at the same time. Tisdall sees this conflict strictly as between the US and China. Obama's plan is to form a group of countries to counter China. Japan will have a major role in this alliance but the problem is whether the other victims of WW2 Japanese aggression will agree to it.
TheRealRadj arbmahla , 2016-09-25 18:23:24
With dozens of bases surrounding Russia and China and you call this status quo.
Fail.
CygniCygni , 2016-09-25 16:21:39
The US's disastrous foreign policy since 9/11 which has unleashed so much chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc etc... is not exactly a commendation for credibility these days.
CommieWealth , 2016-09-25 16:08:00
A useful summary of the state of play in the Pacific and SCS. It is somewhat hawkish in analysis, military fantasists will always be legion, they should be listened to with extra large doses of salt, or discussion of arguments which favour peaceful cooperation and development, such as trade, cultural relations, and natural stalemates. American anxiety at its own perception of decline, is at least as dangerous for the world as the immature expression of rising Chinese confidence. But the biggest problem it seems we face, is finding a way to accommodate and translate the aspirations of rising global powers with the existing order established post-45, in incarnated in the UN and other international bodies, in international maritime law as in our western notions of universal human rights. Finding a way for China to express origination of these ideas compatible with its own history, to be able to proclaim them as a satisfactory settlement for human relations, is an ideal, but apparently unpromising task.
BigPhil1959 , 2016-09-25 15:46:39
Perhaps Samuel P Huntingdon was broadly correct when he wrote "The Clash of Civilizations" in the late 90's. He was criticized for his work by neo-liberals who believed that after the Cold War the rest of the world would follow the west and US in particular.

The problem with the neo-liberal view is that only their opinions on issues are correct, and all others therefore should be ridiculed. What has happened in Ukraine is a prime example. Huntingdon called the Ukraine a "cleft" country split between Russia and Europe. The EU and the US decided to stir up trouble in the Ukraine to get even with Putin over Syria. It was never about EU or NATO membership for the Ukraine which is now further away than ever.

A Trump presidency is regarded with fear. The Obama presidency has been a failure with regard to foreign policy and a major reason was because Clinton was Secretary of State in the 1st four years. In many ways a Clinton presidency is every bit as dangerous as a Trump presidency.

Certainly relations with Russia will be worse under Clinton than under Trump, and for the rest of the world that is not a good thing. To those that believe liek Clinton that Putin is the new Hitler, then start cleaning out the nuclear bunkers. If he is then WW3 is coming like it or not and Britain better start spending more on defence.

markwill89 , 2016-09-25 15:41:59
Can people stop calling China a Communist state. It isn't.

China is a corporatist dictatorship.

yelzohy markwill89 , 2016-09-25 16:19:47
which serves only the top one tenth of one percent. Sounds familiar.
markwill89 yelzohy , 2016-09-25 16:23:29
The difference between the United States and China is striking. Try criticising the Chinese leadership in China and see where it gets you.
humdum markwill89 , 2016-09-25 17:44:03
What does the criticism in USA get you? It is just blah blah blah.
ONly criticism that matters is from the corporations and wealthy individuals
like Koch bros and Sheldon Edelson and their ilk. Rest can watch football.
CalvinLyn , 2016-09-25 15:35:31
China hasn't won and US hasn't failed, at least not yet. Both countries are pretending to be strong and powerful while bleeding internally, and are hoping the other guy to fall first. Take your bets.
R_Ambrose_Raven , 2016-09-25 15:30:27
Never mind that a general, high-intensity war in Northern Asia would be disastrous for all involved, whatever the outcome.

Never mind that much of the discussion about containing China is by warmongers urging such a conflict.

Never mind that very little depth in fact lies behind the shell of American and Japanese military strength, or that a competently-run Chinese government is well able to grossly outproduce "us" all in war materiel.

Never mind that those same warmongers and neocons drove and drive a succession of Imperial disasters; they remain much-praised centres of attention, just as the banksters and rentiers that are sucking the life from Americans have never had it so good.

Never mind that abbott encouraged violence as the automatic reaction to problems, while his Misgovernment was (while Turnbull to a lesser extent still is) working hard to destroy the economic and social strengths we need to have any chance of surmounting those problems.

Yes, it is a proper precaution to have a military strength that can deny our approaches to China. Unfortunately that rather disregards that "we" have long pursued a policy of globalisation involving the destruction of our both own manufacturing and our own merchant navy. Taken together with non-existent fuel reserves, "our" military preparations are pointless, because we would have to surrender within a fortnight were China to mount even a partial maritime blockade of Australia.

ID1726608 , 2016-09-25 15:28:36
What I don't quite understand is how all this comes as any surprise to those in the know. China has been on target to be the #1 economic power in the world in this decade for at least 30 years.

And who made it so? Western capitalists. China is now not only the world's industrial heartbeat, it also owns a large proportion of Western debt - despite the fact that its differences with the West (not least being a one-party Communist state) couldn't be more obvious - and while I doubt it's in its interests to destabilise its benefactorrs at the moment, that may not always be the case.

It also has another problem: In fifty or sixty years time it is due to be overtaken by India, which gives it very little time to develop ASEAN in its own image; but I suspect that it's current "silk glove" policy is far smarter and more cost-effective than any American "iron fist".

heyidontknowman , 2016-09-25 15:18:23
The US is just worried about losing out on markets and further exploitation. They should have no authority over China's interest in the South China Sea. If China do rise to the point were they can affect foreign governments, they will unlikely be as brutal as the United States. [Indonesia 1964, Congo 1960s, Brazil 1964, Chile 1973, Central America 1980s, Egyptian military aid, Saudi support, Iraq 2003, the Structural Adjustments of the IMF]
Riaz Danish , 2016-09-25 15:14:17
Simon Tisdall and many Europeans as well as the US GOP party still thinks that US is an empire similar to what the British had in the 18th century. This assumption is completely wrong especially in the 21th century where Western Europe, Japan, Korea if they want can be spend their money and also become global military power. While many Europeans and others including our current GOP pary thinks we are the global empire and we should stick our nose everywhere, our people doesn't we are an empire or we should stick our nose in every trouble spot in the world spending our blood and treasure to fight others battles and get blame when everything goes wrong. President Obama doesn't think of himself as Julius Ceaser and America is not Rome. He will be remembered as one of our greatest president ever setting a course for this country's foreign policy towards trying to solve the world's problems through alliances and cooperation with like minded countries as the opposite of the war mongering brainless, trigger happy GOP presidents. However when lesser powers who preach xenophobia and destabilize their neighborhood through annexation as the Hitler like Putin has,he comes down with a hammer using tools other than military to punish the aggressor. All you need to do is watch what is happening to the Russian economy since he imposed sanctions to the Mafiso Putin.
This article is completely misleading and the author is constricting himself in his statement that Obama's pivot to Asia is a failure. Since China tried to annex the Islands near the Philippines, countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, India, etc. has ask the US for more cooperation both military and economically these countries were moving away from US under Bush and others so I think this is a win for Obama not a loss. Unlike the idiotic Russians, China is a clever country and is playing global chess in advancing her foreign policy goals. While the US cannot do anything with China's annexation of these disputed Islands has costs her greatly because the Asian countries effected by China's moves are running towards the US, this is a win for the US. China's popularity around her neighborhood has taken a nose dive similar to Russian's popularity around her neighborhood. These are long term strategic wins for the US, especially if Hillary wins the white house and carry's on Obama's mantel of speaking softly but carry a big stick. Obama will go down as our greatest foreign policy president by building alliances in Europe to try stop Mafioso Putin and alliances in Asia to curtail China's foreign policy ambitions. This author's thesis is pure bogus, because he doesn't indicate what Obama should have done to make him happy? Threaten Chine military confertation?
All you have to do is go back 8 years ago and compare our last two presidents and you can see where Obama is going.
NowheretoHideQC Riaz Danish , 2016-09-25 15:33:01
For the allusion to Rome, I think they act like the old empire when they had to send their army to keep the peace....and it is an empire of the 21 first century, not like the old ones (Assange).
Mormorola , 2016-09-25 15:06:09
Obama and Hillary foreign country policies have been disasters one after the other:
- "Benign" neglect and lack of courage in Palestine on the "No new settlements" request.
- Disastrous interventions in Libya and Middle East resulting in hundred of thousand of "collateral damage".
- Russian "Reset" which was no more than spin, but continued to look at Russia as the right place to wipe your feet.
- Empty promises to Ukraine resulting into a civil war.
- Ill conceived "Pivot to Asia" with no meat, much wishful thinking and no understanding of local sensitivities.
- Continued support for bloody dictators like the Saudis and the Thai dictators (which Hillary once branded a "vibrant democracy").

And you wish "that woman" to become your next president?

ElZilch0 , 2016-09-25 14:54:23
China needs western consumerism to maintain its manufacturing base. If China's growth impacts the ability of the West to maintain its standard of consumerism, then China will need a new source of affluent purchaser. If China's own citizens become affluent, they will expect a standard of living commensurate with that status, accordingly China will not be able to maintain its manufacturing base.

So the options for China are:

a) Prop up western economies until developing nations in Africa and South America (themselves heavily dependent on the West) reach a high standard of consumerism.

b) Divide China into a ruling class, and a worker class, in which the former is a parasite on the latter.

The current tactic seems to be to follow option b, until option a becomes viable.

However, the longer option a takes to develop, and therefore the longer option b is in effect, the greater the chances of counter-revolution (which at this stage is probably just revolution).

The long and the short of it, is that China is boned.

russian , 2016-09-25 14:35:09
Being a large country surrounded by many other occasionally threatening powers, the governments' priority is and always has been defending its territorial integrity. China is happy enough to leave the command and conquer stuff, sorry "democratization" to the US. It's got it's hands full at home. As long as the West doesn't try to get involved in what China sees as its historical territory (i.e. The big rooster shaped landmass plus Hainan and Hong Kong and various little islands) there's absolutely nothing to worry about.
Babeouf , 2016-09-25 14:32:26
Why did Obama say that his greatest regret was Libya.? Because Obama's policy is/was to manage the decline of US power. To manage the end of US hegemony. I doubt that Obama believes that any pivot to any where can restore or maintain US dominance on planet earth. There is absolutely nothing exceptional about a power not admitting publicly what is known to many,see the outpourings of the British elites during the end of its empire.
Lafcadio1944 , 2016-09-25 14:11:59
As usual the Guardian is on its anti-China horse. Look through this article and every move China has made is "aggressive" or when it tries to expand trade (and produce win win economic conditions) it is "hegemonic" while the US is just trying to protect us all and is dealing with the "Chinese threat" -- a threat to their economic interests and global imperial hegemony is what they mean.

The US still maintains a "one China" policy and the status quo is exactly that "one China" It would be great for someone in the west to review the historical record instead of arming Taiwan to the teeth. Additionally, before China ever started its island construction the US had already begun the "pivot to Asia" which now is huge with nuclear submarines patrolling all around China, nuclear weapons on the - two aircraft carrier fleets now threatening China - very rare for the US to have two aircraft carrier fleets in the same waters - the B-1 long range nuclear bombers now in Australia, and even more belligerent the US intends to deploy THAAD missals in South Korea - using North Korea as an excuse to further seriously threaten China.

China wishes to expand trade and improve economic conditions for its people and for those with whom it trades. That is not aggression except when it interferes with US global economic hegemony.

Just look around the world - where are the conflicts - the middle east and Africa - who is there with military and arms sales and bombing seven countries -- is it China?

The most bulligerant nation in the world the nation with its army in over 100 countries, the nation bombing and conducting perpetual war throughout the middle east, the country invading countries for "regime change" and creating only misery and death -- it is not China.

The US and its Neoliberal capitalist system must expand to grow - plus they clearly want total global domination - the US and its Imperial agents have encircled both China and Russia with trillions of dollars of the most destructive weapons in the world including nuclear weapons - do you thin they have done that for "security" if so you simply ignore the aggression and hubris of an Imperial US.

LoudonCleary , 2016-09-25 14:10:13
Taiwan, the US and the rest of the world are fooling themselves. China is a totalitarian fascist imperialist country that is determined to take anything it wants - and it wants a lot and it has the power, economic and military, to present a credible threat that no one has the balls to challenge. It is in the position the US once was, but it is far nastier than the US. Get used to it, folks.
Kamatron LoudonCleary , 2016-09-25 22:00:30
Far nastier than the US?

Tell me, when was the last time China bombed another country?

How tell me how many countries has the US bombed?

Not sure how many characters you ca for into this comments box, but give it a go.

MisterOwl , 2016-09-25 14:02:21
Most decisions by the CCP are made to maintain internal stability. This is partly for self-preservation of those at the top, but also partly out of a genuine desire to improve the lot of their people. Stability achieves both of these things, but it's fragile - only 65 years ago the Chinese were beating the crap out of each other, 45 if you count the Cultural Revolution, and this kind of bloody instability is good for nobody. Economic growth, combined with careful, sometimes drastic, control has so far achieved stability, with incredible results, including China almost single-handedly meeting the UN's global development and poverty reduction goals.

As economic growth slows, the CCP need other ways to get people on the same page. Part of this comes through ramping up the control, particularly obvious in the media crackdown since Xi took power.

More positively, I think there will be huge environmental improvements over the coming years, because this is something people in China talk about and care about and improvements will keep people happy. The most recent 5-year plan singled this issue out more than any other.

More negatively, the CCP is stirring up nationalism, first through the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, now through the South China Sea. At the time of the Islands confrontation in 2012, children in China who mistook me for an American were shouting at me on the street. For all the talk of conflict, that ultimately amounted to nothing - sabre-rattling which achieved a kind of aggressive unity. This time round it could be much the same, in which case I really don't think the rest of the world needs to worry about war. A destabilised China would be much more dangerous. However, if the economy really suffers over the coming years, that's when the leadership would face unprecedented discontent, and we could see potentially dangerous desperation in order to maintain unity and internal stability. It's in everyone's best interest that China encounters a soft landing.

Hippaferalkus , 2016-09-25 14:00:58
I'm sorry, did I miss something? This entire article appears to be something written 10 years ago in the GOP manual for Presidential candidates.
Firstly, the assumption that the United States HAS to be militarily dominant or at least a potentate in the East asian region harks back to a 1950's vision of petty foreigners versus the forces of democracy. Regional issues are by definition regional, and those who aren't in the region concerned have no business trying to micromanage deisptes which do not affect them. That said, the claims to international and extra-territorial waters in the South China Sea were decided upon by the United Nations (the rightful place to sort out these type of disputes) and their judgment came down against the PRC. If Beijing continues to refute the international decision then the region and the world community might have to consider some form of sanctions against China. Only then will it become the United States' business to get involved.
China's militarisation plans have indeed come on apace but, when you consider that the country holds 1/5 of the entire planet's population their per capita military expenditure is less than that of Germany, Britain and France combined. It's still woefully short of that spent by the USA ($129billion against $580billion in 2014).
The other more dating factor on this assertion is that the Chinese economy has slowed dramatically over the past few years from the breakneck speed of growth they had enjoyed. Economic growth depends on trade and military conflict between the giants of East Asian trade would be a disaster for them far more than it would be for the rest of the world.
It might be that China's trying to bully the smaller nations in the South China Sea region but, they're not going to allow it to escalate into an armed conflict. Such a conflict would see Chinese trade suffer and if Chinese trade suffers then the Chinese people suffer. The most important part of running a country as large as China is that you keep the people happy. Anything that upsets the peaceful quiescence of the people is a threat to civil order and the Chinese Communits Party's rule - and THAT is far more important than a few islands that may or may not sit on oil and gas.
anyoneanytime Hippaferalkus , 2016-09-25 14:15:35
Yes! Thank you. A much better analysis than the guardian writer.
westmoreland22 , 2016-09-25 13:58:36
So Barree O was unable to secure American control of the entire world., and look at his own country, riots and murders . The USA is regressing, so to spread this chaotic way of life they bully, bribe, and bomb the parts of the world that don't have a star in the left hand corner of their ugly flag. At least his golf game is coming along.
As for China, Truman supported Mao over the nationalists and Rockefeller and Wall Street wanted the American jobs exported.
The USA is disloyal , to its own people and to its allies. How to win friends and influence people? Even Machiavelli would think they went to far.
Gantal , 2016-09-25 13:28:05
"China has flatly rejected a precedent-setting UN court ruling". Hardly.

It was neither a United Nations agency nor a court. Rather, it was an temporary arbitration panel, hired by the Philippines at a cost of $30 million, at which China was not represented because, like the UK and Australia, China did not recognize its right to hear the case.

It has not escaped world governments' attention that, while China is busily enriching its neighbors and allies, the US is equally busy impoverishing its. Nor have they failed to notice that China's economy is much bigger than the US' – important because while commanders and fleets win battles, economies win wars.

Here's how the CIA ranks the top three GDPs in 2015:
#3. United States: $17,970,000,000
#2. European Union: $19,180,000,000.
#1. China: $19,510,000,000
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2001rank.html

Bardolphe , 2016-09-25 13:25:27
Obama's role has been to reconcile the US to its changing, diminished role in the world.

And the idiots blame him for the changing, diminished role. This is what Bush and Cheney tried to do: reverse that with the PNAC idea. Which failed. Spectacularly.

The US's declining power has nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with the tides of history and economics, overspending on the military, administrative incompetence at home on the local and state level, collapsing wages and standard of living, corrupt policing, health problems, an ageing population and, yes, external enemies. Just like Rome.

Trump is not the answer.

Trump is Nero: an entertainer with a box of matches.

westmoreland22 Bardolphe , 2016-09-25 14:05:59
Obama's role was to continue American aggression and domination, under a liberal facade. Obama is just more sneakier than Bush and Cheney.
MannieTesney , 2016-09-25 13:14:29
The Thucydides trap keeps being mentioned time and time ago, the inevitable clash between two powers- one rising and one diminishing. What they fail to mention is that it is usually a third party that displaces both. In the case os Sparta and Athens, Sparta crushed Athens but it was the Macedonians who conquered the world. In the case of the Ptolemies and Seleucids, Rome a small power swallowed both. And even in recent memory, the epic struggle between Britain and Germany led to the emergence of the U.S. The United States may not be the superpower in fifty years but China isn't going to be either. And a war will not go in China's favour. So gentlemen and ladies, strap your seat belts because the next decade is going to be so unpredictable.
MrIncredlous , 2016-09-25 13:06:09
That's why your Oligarchy decided to Brexit. They saw which way the wind was blowing. China is Britians new BFF.

If you think about it, it does fit Britians historic approach, ally with the #2 power against the # 1 power.

So it's not about our values after all. It's only ever been about wealth and power.

I suspect that the Chinese will instruct Britian to kiss and make up with Russia. It will be amusing to watch the last 3 years of anti Russian BS and propaganda go down the memory hole.

And what will become of the trolls who stalk us sceptics (Putinbots indeed!).

Well I suppose the cousins will have to redouble their propaganda efforts now that Xi has booted them from playing a ignificant role in Asia, and Putin ended their prospects in the ME.

I guess it will be back to running death squads in Central America for them. Not much future in that though.

Interesting times we live in.

ZaraZelotes , 2016-09-25 13:02:34
China and North Asia face an acute demographic challenge that means they will age more quickly than the emerging world, India and even the US. On this point alone, the nations of north Asia face severe challenges in realigning their domestic and export economies. As for the US, President Obama made what was, at the time, a logical choice to deepen the US focus on a region it had not devoted enough time and attention to -- but the US had ITS own agenda in the form of TTIP.

After this, we have the two old world vierwers contending for President. This is not a reflection of their age, but neither Hillary and certainly not Trump seem to realize we are in the 21st century and things have moved on a bit. The dialogue the US and the West could and should be having with Asia has totally changed. This may be equally true of the current generation of North Asian leaders.

usini , 2016-09-25 12:54:13
The last 400 hundred years with European and then US domination of the world was an anomaly in world history.
We are now slowly returning to the previous situation of both India and China developing regional influence in their respective areas.
Kikinaskald , 2016-09-25 12:50:18
Independently of other points, I believe that the US should try to better its relations with other countries and strive for more friendly relations with them. The US loves to beat Germany (Germany has to pay billions the whole time because of VW, because of Deutsche Bank and so on). What's the result? Germany sells its best firms to the Chinese. It happened some time ago with Kuka for instance, one of the best firms in the world for industrial robots. Now it's a Chinese firm. American agressive negotiations concerning TTIP made opposition in Europe grow. It's known that on the side of American negotiating team they have agressive lobbyst. Why don't Americans try to have more friendly relations with Europe? It would also be good if the US could direct economic colaboration to South America and to Africa instead of China. Why don't US firms invest more in South America instead of China? It would be possible if the US weren't so crazy about Chavez and Venezuela. It's also inevitable that we try to repair relations with Russia. For us it's absolutely irrelevant whether Russia or Ukraine get the Krim. Obama should have fired the woman who is co-responsible for the conflict with Russia and the civil war in Ukraine and who showed agressive contempt for Europe. The conflict with Russia is ridiculous. China is a challenge while Russia could be an important ally. The US needs another paradigma of foreign politics.
nonethewiser Kikinaskald , 2016-09-25 14:37:40
Why don't Americans try to have more friendly relations with Europe?

Quite simply because they see Europe as yet another threat to be countered.

Babeouf , 2016-09-25 12:37:56
This stuff is only 'news' for readers who get their news,exclusively, from the Guardian . Using P.P.P to determine exchange rates China became the worlds largest economy in 2015(according to the I.M.F). On average Chines growth rates during a 'bust' are three times the US growth rates during its 'boom'. The most important US foreign policy objective should have been to ensure that a Chinese /Russian axis didn't emerge. instead,in Ukraine and elsewhere, they acted to ensure it. Dangerous times ahead for the US's European colonies. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde ' it would take a heart of stone not to laugh'.
TheRealRadj , 2016-09-25 12:35:43
This pivot was bound to fail.
China's business is business and trade.
America's business is war.
SenseCir , 2016-09-25 12:35:30
Both have many nuclear warheads and the ability to deliver them. Thus, no real military conflict on the horizion.

Also, the US doesn't have some god given right to remain the only super power and control everything forever. China has a lot more people. Eventually, their economy and might will thus exceed that of the US.

Other nations would do well to work with China and forge closer ties, instead of allowing themselves to be recruited as agents in the US's battle for everlasting global hegemony.

Ricardo111 , 2016-09-25 12:33:14
Given that US-based high-level managers of US-based companies decided to send all industrial production to China for their personal (CEO salaries are 400x higher than in 1980) and US-based shareholders' benefit, it was only a mater of time until China ascended in influence, power and wealth past the US.

Whilst corporations in a Free Market tend be short-termist and not have an integrated strategical systemic approach to things, the State (is supposed to) look after the strategic interests of a whole country and take the long term into account.

Given that while in the US corporations own the Political System, in China the Political System owns the corporations, it's unsurprising that on a strategic long-term level China has vastly outperformed the US.

Essentially, the US has entered the imperial decay stage thanks to growing rot on the inside (the cause of the fall of most great nations) and China is highly likely to take its place for the 21st century (and eventually they themselves will go the same way).

Ruprecht Mudorc , 2016-09-25 12:13:44
So much wrong with this. How did it get into a 'news' paper?
Pretty much all the Taiwanese I know are very very suspicious of the US and see a reunification with mainland China as the way forward.
Similarly, it is only those in Asia who have been brainwashed/led astray by the trashy glitter of the US way, many of them having been 'taught' by US admin affiliated NGOs masquerading as charities, who might believe the nonsense that any and all things US are good and honest, particularly the extremely mischievous and dangerous "pivot to Asia".

Just imagine if China or Russia announced a "Pivot to the Caribbean/Cuba/Mexico" Imagine the howls and protests.

The US is about one thing and one thing alone.
Hegemony. Economic, wherein the TPP is all about any other nation ceding their sovereign rights for the eternal benefit of US corporations and thier profits and screw the law and the environment. Military, wherein the Pivot to Asia is all about maintaining these interests by murderous force if need be and screw the law and the environment.

The last thing we need in Australia is to be dragged along behind Unkie Sam and the corporate criminals who are running it into the ground, even as they take the planet with them.

It serves us far better to strengthen our trading and cultural ties with all the (Asian) countries in the region, because that is where we are... In Asia.

TheRealRadj Ruprecht Mudorc , 2016-09-25 12:32:56
This is the level of denial that has been in the west ever since 2005 and the shellshock they received during the 2008 Olympics.

They fear what they do not understand. And to see other countries rise so fast while they themselves have stagnated for decades is a breeding ground for fear, anger, racism, nationalism and you name it.

They are only setting themselves up for failure even more. I have no doubt Taiwan and China will unify in the future.
You should see the sour faces of these people then.

karabasbarabas , 2016-09-25 12:09:33
The US will never engage in war with a big strong rival. This war will hit at the US land with many casualties of Americans and much destruction. The US will keep finding other ways to win in the other areas, hybride warfare
Bardolphe karabasbarabas , 2016-09-25 12:28:20
Quite true: the US has never gone to war with anybody who had the slightest chance of winning. The Viet Cong were the big surprise: they thought they were slaughtering unarmed peasants; they got a real foe
Gantal Elli_Mackie , 2016-09-25 13:34:08
The Guardian is 'creating resentment and distrust' with China's South China Sea policy but here in Thailand, where I live, China is creating friends. The Thais just closed down the US spy plane base at U Thapao and threatened the US ambassador with a lawsuit if he didn't stop squawking. Times have changed. Best we do, too.
atownlikealice , 2016-09-25 11:45:07
To discuss the relationship between China and the USA and not mention the yuan and the dollar boarders on creativity. Talk about your elephant in the room?
As a result you get this facile commentary? You d get a better summation from a bunch of Chinese high school students, who are taught about such stuff. Clearly not the English elite?
Rapport , 2016-09-25 11:39:15
Obama's failure?

Obamas and Bushes come and go ..

The goals of creating chaos, wrecking havoc and destabilising other countries remain consistently executed. The destruction (physical and mental) caused continues to grow exponentially.

Talking about this president's and that president's failure is nothing but covering the 'grandiose' plans crafted in Washington.

Ochyming Rapport , 2016-09-25 11:42:30
Imperialism?
You bet!
1iJack Ochyming , 2016-09-25 13:23:50
Its called globalism now. One world, one world government.

Problem is, where will that "one" government be centered. Who will run that one government. Looking at how corrupt national governments can become, can you imagine how corrupt a world government would become.

The U.S. needs to back down and completely sever all ties with China. We can't fix the world, and by pulling out of China we will have served notice of that and the U.S. will have taken its first real step back from globalism/imperialism.

selvak , 2016-09-25 11:34:56
Till today the Obama administration tries to subsidize Pakistan, China's "all weather friend" over standing by India. The recent NYC bomber visited Pakistani terrorist camps freely - Homeland "security"/NSA was busy seeking another needle in an all US haystack. As long as the Pentagon keeps betting on the wrong horses the CCP will win. Equally Obama's administrations maneuvering against Russia is dumb. Putin should be an ally vs the CCP.
TSmithNoCrackers , 2016-09-25 11:31:53
As an American who lived in Taiwan from the early 1980s until last summer, I saw how Taiwan evolved from military rule into a democracy, and how its standard of living also improved. It's now a very pleasant place to live, really--it has press freedom, religious freedom, the two leading parties have handed off power to each other a few times, the healthcare and health insurance system is very good (though the insurance system does run a deficit), things generally run smoothly and efficiently, so what's not to like? Taiwan is precisely the kind of place that the US and the rest of the leading Western democracies, if true to their ideals, would like to see more of around the world. But no matter how Taiwan has progressed, it has gotten shoved to the side because the 1% wants to take advantage of China's cheaper labor, and so they have handed China the jobs, the technology, and ultimately the power to do whatever it wants. The 1% only cares about keeping shareholders happy in the next quarter, but China has been pursuing a very long-term (decades-long) strategy of amassing power. Thus when Taiwan started having elected presidents, the attitude shown it from the West seemed to be, "Oh, we're so pleased you've democratized....now just shutthefuckup, willya?" For decades Taiwan has been trying to sign Free Trade Agreements with the US, EU, and anyone else, but the progress has been painfully slow because of you-know-who across the Strait--only New Zealand and Singapore thus far (plus Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America) have done so.

Oh yes, the Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA)....while Pres Ma Ying-jiou viewed it as a means of safeguarding the Taiwanese 1%'s considerable investments in the Mainland and encouraging other countries to sign FTAs with Taiwan, China clearly saw it as a means of gaining control of Taiwan's economy--and they almost succeeded, but the Sunflower Movement put an end to that.

On a daily basis, Taiwanese bureaucrats have to spend time issuing various protests or objections over their representatives getting squeezed out of or belittled at one or another international organization--there is far more of that going on than ever gets reported in the news, because it's so routine it's no longer news. Meanwhile, their counterparts in those international organizations are so meek that every time China shouts about Taiwanese presence, they'll stand on their heads coughing up nickels to please it.

I ramble.... but my general point is the West has utterly failed in two respects: to give Taiwan the support it has needed as it transitioned to an open democratic system, and to make its investments in China more conditional on meaningful reform. Taiwan itself has not been entirely blameless for its current predicament: starting in the early 1990s, it allowed too many of its businesspeople to invest in the Mainland, even on harebrained schemes (they too saw only "cheap labor," plus many of them, let's face it, just didn't want to deal with other languages and cultures). But the main failure here belongs to the West: short-term businesslike thinking vs long-term power-building strategic thinking.

atownlikealice TSmithNoCrackers , 2016-09-25 11:39:35
Taiwan will always be a political football. One day it will return to China. It will still be a great place to live under CCP control.
Alex1101 , 2016-09-25 11:27:17
The USA has militarily intervened in foreign countries about 80 times since WW2. There are 700 -800 US military bases in 63 foreign countries, and US military personnel are based in 156 countries. 255.000 US military personnel are deployed worldwide.

China has one overseas base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. Djibouti also hosts US and French bases. It must irk the USA to have to share Djibouti with China.

nishville , 2016-09-25 11:21:16
If USA is failing to convince the world to follow its course, it is its own fault. It imposes its own version of reality on us in which it is still a beacon of democracy and goodwill it once maybe was while everybody can clearly see that it is now effectively a rogue state imposing its will by naked aggression. How can you convince the people of the world to collaborate with you when you keep lying to them about things it is impossible to effectively lie about? That is how the USSR went down, people simply stopped believing in it because of the screaming discrepancy between the reality as projected by the communists and the reality as experienced by everybody else.

When that happens, no amount of money and weapons can prevent the fall.

callaspodeaspode , 2016-09-25 11:03:49
Why should the American president be able to hold back the economic and military development of other countries? Power shifts. And the rise of it often involves unpleasant nationalism and sabre-rattling. Why even assume that this is even in the gift of whoever happens to be the chief executive of the American Empire?

There is a disturbing complacency here. The USA is not the be-all and end-all of history. Says more about the author's preconceptions than anything else.

And the 'pivot to Asia' is not only meant to be about carrier battle groups and military prowess in general, but hard economic reality (although the two are linked). America needs to ensure that it is set up to fully benefit from the trading advantages and the investment opportunities from growing Asian economies. Trade has increased under Obama and it will continue to do so. After all, this sort of thing is not really something that politicians can hold back with economies as powerful as China's are, outside of war.

As for TPP, if the American public does not want it and leading candidates are against it, so much the better for democracy, one would have imagined. Although I would caution against taking as gospel what is said in election year and what will actually end up happening.

Be it Trump or Clinton in the White House, I have a strong suspicion some rehashed version of TPP will eventually emerge again and get passed by Congress and then signed off by the occupant in the Oval Office. This is business. Clinton was all for it, until the Sanders insurgency convinced her to drop it.

canbeanybody , 2016-09-25 11:02:43
"Barack Obama's 'Asian pivot' failed. China is in the ascendancy"

Mr Obama's "Asia pivot" is very important part of his "containment" policy against China and Chinese.

Such policy of "either you or me" is zero sum botched plan which has little value and little prospect to succeed.

Mr Obama has wasted good deal of his 8 years office for nothing while an effective alternative of peaceful coexistence with China would greatly benefit all Americans with the benefit of world peace, stability and prosperity.

Eustacius , 2016-09-25 10:17:35
It seems that analysts are caught in the imperialist rhetoric of countries fighting countries. The realities are that "countries" are obsolete when it comes to market globalism. The only factor in production that is national is labor, everything else is globalized. The trade is owned and controlled by the billionaire class. Military disputes on "national" lines reflect the use of nationalism to control the working people in each of those administrative areas. The fact is that the workers all work for the same international corporations in one manner or the other. Only 1,000 people control more than 50% of world wealth. Workers have nothing to gain and everything to lose by supporting any nationalism over solidarity with other workers. This can be seen especially in international support for dictators who repress workers, using "security" as the cat's paw to justify repression so globalist can make higher profits.
westhaditsday , 2016-09-25 10:14:43
The paranoid US desperately wants to maintain its indefensible global hegenomy. But it can't stop the wheel of history.
ashleyhk westhaditsday , 2016-09-25 11:25:52
There is no wheel of history. You a Hegelian?
TomFullery westhaditsday , 2016-09-25 11:44:23
The US is not paranoid, it simply realises its days and global bully and hegemon are coming to an end.
WhitesandsOjibwe , 2016-09-25 09:57:58
Obama thought as with his own creation the "Cyber directive" he could convince the world. Now, with Snowdens' revelations the US has been exposed, as we knew it always was, the malevolent, war mongering shit nation that it is. About time. Too bad Obama, you were almost that clever. You almost pulled it off.
Jiri , 2016-09-25 09:57:44

This is the so-called "Thucydides Trap", a reference to the Athenian historian's account of the seemingly inevitable conflict between the rising city-state of Athens and the status quo power Sparta in the fifth century BC.

Just as well that the Chinese don't read Greek.

The US policy is that of Full Spectrum Dominance. It cannot achieve this without massive pre-emptive nuclear strike on both Russia and China.

Interesting times ahead.

mamamouchi , 2016-09-25 09:37:48
When the Boer war was in its early stages and the British were being beaten in battle there was gloating from other European powers such as France and the increasingly nationalistic and militarised Germans. There's always the human desire as well as the geopolitical power politics to knock off the existing No. 1 power off its perch.

Well, rest easy all those Europeans (and I include the British in this denomination, at least in a geographical sense) that ascribe all the woes of mankind to the Americans and who are constantly sneering at them there is no power in man's history that is eternally No.1 - be it empire, monarchy, republic, federation, confederation or nation-state.

If the USA with its own problems retreats to isolation or quasi-isolation who will defend precious Europe? The European army looks great on bureaucratic paper with Germany spending a splendid 1% of its GDP on defence. Then there is the British army being pursued by the omnivorous human rights organizations for daring to fight with guns. I know, know they should be fighting with paper napkins.

So when the Chinese are No.1 do you think they will pay the least bit attention to the Guardian, its readers or Europe in general? I recommend Mr. Tisdall to read Arnold Toynbee or Oswald Spengler. There is a huge stench of decay in Europe and its haughty, offshore little island.

Panda Bear , 2016-09-25 09:35:52
Obama has deployed massive military assets in the region and ensured client states are again hosting bases and well armed, even Japan has changed it's constitution to allow a war of aggression... ground laid for war hawk POTUS like Clinton who regularly threatens, Iran and Russia.
Alley loop , 2016-09-25 09:25:05
I study International Relations. I was reading articles written in serious newspapers about the USSR overtaking the West, about open conflict between USSR and America, about the decline of the West. These were written 40 odd years ago. Well, the USSR collapsed and there was no direct conflict. Luckily people kept their cool, unlike this journalist.
Hedd Wyn John Alley loop , 2016-09-25 09:51:48
The USSR wasn't a homogeneous nation-state, its economy at its height was only a third the size of the USA and it's strength was based on huge military spending. While China is a single party state like the USSR its largely homogenous with a strong national identity, its economy is the 2nd largest in the world and its military is growing in strength.
Socraticus , 2016-09-25 09:24:03

The Pentagon now officially refers to the Chinese "threat".

What else is new. The US considers any nation that refuses to capitulate to their demands and/or possesses the strength to actually challenge their pursuit of global hegemony to be a treat. Given the US's destructive track record world wide over the past 60 years, I welcome any nation that can pose an obstacle to their desires.
globalgypsy Milton , 2016-09-25 10:03:21

China and Russia are despotic regimes which have abundantly demonstrated their contempt for human rights and law and willingness to murder their own citizens if they speak out

It is the USA which has 4.4% of the worlds population with 22% of the worlds prisoners. Prisoners who are then used as exceedingly cheap labour for many US corporations. McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, AT&T, Victoria's Secret, BP, Pepsi, Bank of America, Bayer, Caterpillar, Chevron, Chrysler, Costco, John Deere, Eli Lilly and Company, Exxon, Mobil, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson and Johnson, K-Mart, Koch Industries, Merck, Microsoft, Motorola, Nintendo, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, UPS, Verizon, Wendy's, all use prison labour.

I bet Chinese workers are paid better than the US prisoners.

bourdieu , 2016-09-25 09:11:10
Like a lot of these sorts of pieces, it frames its arguments from a resolutely Euro-American framework, in which only America has true agency, and China's rise is an expression of America's failures. But just because the US has made a hash of running its empire, doesn't mean China hasn't too. The One Belt One Road is currently mostly vapourware, and what has been signed off on, in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, has already run into problems. China has completely mismanaged its economic boom since around 2005, with levels of capital misallocation that threaten the entire global economy. The senior leadership of the party roils with internecine conflict and conspiracies.

We're in real trouble but a US-China conflict would be a mutual miscalculation that would express policy and political failures in both Washington and Beijing in equal measure.

JanZamoyski , 2016-09-25 08:27:45
Ironically the biggest ally of US in this conflict is China. Similarly to Russia in Eastern Europe, China's clumsy attempts of putting itself in position of a local superpower create a lasting (historical in case of Russia) animosity towards Chinese bullish "diplomacy" and territorial claims.

So far Chinese's showed themselves as a tyrant not a partner you can achieve a compromise or a fair deal. The ruling Chinese political oligarchy might fool itself and even a part of its society of rightfulness of their claims, but the world isn't that foolish.

madmonty , 2016-09-25 08:24:45
The irony is that China and India are reasserting their respective positions in the world of Geopolitics.

Read Peter Frankopans ' The Silk Roads'. The Roman Empire no less in the 1st century AD, was doing business with China importing Silks that had reached the middle east along the Silk Road.

Calikut or Calcutta was a port jointly built by India and China in the 5th century to increase trade between those countries.

In economic, social, religious, areas India and China played a huge part in global affairs up until thec15th century.

It only changed when Portugal invented the gun boat and it's explorers navigated to the spice islands, cutting out China and India from their control of the spice trade.

The west's rise was at the expensive of China and India. The trading companies that morphed into Britain taking control of India and in China the opium wars.

China watched in 1991, how American banks almost single handedly bankrupted the ' Asian Tiger', economies, persuading them to have IMF loans, taking the money to bail themselves out and leaving those countries in a mess.

China learnt the lesson of economic warfare from the Americans so in 1994 deliberately devalued it's currency and actively encouraged inward investment with tax breaks, cheap labour and lowered export duties.

It was a trap and manufacturers and investors fell right into it, stripping western economies of their manufacturing bases and allowing China to build up its economic power.

India literally cottoned on to what China was doing and did the same.

America and the West can only blame itself , China worked out the rules of unfettered Neo con free market economics and used it against the West brilliantly, even getting the capitalists to cut their own throats willingly in the pursuit of profit.

It was only a matter of time when China would flex it's military muscle and extend its influence in what it sees as it's 'China Seas', once more. It as far as the Chinese government is concerned, is taking back what was their territorial influence lost in the 15th century onwards.

America is facing the hard truth that the whole of the Pacific is no longer theirs to control . There's an old player back in the game, one who has centuries of experience of playing politics especially in the long game.

America would be better served by its own government to realise the ' sea change', accept it and get down to the hard bargaining about who controls what and where the lines of demarcation and influence should be between themselves and China.

The also need to learn as the Chinese did centuries ago, that patience is a virtue and the ying and yang of the cosmos means that things will change for the better or the worse constantly but that is the way of the universe.

An 1 , 2016-09-25 08:22:29
Having recently returned to Europe after 14 years in east and southeast Asia; I would agree with many that war is closer than it has been for decades.

But this article adds weight to the greed of humans and the danger of nationalism.

Worldwide we live in an increasingly fractured society and one where a combination of greed, selfisshness, extreme nationalism are seeing a grab for dwindling recources whether by force or sneaky "development initiatives".

We are guilty of fiddling whilst Rome burns.

macel388 , 2016-09-25 08:15:33
"Faced by what it perceives to be a growing threat from China, Japan's government, led by its conservative prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has sought greater freedom to project military force beyond the country's borders."

Japan's re-militarization is not the result of any perceived threat from China. Shinzo Abe and other Japan nationalists wanted to abandon Japan's pacifist constitution so that it would become a "normal" country, and they already have that idea long before China's growing military strength.

macel388 , 2016-09-25 08:02:39
"Each week seems to bring news of another Chinese airstrip or newly fortified reef."

China was the last claimant to build airstrip on the Spratly Islands. The first one was built by the Philippines 41 years ago in 1975, followed by Vietnam in 1976, Malaysia in 1995, and Taiwan in 2007 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airports_in_the_Spratly_Islands ).

China cannot be building another airstrip or fortifying another reef "each week" as it controls only 7 or 8 reefs of the Spratly Islands. It has built 3 airstrips in the Spratly Islands and one in Paracel Islands.

fanUS , 2016-09-25 08:02:35
G20 in China, no red carpet and Obamka had to go through the back passage, how humiliating ...
Obamka is a disaster president. He made life in the West so much worse that it was before.
Obama's 'regime change' policy made it possible for Islamic State to rise. Talk about Islamic State has been around in the Middle East for centuries, but it only happened under Obama. The results are civil wars, millions of refugees and increase in terrorism, even in Europe.
Islamic State flourish not only in Iraq, but in Libya as well. Its under Obama's orders Libya was bombed and destabilised. He is a hypocrite and demagogue.
Later Obama started training and supplying Syrian terrorists rebels with weapons and money that fuelled up the conflict. Obamka is worse than Bush.
fanUS mangrovemonkey , 2016-09-25 14:34:21
Bush had nothing to do with Libya or Syria, from where millions of refugees come to Europe. It's Obamka's childish and irresponsible policies created disasters.
Kristian Lazar , 2016-09-25 07:50:49
The first after-cold-war world order, which determined the rule of the last superpower aka USA, is crumbling and another is emerging, wich seems to be one of regional powers and their allied neighbours and vassal states. Countries with cross-worlds interests are the first to loose out on this deal, that goes for the USA, UK, but also for Beijing, whos trade imperium is as treatened by world-regionalizing as the USA's is militarily, among others.
magicmirror1 , 2016-09-25 07:49:47
"Western neoliberals are optimistic. They typically argue that market-based economic exchanges can produce a win-win situation for rival states...."
that's real news! I was stuck to the current american view of zero base, winner takes all, wipe China and Russia and everybody else out!
Nice article , thanks.
Just omitting the greatest threath to world peace is the USA's desire of retaining hegemony
caen43 , 2016-09-25 07:47:16
I have lived in China forth past 22 years. The "west" gave China the advantage in 2001 by allowing the chinese to sell at virtually zero tariffs all their production without demanding ANYTHING in return. Donald Trump is right government civil servants and politicians are utterly devoid of commercial acumen. China has destroyed entires swathes of western industry and now it is too late. They are completely self sufficient and dominant in many sectors already and that dominance is set to increase and is now unstoppable.
michealvernon caen43 , 2016-09-25 07:56:04
The elitist in the west caved into big business to bugger the workers. Zero tariff mainly benefitted Western MNCs and China. Obama and Clinton are both beholden to big business . Classic example are the Koch Brothers who are now anti Trump and pro Clinton.
Pandora8 , 2016-09-25 07:37:16
The Son of A Whore has not finished the mess US created in Middle East , he has tried making chaos in Asia. US engaging in war in Asia ? That will be a laugh . More likely US will try pitching
peaceful countries against each other , bring back cold war to feed the military industrial complex . Unfortunately Asian countries has seen enough of the proxy war conspiracies engineered by the real Evil Empire .
michealvernon Pandora8 , 2016-09-25 07:49:25
If the son of a whore is the usa , then the daughter of the whore must be china.
Nevagray , 2016-09-25 07:36:06
The foolhardiness and blatant resort to 'pragmatism' instead of measured diplomacy which has caused the US pivot to fail became obvious from the moment the US made its first move - an attempt to block China's extension through the Pacific Island nations.

Who knows who was more at fault? Obama or his then secretary of state Hillary Clinton, but the US decided unilaterally and in total repudiation of its allies' strategy, to make friends with the corrupt dictator of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, who has been in power since he led a coup 2006, but who by the time Obama & Clinton interfered in 2012 was close to acquiescing to sanctions pressure from Australia and NZ.
The US stepped in made Fiji the base for its new 'Pacific Policy' then arm-twisted Australia & NZ to resume diplomatic relations with a regime that routinely abducts and tortures political opponents.
In 2014 Fiji held a gerrymandered election which Frank Bainimarama won, but most opponents were declared ineligible, especially the last elected Prime Minister who has been under 'house arrest' continuously since 2006, and only Bainimarama's Party could campaign.

The US claimed it 'had' to do business with Fiji otherwise China was ready and waiting. It transpired that was a total crock, China had already secured a free trade agreement with NZ which set out China's position in these regional disruption - that China would not attempt to undermine NZ policy, and was in the process of doing the same deal with Australia when the US screwed the pooch.
There is no way China would have taken the risk of destroying the credibility it had built up in the Pacific for such a pointless goal.

Now all governments in the Pacific can feel secure in the knowledge that should they be subjected to an undemocratic coup, the US will discard the rule of law and go with however it feels on the day.

I have no doubt it is this insecurity which is driving the South East Asian rethink.
What use is an 'ally' that so obviously demonstrates it doesn't share the liberal values it claims to hold?
The Fiji government which the US has discarded in favour of the oppressive Bainimarama regime was the usual standard IMF borrowing neoliberal mob of careerists pols the US normally claims to favour.

There was no geopolitical advantage - quite the reverse. The citizens of Fiji were sold down the river for short term US domestic goals - so that Clinton & Obama could go to Capitol Hill and tell that corrupt bunch of pork barrelers they were 'doing something' to slow down China.

pfox33 , 2016-09-25 07:17:25
What's it gonna be, war in the SCS or the ME? Both?

BTW, the US proxies just lost Aleppo. No amount of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth about poor children dying by the score at the hands of Assad and the Russians will change that. If it's war you want, have at it.

Now, you're ready to go toe to toe with the Chinese? Is this the old maxim of being able to fight two wars at once? Maybe you should get a handle on those Pashtun guys in Afghanistan first, the ones running around in their PJs with AKs that keep you baffled most of the time.

It's all news to the plebes. They're more concerned about the big debate on Monday. They're trying to figure out if they should tape Dancing With the Stars or just forget about politics altogether.

Maybe you should just leave the SCS problem to the Vietnamese. They kicked your ass, probably could kick China's too.

jalvarez01 , 2016-09-25 07:15:39
In his UN speech, Obama reiterated yet again the fallacy that free-trade neoliberalism, under the auspices of the US-led IMF, WTO, etc, had lifted a billion people of poverty.

The reality is that three-quarters of those people live in China, under its state-directed and -protected system. And elsewhere in the developing world perhaps the main cause of poverty reduction in recent years has been cheap Chinese imports.

Michael_GPF jalvarez01 , 2016-09-25 09:11:10
You're rewriting history here. Access to western markets - offered by Bush Senior - has underpinned the Chinese 'system', plus internal free market reforms. Communism has been completely abandoned.
pawsfurthought Michael_GPF , 2016-09-25 10:33:40
Hehe, Bush snr the key to China's success, and you're accusing others of rewriting history? Whether the country can be classified as communist is a 'red' herring. It certainly isn't following the western neoliberalism model. The Chinese economy remains overwhelmingly centrally-planned, with even the banks being under state control.
GregPlatt , 2016-09-25 07:14:16
This article displays a disturbing tendency to see things from Uncle Sam's point of view - and, within that, from US establishment forces who think Obama has been too dovish. It's true that China is rising and its economic strength translates into a greater ability to challenge a world order that is structured to favour the US, but the analysis is coloured in unhelpful ways. Here are some extra points to consider - some of which won't make me popular in Beijing.

1. China would be making a strategic mistake of momentous proportions if it invaded Taiwan. It would, most probably, win the military confrontation, because only nuclear war could prevent it - and the US won't launch a nuclear war over Taiwan. The mistake would be seen in the aftermath of the conquest, which would see all of China's neighbours, with the exception of North Korea and Russia, build iron alliances with the US. In most cases, they would involve stationing large numbers of US troops, to ensure that a Chinese invasion would involve war with the US. A conquest of Taiwan could also see China locked out of many of its foreign markets. Certainly that would hurt their economies, but if China gives them a strong enough national security reason, governments would probably be prepared to wear the cost.

2. The rise of fiercely nationalistic and unilateralist governments around the world will play to China's advantage. As we have already seen with the Philippines, these governments will be less inclined to accept the burdens of alliances and instead be willing to cut deals that disadvantage third parties. This would allow China to play divide & rule in the South & East China Seas, providing it doesn't overplay its hand (see Point 1 above). Duterte is both dangerous to Philippine society and a strategic idiot - but he's also the sort of person who is increasingly coming to political prominence around the world as politics shifts ever further to the Right.

3. The TPP is a prime example of how the US is pushing the interests of the US capitalists and how its commitment to a "rules based order" is actually code for a set of rules that entrench US dominance in world affairs. That the TPP has been designed explicitly to exclude China should be a warning sign to everybody else. It's not about making the rules of international trade fairer. If it was, China would have been invited to get in on the ground floor.

4. The IISS is spinning a line on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute. For starters, China's claims to these islands are perhaps its strongest of all in the South & East China Seas. Belonging to China for centuries, they were acquired by Japan when it conquered Taiwan in 1895. After World War II, the US kept hold of those islands when it handed Taiwan back to Chiang Kai-Shek's Chinese government. In the 1970s, it handed administration of them over to Japan.

Secondly, the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands are an integral part of the First Island Chain, which block the Chinese Navy's access to the Pacific Ocean. China's strategic objectives are not to do with Taiwan, but with removing a US naval advantage over China itself.

5. The Rand Corporation's analysis is incredibly dangerous, in part because it is correct on many things. In a situation where the dominant State is in a position of relative decline, which can be expected to continue over a protracted period, there is a structural incentive to launch an early war, while the dominant State is still confident of winning it. It is in the interests of humanity, however, for that war not to occur. And so, I have a proposal.

My proposal is possibly unwelcome to fierce nationalists in the US, because it is based on the analysis that, in the long run, the US is likely to be the third most powerful country on Earth. China will be the most powerful and India will be second, based on their enormous populations and their rapid development.

An enlightened US policy, which would be capable of both benevolent and malevolent interpretations, would accept that destiny, and attempt to be a strong number two in the number one alliance. The number one alliance would be led by India and include the US, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, Vietnam and Thailand. It would attempt to swing the Philippines and Malaysia into it, as well. China's alliance would involve Russia, Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. It would attempt to swing Bangladesh and Laos into it as well.

As can be seen, the India-US alliance would be stronger than the China-Russia one, though not overwhelmingly so. Much would depend on what happens to the West of Pakistan, and that's where the US will have to concede ground to India. Basically, India would be a lot less likely than the US to attach special importance to propping up Israel's position as a garrison State and a modern Sparta holding down millions of Palestinian helots.

CaliRoshi GregPlatt , 2016-09-25 07:33:42
you underestimate the fact that the West is comprised of Europe & North America combined, with Latin America a first cousin and India a relative by marriage, metaphorically speaking (English speaking and democratic). The West , in those terms, is just too big to really reckon with; all China can do is play money / trade games to ensure they are treated fairly at the table when the serious business of managing the next century's problems becomes too dangerous to ignore anymore (climate change, global overpopulation and refugees + endless Islam problems).
cvneuves , 2016-09-25 07:06:05
Striking the difference in underlying strategies:

- China tries to keep in business by decreasing poverty within
- USA tries to keep in business by increasing poverty within

That out of the way: just to ponder war between China and USA is reflecting the absurdity the US and by inference the uncritical author here have reached.

The West would do well, by accepting where other countries see their boundaries. And yes, we should give China, and Russia for this purpose too, some zone of respect in their neighbourhood. Remember Cuba anyone? If China sees Taiwan as part of its territory we have to respect it. It was Chinese before US financed Chiang Kai-shek separated it after the war.

The West is collapsing because of its insatiable greed and increasing stupidity. It is painful to look at.

nickle101 , 2016-09-25 06:31:37
In contrast to the US, China's growth has been almost exclusively built on trade without war so far. In contrast the bellicose US has military bases all over the world and has been involved in constant wars including the use of weapons of mass destruction. It never dawns on the author that this might be the problem.

The Guardian is, as ever, a cheer-leader for the use of US military force:

the US might be best advised to strike first, before China gets any stronger and the current US military advantage declines further.

Hadi Purwanto nickle101 , 2016-09-25 08:01:24
China bullies its neighbors, that's the fact. You can ask ordinary people from Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan or even Myanmar how nervous they are about China aggressiveness.

Do we really need to wait until China attacks other countries before we call them bully? Should we ignore China's action because US did the same in the past? No.!!!

[Sep 27, 2016] TPP is practically written by the lobbyists from the multi-international corporations that exploit every possible tax laws, labor laws, environmental and public health regulations, legal representations and consequences. It is imperialism 2.0 in the 21st century

Sep 27, 2016 | discussion.theguardian.com

wumogang

22h ago 12 13

TPP is practically written by the lobbyists from the multi-international corporations that exploit every possible tax laws, labor laws, environmental and public health regulations, legal representations and consequences. It is imperialism 2.0 in the 21st century, exclusively serving the interests of top point one percent while greatly depressing the wages of middle class; it is overwhelmingly opposed by the public opinion, law makers of all sides and current president candidates. There is zero chance Obama could make it through legislation before his exit; Clinton will not even consider bringing it back if she wins the election because she already flip-flopped once on the issue during her campaign; and it would seriously damage her chance of re-election if she does. As for Trump, I leave it to anyone's imaginations.

[Sep 26, 2016] Its good to see articles criticizing financialization now and then. But the real problem is neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... It's good to see articles criticizing financialization now and then. It would be great if our politicians would take this issue up, but alas, it would be suicide (certainly politically, and possibly literally). ..."
"... On the surface, the reasons behind Bridgeport's poverty and Greenwich's wealth do not seem related. Bridgeport is struggling because it is a one-time manufacturing hub whose jobs went overseas as factories moved away in the late 20th century. Greenwich became a home for New York City financiers who wanted to live somewhere a little more bucolic than New York, and later hedge-fund managers decided they could work closer to home and set up their companies there, too. ..."
"... Michael Parenti gets it: "The reason we have poor people is rich people." ..."
"... And because we have poor people who are told they should not envy the rich their advantages because they just might be one of them someday. So we lionize this era's robber barons from Bezos to Cook to Brin instead of roasting them over a slow fire until they agree to pay taxes in this country. Too bad we don't have a trust-busting politician of any stripe around, Teddy Roosevelt where are you when we need you. ..."
Sep 26, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
scott 2 September 25, 2016 at 8:11 am

The Atlantic article ( Finance Is Ruining America Atlantic (Phil U)) would have been more effective if it had described a typical hedge fund deal, like, say, Guitar Center, or one of Mitt Romney's "successes" (you know, debt fueled special dividends). It's good to see articles criticizing financialization now and then. It would be great if our politicians would take this issue up, but alas, it would be suicide (certainly politically, and possibly literally).

fresno dan September 25, 2016 at 8:15 am

Finance Is Ruining America Atlantic (Phil U)

On the surface, the reasons behind Bridgeport's poverty and Greenwich's wealth do not seem related. Bridgeport is struggling because it is a one-time manufacturing hub whose jobs went overseas as factories moved away in the late 20th century. Greenwich became a home for New York City financiers who wanted to live somewhere a little more bucolic than New York, and later hedge-fund managers decided they could work closer to home and set up their companies there, too.

These two towns have different fates in part because of two distinct dynamics in the American economy. Yet there are economists who believe that there is a link between the improving prosperity of the wealthy and the eroding bank accounts of everyone else. The reason? It's two-fold: First, there is the rise of the financial industry, which has fueled extraordinary wealth for a very few without creating good jobs down the line, and, second, a tax policy that not only fails to mitigate these effects, but actually incentivizes them in the first place. It's probably not surprising, then, that the 10 states with the biggest jumps in the top 1 percent share from 1979 to 2007 were the states with the largest financial service sectors, according to the Economic Policy Institute analysis.

=============================================
It is astounding that people still believe low interest rates mean some industrialist can get a loan and start a factory and hire employees….where it seems pretty apparent that it means a financier can move a company overseas….
As well as the fact it seems harder and harder to be able to say that the 1%'s getting richer is NOT due to everybody else getting poorer.

Uahsenaa September 25, 2016 at 9:38 am

It's the neoliberal Rube Goldberg machine. Why just give money where needed when you can give it to someone on the assumption they'll give a portion to someone else, who will give it to someone else, so that they can maybe pass some of it along to whoever needs it?

Also, because markets.

Jim Haygood September 25, 2016 at 10:10 am

'Greenwich became a home for New York City financiers who wanted to live somewhere a little more bucolic than New York'

Until 1991, Connecticut had no income tax. New Jersey had walked that plank in 1976, leaving CT as the only quasi-tax haven within commuting distance of NYC.

But then former Gov. Lowell Weicker (who had run on a "no income tax" platform - he lied ) introduced one. Result : a stagnant, moribund Connecticut economy, with flat population. General Electric saw the light and bailed for Boston with its HQ.

Jaren Dilliian, who grew up there, wrote of throwing a party in CT with a deejay. The DJ had to be licensed, plus they needed a permit, plus union electricians had to set up and take down the equipment. Hassle, cost, bureaucracy.

What value added does contemporary CT provide for its tax take, vs pre-1991 CT? Zero. Maybe less than zero.

Katharine September 25, 2016 at 12:10 pm

"But then former Gov. Lowell Weicker (who had run on a "no income tax" platform - he lied) introduced one. Result: a stagnant, moribund Connecticut economy, with flat population."

Sequel, perhaps. Result, not proved, and I suspect questionable. The data here appear to undermine your claim:

http://www.itep.org/whopays/states/connecticut.php

They show corporate income tax at <1% and personal income tax <5% for all but the top 5% of incomes. I find it very hard to believe those rates are responsible for Connecticut's allegedly moribund economy.

As for not providing value, consider another point of view:

http://ctviewpoints.org/2016/08/30/opinion-ellen-shemitz-2/

kgw September 25, 2016 at 10:28 am

Michael Parenti gets it: "The reason we have poor people is rich people."

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL September 25, 2016 at 1:46 pm

And because we have poor people who are told they should not envy the rich their advantages because they just might be one of them someday. So we lionize this era's robber barons from Bezos to Cook to Brin instead of roasting them over a slow fire until they agree to pay taxes in this country. Too bad we don't have a trust-busting politician of any stripe around, Teddy Roosevelt where are you when we need you.

Get Rich or Die Tryin is the last gasp in the American Hunger Games. It's the same story as ever, told down through the ages, the rich squeeze the poor, then they can't help but squeeze juuust that little bit more, and we get Charlotte

Mo's Bike Shop September 25, 2016 at 12:27 pm

>>whose jobs went overseas as factories moved away in the late 20th century

Those jobs and factories sure have a lot of personal agency.

John Wright September 25, 2016 at 12:30 pm

It is sad to read the story of Bridgeport.

Where I work, when we need do to some quick machining, we go to use the "Bridgeport" vertical mill in the shop.

This is the milling machine manufactured and popularized by Bridgeport Machines, Inc of Bridgeport.

These mills were produced in Bridgeport from 1938 until 2004, and were another important cog in the post war manufacturing economic miracle.

The Bridgeport mill is still made by Hardinge of Elmira, NY, but the jobs are gone from Bridgeport.

USA finance is as large as it is because TPTB allow/abet it, not because it serves the USA well..

BecauseTradition September 25, 2016 at 8:40 am

It is astounding that people still believe low interest rates mean some industrialist can get a loan and start a factory and hire employees….where it seems pretty apparent that it means a financier can move a company overseas….
fresno dan [bold added]

Or automate jobs away with what is, in essence, the public's credit due to extensive government privileges for depository institutions.

The implicit social contract whereby capitalists shall provide good jobs in exchange for the public's credit is broken – if it ever existed – without hope of fixing due to automation alone.

fresno dan September 25, 2016 at 10:14 am

BecauseTradition
September 25, 2016 at 8:40 am

good point and I agree.
And there are probably all sorts of examples. For instance, how long did low interest rates help by stimulating home building, home buying, until shadow banking was able to super charge profits by taking a rather straight forward, dull, simple to understand thing like home loans and turning it into a giant scam? How was it that something that worked so well for so long got so totally f*cked up?
Doesn't it feel nowadays that in every protection, advancement, or progress is advocated by a Hillary talking clone, and that the only point of it is to weasel more money out of you???
and that the word "protection" defacto means "screw"

ProNewerDeal September 25, 2016 at 10:23 am

FD, nice take

Hillary hack says "protect you", he means "a protection racket our campaign funder/owners devised to rob you"

BecauseTradition September 25, 2016 at 10:42 am

How was it that something that worked so well for so long got so totally f*cked up? fresno dan

Well, point of fact, it did not work so well if one was red-lined. And philosophically, how does one justify government privileges for depository institutions in the first place? Because they work? Work for who? Not those who were redlined, for sure.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL September 25, 2016 at 1:55 pm

America is like an aging, punch drunk prize fighter, so much blood streaming into his eyes he can't even see what he's doing any more. So we flail around with Iraq-style nation-building wars despite being smashed squarely in the face with all our previous ones. Just put your hands behind your back and stick your jaw way out. The Fed sprays free money around like its Skittles despite the fact that the only takers for new debt are CEOs buying back their stocks and heading for the islands. And precisely one candidate has the stones to mention it, and no I don't mean the falling down, sickly grandmother who sold the business of our government for immense personal gain through her Foundation.

temporal September 25, 2016 at 9:08 am

Scan and go.

Swapping standing in line at the check-out for the line at the exit. And when there is an issue then the greeter calls in the check-out police thereby pissing off the customer. Brilliant.

While Apple fanboys are willing to work for their iPhone's company for free by doing their own check-out I doubt that is likely for people going to Sam's Club. As well many customers, even if they have a smartphone, will not enjoy using up their data plan as they try to check and process the details online.

All these smartphone apps have one major goal, besides collecting credit fees. Reduce store overhead by getting customers to do more of the work while eliminating employees. The winners are not the customers or people looking for a way to make ends meet.

Pavel September 25, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Another goal of course is to track even further every single purchase - what, and where, and when. And then sell the consumption data to the insurers perhaps… a packet of cigs per day? Or too many bottles of booze?

Of course they are already doing that with the store "fidelity cards", but the mobile apps will be more precise and less optional.

Carolinian September 25, 2016 at 9:09 am

Re the Oilprice link, here's an article that contradicts the notion that US policy in Syria was about the Qatari pipeline as that claim–put forth in a Politico article by Robert Kennedy Jr–was little more than a poorly sourced rumor.

That claim has no credibility for a very simple reason: there was no Qatari proposal for Syria to reject in 2009. It was not until October 2009 that Qatar and Turkey even agreed to form a working group to develop such a gas pipeline project.

Gareth Porter says that instead

The US decision to support Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in their ill-conceived plan to overthrow the Assad regime was primarily a function of the primordial interest of the US permanent war state in its regional alliances. The three Sunni allies control US access to the key US military bases in the region, and the Pentagon, the CIA, the State Department and the Obama White House were all concerned, above all, with protecting the existing arrangements for the US military posture in the region[….]

The massive, direct and immediate power interests of the US war state – not the determination to ensure that a pipeline would carry Qatar's natural gas to Europe – drove the US policy of participation in the war against the Syrian regime. Only if activists focus on that reality will they be able to unite effectively to oppose not only the Syrian adventure but the war system itself.

In other words the MIC strikes again and seems to be directly challenging Obama policies with "accidents" like the recent bombing of the Syrian army. Time for movie fans to dust off old copies of Seven Days in May?

http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2016/09/23/war-assad-regime-not-pipeline-war/

tgs September 25, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Porter may well be right about the pipeline. However, a piece that purports to account for our Syria operations and the obsession with the removal of Assad that does not mention Israel and the Israel Lobby cannot be the complete story. Breaking the 'Shia Crescent' is a major strategic aim of the friends of Israel.

Carolinian September 25, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Without a doubt the Lobby keeps the liberals–the "progressives except for Palestine"–supporting the fever dreams of the generals, but arguably it's this internal, and traditionally rather Waspy pressure group that is the real menace. As the following quite accurately points out, we have a WW2 military with nothing to do with itself unless they can invent a suitable enemy.

http://original.antiwar.com/reed/2016/09/23/bombing-everything-gaining-nothing/

We live in a military world fundamentally different from that of the last century. All-out wars between major powers, which is to say nuclear powers, are unlikely since they would last about an hour after they became all-out, and everyone knows it. In WWII Germany could convince itself, reasonably and almost correctly, that Russia would fall in a summer, or the Japanese that a Depression-ridden, unarmed America might decide not to fight. Now, no. Threaten something that a nuclear power regards as vital and you risk frying. So nobody does.

Or, to sum up

What is the relevance of the Pentagon? How do you bomb a trade agreement?

The generals and admirals need a Russian foe to justify their absurd budgets and their very existence. It's ironic that our great victory in WW2–triumph of industrial America–may end up doing us more long term harm than those European and Asian nations that were bombed into ashes. You can rebuild cities but dismantling imperial hubris turns out to be harder.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL September 25, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Occam would probably just say that the Cold War never ended for our geniuses-in-chief, despite dissolving away in 1989 our enemy is and always was and will be Russia uber alles. The simple fact that they back Assad is all it took, yes add in a sprinkle of Tehran and Tel Aviv and goose with a little juice from Riyadh but the overnight disappearance of our existential enemy was something up with which we could not put.

[Sep 26, 2016] It has been particularly infuriating to see the Chanel-suited Berkeley types be the ones to embrace imperial fascist war-making with such glee.

Sep 26, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

HBE September 25, 2016 at 11:58 am

Just watched Samantha Powers speak at the emergency UN security counsel meeting on Syria, how she managed to keep a straight face is completely beyond me.

Basically Russia needs to take responsibility for its actions in Syria and the war would be over if those damn Russians would GTFO and quit disrupting the US and GCC regime change operations.

It appears everything would be going swimmingly if Russia would just leave the "rebels" alone and let the US turn Syria into Libya, I mean is that so much to ask for? /S

tgs September 25, 2016 at 12:37 pm

The people Obama has chosen to represent him are almost all fanatics. Samantha Power and Ash Carter stand out as true psychopaths. Carter actually openly defied Obama on the Syria ceasefire.

Robert Parry has an excellent piece out today on the rush to judgment about the attack on the humanitarian convoy.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL September 25, 2016 at 2:53 pm

It has been particularly infuriating to see the Chanel-suited Berkeley types be the ones to embrace imperial fascist war-making with such glee.
I happened to recognize Susan Rice travelling sans bodyguard with her girlfriend at the airport in Chiang Mai Thailand and had a delicious time giving her a full piece of my mind. Unedited truth to power with nowhere to hide, she reacted with a glaze that said "you are just an idiot peon" but I could see she was shaken.

[Sep 26, 2016] Neoliberal corruption is enhanced by 401K investors

Sep 26, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. : September 25, 2016 at 07:01 AM This is a large problem for the left. (and I see the prospect of enacting "maximum wage laws" as pretty slim. Maybe I'm wrong.)

You read progressive commenters like David and EMichael here pondering the returns on their investments. Not that there's anything fundamentally wrong with it. It's just a problem needed to be solved by public policy so everyone is facing the same rules.

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/you-voted-to-pay-wells-fargo-ceo-john-stumpf-19-5-million

You Voted to Pay Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf $19.5 Million
by Dean Baker

Published: 24 September 2016


You don't remember casting that vote? Well, you didn't actually cast it, but if you have a 401(k) someone like Blackrock CEO Larry Fink cast the vote for you.

Most middle income people have 401(k)s for their retirement and most of this money is in mutual funds. These mutual funds have control over the proxy votes for the shares they hold. This means that funds like Blackrock, which has more than $5 trillion in assets, have enormous say over the distribution of income in this country. And, as Gretchen Morgenson points out in her NYT column this morning, these folks almost always endorse outlandish pay packages for CEOs. As they say in Wall Street circles, what's a few million dollars between friends.

So, if you're upset about an economy where the rich keep getting richer, just remember, you voted for it, sort of. Reply Sunday, pgl -> Peter K.... , Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 09:43 AM

$19.5 million and zero accountability. Wells Fargo needs a new CEO now.
Cray Singularity -> pgl... , Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 10:04 AM

Folks need to keep their $$$$ out of mutual funds, keep their $$$$ out of 401(k). Plus you will avoid the load. When stocks fall your t-bonds will rise by virtue of their negative beta. Is that why investment bankers are contributing more to Clinton Dynasty Foundation? To Clinton election slush fund? Than to Trump University? Because the strongly suspect that stocks will collapse when the Donald moves into White House?

Do you know where your assets are? When was the last

time you saw
Uranus
?

pgl -> Cray Singularity... , Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 10:47 AM
Gold may be a negative beta asset but government bonds? Don't think so.
mrrunangun -> Peter K.... , Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 10:06 AM
I hate to remark on so obvious a matter. A TBTF bank CEO bonus of $19.5million is a low bonus by industry standards. Back in the 90s and oughties a $2million bonus for a managing director was an insult or an indication that you were on your way out. $10million was a good bonus, $5 million was OK. A $20 million bonus was really good for an MD. CEOs and leaders of successful business units could see 9 figure bonuses, like Mr Blankfein's $130million 2010 bonus, and he was not the highest paid GS exec that year. A bonus below $20million for a current day CEO could be read as bad news and is probably read as such by his friends. He is probably on his way out.

Bonuses today are not as sumptuous as they were in 2010 when the Obama bailout money was considered income and bonuses were paid out in proportion to the income of the business unit.

pgl -> mrrunangun... , Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 10:48 AM
OK, I bet Jamie Dimon makes more but I'd be really dismayed if he refused to take basic accountability for what Wells Fargo did.
pgl -> mrrunangun... , Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 10:50 AM
It seems Wells Fargo may have avoided the disasterous decline in stock valuations that BofA and Citigroup experienced but this is not exactly a large increase either:

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/WFC?ltr=1

pgl -> pgl... , Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 10:52 AM
JPMorgan has seen a 25% increase in stock prices.

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/JPM?ltr=1

Wells Fargo fairly flat and big stock declines for BofA and Citigroup. And yet we here from JohnH some incessant spin about record bank profits.

So many misconceptions so easily debunked.

JohnH -> pgl... , -1
More BS from pgl. Banks were able to take advantage of the Fed's historically low interest rates and post record profits in 2014 and 2015, while median real household income was back where it was a generation ago.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-02/u-s-banks-posted-record-profits-in-second-quarter-fdic-says

Sad part, is that now pgl will tell us about the woes of one or two of his favorite banks and try to project that to the industry...or he'll put in a link showing declines in net interest margins...because he's a dissembling sleazebag.

This dude is so confused that he doesn't even know the difference between net INCOME margin (profit) and net INTEREST margin!

[Sep 26, 2016] The Guardian

Notable quotes:
"... Conventionally the US is being outplayed but it is possible that it is playing a different game in which it is complicit in the transition from nation state to corporate oligarchy. Isn't that the Neoliberal end game? ..."
"... And the big problem with Trump's approach is that good ol' American corporations are the ones who are profiting wildly from business in China. They wanted access to the Chinese labor force, e.g. Walmart and every other manufacturer who now peddles goods made in China in US stores. They are the entities that cost western workers millions of jobs, creating massive trade deficits. They are wealthy beyond measure and anyone who wants to alter this system whereby American corporations manufacture in China and ship products around the world, inc. to the US, would have to fight them. And if anyone believes that Trump would succeed in this battle, they are delusional. ..."
Sep 26, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

The Guardian

Vermithrax , 2016-09-26 18:48:09
Before the pivot could even get underway the Saudis threw their rattle out of the pram and drew US focus back to the Middle East and proxy war two steps removed with Russia. Empires don't get to focus, they react to each event and seek to gain from the outcome so the whole pivot idea was flawed.

Obama's foreign policy has been clumsy and amoral. It remains to be seen whether it will become more so in an effort to double down. Under Clinton it definitely will, under Trump who knows but random isn't a recommendation.

Conventionally the US is being outplayed but it is possible that it is playing a different game in which it is complicit in the transition from nation state to corporate oligarchy. Isn't that the Neoliberal end game?

Boyaca , 2016-09-26 18:41:19
So the Rand Think Tank would sooner have war now than later. Who wouldda guessed that.

The Chinese want to improve trade and business with the rest of the world. The US answer? destroy China militarily. so who best to lead the world. I think the article answers that question unintentionally. The rest of the world has had it up to the ears with American military invasions, regeime changes, occupations and bombing of the world. They are ready for China´s approach to international relations. it is about time the adults took over the leadership of the world. Europe and the USA and their offspring have clearly failed.

AmyInNH , 2016-09-26 17:07:12
China has been handed everything it needs to fly solo: money, factories, IP, etc. Fast forwarding into the western civic model limits (traffic, pollution, etc.), its best bet is to offload US "interests" and steer clear.
No clear sign India's learned/recovered from British occupation, as they let tech create more future Kanpurs.
Shein Ariely , 2016-09-26 17:06:51
Obama failed worldwide.
Next USA president either Democrat or Republican will have a difficult job fixing his colosal mistakes in ME- Euroep-Asia
yermelai , 2016-09-26 10:12:58
The biggest mistake was to enact a policy shunning Russia, when Russia should be a key, partner of Europe and the US.

Was it really worth expanding NATO to Russia's borders instead of offering neutrality to former Soviet States and thus retain Russia's confidence in global matters that far out weigh the interests of the neo-cons?

Hermanovic yermelai , 2016-09-26 10:50:07
neutrality? Russia invaded non-NATO members Georgie, Ukrain, and Moldavia, and created puppet-states on their soil.

The Jremlin-rules are simple: the former Sovjet states should be ruled by a pro-Russian dictator (Bella-Russia, Kazachstan, etc. etc...). Democracies face boycots, diplomatic and military support of rebels, and in the end simply a military invasion.

The only reason why the baltic states are now thriving democracies, is that they are NATO members.

Boyaca Hermanovic , 2016-09-26 18:57:23
And the USA invaded Vietnam, Panama, Nicaragua with the contras, Iraq, Afghanistan, are currently bombing the crap out of another dozen nations, has militarily occupied another 100 nations with their bases and you are worried about Russia with Georgia and The Ukraine? What in Hades is wrong with this picture?
macel388 , 2016-09-26 10:08:03
"Barack Obama's 'Asian pivot' failed. China is in the ascendancy" says the heading.

So Obama's "Asian pivot" was meant to thwart China's development.

MicheNorman , 2016-09-26 09:36:41
When Obama took office his first major speech was in Cairo - where he said
"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world," US President Barack Obama said to the sounds of loud applause which rocked not only the hall, but the world. "One based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles-principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."

He displayed a dangerous mix of innocence, foolishness, disregard for the truth and misunderstanding of the nature of Islamic regimes - does the West have common values with Lebanon which practices apartheid for Palestinians, Saudi, where women cannot drive a car, Syria, where over 17,000 have died in Assad's torture chambers, we can go on and on.

And on China - Trump has it right - China has been manipulating its currency exchange rate for years, costing western workers millions of jobs, creating massive trade deficits and something needs to be done about it.

ReinerNiemand MicheNorman , 2016-09-26 10:21:20
" America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles-principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. "
He spoke about the whole of Islam, not specific " Islamic regimes ". And he is correct on it. All religions share a great deal of values with the USAmerican constition and even each other .
The overwhelming majority of USAmerican muslims have accepted the melting pot with their whole heart, second generation children have JOINED its fighting forces to protect the interest of the uSA all over the world. Normally this full an integration is reached with the third generation.

The west has won against those religious fanatics. How else to explain that exactly the people those claim to speak turn up with us?

Calvert MicheNorman , 2016-09-26 11:21:45
And the big problem with Trump's approach is that good ol' American corporations are the ones who are profiting wildly from business in China. They wanted access to the Chinese labor force, e.g. Walmart and every other manufacturer who now peddles goods made in China in US stores. They are the entities that cost western workers millions of jobs, creating massive trade deficits. They are wealthy beyond measure and anyone who wants to alter this system whereby American corporations manufacture in China and ship products around the world, inc. to the US, would have to fight them. And if anyone believes that Trump would succeed in this battle, they are delusional.
hartebeest , 2016-09-26 09:35:14
"These two juggernauts are on a collision course" is far too alarmist. Relying mainly on right-wing US thinktanks for analysis doesn't help. Interesting in particular to see RAND is still in its Cold War mindset. There's famous footage of RAND analysts in the 60s (I think) discussing putative nuclear war with the USSR and concluding that the US was certain of 'victory' following a missile exchange because its surviving population (after hundreds of millions of deaths and the destruction of almost all urban centres) would be somewhat larger.

China's island claims are all about a broader strategic aim- getting unencumbered access to the Pacific for its growing blue water navy. It's not aimed at Taiwan or Japan in any sort of specific sense and, save for the small possibility of escalation following an accident (ships colliding or something), there's very little risk of conflict in at least the medium term.

It's crucial to remember just how much China and the US depend upon each other economically. The US is by far China's largest single export market, powering its manufacturing economy. In return, China uses the surplus to buy up US debt, which allows the Americans to borrow cheaply and keep the lights on. Crash China and you crash the US- and vice versa.

For now, China is basically accepting an upgraded number 2 spot (along with the US acknowledging them as part of a 'G2'), but supporting alternative governance structures when it doesn't like the ones controlled by the US/Japan (so the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the BRICS etc.).

This doesn't mean that the two don't see each other as long term strategic and economic rivals. But the risks to both of rocking the boat are gigantic and not in the interest of either party in the foreseeable future. Things that could change that:

a. a succession of Trump-like US presidents (checks and balances are probably sufficient to withstand one, were it to come to that);
b. a revolution in China (possible if the economy goes South- and what comes next is probably not liberal democracy but anti-Japanese or anti-US authoritarian nationalism);
c. an unpredictable chain of events arising from N Korean collapse or a regional nuclear race (Japan-China is a more likely source of conflict than US-China).

MrMeinung , 2016-09-26 09:13:57
The west has been long living under the illusion that the so called globalised world would be beneficial for all.

Now we are waking up to the realisation that we are the big loosers of globalisation.

Time for a change of plan.

freeandfair MrMeinung , 2016-09-26 14:29:49
"The west has been long living under the illusion that the so called globalised world would be beneficial for all. "

No, actually they thought it would be beneficial for the Western countries mostly. And it was, but whatever benefits developing countries received allowed them to rise to the level of a potential future threat to the unquestionable Western dominance. And now the US is looking for a way to destroy them preemptively. The US is paranoid.

Zami99 , 2016-09-26 08:30:36
The writing is on the wall: the future is with China. All the US can do is make nice or reap the dire consequences. If China can clean up its human rights record, I would be happy to see them supplant or rival the US as a global hegemon. After all, looked at historically, haven't they earned it? - An American, born and bred, but no nationalist
Calvert Zami99 , 2016-09-26 11:24:26
Well, that is naïve. Look at China and how the Chinese people are governed. Look at the US. And please don't tell me you don't see a difference. I'll take a world with the US as the global hegemon any day.
Leandro Rodriguez Zami99 , 2016-09-26 16:15:42
The US never cleaned up their human rights record...
Sven Ringling , 2016-09-26 08:16:37
A regional counter balance is needed. Cooperation is hindered by Japan. They should be the center point of a regional alliance strong enough to contain China with US help, but it doesn't work: whilst everybody fears China, everybody hates Japan.
The reason is they failed miserably to rebuild trust after WWII, rather than going cap in hand, acknowledging respondibility for atrocities and other crimes and injustice, and compensate victims, they kept their pride and isolation. They are now paying the price - possibly together with the rest of us.
Maybe a full scale change after 7 decades of to-little-to-late diplomacy can still achieve sth.
The ass the US should kick sits in Tokyo - something they failed to do properly after WWII, when they managed it well in West Germany (ok - they had help from the Brits there, who for all their failings understand foreign nations far better), where it facilitated proper integration into European cooperation.
ArabinPatson , 2016-09-26 07:28:26
I think this "ascendancy" and nationalistic fervour is actually a sign of internal turmoil. Countries that do well don't need to crack down on dissidents to the point of kidnappings or spend millions of stupid man made islands that pisses everyone off but have all the military value of a threatening facial tattoo. The South China Sea tactics is partially Chinese "push until something pushes back" diplomacy but also stems from the harsh realisation that their resources can be easily choked of and even the CPC knows it can't hold down a billion plus Chinese people once the hunger sets it.

China is facing the dilemna that as it brings people out of poverty it reduces the supply of the very cheap labour that makes it rich. You can talk about Lenovo all you want, no one is buying a Chinese car anytime soon. Nor is any airline outside of China going to buy one of their planes. Copyright fraud is one thing the West can retaliate easily upon and will if they feel China has gone too far. Any product found in a western court to be a blatant copy can effectively be banned. The next step is to refuse to recognize Chinese copyright on the few genuine innovations that come out of it.

Plus the deal Deng Xiaoping made with the urban classes is fraying. It was wealth in exchange for subservience. The people in the cities stay out of direct politics but quality of life issues, safety, petty corruption and pollution are angering them and scaring them hence the vast amount of private Chinese money being sunk into global real estate.

The military growth and dubious technobabble is just typical Chinese mianzi gaining. If you do have a brand new jet stealth jet fighter, you don't release pictures of it to the world press. They got really rattled when Shinzo Abe decided the JSDF can go and deliver slappings abroad to help their friends if needed. Because an army that spends a lot of time rigging up Michael Bayesque set maneuvers for the telly is not what you want to pit against top notch technology handled by obsessive perfectionists.

No one plays hardball with China because we all like cheap shit. But once that is over then China is a very vulnerable country with not one neighbour they can call a friend. They know it. Obama hasn't failed.. It's the histrionics that prove it not the other way round.

250022 ArabinPatson , 2016-09-26 11:34:31
Fundamentally incorrect.

The labour supply is assured because there are still multi millions in poverty and signing up as cheap labour is exactly what brings them out of poverty.

I assume you've never been to China and therefore have never heard of Chunyun, the largest human migration in the world. This is partly the ruralites returning home from the cities with their years spoils. This year individual journeys totalled almost 3bn.

No-one is buying a Chinese car? Check the sales for Wuling. They produce the small vans that are the lifeblood of the small entrepreneur. BYD are already exporting electric buses to London. The likes of VW, BMW, Land Rover, are all in partnership with Chinese auto-makers and China is the largest car market in the world.

Corruption has been actively attacked and over a quarter of a million officials have been brought to book in Xi's time in office. The pollution causing steel and coal industries are being rapidly contracted and billions spent on re-training.

Plus the fact that while the Chinese are mianzi gazing, the last thing they think about is politics. They simply don't want to know.

By the way, China is reducing it's land army by a third over the next few years and has just concluded very constructive summits with all it's neighbours during last weeks ASEAN bunfight.

The conclusion is that bi-lateral talks, not US led pissing contests are the way forward.

http://english.sina.com/china/s/2016-09-26/detail-ifxwevmf2233637.shtml

LordLardy1215 , 2016-09-26 05:55:19
The pivot failed second Snowden turned up in Hong Kong. Asia as a consequence doesn't trust US. Snowden revealed that US was protecting its economic interests as opposed to any love for a distant region of the World. Simple reality but as someone from Western World would have preferred that pretence we all knew had been left in the cupboard and not in effect humiliated nations into taking more negative US stance. Agree that China will take decisive action against nations that once humiliated and tortured their citizens - when is the question and any dreams anyone has of a united alliance against China is out with the fairies or been drinking same Koolaid as Snowden and his supporters.
Jonathan Scott , 2016-09-26 05:05:24
I disagree with the idea that the Asian pivot has failed because it has not happened.

What has happened is the ICA has ruled against China in the SCS and US buildup in Guam has been accelerated.

Also, China still has little force projection and a soon to collapse economy.

alfredwong Jonathan Scott , 2016-09-26 05:44:58
"What has happened is the ICA has ruled against China in the SCS..."

Nothing new. The UN Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf had also ruled against the UK and the International Court of Justice had ruled against the US.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/mar/29/falkland-islands-argentina-waters-rules-un-commission

http://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-defiance-of-international-court-has-precedentu-s-defiance-1467919982

"Also, China still has little force projection"

A country only needs a lot of force projection if it seeks to dominate the world.

"and a soon to collapse economy."

You are entitled to have such dream.

vidimi Jonathan Scott , 2016-09-26 09:41:28
a collapse of the chinese economy would collapse the american economy as well
ChristosHellas , 2016-09-26 04:17:59
Fascinating & well structured article - except for one glaring omission - the LNP selling of the Port of Darwin to a Chinese Government business. Yeh, sure it's a '99 year lease' but for all effective purposes it's a sellout of a strategic port to the Chinese Government.

Just look at how gobsmacked the US Military & President were over such a stupidly undertaken sale by the LNP. This diplomatically lunatic sell off by the LNP of such a vital national asset has effectively taken-out any influence or impact Australia may have, or exert, over critical issues happening on our northern doorstep.

If there was ever a case for buying back a strategic national asset, this is definitely the one. Oh, if folks are worried about the $Billions in penalties incurred, simple solution - just stop the $Billions of Diesel Fuel Rebates gifted to Miners for, say, 10 years..... Done!

JeffAshe , 2016-09-26 04:05:15
America is in terminal decline, beset by economic and fiscal crises, sapped by imperial overstretch, a victim of a cosmopolitan ennui and fecklessness, divided politically and culturally, belligerent and militant to the extreme. An empire in decline is at its most dangerous. America today is a far greater threat to world peace than China. Simply witness America's accommodation of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the odious Saudi theocracy, and how its insane policy in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan has led to hundreds of thousands of lives lost and millions displaced. Europe is under siege by endless tides of refugees that are the direct consequence of America's neo-Conservative and militant foreign policy. Meanwhile, America's neo-liberal economic and trade policies have not only decimated her own manufacturing base and led to gross inequality but also massive dislocations in South America, Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Tired, irritated, frustrated, exhausted, cynical, violent, moral-less, deeply corrupt, and rudderless, America is effectively bankrupt and on the verge of becoming another Greece, if not for the saving grace of the petro-Dollar. Europe would be well-advised to keep the Yanks at arm's length so as to escape as much as possible the fallout from her complete collapse. As for Britain, soon to be divorced from the EU, time draws nigh to end the humiliating, one-sided servitude that is the 'Special Relationship' and forge an independent foreign policy. The tectonic plates of history is again shifting, and there nothing America can do to stop it.
scss99 JeffAshe , 2016-09-26 05:14:43
I don't know America probably occupies the most prime geographical spot on the planet, and buffered by two oceans. It doesn't have to worry about refugees and the other problems and ultimately they can produce enough food and meet all of its energy needs domestically. And it's the third most populous nation on earth and could easily grow its population with immigration.

The US has no significantly greater percentage of debt than any of the other Western nations except Germany. If you think the Americas bankrupt then you'd have to think a whole lot of other nations including the UK is as well.

Given the facts it would be daft a write off America. Every European nation have lost their number one spot in history and they seem to be doing just fine. Is there some reason why this can't be America's destiny as well? Does it really have to end in flames?

JeffAshe scss99 , 2016-09-26 06:30:08
I suppose a post-collapse America would eke out a reduced existence, probably as prosperous as Mexico is today, in a best case scenario that is. It's likely America will balkanize, social order will completely break down, with her polity broken into many small pieces and fiefs, each armed to the teeth and tussling with others for limited resources. I foresee Canada will seal her borders and China paying for the decommissioning of America's nuclear arsenal and submarines.
johnnypop , 2016-09-26 03:59:25
Looking to the US to box China in, or stop its aggressive policies, is unrealistic. It must be the combination of nations in the area working together to stop the Chinese. The US can help but it is the nations most directly affected that must take action. One good thing is the Japanese are finally getting over the "constitutional" thing and are acknowledging that they are going to have to much more responsible for their own security in the future. SE Asian nations working for stronger ties with India is also good.
itsfridayiminlove johnnypop , 2016-09-26 04:30:12
Unfortunately, China has divided and conquered certain countries in SE Asia. This is the reason why ASEAN couldn't issue a joint statement against Chinese actions since all of its members should approve the content of the statement. China has won over Laos and Myanmar.
rpncali4nya itsfridayiminlove , 2016-09-26 05:39:49
Laos and Myanmar should be kicked out of ASEAN. That would solve everything.
macel388 itsfridayiminlove , 2016-09-26 14:17:29
"China has divided and conquered certain countries in SE Asia."

These certain SE Asian countries would say that it's because they are not willing to be Uncle Sam's "yes man".

indigoian , 2016-09-26 03:55:55
we've only ourselves to blame for buying all those wonderfully cheap products that our turncoat companies happily made in china using massively underpaid labor.

We, the consumer, have the ultimate power in society - if only we used it collectively. We can still stop the rise by voting with our wallets.

Kamatron indigoian , 2016-09-26 16:21:36
Go on then, maybe you should start by boycotting all China made goods.

Good luck with that thought. Might prove to be a tad idealistic and stupid.

CalvinLyn , 2016-09-26 03:47:56
The US is still so very powerful but the problem is they feel powerless from time to time with their hammer in hand against flying mosquitos. Why they always wanted to solve problems using force is beyond stupidity.

Pivot to Asia is about one thing only, sending more war ships to encircle China. But for what purpose exactly? It does one thing though, it united china by posing as a threat.

hobot CalvinLyn , 2016-09-26 04:44:28
It also destabilises the entire region. Something the Americans are masters of.
Stieve , 2016-09-26 02:09:34
Those blaming Obama most stridently for not keping China in its box are those most responsible for China's rise. American and Western companies shafted their own people to make themselves more profit. They didn't care what the consequences might be, as long as the lmighty "Shareholder Value" continued to rise. Now they demand that the taxes from all those people whose jobs they let go be used to contain the new superpower that they created. As usual, Coroporate America messes things up then demands to know what someone else is going to do about it
indigoian Stieve , 2016-09-26 03:49:04
All very true -- I would add to that by saying we, the consumer, are at least partly culpable. We(western populations) bought those products that our companies 'made in china'.

We all turned a blind eye as long as our shopping carts were filled with ever cheaper items.

MountainMan23 , 2016-09-26 01:49:38
Were the US to form a cooperative instead of confrontational relationship with China the world would be a better place. The same could be said for the US relationship with Russia.

Of course the military-industrial-banking-congressional complex that governs Washington's behavior would not be happy. WIthout confrontation the arms industries can't sell their weapons of war, banks' profits take a hit and congress critters don't get their kickbacks, err, "donations".

freeandfair MountainMan23 , 2016-09-26 02:02:27
The US doesn't know what the word "cooperation" means. To Americans "cooperation" means giving orders and others following them.
LivingTruth , 2016-09-26 00:41:25
America has this absurd notion that it must always be number 1 in world whatever that means
world could be better when east is best
Zhubajie1284 , 2016-09-26 00:16:50
Given the way the US government has screwed the Philippines over steadily since 1898, it's not surprising that Pres. Dutarte has decided to be friendly with his neighbor.

Obama of the Kill List lecturing other countries about human rights abuses! What hypocrisy.

thomasvladimir , 2016-09-26 00:11:36
fuck his pivot.....this ain't syria.....having destroyed the middle east it was our turn.....this is americas exceptionalism........stay #1 by desabilising/destroying everyone else.....p.s. shove the TPP also..........
Fabrizio Agnello , 2016-09-25 23:45:41
The real question is why should not China be more dominant in Asia... i understands the USA tendency especially since the fall of the soviet union at seing themselves as the only world superpower. And i understand why China would like to balance tbat especially in her own neighborhood.
Is what China doing in the south china sea different from what the USA does in the gulf of Mexico or in Panama... not to mention that Chi a is litterally surounded by US bases that sit squarely across all its sea trading routes: Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Fillipines,... and considering that the chinese have a long memory of werstern gunboat diplomacy and naval for e projection, if i was them i would feel a little uncomfortable at how vulnerable my newfound trade is... especially when some western politician so clearly think that china needs to be contained...
Bogoas81 , 2016-09-25 23:44:41
China has been accumulating debt at unprecedented rates to try to maintain faltering growth.

In 2007 Chinese debt stood at $7 trillion. By 2014 it had quadrupled to $28 trillion. That's $60 billion of extra debt every week.

It's still rising rapidly as the government desperately tries to keep momentum.

Much of this money has been funnelled into 'investments' that will never yield a return.

The most almighty crash is coming. Which will be interesting to say the least.

RodMcLeod Bogoas81 , 2016-09-26 00:07:24
Now that is interesting but odd. They are buying phuqing HUGE swathes of land in Africa, investing everywhere they can on rest of the planet. All seemingly on domestic debt then.
Bogoas81 RodMcLeod , 2016-09-26 10:09:36
Yes. The Japanese went on a spending spree abroad in the 1980s, while accumulating debt at home, and when that popped the economy entered 20 years of stagnation, as bad debts hampered the financial system.

The Chinese bubble is far larger, and made worse by the fact that much of the debt has been taken on by inefficient state owned enterprises and local government, spending not because the figures make sense but to meet centrally-dictated growth targets. Much of the rest has been funnelled into real estate, which now makes up more than twice the share of the Chinese economy than is the case in the UK. Property prices in some major Chinese cities have reached up to 30 times local incomes, making London look cheap in comparison.

There is also a huge 'shadow' banking system in China which means no-one really knows who owes money to whom, which will make it impossible to be confident in who remains creditworthy when the crisis occurs. Estimates are that bad debts (non-performing loans) by Chinese banks already total more than $2 trillion and are rising fast: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/09/22/fitch-warns-bad-debts-in-china-are-ten-times-official-claims-sta/

wumogang , 2016-09-25 22:44:50
TPP is practically written by the lobbyists from the multi-international corporations that exploit every possible tax laws, labor laws, environmental and public health regulations, legal representations and consequences. It is imperialism 2.0 in the 21st century, exclusively serving the interests of top point one percent while greatly depressing the wages of middle class; it is overwhelmingly opposed by the public opinion, law makers of all sides and current president candidates. There is zero chance Obama could make it through legislation before his exit; Clinton will not even consider bringing it back if she wins the election because she already flip-flopped once on the issue during her campaign; and it would seriously damage her chance of re-election if she does. As for Trump, I leave it to anyone's imaginations.
Narapoia01 wumogang , 2016-09-26 01:53:17
Don't believe for a second Hillary won't ram through a version of the TPP/IP if she wins. What she's actually said is that she's against it in its current form

Remember she is part of an owned by the 0.1% that stand to benefit from the agreement, she will do their bidding and be well rewarded. A few cosmetic changes will be applied to the agreement so she can claim that she wasn't lying pre-election and we'll have to live with the consequences.

sanhedrin , 2016-09-25 22:22:22
I find the United States of America more frightening each day
thomasvladimir sanhedrin , 2016-09-26 00:53:38
failing flailing empire.......classic insanity
moderatejohn , 2016-09-25 22:11:11
The best bet is for the US to build at least a hundred thousand 6 megaton warheads, more ballistic subs and advanced stealth missiles to ensure a nuclear war with the US will mean total global destruction. And forget about America being an empire any longer. The GOP has systematically allowed the USA's infrastructure to crumble so a very few rich people can pay less taxes, and they have aided big business fleecing of US citizens, for example, GOP operative, Pam Bondi, refusing to charge Trump for his highly fraudulent Trump U, after she was showered with thousands of dollars in bribe money. Pam Bondi hates Americans so much she allowed Trump to keep his ill gotten gains and disallowed any compensation for the American victims.

Nobody hates America more than Republicans. Except for a very narrow slice of right wing religious extremist eltitists who they view as infinitely entitled to the sweat, blood, tears and broken dreams of hundreds of millions of Americans, the GOP proves time and again how deep their hatred runs, even stopping 9-11 first responders from getting healthcare for health problems they got saving Americans. China, just like the GOP, is sick of hearing about human rights. The GOP and China share a deep hatred for America's Constitutional rights and freedoms for every citizen, so both will work tirelessly to destroy America.

The only thing that will stand in the way of China destroying America is mutually assured extinction via nuclear war. Nothing, however, will stand in the way of Republicans destroying America, least of all, China. Still, if China wants to start bombing US cities, it's time to unleash hell and make China extinct. And as the GOP transfers all the middle class wealth to a few psychopathic American-hating elitists if we don't have those nukes, will be sitting ducks because America will not be able to afford any sort of global military after the GOP destroys the middle class.

China knows the US middle class is the only thing that provides the production capacity to create the world's most advanced military, so China will chuckle tongue in cheek while Republicans destroy America...doing China's job for them. To say Republicans are sociopathic traitors is the understatement of the century, unless your China, then Republicans are your best pals.

Ubermensch1 , 2016-09-25 21:43:18
Well done all you globalists for failing to spot the bleedin obvious...that millions of homes worldwide full of 'Made In China' was ultimately going to pay for the People's Liberation Army. Still think globalisation is wonderful ?
kbg541 Ubermensch1 , 2016-09-25 22:31:38
Quite. How can you believe in a liberal, global free market and then do business with the Socialist Republic of China, that is the antithesis of free markets. The name is above the door, so there's no use acting all surprised when it doesn't pan out the way you planned it.
moderatejohn Ubermensch1 , 2016-09-25 22:40:32
Anything good can be made evil, including globalization. Imagine fair trade completely globalized so very nation relies on every other nation for goods. That type of shared destiny is the only way to maintain peace because humans are tribalist to a fault. We evolved in small groups, our social dynamics are not well suited to large diverse groups. If nation has food but nation B does not, nation B will go to war with nation A, so hopefully both nations trade and alleviate that situation. Nations with high economic isolation are beset by famines and poverty. Germany usually beats China in total exports and Germany is a wonderful place to live. It's not globalization that is the problem, it's exploitation and failure of our leaders to follow and enforce the Golden Rule.
BelieveItsTrue Ubermensch1 , 2016-09-25 23:00:58
Roll out the barrel.....
Well said and you are so right.
15 years ago, I had a conversation in an airport with an American. I remarked that, by outsourcing manufacturing to China the US had sold its future to an entity that would prove to be their enemy before too long. I was derided and ridiculed. I wonder where that man is and whether he remembers our conversation.

Globalisation is another word for one world government and all that brings, one currency, one police force, taxation, dissolution of borders, an end to sovereignty and all of our hard won freedoms. Freedom is a thing of the past, with MSM owned by the globalist elites, enforcing a moratorium on truth, and a population that has no idea what is going on behind the scenes.

I despair of "normalcy bias" and the insulting term "conspiracy theorist". People have lost the ability to work things out for themselves and the majority knows nothing about Agenda 21 aka Sustainable Development Goals 2030, until the land grabs start and private ownership is outlawed.

Heaven help us.

KhusroK , 2016-09-25 21:33:12
... the study also suggests that, if war cannot be avoided, the US might be best advised to strike first, before China gets any stronger and the current US military advantage declines further ..

Another brilliant thought from Rand; when in doubt, shoot from the hip ....

Zhubajie1284 KhusroK , 2016-09-25 23:45:45
They tell their employers what they want to hear.
jgbg KhusroK , 2016-09-26 00:16:18
For a few years now, the Global Times (an English language newspaper, owned by the Chinese Communist Party) has been publishing articles about Chinese claims int he South China Sea, about the growth of Chinese military power and of a limited war with the USA in the South China Sea. Nobody in the west has paid much attention, because they were too busy looking at Ukraine, Russia and now, Syria.

China already has one nuclear powered aircraft carrier and is constructing a second one. Aircraft carriers are not need to defend one's own country - air bases within a country provide the infrastructure for self defence. Aircraft carriers are used to project military power far from your own shores.

It is probably inevitable that China will eventually supercede the USA as the world's dominant superpower. It remains to be seen how that transition will unfold.

freeandfair KhusroK , 2016-09-26 01:04:05
Do Americans not realize that Chinese and Russians read this too and plan accordingly? This is madness.
I am fairly certain preemptive strikes are against international law. Why nobody has the guts to call the US out on this kind of illegal warmongering?
RodMcLeod , 2016-09-25 21:31:06
Like to add that as a powerhouse, Chinese investment in the west could be huge. They are hardly likely to take offensive action against their own investments are they?

Insisting on humane, moral supply chains is the best way of influencing China on human rights. Thats capitalism folks.

Cervant3s RodMcLeod , 2016-09-25 21:39:12
The great powers were heavily linked with one another by trade and investment in 1914...
KhusroK , 2016-09-25 21:24:54
1. With respect, Mr Tidsall is badly off track in painting China as the one evil facing an innocent world.

2. The fact is that US' belief in and repeated resort to force has created a huge mess in the Middle East, brought true misery to millions, and truly thrown Europe in turmoil in the bargain.

3. Besides this Middle East mess, the US neoliberal economic policies have wreaked havoc, culminating in an unprecedented financial and economic crisis that has left millions all over the world without any hope for the future

4. Hence Mr Tidsall's pronouncement:

This dilemma – how to work constructively with a powerful, assertive China without compromising or surrendering national interests – grows steadily more acute.


Ought to read:

This dilemma – how to work constructively with a powerful, assertive United States without compromising or surrendering national interests – grows steadily more acute.

5. US would be better advised to focus on its growing social problems, evident in the growing random killings, police picking on blacks, etc, and on its fast decaying infrastructure. We now read that China has the fastest computer, the largest telescope, etc, whilst US just kills and kills all over the world.

6. Mr Tidsall, may I request that you kindly focus on realities rather than come up with opinion that approaches science fiction

5566hh KhusroK , 2016-09-25 22:50:58
I agree that Mr Tisdall's treatment of the US is somewhat naive and ignorant. However couldn't it be that both countries are capable of aggression and assertiveness? The US's malign influence is mainly focussed on the Middle East and North Africa region, while China's is on its neighbours. China's attitude to Taiwan is pure imperialism, as is its treatment of dissenting voices on the mainland and in Hong Kong. China's contempt for international law and the binding ruling by the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal is also deeply harmful to peace and justice in the region and worldwide.

We now read that China has the fastest computer, the largest telescope, etc, whilst US just kills and kills all over the world.

Very superficial indeed - compare, just as one example, the number of Nobel prizes won by American scientists recently with those by Chinese. The US is still, in general, far ahead of China in terms of scientific research (though China is making rapid progress). (That is not intended to excuse US killing of course.)

BelieveItsTrue KhusroK , 2016-09-25 23:07:25
Oh well said. At least someone understands how the it works.
freeandfair KhusroK , 2016-09-26 01:06:32
The US follows the USSR path of increasingly ignoring the needs of its own population in order to retain global dominance. It will end the same as the USSR. That which cannot continue will not continue.
wumogang , 2016-09-25 20:23:25

Xi is not looking for a fight. His first-choice agent of change is money, not munitions. According to Xi's "One Belt, One Road" plan, his preferred path to 21st-century Chinese hegemony is through expanded trade, business and economic partnerships extending from Asia to the Middle East and Africa. China's massive Silk Road investments in central and west Asian oil and gas pipelines, high-speed rail and ports, backed by new institutions such as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, are part of this strategy, which simultaneously encourages political and economic dependencies. Deng Xiaoping once said to get rich is glorious. Xi might add it is also empowering.


The most realistic assessment on Xi and China.

The dilemma is clear: amid rising nationalism in both countries, China is not willing to have its ambitions curbed or contained and the US is not ready to accept the world number two spot. These two juggernauts are on a collision course.


A Grim and over-paranoid predicament: US is not in decline and need not worry about China's "ambition"; China is well aware it remains a poor nation compared to developed world and is decades behind of US in military, GDP per capital and science, that is not including civil liberty, citizen participation, Gov't transparency and so on. China is busy building a nation confident of its culture and history, military hegemony plays no part of its dream.
BelieveItsTrue wumogang , 2016-09-25 23:14:42

US is not in decline and need not worry about China's "ambition"

Oh come on, $20 Trillion in debt and with Social Security running out of money, there will be no more to lend the government.

China has forged an agreement with Russia for all its needs in oil ( Russia has more oil than Saudi Arabia) and payment will not be in US dollars. Russia will not take US$ for trade and the BRICS nations will squeeze the US$ out of its current situation as reserve currency. When the dollars all find their way back to the USA hyperinflation will cause misery.

Zhubajie1284 wumogang , 2016-09-25 23:49:17
The US sure looks in decline. Bridges falling into rivers, tens of millions homeless. Yet some how our elites can always find money for another war.
Riverdweller , 2016-09-25 19:33:09
Before the Chinese or anyone else gets any ideas, they should reflect on the size of the US defence budget, 600 billion dollars in 2015, and consider what that might imply in the event of conflict.
fragglerokk Riverdweller , 2016-09-25 20:14:35
a third of that budget goes in profit for the private companies they employ to make duds like the F35 - so you can immediately reduce that to 400 billion. The US have been fighting third world countries for 50 years, and losing, their military is bloated, out of date and full of retrograde gear that simply wont cut it against the Russians. Privately you would find that most top line military agree with that statement. They also have around 800 bases scattered world wide, spread way too thin. Its why theyve stalled in Ukraine and can't handle the middle east. The Russians spend less than $50 billion but have small, highly mobile forces, cutting edge missile defence systems (which will have full airspace coverage by 2017). The Chinese policy of A2D/AD or access denial has got the US surface fleet marooned out in the oceans as any attempt to get close enough to be effective would be met with a hail of multiple rocket shedding war heads. The only place where it is probable (but my no means certain) that the US still has the edge is in submarine warfare, although again if the Russians and Chinese have full coverage of their airspace nothing (or little) would get through.
Two theorys are in current operation about the election and the waring factions in the NSA and the CIA. 1) HRC wins but is too much of a warmonger and would push america into more wars they simply cannot win 2) there is a preference for Trump to win amongst the MIC because he would (temporarily) seek 'peace' with the Russians thus giving the military the chance to catch up - say in 3 or 4 years - plus all the billions and billions of dollars that would mean for them.

Overwhelming fire power no longer wins wars, the US have proved that year in year out since the end of the second world war, theyve lost every war theyve started/caused/joined in. Unless you count that limited skirmish on British soil in Grenada - and I guess we could call Korea a score draw. The yanks are bust and they know it, the neocons are all bluster and idiots like Breedlove, Power and Nuland are impotent because they don't have right on their side or the might to back it up. The US is mired in the middle east, locked out of asia and would grind to halt in Europe against the Russians. (every NATO wargame simulation in the last 4 years has conclusively shown this) Add to that the fact that the overwhelming majority of US citizens dont have the appetite for a conventional war and in the event of a nuclear war the US would suffer at least as much as Europe and youve got a better picture of where we are at.

goenzoy Riverdweller , 2016-09-25 20:48:37
Well it is just ABOUT money.Also during Vietnam and Iraq war US was biggest spender.
Nobody in US still thinks that Vietnam war was a good idea and the same applies to Iraq.Iraq war will be even in history books for biggest amount spend to achieve NOTHING.
Mrpavado Riverdweller , 2016-09-25 21:30:20
Chinese military spending is at least on a par with American. A huge part of American military money goes to personnel salary while China does NOT pay to Chinese soldiers for their service as China holds a compulsory military service system.
Liang1a , 2016-09-25 19:24:05
This article assumes China is evil and the US is the righteous protector of all nations in the SE Asian region against the evil China which is obviously out to destroy the hapless SE Asian nations. This assumption is obviously nonsense. The US itself is rife with racial problems. Everybody has seen what it had done to Vietnam. Nobody believes that a racist US that cares nothing for the welfare of its own black, Latino and Asian population will actually care for the welfare of the same peoples outside of the US and especially in SE Asia.

The truth is China is not the evil destroyer of nations. The truth is the US is the evil destroyer of nations. The US has brought nothing but bloodshed and destruction to the SE Asian regions for the last 200 years. The US had killed millions of Filipinos during it colonial era. The US had killed millions of Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. The US had incited pogroms against the ethnic Chinese unceasingly. The May 13 massacre in Malaysia, the anti-Chinese massacres in the 1960's and the 1990's in Indonesia, and many other discrimination and marginalization of ethnic Chinese throughout the entire SE Asia are all the works of the US. It is the US that is the killer and destroyer.

Therefore, it is a good thing that the evil intents of the US had failed. With the all but inevitable rise of China, the influence of the Japanese and the americans will inevitably wane. The only danger to China is the excessive xenocentrism of the Dengist faction who is selling out China to these dangerous enemies. If the CPC government sold out China's domestic economy, then China will become a colony of the Japanese and americans without firing a single shot. And the Chinese economy will slide into depression as it had done in the Qing Dynasty and Chinese influence in the SE Asian region will collapse.

Therefore, the task before the CPC government is to ban all foreign businesses out of China's domestic economy, upgrade and expand China's education and R&D, urbanize the rural residents and expand the Chinese military, etc. With such an independent economic, political and military policies, China will at once make itself the richest and the most powerful nation in the world dwarfing the Japanese and American economies and militaries. China can then bring economic prosperity and stability to the SE Asian region by squeezing the evil Japanese and americans out of the region.

mark john Mcculloch , 2016-09-25 19:22:11
Lets be honest what has Obama achieved,he got the Nobel peace prize for simply not being George Bush Jr he has diplayed a woeful lack of leadership with Russia over Syria Libya and the Chinese Simply being the first African American president will not be a legacy
outfitter , 2016-09-25 18:54:08
Do you know of one Leninist state that ever built a prosperous modern industrial nation? Therein lies the advantage and the problem with China. China is totally export dependant and therefore its customers can adversely affect its economy - put enough chinese out of work and surely political instability will follow. A threatened dictatorship with a large army, however, is a danger to its neighbors and the world.
fragglerokk outfitter , 2016-09-25 20:26:17
China are now net consumers. You need to read up on whats happening, not from just the western press. They are well on their way to becoming the most powerful nation on earth, they have access (much like Russia) to over two thirds of the population of the worlds consumers and growing (this is partially why sanctions against Russia have been in large part meaningless) China will never want for buyers of their products (the iphone couldnt be made without the Chinese) with the vast swaithes of unplumbed Russian resources becoming available to them its hard to see how the west can combat the Eurasians. The wealth is passing from west to east, its a natural cycle the 'permanant growth' monkies in the west have been blind to by their own greed and egotism. Above all the Chinese are a trading nation, always seeking win/win trading links. The west would be better employed trading and linking culturally with the Chinese rather than trying to dictate with military threats. The west comprises only 18% of the global population and our growth and wealth is either exhausted or locked away in vaults where it is doing no one any good. Tinme to wise up or get left behind.
deetrump , 2016-09-25 18:17:06
Tisdall...absolute war-monger and neo-con "dog of war". Is this serious journalism? The rise of China was as inevitable as the rise of the US in the last century..."no man can put a stop to the march of a nation". It's Asias century and it's not the first time for China to be the No 1 economy in the world. They have been here before and have much more wisdom than the west...for too long the tail has wagged the dog...suck it up Tisdall!
Dante5 , 2016-09-25 17:56:56
The US grand strategy post-Bush was to reposition itself at the heart of a liberal economic system excluding China through TTIP with the EU and TPP with Asia-Pac ex. China and Russia. The idea was that this would enable the US to sustain its hegemony.

It has been an absolute failure. Brexit has torpedoed TTIP and TPP has limited value- the largest economy in the partnership, Japan, has been largely integrated in to the US for the past 70 years.

IMO the biggest failure of the US has been hating Russia too much. The Russians have just as much reason to be afraid of China as the US do and have a pretty capable army. If the US patched things up with the Russians, firstly it could redeploy forces and military effort away from the Middle East towards Asia Pac and secondly it would give the US effective leverage over China- with the majority of the oil producing nations aligned with the US, China would have difficulty in conducted a sustained conflict. It's old Cold War thinking that has seen America lose its hegemony- similar to how the British were so focused on stopping German ascendancy they didn't see the Americans coming with the knife.

Advaitya , 2016-09-25 17:54:49
America is reaping the fruits of what they sowed during the time of Reagan. It was never a good idea to outsource your entire manufacturing industry to a country that is a dictatorship and does not embrace western liberal democratic values. Now the Americans are hopelessly dependent on China - a country that does not play by the rules in any sphere - it censors free speech, it blatantly violates intellectual property, it displays hostile intent towards nearly all South East Asian countries, its friends include state sponsors of terror like Pakistan and North Korea, it is carefully cultivating the enemies of America and the west in general.

In no way, shape or form does China fulfill the criteria for being a trustworthy partner of the west. And yet today, China holds all the cards in its relationship with the west, with the western consumerist economies completely dependent on China. Moral of the story - Trade and economics cannot be conducted in isolation, separate from geopolitical realities. Doing so is a recipe for disaster.

Kamatron Advaitya , 2016-09-25 21:46:36
The arrogance is breathtaking.

Embrace western liberal values? Exactly what is that?

A sense of moral and ethical superiority?

Freedom to kill unarm black people?

Right to invade other countries?

Commit war crimes?

That kind of Western liberal values?

freeandfair Advaitya , 2016-09-26 01:15:38
The Us is reaping the results of its arrogance, you got that part right.
humdum , 2016-09-25 17:24:35
Mr Tisdall should declare his affiliation, if any, with the military-industrial complex.
It is surprising coming from a Briton which tried to contain Germany and fought two
wars destroying itself and the empire. War may be profitable for military-industrial complex
but disastrous for everyone else. In world war 2, USA benefited enormously by ramping
up war material production and creating millions of job which led to tremendous
prosperity turning the country around from a basket case in 1930s to a big prosperous power
which dominated the world till 2003.
Nuno Cardoso da Silva , 2016-09-25 17:16:24
US insistence on being top cat in a changing world will end up by dragging us all into a WW III. Why can't the US leave the rest of the world alone? Americans do not need a military presence to do business with the rest of the world and earn a lot of money with such trade. And they are too ignorant, too unsophisticate and too weak to be able to impose their will on the rest of us. The (very) ugly Americans are back and all we want is for them to go back home and forever remain there... The sooner the better...
HotPotato22 , 2016-09-25 17:12:13
The world is going to look fantastically different in a hundred years time.

Points of world power will go back to where they was traditionally; Europe and Asia. America is a falling power, it doesn't get the skilled European immigrants it use to after German revolution and 2 world wars. And it's projected white population will be a minority by 2050. America's future lies with south America.

Australia with such a massive country but with a tiny population of 20million will look very attractive to China. It's future lies with a much stronger commonwealth, maybe a united military and economic commonwealth between the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Even without the EU, Europe is going to have to work together, including Russia to beat the Chinese militarily and economically. America will not be the same power in another 30-50 years and would struggle to beat them now.

China are expansionists, always have been. War is coming with them and North Korea sometime in the future.

Alex Wijaya , 2016-09-25 16:23:04
From the article above, it is clear who is the more dangerous power. While China is aiming to be the hegemon through economic means like the neo silk road projects, the US is aiming to maintain its hegemon status through military power. The US think thank even suggest to preemptive strike against China to achieve that. This is also the problem with US pivot to Asia, it may fail to contain China, but it didn't fail to poison the atmosphere in Asia. Asia has never been this dangerous since the end of cold war, all thanks to the pivot.
arbmahla Alex Wijaya , 2016-09-25 18:17:41
Obama is trying to maintain the status quo. China and N. Korea are the ones pushing military intimidation. The key to the US plan is to form an alliance between countries in the region that historically distrust each other. The Chinese are helping that by threatening everybody at the same time. Tisdall sees this conflict strictly as between the US and China. Obama's plan is to form a group of countries to counter China. Japan will have a major role in this alliance but the problem is whether the other victims of WW2 Japanese aggression will agree to it.
TheRealRadj arbmahla , 2016-09-25 18:23:24
With dozens of bases surrounding Russia and China and you call this status quo.
Fail.
CygniCygni , 2016-09-25 16:21:39
The US's disastrous foreign policy since 9/11 which has unleashed so much chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc etc... is not exactly a commendation for credibility these days.
CommieWealth , 2016-09-25 16:08:00
A useful summary of the state of play in the Pacific and SCS. It is somewhat hawkish in analysis, military fantasists will always be legion, they should be listened to with extra large doses of salt, or discussion of arguments which favour peaceful cooperation and development, such as trade, cultural relations, and natural stalemates. American anxiety at its own perception of decline, is at least as dangerous for the world as the immature expression of rising Chinese confidence. But the biggest problem it seems we face, is finding a way to accommodate and translate the aspirations of rising global powers with the existing order established post-45, in incarnated in the UN and other international bodies, in international maritime law as in our western notions of universal human rights. Finding a way for China to express origination of these ideas compatible with its own history, to be able to proclaim them as a satisfactory settlement for human relations, is an ideal, but apparently unpromising task.
BigPhil1959 , 2016-09-25 15:46:39
Perhaps Samuel P Huntingdon was broadly correct when he wrote "The Clash of Civilizations" in the late 90's. He was criticized for his work by neo-liberals who believed that after the Cold War the rest of the world would follow the west and US in particular.

The problem with the neo-liberal view is that only their opinions on issues are correct, and all others therefore should be ridiculed. What has happened in Ukraine is a prime example. Huntingdon called the Ukraine a "cleft" country split between Russia and Europe. The EU and the US decided to stir up trouble in the Ukraine to get even with Putin over Syria. It was never about EU or NATO membership for the Ukraine which is now further away than ever.

A Trump presidency is regarded with fear. The Obama presidency has been a failure with regard to foreign policy and a major reason was because Clinton was Secretary of State in the 1st four years. In many ways a Clinton presidency is every bit as dangerous as a Trump presidency.

Certainly relations with Russia will be worse under Clinton than under Trump, and for the rest of the world that is not a good thing. To those that believe liek Clinton that Putin is the new Hitler, then start cleaning out the nuclear bunkers. If he is then WW3 is coming like it or not and Britain better start spending more on defence.

markwill89 , 2016-09-25 15:41:59
Can people stop calling China a Communist state. It isn't.

China is a corporatist dictatorship.

yelzohy markwill89 , 2016-09-25 16:19:47
which serves only the top one tenth of one percent. Sounds familiar.
markwill89 yelzohy , 2016-09-25 16:23:29
The difference between the United States and China is striking. Try criticising the Chinese leadership in China and see where it gets you.
humdum markwill89 , 2016-09-25 17:44:03
What does the criticism in USA get you? It is just blah blah blah.
ONly criticism that matters is from the corporations and wealthy individuals
like Koch bros and Sheldon Edelson and their ilk. Rest can watch football.
CalvinLyn , 2016-09-25 15:35:31
China hasn't won and US hasn't failed, at least not yet. Both countries are pretending to be strong and powerful while bleeding internally, and are hoping the other guy to fall first. Take your bets.
R_Ambrose_Raven , 2016-09-25 15:30:27
Never mind that a general, high-intensity war in Northern Asia would be disastrous for all involved, whatever the outcome.

Never mind that much of the discussion about containing China is by warmongers urging such a conflict.

Never mind that very little depth in fact lies behind the shell of American and Japanese military strength, or that a competently-run Chinese government is well able to grossly outproduce "us" all in war materiel.

Never mind that those same warmongers and neocons drove and drive a succession of Imperial disasters; they remain much-praised centres of attention, just as the banksters and rentiers that are sucking the life from Americans have never had it so good.

Never mind that abbott encouraged violence as the automatic reaction to problems, while his Misgovernment was (while Turnbull to a lesser extent still is) working hard to destroy the economic and social strengths we need to have any chance of surmounting those problems.

Yes, it is a proper precaution to have a military strength that can deny our approaches to China. Unfortunately that rather disregards that "we" have long pursued a policy of globalisation involving the destruction of our both own manufacturing and our own merchant navy. Taken together with non-existent fuel reserves, "our" military preparations are pointless, because we would have to surrender within a fortnight were China to mount even a partial maritime blockade of Australia.

ID1726608 , 2016-09-25 15:28:36
What I don't quite understand is how all this comes as any surprise to those in the know. China has been on target to be the #1 economic power in the world in this decade for at least 30 years.

And who made it so? Western capitalists. China is now not only the world's industrial heartbeat, it also owns a large proportion of Western debt - despite the fact that its differences with the West (not least being a one-party Communist state) couldn't be more obvious - and while I doubt it's in its interests to destabilise its benefactorrs at the moment, that may not always be the case.

It also has another problem: In fifty or sixty years time it is due to be overtaken by India, which gives it very little time to develop ASEAN in its own image; but I suspect that it's current "silk glove" policy is far smarter and more cost-effective than any American "iron fist".

heyidontknowman , 2016-09-25 15:18:23
The US is just worried about losing out on markets and further exploitation. They should have no authority over China's interest in the South China Sea. If China do rise to the point were they can affect foreign governments, they will unlikely be as brutal as the United States. [Indonesia 1964, Congo 1960s, Brazil 1964, Chile 1973, Central America 1980s, Egyptian military aid, Saudi support, Iraq 2003, the Structural Adjustments of the IMF]
Riaz Danish , 2016-09-25 15:14:17
Simon Tisdall and many Europeans as well as the US GOP party still thinks that US is an empire similar to what the British had in the 18th century. This assumption is completely wrong especially in the 21th century where Western Europe, Japan, Korea if they want can be spend their money and also become global military power. While many Europeans and others including our current GOP pary thinks we are the global empire and we should stick our nose everywhere, our people doesn't we are an empire or we should stick our nose in every trouble spot in the world spending our blood and treasure to fight others battles and get blame when everything goes wrong. President Obama doesn't think of himself as Julius Ceaser and America is not Rome. He will be remembered as one of our greatest president ever setting a course for this country's foreign policy towards trying to solve the world's problems through alliances and cooperation with like minded countries as the opposite of the war mongering brainless, trigger happy GOP presidents. However when lesser powers who preach xenophobia and destabilize their neighborhood through annexation as the Hitler like Putin has,he comes down with a hammer using tools other than military to punish the aggressor. All you need to do is watch what is happening to the Russian economy since he imposed sanctions to the Mafiso Putin.
This article is completely misleading and the author is constricting himself in his statement that Obama's pivot to Asia is a failure. Since China tried to annex the Islands near the Philippines, countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, India, etc. has ask the US for more cooperation both military and economically these countries were moving away from US under Bush and others so I think this is a win for Obama not a loss. Unlike the idiotic Russians, China is a clever country and is playing global chess in advancing her foreign policy goals. While the US cannot do anything with China's annexation of these disputed Islands has costs her greatly because the Asian countries effected by China's moves are running towards the US, this is a win for the US. China's popularity around her neighborhood has taken a nose dive similar to Russian's popularity around her neighborhood. These are long term strategic wins for the US, especially if Hillary wins the white house and carry's on Obama's mantel of speaking softly but carry a big stick. Obama will go down as our greatest foreign policy president by building alliances in Europe to try stop Mafioso Putin and alliances in Asia to curtail China's foreign policy ambitions. This author's thesis is pure bogus, because he doesn't indicate what Obama should have done to make him happy? Threaten Chine military confertation?
All you have to do is go back 8 years ago and compare our last two presidents and you can see where Obama is going.
NowheretoHideQC Riaz Danish , 2016-09-25 15:33:01
For the allusion to Rome, I think they act like the old empire when they had to send their army to keep the peace....and it is an empire of the 21 first century, not like the old ones (Assange).
Mormorola , 2016-09-25 15:06:09
Obama and Hillary foreign country policies have been disasters one after the other:
- "Benign" neglect and lack of courage in Palestine on the "No new settlements" request.
- Disastrous interventions in Libya and Middle East resulting in hundred of thousand of "collateral damage".
- Russian "Reset" which was no more than spin, but continued to look at Russia as the right place to wipe your feet.
- Empty promises to Ukraine resulting into a civil war.
- Ill conceived "Pivot to Asia" with no meat, much wishful thinking and no understanding of local sensitivities.
- Continued support for bloody dictators like the Saudis and the Thai dictators (which Hillary once branded a "vibrant democracy").

And you wish "that woman" to become your next president?

ElZilch0 , 2016-09-25 14:54:23
China needs western consumerism to maintain its manufacturing base. If China's growth impacts the ability of the West to maintain its standard of consumerism, then China will need a new source of affluent purchaser. If China's own citizens become affluent, they will expect a standard of living commensurate with that status, accordingly China will not be able to maintain its manufacturing base.

So the options for China are:

a) Prop up western economies until developing nations in Africa and South America (themselves heavily dependent on the West) reach a high standard of consumerism.

b) Divide China into a ruling class, and a worker class, in which the former is a parasite on the latter.

The current tactic seems to be to follow option b, until option a becomes viable.

However, the longer option a takes to develop, and therefore the longer option b is in effect, the greater the chances of counter-revolution (which at this stage is probably just revolution).

The long and the short of it, is that China is boned.

russian , 2016-09-25 14:35:09
Being a large country surrounded by many other occasionally threatening powers, the governments' priority is and always has been defending its territorial integrity. China is happy enough to leave the command and conquer stuff, sorry "democratization" to the US. It's got it's hands full at home. As long as the West doesn't try to get involved in what China sees as its historical territory (i.e. The big rooster shaped landmass plus Hainan and Hong Kong and various little islands) there's absolutely nothing to worry about.
Babeouf , 2016-09-25 14:32:26
Why did Obama say that his greatest regret was Libya.? Because Obama's policy is/was to manage the decline of US power. To manage the end of US hegemony. I doubt that Obama believes that any pivot to any where can restore or maintain US dominance on planet earth. There is absolutely nothing exceptional about a power not admitting publicly what is known to many,see the outpourings of the British elites during the end of its empire.
Lafcadio1944 , 2016-09-25 14:11:59
As usual the Guardian is on its anti-China horse. Look through this article and every move China has made is "aggressive" or when it tries to expand trade (and produce win win economic conditions) it is "hegemonic" while the US is just trying to protect us all and is dealing with the "Chinese threat" -- a threat to their economic interests and global imperial hegemony is what they mean.

The US still maintains a "one China" policy and the status quo is exactly that "one China" It would be great for someone in the west to review the historical record instead of arming Taiwan to the teeth. Additionally, before China ever started its island construction the US had already begun the "pivot to Asia" which now is huge with nuclear submarines patrolling all around China, nuclear weapons on the - two aircraft carrier fleets now threatening China - very rare for the US to have two aircraft carrier fleets in the same waters - the B-1 long range nuclear bombers now in Australia, and even more belligerent the US intends to deploy THAAD missals in South Korea - using North Korea as an excuse to further seriously threaten China.

China wishes to expand trade and improve economic conditions for its people and for those with whom it trades. That is not aggression except when it interferes with US global economic hegemony.

Just look around the world - where are the conflicts - the middle east and Africa - who is there with military and arms sales and bombing seven countries -- is it China?

The most bulligerant nation in the world the nation with its army in over 100 countries, the nation bombing and conducting perpetual war throughout the middle east, the country invading countries for "regime change" and creating only misery and death -- it is not China.

The US and its Neoliberal capitalist system must expand to grow - plus they clearly want total global domination - the US and its Imperial agents have encircled both China and Russia with trillions of dollars of the most destructive weapons in the world including nuclear weapons - do you thin they have done that for "security" if so you simply ignore the aggression and hubris of an Imperial US.

[Sep 26, 2016] The geopolitical reasons for [TPP], from America's point of view, are pretty clear. It's designed to make sure that the future of the Asia-Pacific region, economically, is not totally dominated by China

Sep 26, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Bill Clinton: "The geopolitical reasons for [TPP], from America's point of view, are pretty clear. It's designed to make sure that the future of the Asia-Pacific region, economically, is not totally dominated by China" [ CNBC ]. "However, he stopped short [by about an inch, right?] of supporting the TPP. He added that his wife [who is running for President' has said provisions on currency manipulation must be enforced and measures put in place in the United States to address any labor market dislocations that result from trade deals." Oh. "Provisions enforced" sounds like executive authority, to me. And "measures put in place" sounds like a side deal. In other words, Bill Clinton just floated Hillary's trial balloon for passing TPP, if Obama can't get it done in the lame duck. Of course, if you parsed her words, you knew she wasn't lying , exactly….

" The full 40-page paper (PDF) [from the Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts University] goes into the details [of projected economic gains from trade deals]. Along the way, it provides a highly critical analysis of the underlying econometric model used for almost all of the official studies of CETA, TPP and TTIP - the so-called "computable general equilibrium" (CGE) approach. In particular, the authors find that using the CGE model to analyze a potential trade deal effectively guarantees that there will be a positive outcome ("net welfare gains") because of its unrealistic assumptions" [ TechDirt ].

"Conservative lawmakers looking for a way to buck Donald Trump's populist message on trade may have gotten a little more cover with more than 30 conservative and libertarian groups sending a letter today to Congress expressing strong support for free trade" [ Politico ]. National Taxpayers Union, Club for Growth, FreedomWorks…

"France is set to arrive at the meeting with a proposal to suspend TTIP negotiations, our Pro Trade colleagues in Brussels report. But for the deal's supporters, there's hop'e: 'France will not win the day,' Alberto Mucci, Christian Oliver and Hans von der Burchard write. 'Britain [???], Italy, Spain, Poland, the Nordic countries and the Baltics will thwart any attempt to end the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in Bratislava'" [ Politico ].

[Sep 26, 2016] The global pivot towards fiscal policy Gavyn Davies

Notable quotes:
"... After several years of deliberate fiscal austerity, designed to bring down budget deficits and stabilise public debt ratios, the fiscal stance in the developed economies became broadly neutral in 2015. There are now signs that it is turning slightly expansionary , with several major governments apparently heeding the calls from Keynesian economists to boost infrastructure expenditure. ..."
"... [1] Fiscal easing remains very conntentious in political circles throughout the western economies. At a recent meeting behind closed doors in Washington DC, I was surprised to hear a very senior, and generally intelligent, Republican politician declare that "Keynesian demand management has been shown to be useless by a bunch of Austrian academics". I am not sure what he had in mind, but he did make a more defensible point when he added that supply side policies might be more important for growth in the long run. ..."
"... 108 people listening ..."
Sep 26, 2016 | blogs.ft.com

Another nail in the coffin of neoliberalism...

The global pivot towards fiscal policy

Gavyn Davies Loading data... Notice: Author Alerts This service is moving to our new website . You will still be able to follow your favourite authors via myFT . Following authors will create Instant Alerts, which can also be created for any other topic. Try it now . | Sep 25 14:33 | 15 comments | Share Fiscal policy activism is firmly back on the agenda. After several years of deliberate fiscal austerity, designed to bring down budget deficits and stabilise public debt ratios, the fiscal stance in the developed economies became broadly neutral in 2015. There are now signs that it is turning slightly expansionary , with several major governments apparently heeding the calls from Keynesian economists to boost infrastructure expenditure.

This seems an obvious path at a time when governments can finance public investment programmes at less than zero real rates of interest. Even those who believe that government programmes tend to be inefficient and wasteful would have a hard time arguing that the real returns on public transport, housing, health and education are actually negative [1].

With monetary policy apparently reaching its limits in some countries, and deflationary threats still not defeated in Japan and the Eurozone, we are beginning to see the emergence of packages of fiscal stimulus with supply side characteristics, notably in Japan and China.

Investors are asking whether this pivot towards fiscal activism is a reason to become more bullish about equities and more bearish about bonds, on the grounds that the new policy mix will be better for global GDP growth. This is directionally right, but it is important not to exaggerate the extent of the pivot.

The phase of fiscal austerity peaked in 2013, and ended last year, but firm announcements of more stimulative budgetary policy have been fairly minor up to now. In 2016, budgetary policy in the developed economies will be slightly expansionary and the latest plans suggest that the same will be true next year.

J.P. Morgan has recently estimated that budgetary policy in the major developed economies, measured by the structural budget balance, will be eased by 0.2 per cent of GDP both this year and next. With feasible further policy changes, it could turn out to be a little more than this, but only a little:

What effect would that have on GDP growth? In part, that depends on the monetary policy reaction.

In the US, the Federal Reserve could raise short rates slightly more rapidly if fiscal policy is eased, curtailing the GDP benefits somewhat. Elsewhere, monetary policy would not react at all, and central banks would probably prevent any crowding out of private investment by keeping long bond yields stable.

It is now well established that the fiscal multiplier is probably fairly large when interest rates are at the zero lower bound. A recent lecture by Paul Krugman suggests, as a rule of thumb, that the multiplier might be around 1.5, compared to standard estimates of 0.5 or less in previous eras. That seems to be as good an estimate as any other, and it would suggest that the fiscal easing in 2017 might raise GDP growth by more than a quarter percentage point, compared to a GDP growth drag of over 1.8 per cent in 2013.

That is useful, but scarcely ground breaking. Yet Keynesians seem optimistic that the beneficial effects of a fiscal pivot might be much more significant than this. How might this happen?

There are two possibilities. The first is that a fiscal stimulus might shock the economies into a new equilibrium in which private sector confidence is restored and the level of output settles permanently at a new, higher level. Economists can show that almost anything is possible by using multiple equilibrium models (and Keynes certainly had such mechanisms in mind in the 1930s) but it surely strains credulity to suggest that the modest fiscal changes currently planned would have a dramatic effect on corporate or consumer confidence.

A second possibility is that easier fiscal policy would simultaneously make the existing stance of monetary policy more stimulative. Recent work on R*, the equilibrium real rate of interest, suggests that fiscal policy can shock R* upwards, by raising investment relative to savings. This would have an effect opposite to the global savings glut, which is sometimes held to have reduced R* in the past decade.

If that occurred, then the gap between current interest rates and R* would be increased, making the monetary stance (in theory) more stimulative without the central bank taking any action at all. But would a moderate and temporary increase in the budget deficit have a large and permanent effect on R*? It seems rather doubtful.

It is true that eventually there could be changes in fiscal strategy that could be powerful enough to shock the global economy into a different path for growth and inflation. Chris Sims' work on fiscal dominance suggests that a major regime change in which fiscal policy is aimed at achieving a rise in inflation towards the 2 per cent target could be very powerful.

But, in the real world, politicians (except possibly in Japan) are nowhere near accepting the need to throw overboard everything they have believed for decades. It would probably take another global recession to change that.

----------------------------

Footnote

[1] Fiscal easing remains very conntentious in political circles throughout the western economies. At a recent meeting behind closed doors in Washington DC, I was surprised to hear a very senior, and generally intelligent, Republican politician declare that "Keynesian demand management has been shown to be useless by a bunch of Austrian academics". I am not sure what he had in mind, but he did make a more defensible point when he added that supply side policies might be more important for growth in the long run. Tags: central banks , Fiscal policy , Monetary policy
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Robo63 5pts Featured
28 minutes ago

This idea is not new nor has it ever worked. See Japan and China for recent examples, NZ tried it in the 80's and almost went bust.

It maybe possible to get some short term uptick in economic measurements following a big government spend up, but it is well proven that when the fiscal spend up slows so does the economy. There are many reason for this, least not, that most often Government projects are wrecked by politics, unions see them as an opportunity to leverage political capital for the benefit of their members and inevitably push up costs of the project. The private sector see it for what it is, a temporary spend up on the public purse and milk it for all they can get, much of the spending goes off shore via profits and expenditure on raw materials. Unless resources are sitting around idle inflation will reduce the expected returns and ultimately these types of projects reflect the under lying issue in economies that try them, these are usually related to declining productivity driven by regulation and monetary driven asset inflation. If economic wealth creation was as simple as spending more then we would not be talking about it.

The economic philosophy/theory of Keynes and monetarism as land us where we are today. Unfortunately it seems like populist political outcomes will raise there ugly head with who knows what outcome. The establishment will blindly blame the populist politician and not reflect on how we got here. The FT seems to be leading the charge in that regard.

Brian Reading 5pts Featured
1 hour ago
It is great to read sop-histicated articles not afraid to mention the equilibrium real rate of interest and structural budget balances. Perhaps the message is that the combination of conventional fiscal policy with unconventional monetary polcy is doing more harm than good and has the makings of the next crisis. It is possibly now time to try unconventional fiscal with conventional money.
slimfairview 5pts Featured
14 hours ago

After almost 6 years of inveighing against Merkelism, an economic system based on the fear that someone, somewhere is earning a living, and after youngsters majoring in Economics tried running Ken Rogoff's numbers through a computer and failed to duplicate the results, the EuroCrats have--with their last gasp--embraced austerity.


Nonetheless, that the EuroUnion may be unraveling is indicated in part by Dr. Rogoff back-pedaling on austerity in a recent interview, the hysterical rants by EuroCrats against the impending Brexit Vote, the petulant and bitter invective after the Brexit Vote, the "open and public and effusive" support for the Chancellor by, among others, Madame Lagarde; Draghi's rebuke to Merkel on her attempted interference in the activities of the ECB.....


Perhaps the EuroCrats from the "EXIT" Nations: Britain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and now Ireland, will consider the proposal in Brexit? Now What?

http://sidestreetjournal.blogspot.com/2016/06/brexit-now-what.html

Warmest regards,

Slim.

The SidestreetJournal is an unsupported, unfunded, non-profit web log by the Blogger Slim Fairview.

Neil at home 5pts Featured
15 hours ago
So the nice easy solution of lowering interest rates hasn't stimulated growth and throwing a few trillion on infrastructure wont help much either.
Ye olde sweetie shoppe 5pts Featured
5 hours ago
@ Neil at home I respectfully disagree. Infrastructure spending should at the very least stimulate wage growth, increase employment and ultimately stoke inflation. Zero interest rates have done none of this because in a balance sheet recession corporations tend rather perversely to pay down debt rather than issue more of it. I recommend you watch one of Ricard Koo's presentations on Youtube.
genauer 5pts Featured
15 hours ago

Inflation targeting to less than 2% has been Bundesbank policy for a long time, and with them most of mainland Europe.

Krugman claiming that "And my team won three out of three. Goooaaal!" is his typical brand of strawmen dishonesty.

Krugman trying to diparage "Academics like Niall Ferguson and John Cochrane ", that has really something to it.

Still showing the discgraced garbage "analysis" solely depending on one false data point Greece (Fig. 2) shows that the disgraced Krugman and his Krugtron "team" are intellectual and character garbage, specifically including formerly IMF Olivier Blanchard.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/85a0c6c2-1476-11e2-8cf2-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=intl#axzz4Kctynkdq

Last updated: October 12, 2012 11:00 pm

Robustness of IMF data scrutinised

By Chris Giles in London

To the honesty and accurateness of the same usual suspect de Grauwe, please see my detailed comment at

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/45b7a0ca-1ea5-11e6-a7bc-ee846770ec15.html#axzz4Kctynkdq

May 20, 2016 7:26 pm

Greece's creditors eye IMF debt deal

Alex Barker in Brussels and Shawn Donnan in Washington

which had to wait 18 hours in pending .... : - )

Ralph Musgrave 5pts Featured
16 hours ago
So after several years during which monetary policy has proved less than brilliantly effective at giving us stimulus, the "experts" are now going to try fiscal policy. Have the "experts" yet caught up with the fact that the Earth revolves round the Sun?
Andrew Baldwin 5pts Featured
17 hours ago
I haven't read the paper by Chris Sims but there is no reason that fiscal policy should set itself the task of raising the inflation rate to two percent. The two percent inflation target is a relic of the original inflation control agreement of the Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Minister of Finance in February 1991. The upward bias in the Canadian CPI at that time was probably greater by 25 basis points than it is today, and probably in excess of 50 basis points as compared to the US target inflation indicator, the PCEPI. In any case, two percent was never intended to define price stability, which the 1991 agreement clearly stated would be some inflation rate lower than two percent. The developed world should forget about a two percent target. It is long past time to move the target rate down.
duvinrouge 5pts Featured
17 hours ago

Expansionary fiscal policy solution for those who think the problem is capitalists hoarding money.

Expansionary fiscal policy, just like expansionary monetary policy, will only further diverge aggregate prices from aggregate values - a crisis of 'overproduction'. But, of course, economists today have no comprehension of the difference between price & value, even if some recognise an 'asset-price bubble'.

There is no way of avoiding a recession that destroys fictitious capital, along with productive capital & with all the mass unemployment & human suffering. Not because boom-bust is an act of nature, rather it is part & parcel of the capitalist system. Only a post-capitalist system where the means of production are commonly owned/controlled can we liberate humanity.

Hollow Man 5pts Featured
7 hours ago
@ duvinrouge Interesting! But you've teased us before with comments that would suggest you have more up your sleeve. Why not lay out a fuller explanation --presumably it's some kind of modern variant of Marxian theory -- so that we can judge for ourselves what sort of alternative it really is to to Gavyn Davies' stale, jargon-ridden analysis?

[Sep 26, 2016] Hug it out: Michelle Obama embraces George W Bush

Notable quotes:
"... 'Mission Accomplished' should be the name of the jail cells for Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld convicted as war criminals. ..."
Sep 26, 2016 | www.theguardian.com
krissywilson87 PlumRadio , 2016-09-26 08:30:48
I will never miss George Dubya Bush. It was truly scary to realise that the institutions of the US were so broken that a complete moron like that could become President because his daddy was. Then, just as Obama's election seemed to put things back on an even keel, here in Britain we elected Dave Cameron, an aristocratic ignoramus probably more out of touch with reality than Dubya ever was - and not a whole lot smarter.
Chuck3 morbid , 2016-09-26 08:52:02
Pretty straightforward unless you were an Iraqi with god knows how many tons of depleted uranium dropping on your children's heads. Or an innocent Afghan being tortured in one of the CIA's black sites.

Bush is a war criminal who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

He represents the worst of humanity and although Trump appears worse - we will have to wait to see what his legacy will be if he wins. As it stands Bush is the one who already has a disastrous and murderous legacy.

WillKnotTell seedeevee , 2016-09-26 10:54:34
"Obama has been at war longer than Bush."

Considering he inherited the war Bubba Bush and Darth Bugsey Cheney started, you are correct. The fact they disbanded the Iraqi military, they provided skilled military leaders and troops to ISIL.

Kentrel Jaydee23 , 2016-09-26 12:07:52
That excuse is a bit hard to swallow 8 years later. Even Guantanamo Bay remains in use, as it ever was. As it turns out it was easier for Obama to provide weapons to rebel\terrorist groups in Libya and Syria than it was to give prisoners a fair trial under the American justice system and end torture. He's also cracked down on whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden in a way that Bush never did.
1iJack , 2016-09-26 05:30:25
Now get Hillary in there and the picture will be complete and could be titled...

"the Globalists"

Haytop , 2016-09-26 05:20:34
war mongers converge?
RedKrayola Joe Dert , 2016-09-26 06:44:56
Bush signed agreement for a deadline to withdraw troops from Iraq. Obama tried to bully Iraq into disregarding that agreement. They refused. He then simply rechristened the troops 'advisors.' Obama never ended the war there, or anywhere. He's extended Bush's wars into several more countries throughout MENA.

Please stop lying about Obama's record. He has pushed for never-ending, ever-expanding wars, and that's just what he's delivered.

ponderwell RedKrayola , 2016-09-26 07:45:30
The nightmare Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld & company left due to their manipulating lies and misinformation to ensure the USA bomb
Iraq (thus destabilizing the ME) will
at minimum bring a generation of leaders great misery.

Each US leader will experiment with the
possibilities to decrease terrorism, many more mistakes will be endured. No one seems to knows how to stop the hatred which underlies the destruction pledged
by these sociopathic murderers.

Gigi Trala La Joe Dert , 2016-09-26 08:25:25
Obama promoted the same aggressive American policy as Bush, despite the early promise. Perhaps it makes little difference who is in power. To ignore the last 8 years of more bloodshed is a thing many round the world do not have the luxury you do.

Eisenhower, more right as the years pass.

seedeevee Joe Dert , 2016-09-26 09:42:04
We call Obama a war monger because he has brought the American war effort to seven nations just this year. Brought war to Ukraine. Libya. Syria. Yemen. Honduras.

Obama's Military is in over 150 nations on this planet.

ETC.

RedKrayola ponderwell , 2016-09-26 11:04:39
Obama continue expanded the Bush/Cheney doctrine. He campaigned for office pledging to reverse it. He's now been president for nearly eight years; it's reasonable to hold him accountable for what he's done and stop pretending he bears no responsibility for what's happened under his watch as commander-in-chief.
ponderwell RedKrayola , 2016-09-26 16:08:08
Every leader including Obama carries the responsibility for their choices. Bush/Cheney
violated and abused the trust of leaders and
the public in many nations by misinforming,
lying, and manipulative means to bomb
a nation who had no dealings with the terrorism of 9/11. The USA is now in a war tangle in which every leader hence will be targeted negatively until the ME conflicts
have no more US armed forces involved in the killings. Terrorism will plague many nations for the next generation at minimum.

'Mission Accomplished' should be the name of the jail cells for Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld convicted as war criminals.

montevideo , 2016-09-26 21:27:57
This picture kind of sums up why a whole load of people are voting Trump. Two apparently opposing politicians who ultimately led the US in the same self destructing direction. The illusion of democracy could never be clearer.
James Lohe , 2016-09-26 12:54:13
Bush 43 is arguably the most incompetent President ever. But no one would accuse him of being a bigot. Unlike Drumpf.
Chuckman James Lohe , 2016-09-26 12:58:45
Oh boy, do you lack history.

Bush had a disgraceful record in every sphere.

It would take too long to detail.

Read a book, such as the one by the late Molly Ivins.

backscratch Chuckman , 2016-09-26 13:41:33
Afraid I would find it impossible to hug the president who with Blair has destabilised the Middle East for years to come...mind you the UK's history ain't so hot. Maybe I should stop going around hugging my fellow countrymen and women.
OinkImSammy James Lohe , 2016-09-26 14:09:46
I think they would because he was. The PNAC agenda did and does read like Mein Kampf.
Chuckman , 2016-09-26 12:35:47
Well, he's much like her husband, isn't he?

Far more so than many think with superficial consideration.

Both men did nothing for their people while spending unbelievable amounts of money on obscene mass killing abroad.

They also share behaviors in the economic sphere. The 2008 Financial collapse happened under George Bush owing to a lack of adequate oversight of financial institutions and practices, a titanic financial equivalent to Bush's lackadaisical performance in New Orleans' Hurricane Katrina.

The Obama response during eight years in office has been to avoid making any changes to correct the situation and prevent future occurrences, and he has done nothing but have vast quantities of money printed to keep the economy afloat.

Chuckman Chuckman , 2016-09-26 12:55:10
Actually, while Obama is more intelligent than Bush, he too is a weak and ineffective figure. He has marched without pause to the drumbeat of the Pentagon and CIA.
Chuckman djkbrown2001 , 2016-09-26 12:50:21
Bush was never even a President.

He understood at least his own lack of ability after a lifetime spent as an asinine frat-boy who never did anything on his own.

He had Cheney and Rumsfeld along deliberately because he knew they were ready to run things for him.

His lack of effective intelligence and lack of drive to do anything should have meant that Bush never be president.

But he had money, tons of it, and heavy-duty political connections, and the real power men like the ruthless Cheney had him lined up from the start as their front man.

The one thing Bush proved was that America doesn't even need a President. Any pathetic figure can sign the documents placed before him and read the speeches written for him.

The establishment, with immense resources at its disposal, is quite capable of keeping the public believing that the face on the television is actually in charge.

Actually, while Obama is more intelligent than Bush, he too is a weak and ineffective figure. He has marched without pause to the drumbeat of the Pentagon and CIA.

Tim Caulfield , 2016-09-26 11:45:44
"There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party...and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt-until recently... and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties." (Gore Vidal - "The State of the Union", 1975)
Aldous0rwell , 2016-09-26 11:41:46
"W" had one of the BEST track records of placing PoC in truly significant positions. Condoleeza Rice. Colin Powell, Alberto Gonzalez, etc. Bush was in no way, shape or form a racist - so long as you were an Uncle Tom willing to sell out your fellow citizens, bomb the crap out of foreigners, and kiss the asses of the 1%.
robinhood2013 , 2016-09-26 11:29:37
I see Obama has vetoed the chance for relatives of the victims of 9/11 to take the Saudi government to court. Despicable man!
hdmiin robinhood2013 , 2016-09-26 13:21:18
Maybe he didn't want to set a precedent - the relatives of dead Iraqis have an even better case for taking the US government to court.
trevorgoodchild2 , 2016-09-26 10:56:31
She is hugging him because he is voting for Clinton. Just annother of his long list of errors in judgement.
Isaac_Blunt , 2016-09-26 10:33:25
I Liked Dubbya. I've missed his amiable gaffs.

"The trouble with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur..."

Chris Moody freepedestrian , 2016-09-26 11:12:44
Like making Bush's tax cuts permanent. Obama has many great qualities, but a strong principled belief in equality is not one of them. He's a neo-liberal corporatist through and through -hence frantically trying to push TTP through before the election, now that Hillary was forced to say she's against it. I'm sure there was a private conversation there - 'That f-ing Bernie is making me say I'm against TTP -can you get it through before the election, we can't trust Trump on it'
imperfetto , 2016-09-26 10:06:39
Michelle Obama embrases the criminal whose administration is responsible ( although we know that the foreign policy in the US is not decided by the president but by the NSA, CIA and occult lobbies ) for the death of over 1.500.000 million people in Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile the Guardian embraces the anti Russian propaganda by giving voice to the unpeakable lies about Russia's war crimes. Fortunately most media in the Continent (in France and Italy especially), are not follwing this dictats.
ALLisVanity , 2016-09-26 09:27:01
If the UN and the International Criminal Court were not mere tools of the US to punish anyone they don't like how on earth is this criminal not in jail? The only person that did worse than him is Hitler. He purposely lied to go into a war that destroyed thousands of innocent lives.
Alan Jones , 2016-09-26 08:59:06
I hope she washed her hands afterwards.
SALSERO64 Alan Jones , 2016-09-26 09:22:17
Why? They all are made of the same stuff.
cvneuves , 2016-09-26 08:55:10
I see, Bush (death toll 500,000+) and Obama (death toll 300,000+) are now closing ranks to avert Trump. Phew!!! This Trump guy must be really dangerous. I hope, our banks help finance an effective campaign against Trump!
Ludek29 cvneuves , 2016-09-26 09:00:40
Your Bush estimate is probably about 6 times lower its actual number.
seedeevee Ludek29 , 2016-09-26 09:18:24
and Obama has been at war longer. What a slacker!
cvneuves Ludek29 , 2016-09-26 10:09:32
John Tirman: Bush's War Dead: One Million , MIT, February 16, 2009.
scss99 , 2016-09-26 08:33:42
I think this is a good thing, Ronald Reagan used to have dinner with Tip O'Neill. As did many Republicans and Democrat presidents and senior members of Congress/Senate, that's stopped under Tom DeLay and Gingrich during the 90s when partisanship really took hold. It's been ugly ever since.

Socializing with the opposition is good for a working relationship.

Cessminster SickSwan , 2016-09-26 08:34:04
Obama wasn't corrupted by office - operation Obama was planned well in advance. I would argue he was corrupted a long time ago. I see war criminal Bush Snr endorsed Clinton just last week - go figure. Not that I am a fan of Trump - far from it.

Obama appeared out of nowhere and managed to scrape together the mega bucks to fund his campaign? Doesn't work like that - You don't currently get to be POTUS otherwise.

AlfredHerring , 2016-09-26 08:08:53
It seems like only 16 years ago that a bunch of Wall Street traders flew to Florida to stage a riot to stop the recount....and here's Obama and Bush looking forward to the election of the first President with her/his own hedge fund.....it brings tears to my eyes...
domrice , 2016-09-26 08:06:40
GW Bush refers to Hillary Clinton as his sister-in-law, now receives a hug from Michelle Obama. Further confirmation that the supposed political rivalry between the Reps and Wall St / TPP Dems is just noise.
Christian Stevens , 2016-09-26 07:58:47
The Obamas have become part of the firm. Anyone who has read vincent bugliosi book,The prosecution of George W BUsh for murder knows the last thing this guy needs is a hug. How can any of them be truly trusted
MereMortal , 2016-09-26 07:34:22
Politics is theater. They're all acting pretty much all the time, as politics is the art of managing perceptions.
Everyone knows everyone. There is a front of house posturing and invective demanded by the job, and then the back of house, deals and horse-trading.
Bill Clinton is a massive friend of both George Bushes and Donald Trump used be a good friend of the Clintons. But both the Clintons loathe Barack and Michelle Obama.
So for me, the very worst picture was the one of Hillary being hugged by Barack during her stolen coronation.
anonym101 , 2016-09-26 06:46:53
Looks like the establishment is closing ranks. When was the last time the US had a real two party system and politicians were not controlled by Wall Street?

[Sep 26, 2016] Elizabeth Warren Tells Hillary Clinton Not To Hire Wall Street Donors

Sep 26, 2016 | www.ibtimes.com

"Elizabeth Warren Tells Hillary Clinton Not To Hire Wall Street Donors" [ International Business Times ]. At the Center for American Progress:

"I know that personnel is policy," she told the group. "But let me be clear - when we talk about personnel, we don't mean advisors who just pay lip service to Hillary's bold agenda [irony, surely?], coupled with a sigh, a knowing glance, and a twiddling of thumbs until it's time for the next swing through the revolving door, serving government then going back to the very same industries they regulate. We don't mean Citigroup or Morgan Stanley or BlackRock getting to choose who runs the economy in this country so they can capture our government."

This, before November 8! They must be gritting their teeth in Brooklyn, as Warren underlines her status as a party baron once more.

"The Clinton Global Initiative wraps up its 12th and final annual meeting Wednesday amid intense scrutiny about the access its donors received while Hillary Clinton was the nation's top diplomat" [ McClatchy ]. So I guess they're closing out the fund? And the payouts will come over the course of a future Clinton administration….

[Sep 26, 2016] 2008 Crisis Deepened the Ties Between Clintons and Goldman Sachs

Sep 26, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , 2008 Crisis Deepened the Ties Between Clintons and Goldman Sachs

Hillary Clinton for President http://nyti.ms/2cLk18H
NYT editorial - Sep 24

Our endorsement is rooted in respect
for her intellect, experience and courage. ...

In any normal election year, we'd compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year. A comparison like that would be an empty exercise in a race where one candidate - our choice, Hillary Clinton - has a record of service and a raft of pragmatic ideas, and the other, Donald Trump, discloses nothing concrete about himself or his plans while promising the moon and offering the stars on layaway. (We will explain in a subsequent editorial why we believe Mr. Trump to be the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.)

But this endorsement would also be an empty exercise if it merely affirmed the choice of Clinton supporters. We're aiming instead to persuade those of you who are hesitating to vote for Mrs. Clinton - because you are reluctant to vote for a Democrat, or for another Clinton, or for a candidate who might appear, on the surface, not to offer change from an establishment that seems indifferent and a political system that seems broken. ...

2008 Crisis Deepened the Ties Between Clintons and Goldman Sachs http://nyti.ms/2cLHnuY
NYT - NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and SUSANNE CRAIG - Sep 24

A blue-ribbon commission had just excoriated Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks for fueling the financial crisis. Prosecutors were investigating whether Goldman had misled investors. The company was a whipping boy for politicians looking to lay blame for the crash.

But in spring of 2011, Lloyd C. Blankfein, leading one of the nation's most reviled companies, found himself onstage with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, one of the nation's most admired public figures at the time. And Mrs. Clinton had come to praise Goldman Sachs.

The State Department, Mrs. Clinton announced that day in an auditorium in its Foggy Bottom headquarters, would throw its weight behind a Goldman philanthropic initiative aimed at encouraging female entrepreneurs around the world - a program Goldman viewed as central to rehabilitating its reputation.

Mrs. Clinton's blessing - an important public seal of approval for Goldman at a time when it had few defenders in Washington - underscored a long-running relationship between one of the country's most powerful financial firms and one of its most famous political families. Over 20-plus years, Goldman provided the Clintons with some of their most influential advisers, millions of dollars in campaign contributions and speaking fees, and financial support for the family foundation's charitable programs.

And in the wake of the worst crash since the Great Depression, as the firm fended off investigations and criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, the Clintons drew Goldman only closer. Bill Clinton publicly defended the company and leased office space from Goldman for his foundation. Mrs. Clinton, after leaving the State Department, earned $675,000 to deliver three speeches at Goldman events, where she reassured executives that they had an important role to play in the nation's recovery.

The four years between the end of the financial crisis and the start of Mrs. Clinton's second White House bid revealed a family that viewed Wall Street's elite as friends and collaborators even as the public viewed them with suspicion and scorn. ...

EMichael -> Fred C. Dobbs... , Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 08:17 AM
geez

So these people think it is a big deal for the Sec of State to appear at a dinner with GS where the bank starts a program to help women in business throughout the world.

GS is evil. I got it. That program? Not so much.

http://www.icrw.org/media/news/icrw-unveils-evaluation-goldman-sachs-10000-women

Behind a paywall and I will not pay the NY Times a penny to support most of their writers, but let me ask a question.

Do the authors address in their article the success of this program? If not, just another piece of drek that should not have gotten past the editors.

Fred C. Dobbs -> EMichael... , Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 08:39 AM
The program?

10,000 Women is a program organized by Goldman Sachs with the goal of helping to grow local economies by providing business education, mentoring and networking, and access to capital to underserved women entrepreneurs globally. ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10,000_Women

Goldman Sachs | 10,000 Women | An Initiative to Provide Business & Management Education to Female Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets http://www.goldmansachs.com/citizenship/10000women/

(Not so vaguely related?)

Meet the Goldman Partner who gets paid
$2M to give the bank's money away http://read.bi/17nzlUO
via @BusinessInsider

EMichael -> Fred C. Dobbs... , Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 08:48 AM
Fred,

I know about the program. A local charity group I do a little work for has partnered with it.

My question was doe the writers in that Times article mention the program?

If not, it is just another in a long series of attacks on the Clintons with little basis in fact.

I am not a big fan of either of them, but this treatment is beyond the pale.

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , -1
The NYT board like Mrs. Clinton has no idea about providing for the common defense.

Experience that could not remember nor take responsibility for safeguarding information that could damage US well being...........

Nor remember the most basic requirements for filing public records.

Yeah, and W was less derelict than Hillary!

[Sep 26, 2016] Class War by Other Means: Tennessee, Volkswagen and the Future of Labor

Notable quotes:
"... The political logic is pretty clear: massive subsidies are just the price that the public is expected to pay in exchange for the limited number of jobs made available to them within the "free enterprise" system. ..."
"... In fact, President Obama came to Chattanooga to join in on Tennessee's bi-partisan economic consensus. During his 2013 jobs tour, the President delivered a speech at the Chattanooga Amazon distribution facility, praising the company for doing its part to restore the middle class through "good jobs with good wages." The starting wage at the Chattanooga warehouse is $11.25 an hour. ..."
www.truth-out.org
In 2008, the governments of the city of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, the state of Tennessee, and the United States all collaborated to provide Volkswagen (VW) with a $577 million subsidy package, the largest taxpayer handout ever given to a foreign-headquartered automaker in U.S. history. The bulk of the subsidy package, $554 million, came from local and state sources. The federal government also threw in $23 million in subsidies, bringing the grand total of taxpayer money that VW received in 2008 to $577 million. According to the Subsidy Tracker at the website of watchdog group Good Jobs First, the package provided to VW included "$229 million from the state for training costs and infrastructure; $86 million in land and site improvements from the city and the county; state tax credits worth $106 million over 30 years; and local tax abatements worth $133 million over the same period." In exchange for this massive infusion of public wealth onto Volkswagen's corporate balance sheets, the company promised to create 2,000 jobs in Chattanooga, bringing the price tag for each promised job to $288,500.

When asked to respond to concerns about VW's record-shattering subsidy package, then-Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, unabashedly replied, "I don't know whether it's fair that a Mercedes Benz costs $90,000, I just know if I want one that's what I've got to pay." Tennessee's U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican, applauded the deal as another significant mile marker on the way towards "Tennessee's future" of becoming the "the No. 1 auto state in the country."

The political logic is pretty clear: massive subsidies are just the price that the public is expected to pay in exchange for the limited number of jobs made available to them within the "free enterprise" system. The VW subsidy deal is just one example of how large corporations leveraged the widespread suffering caused by the Great Recession, the longest and deepest economic crisis since the 1930s, to bleed the funds of state governments in exchange for jobs. In a 2013 report studying the rise of "megadeals" -- subsidy deals with a local and state subsidy cost of $75 million or more -- Good Jobs First found that "since 2008, the average number of megadeals per year has doubled (compared to the previous decade) and their annual cost has roughly doubled as well, averaging around $5 billion." This was certainly the trend in Tennessee, where VW was the first of three separate megadeals negotiated in the state from 2008 to 2009. The same year that the VW deal was announced, Hemlock Semiconductor received over $340 million in government giveaways to develop a $1.2 billion polycrystalline silicon manufacturing plant in Clarksville, Tenn. By 2014, the plant was shuttered and all 500 promised jobs evaporated. Wacker Chemie received over $200 million in subsidies to build a billion-dollar plant in Bradley County, just outside of Chattanooga, to produce materials used in solar panels and semiconductors. Another megadeal was brokered with Amazon, which received over $100 million in local and state subsidies to build a distribution center in Chattanooga's industrial development park, which is shared with the Volkswagen plant.

The Bipartisan Consensus

The subsidy deals with Volkswagen, Hemlock, Wacker, and Amazon were all originally negotiated by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, and U. S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both Republicans, and was approved by the Tennessee General Assembly, which in 2008 came under Republican control for the first time since Reconstruction. These deals were drafted in collaboration between state politicians (both Democratic and Republican) and business elites in total secrecy. Tom Rowland, mayor of Cleveland City in Bradley County, the location for the Wacker plant just outside of Chattanooga, revealed the frequency of such secret meetings: "You don't know how many times we have slipped Gov. Bredesen, Sen. [Bob] Corker and [Tennessee Economic and Community Development commissioner] Matt Kisber into the Chamber office."

By 2010, the state was firmly under the control of a Republican governor, Bill Haslam, and a Republican super-majority in the General Assembly. By 2012, the Republicans held over two-thirds of all state government offices in what they called a "super duper majority." The parties might have changed, but the love for corporate welfare did not, as the Republicans continued to build upon and extend all of the agreements from the previous governor's administration.

In fact, President Obama came to Chattanooga to join in on Tennessee's bi-partisan economic consensus. During his 2013 jobs tour, the President delivered a speech at the Chattanooga Amazon distribution facility, praising the company for doing its part to restore the middle class through "good jobs with good wages." The starting wage at the Chattanooga warehouse is $11.25 an hour.

"Good Jobs" and Concessionary Unionism

According to a 2015 study by the Center for Automotive Research, auto workers at VW in Chattanooga had the lowest hourly pay and benefits of any employees in a U.S. car factory. The starting hourly wage rate for an assembly line worker at Volkswagen is about $15 an hour, or approximately $31,000 a year. A full-time production employee can top out their pay in seven years at a wage rate of $23 an hour, or about $48,000 a year. That makes the top pay at Volkswagen less than 80% of the estimated annual median income for Hamilton County. Third-party contractors hired by Volkswagen to work on the line in the plant and the network of auto suppliers servicing the factory pay even lower hourly wage rates. Yet U.S. Senator Corker describes production jobs at VW as "good paying," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger prefers the term "family-wage jobs," and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke describes VW as providing "living-wage jobs" that are helping to "build our middle class."

Tennessee's billionaire governor, Bill Haslam, who happens to be the richest politician in the country, has expressed little concern over whether or not the jobs brought to the state were high paying. In fact, it appears that he is proud that they are not. In official material directed to foreign companies by the Haslam administration, the governor touted a pro-business environment in which companies can exploit a "low-cost labor force" thanks to the state's "very low unionization rates." (That's alongside the boon of state and local taxes that are "some of the lowest in the region.")

Since the Great Recession, the United Auto Workers (UAW) has been overseeing the erosion of gains made by auto workers in previous decades. The union has been able to maintain higher wages and benefits for the auto workers they represent when compared to manufacturing overall, but the difference has shrunk dramatically in recent years. According to the Detroit Free Press, "Back in 1960, a Detroit Three UAW autoworker was paid 16% more than the average U.S. manufacturing worker. By the early 2000s, that wage gap had grown to nearly 70% in favor of the UAW worker, but shrank back to 33% by this year."

The union, to be sure, is operating under difficult conditions in the auto industry: trade deficits in manufacturing that were growing even prior to the Great Recession, the relative increase of jobs in parts plants that pay less than assembly plants, the growth in auto employment at nonunion "transplants" (belonging to non-U.S. headquartered companies like Volkswagen and Toyota), and the rise of temp agencies and "just in time" production as part of the overall lean production management processes in the industry. All of these changes, however, have taken place in the context of the UAW's top-down brand of business unionism, which has led to its deeply concessionary approach to collective bargaining and new organizing. For example, an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report jointly authored by a former UAW leader, a former vice president from Ford, and an academic expert on "workplace innovation," lauded the UAW for being "a full partner for more than a decade in experimenting with innovations in work organization" and working with corporate management at the Big Three to reduce a "major portion" in the "cost differential" with non-union foreign-headquartered auto makers:

In 2005, there was a gap of $3.62 between the average hourly wage of $27.41 at Ford and $23.79 for the transplants. When fringe benefits, legally required payments, pension benefits, retiree health care, and other post-employment labor costs are added in, the gap grew to $20.55 ($64.88 versus $44.33) .... In 2010, following the 2007 introduction of the entry wage and concessions made during the 2009 government bailout, the wage gap stood at $4 ($28 for Ford versus $24 for the transplants), and the gap when including fringe benefits and post-employment costs stood at $6 ($58 for Ford versus $52 for the transplants).

Incredibly, the UAW leadership has continued to proudly highlight how contract concessions have induced an ever-closer wage convergence between transplants -- located largely in low-wage, Republican-dominated states in the southeastern United States -- and U.S.-headquartered automakers in historically union-dense strongholds, like Michigan. They hold this up as proof of their labor-management partnership credentials while simultaneously championing the auto industry as lifting up "good jobs" and "the middle class." Despite the reality of declining wages, benefits, and jobs, the public appears to believe the same. According to an analysis of several polls by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a majority of the general public believes that "manufacturing is the most important job sector, in terms of strengthening the economy."

At the Chattanooga VW plant, workers also face a brutal lean-production management model on the assembly-line floor that works to squeeze higher productivity from a scant and beleaguered workforce. The working conditions on the assembly line are so physically demanding that many production workers cannot see working at VW as a long-term career. Yet in 2013, when the UAW announced that they were seeking to organize the Chattanooga plant, the union decided against organizing around the salient issues in the plant and instead chose to frame their entire organizing campaign around collaboration with the company to form the first German-style "works council" in the history of the United States. The UAW's strategy was exclusively predicated on advancing what the union championed as an innovative form of labor-management partnership.

The UAW even went so far as to sign a neutrality agreement with Volkswagen which committed the union to "maintaining and where possible enhancing the cost advantages and other competitive advantages that [Volkswagen] enjoys relative to its competitors." When pressed to account for why the union would make such a shocking concession, then-UAW president Bob King issued this reply:

Our philosophy is, we want to work in partnership with companies to succeed. Nobody has more at stake in the long-term success of the company than the workers on the shop floor, both blue collar and white collar. With every company that we work with, we're concerned about competitiveness. We work together with companies to have the highest quality, the highest productivity, the best health and safety, the best ergonomics, and we are showing that companies that succeed by this cooperation can have higher wages and benefits because of the joint success.

Continued Investments, Too-Big-to-Fail and Too-Big-to-Jail

In July 2014, Volkswagen announced that it was planning to invest $600 million into expanding the Chattanooga plant, adding additional assembly lines for the production of an SUV for the North American market. According to local news reports:

More than a third of that investment will initially come from state and local governments who agreed to pump more than $230 million of upfront tax dollars into the project to woo VW into expanding in Chattanooga rather than at its other major North American plant in Puebla, Mexico, where labor costs are far lower. Combined with other property tax breaks, TVA incentives, road projects and other potential tax credits, Volkswagen could qualify for more than $300 million of grants, credits and other government assistance over the next decade....

The expansion of the Chattanooga plant brings the total subsidy package provided to Volkswagen up to about $877 million dollars. Following the official announcement of the expanded subsidy deal, Tennessee House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, whose district includes Chattanooga, told the press, "I think it is a good investment and we will convince the Legislature of that because there are just so many ripple effects from this investment that will help so much of our state." The ripple effects of such an enormous single investment took on a completely different character with the announcement, in September 2015, that the EPA was fining Volkswagen for installing "defeat devices" on their automobiles, allowing the diesel cars produced at the Chattanooga plant to temporarily hide the emissions they produce.

Since the EPA's announcement, VW has acknowledged that it produced over 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide that contained software allowing them to cheat nitrogen oxide tests. This software, installed on 2009–2015 diesel VWs, reduced emissions while the cars were hooked up to testing devices, only to let pollution "spill out of the tail pipe at up to 40 times the allowable level" when cars were on the road. An analysis performed by the Associated Press (AP) estimates that about 100 people in the United States have likely died as a result of the pollution produced by VW's diesel Passat over the last few years. AP's analysis estimates that the death toll in Europe is substantially higher, likely resulting in hundreds of deaths for every year the cars were on the road.

After the EPA's announcement in September 2015; VW's stock price plummeted and VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned. Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Michael Horn admitted, during his official testimony before Congress in October, that the defeat devices were installed for the express purpose of beating emissions tests. In November 2015, the Chattanooga VW plant stopped the production of the diesel Passat. More recently, VW has agreed to a partial settlement with federal and state authorities of over $15 billion as new lawsuits and government investigations from around the world continue to make headlines. How have the local and state government responded to the news of VW's rampant criminality and corruption? Speaking to reporters about VW and the scandal, Governor Haslam said, "We're married to them. We want this plant to be a success."

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, meanwhile, told reporters, "We need for the plant to be successful. It's important to our economy." The state is too invested in VW -- politically and financially -- to be in any position to truly hold the company accountable for its actions.

A New Road Forward

Put it all together and we have a formula for maximizing corporate profits that mixes equal parts political opportunism with class collaboration. Following the Great Recession, voters were desperate for jobs. Politicians, campaigning on bringing jobs to voters, are willing to provide massive subsidies to companies willing to locate in their voting districts. The union, desperate to organize new bargaining units from which to collect dues and to be seen as a legitimate partner with corporate and political elites, actually agrees to "maintain" and "enhance" the competitive advantages corporations gain by pushing private business costs off onto the public while providing jobs with lower wages, reduced benefits, and deteriorating working conditions. Meanwhile, the public believes they are getting "good jobs," while the actual quality of those jobs continues to decline. The companies laugh all the way to the bank. With their backs to the wall, unions like the UAW can no longer put off organizing auto makers and suppliers that choose to locate their plants in the South, but they will not succeed by promising to "work in partnership" with the companies. Labor organizers in the South will usually be working in an environment in which both business and government are hostile to unions. When the UAW narrowly lost the VW vote in 2014, the union should have learned a valuable lesson. The company might have formally committed to being "neutral," but the business and political elites in the South made no such agreement. If unions fail to win over the broader working class, they have no chance of winning representation elections -- especially in states like Tennessee, where only 6% of all workers belong to a union, and in cities like Chattanooga, where the unionization rate is even lower, at an abysmal 3.4% of all workers.

To win, unions will not only have to jettison the pipedream of courting management with promises of maximizing worker productivity and containing costs. Rather, they will have to return to their militant roots: connecting shop-floor fights with community organizing. This approach has been successfully exemplified by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Grassroots Collaborative, a labor-community alliance that has become a permanent fixture in Chicago politics and generated immense public support for CTU's militant fights with the city's investor class and mayor. CTU's combination of bottom-up work-site organizing and authentic, non-transactional support for community organizations and their struggles were critical preludes to the union's relatively successful 2012 strike. A long-term strategy focused on this kind of organizing would go a long way towards building the kind of movement infrastructure that labor needs to win in the South.

All of this is easier said than done. But we are currently faced with the atrocious working conditions and ever-diminishing wages and benefits of manufacturing jobs, the spread of poverty throughout our communities, the deep underfunding of public services, and the rising tide of anger and resentment (especially among young people) towards the economic and political elite. The time is ripe for organizers to begin harvesting the fruits of our exploited labor.

Shouldering the Subsidy: Tennessee's Regressive Tax System

Tennessee has one of the most regressive tax systems in the country. Currently, Tennessee has no state income tax and a constitutional amendment, passed by referendum in 2014, prevents the state government from ever establishing an income or payroll tax. Moreover, earlier this year the state legislature passed a bill to phase out the state's tax on dividends and income from bonds by 2022, resulting in millions of dollars in tax revenue being stripped from city budgets. This will likely result in city governments raising revenue by hiking property taxes, further shifting the burden of raising revenues for the state onto the working and middle classes.

The lack of an income tax means that the Tennessee state government relies to a large degree on sales taxes to raise revenue. The sales tax is especially regressive due to the state's refusal to exempt essentials like groceries (though groceries are at least taxed at a lower rate than the overall sales tax), while completely exempting luxury goods such as "attorneys' fees, services such as haircuts and massages, and goods for horses and airplanes." Additionally, the state fails to offer any tax credits to low-income taxpayers to offset either sales or property taxes.

This means that the primary form of wealth for the working and middle classes -- a family home -- is taxed to provide the vast majority of revenue for local governments. Meanwhile, major forms of wealth for the ruling class -- corporate stocks and bonds -- are not. Tennessee's working and middle classes are being squeezed under the highest average combined state-local sales tax rate in the country, while the owners of capital skirt any responsibility for paying their share.

This regressive system is compounded with every tax abatement given to a large multinational corporation, such as Volkswagen. When the state increases its reliance on sales taxes to offset the holes punched into the budget by corporate tax breaks, this increases the overall tax burden on the poor and working class. The only other option to raising revenue through regressive taxes is for the state to cut services. Cuts to services, such as healthcare, public education, infrastructure, and transportation, are just another way to shift the burden onto the working class. While public services diminish, highly profitable multinational corporations, such as Volkswagen, benefit from direct state supports, like state-financed job training and capital-improvement grants, which improve their bottom-line and further entrench wealth inequality.

The federal tax system, on the whole, is progressive, according to a 2016 Tax Policy Center report. Economists with the Federal Reserve Bank studied the impact of state taxes on income inequality and found that Tennessee's regressive tax system "reverses around one-third of the compression [in the income spread] caused by federal taxes" -- the most of any state in the country.

Inequality's Racial Disparities

According to the 2015 report "State of Black Chattanooga," by the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies, the median wealth of white households in Tennessee bounced back in the years after the Great Recession, increasing by 2.4% between 2010 and 2013, to $141,900. Contrast that with the median wealth of Black households in the state, which continued to spiral down in the same time period, falling more than 33% to $11,000.

The arrival of Volkswagen, Wacker, and Amazon has failed to fundamentally alter the overall low-wage economy in Chattanooga and Hamilton County. When these "megadeals" combine with the further subsidies provided to land developers for luxury condos and apartments in Chattanooga's urban core and the expanding priority placed by local governments on police and jails, the results are gentrification, displacement, and incarceration. Currently, 27% of Chattanoogans overall live in poverty, almost double the national average, and that number jumps to 36% in the city's Black community. In the eleven lowest-income neighborhoods in the city, in which about three-quarters of residents identify as Black, the poverty rate is 64%. Only 17% of the Tennessee population is Black, yet Black people are 44% of our state's prison population.

Concerned Citizens for Justice, a grassroots organization dedicated to Black liberation in Chattanooga, describes this underlying systemic approach by politicians and business leaders as "an arrangement that is good for rich financiers and developers and bad for Chattanooga's working class and oppressed majority." The numbers certainly bear out their analysis.

Sources:

Frank Ahrens and Sholnn Freeman 2007. "GM, Union Agree on Contract to End Strike," Washington Post, Sept. 27, 2015 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/26/AR2007092600155.html ; Associated Press, "TN touts 'low-cost labor force' to lure foreign business," Sept. 2, 2015 http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2015/09/02/tn-touts-low-cost-labor-force-lure-foreign-business/71617998/ ; Associated Press, "Volkswagen now under investigation for tax evasion," Nov. 24, 2015 http

[Sep 25, 2016] Popular Acceptance of Inequality Due to Brute Luck

Notable quotes:
"... By Matthew Weinzierl, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School. Originally published at VoxEU ..."
"... The trick or con being played by the elite is to convince enough of us that the game of life is being played fair. And when that fails, the con or lie becomes that its the fault of (insert target minority group). ..."
"... From two complementary sociological points of view -- conflict theory and symbolic interactionism -- this article is naive -or a red herring- in the ways you suggest. ..."
"... Indeed, the issue is about people accepting a "definition of the situation" that is in fact detrimental to their material interests (Pierre Bourdieu terms this "misrecognition"). Erving Goffman, who was trained as an interactionist, studied con artists to describe how they successfully created a definition of situation -- which means a version of social reality -- that their marks would internalize as reality itself. A sociologist would not begin a discussion of socioeconomic inequality with tax policy. ..."
"... Control over arguments regarding political economy in the public sphere have to be wrested from economists, so that we can start to talk about what actually matters. Sanders' popularity, despite his numerous problems, lay in how he took control of the argument and laid bare the absurdities of those who benefit from the status quo. ..."
"... I say we boycott economists. Sure some of them are not terrible, but in the main the discipline needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. ..."
"... Many economists function as members of the courtier class, justifying what the rich and powerful want to occur. Most citizens already boycott economists in that they don't use their services except when required to attend an Econ class at school. ..."
"... But economists do influence average citizens lives via their justification of tax policy, land use policy, labor policy, trade policy and law implementation. ..."
"... Economic education has been a failure of the left. Everyone needs to know how money and finance works. Only then can that power be put to various uses. It is not that you don't need economists, you need economists working in your interest. ..."
"... I could get behind this. And I would have to agree that harping against the evils of capitalism, which are very real, often comes from those who don't really understand how it works. ..."
"... The post indicates this guy is Assistant Professor of Business Administration - at Harvard Business School - so I'm not sure I would give him even so much regard as I might give an economist. I wonder how he and his will regard the fairness of luck while they wait in line to be serviced at the guillotine they're building - much as Scrooge crafted his chain and weights for his afterlife. ..."
"... Interesting reference to Scrooge -- the power of art to enlighten the human condition cannot be underestimated. As I get older, it seems to me that the capitalism system debases everything it touches. Anything of real value will be found outside this system. It has become the box that confines us all. ..."
"... It's also worth noting how his examples are still a function of the neoliberal canard that privilege is simply a boost on the ladder of meritocracy. The game is still implicitly understood to be fair. ..."
"... Yet, it's not clear to me what Alice Walton, for instance, has done to justify being a multi-billionaire. People who are born not just with spoons but entire silver foundries in their mouths could redistribute 90% of the wealth they acquired by virtue of being someone's baby and still be absurdly rich. ..."
"... Learning must be for its own sake. Like you, I spent many hours in the library. BUT it was to scratch an itch I have not been able to quell - even in these many years since I was in that library. ..."
"... "The putative "father of the Euro", economist Robert Mundell is reported to have explained to one of his university of Chicago students, Greg Palast: "the Euro is the easy way in which Congresses and Parliaments can be stripped of all power over monetary and fiscal policy. Bothersome democracy is removed from the economic system" Michael Hudson "Killing the Host" ..."
"... The neoclassical economists didn't have a clue as the Minsky Moment was approaching. ..."
Sep 24, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This article argues that people don't mind inequality due to "brute luck"…but is one man's brute luck another man's rigged system?

By Matthew Weinzierl, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School. Originally published at VoxEU

Tax policy to correct inequality assumes that nobody is entitled to advantages due to luck alone. But the public largely rejects complete equalisation of 'brute luck' inequality. This column argues that there is near universal public support for an alternative, benefit-based theory of taxation. Treating optimal tax policy as an empirical matter may help us to close the gap between theory and reality.

... .... ...

In this case, the optimal tax policy aggressively offsets inequality. Only the need to retain incentives to work and the desire to reward extra effort justify allowing inequality to persist.

... ... ...

Brute Luck and Economic Inequality

What explains the gap between scholarly and popular views of the moral status of pre-tax income? A clue might be our attitude to luck.

The view that individuals have no moral claim to their pre-tax incomes relies on the ethical assumption that nobody is entitled to advantages due to factors outside his or her control. Philosophers such as Cohen (2011) call this 'brute luck'. Given the importance of brute luck (for example, natural ability, childhood home environment, and early schooling) to a person's economic status, this assumption directly leads to a rejection of moral claims to pre-tax income.

... ... ...

The 2016 US presidential campaign's attention to inequality fits these findings. Some candidates complain of a 'rigged system' and rich individuals and corporations who do not pay their 'fair' share. Critically, gains due to a rigged system or tax avoidance are due to unjust actions, not brute luck. They are due to the toss of a loaded coin, not a fair one.

... ... ...

These are early steps in developing a new approach to tax theory that I have called 'positive optimal taxation'. This approach modifies the standard optimal tax analysis by treating the objective for taxation as an empirical matter. It uses a variety of sources – including opinion surveys, political rhetoric, and analysis of robust policy features – to highlight gaps between the standard theory and prevailing reality of tax policy. It also identifies and incorporates into the theory alternative goals – and the philosophical principles behind them – that better describe the public's views on policy.

.... .... ...

Robert Hahl September 24, 2016 at 6:13 am

"I stole it fair and square" is not a form of brute luck, but I saw no recognition of that fact while skimming the article. Sorry if I missed it.

Adam1 September 24, 2016 at 6:17 am

One piece of logic missing from the research analysis is accounting for the game itself. If I agree to play a game of chance that is fairly played I am by default also agreeing that I accept the possibility that the outcomes will not be equal, otherwise why would I play. It shouldn't be a surprise that in the end people are willing to maintain that inequality because they originally agreed to it by the fact that they agreed to play.

As Yves points out, if you change the scenario where one of the players was allowed to collude with the person executing the game and the other player was informed of this you might get a very different answer. You might even get a punishing answer.

The trick or con being played by the elite is to convince enough of us that the game of life is being played fair. And when that fails, the con or lie becomes that its the fault of (insert target minority group).

DanB September 24, 2016 at 7:34 am

From two complementary sociological points of view -- conflict theory and symbolic interactionism -- this article is naive -or a red herring- in the ways you suggest.

Indeed, the issue is about people accepting a "definition of the situation" that is in fact detrimental to their material interests (Pierre Bourdieu terms this "misrecognition"). Erving Goffman, who was trained as an interactionist, studied con artists to describe how they successfully created a definition of situation -- which means a version of social reality -- that their marks would internalize as reality itself. A sociologist would not begin a discussion of socioeconomic inequality with tax policy.

Uahsenaa September 24, 2016 at 9:21 am

A sociologist would not begin a discussion of socioeconomic inequality with tax policy.

But an economist would, and therein lies the problem. Control over arguments regarding political economy in the public sphere have to be wrested from economists, so that we can start to talk about what actually matters. Sanders' popularity, despite his numerous problems, lay in how he took control of the argument and laid bare the absurdities of those who benefit from the status quo.

I say we boycott economists. Sure some of them are not terrible, but in the main the discipline needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

John Wright September 24, 2016 at 10:06 am

Many economists function as members of the courtier class, justifying what the rich and powerful want to occur. Most citizens already boycott economists in that they don't use their services except when required to attend an Econ class at school.

But economists do influence average citizens lives via their justification of tax policy, land use policy, labor policy, trade policy and law implementation.

Even if we tore down the profession, it could likely regrow to provide the same functionality.

The profession provides a valuable service, as it is valued by the class with power and money throughout the world.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

Economic education has been a failure of the left. Everyone needs to know how money and finance works. Only then can that power be put to various uses. It is not that you don't need economists, you need economists working in your interest.

All knowledge and technology works this way. It is the purposeful use of information that matters, not the information itself. The left wastes time, effort, and resources trying to convince people to change their minds. Instead, they need to focus on building things in the real world, using all the economic tools at their disposal.

Uahsenaa September 24, 2016 at 11:02 am

I could get behind this. And I would have to agree that harping against the evils of capitalism, which are very real, often comes from those who don't really understand how it works.

Maybe the solution is more co-ops and less rhetoric.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 11:50 am

Using the power of the boycott is another. The powerless need to rediscover what power they truly wield in this system. That was the other failure of the left. Yes, they were actively crushed by corporate power, but the ideas live on. They can only be exterminated through lack of use.

A new ideology needs to be born of the ashes. If the predictions of climate disruption are anywhere near accurate, a proactive, and positive direction can be undertaken. My experience is that caring, healthy people are driven to help others in times of adversity. Well, those times are coming. We are once again going to have to face the choice between choosing abject fear or rolling up our sleeves and getting back to work making everyones lives better.

You don't need corporate sponsorship to do that. They need us more than we need them. In the end, I have a feeling that the current system will come down very quickly. Being prepared for that outcome is what should be driving the actions of those not vested in keeping the status quo going.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:42 am

The post indicates this guy is Assistant Professor of Business Administration - at Harvard Business School - so I'm not sure I would give him even so much regard as I might give an economist. I wonder how he and his will regard the fairness of luck while they wait in line to be serviced at the guillotine they're building - much as Scrooge crafted his chain and weights for his afterlife.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm

For a historian, making connections between past and present situations is the root of their insight. As in all walks of life, your efforts can gain value to your fellow citizens or they can be used as a tool for your own self interest- whatever that might be. How interesting are these repeating cycles in the human drama.

Interesting reference to Scrooge -- the power of art to enlighten the human condition cannot be underestimated. As I get older, it seems to me that the capitalism system debases everything it touches. Anything of real value will be found outside this system. It has become the box that confines us all.

When your viewpoint of the world and your relationship to it shrink to only seeking profits, the depravity of that situation is hidden from view unless shocked back to awareness.

As Peter Gabriel would say- Shock the Monkey

Shock the monkey to life
Shock the monkey to life

Cover me when I run
Cover me through the fire
Something knocked me out' the trees
Now I'm on my knees
Cover me darling please
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don't you know you're going to shock the monkey

Fox the fox
Rat on the rat
You can ape the ape
I know about that
There is one thing you must be sure of
I can't take any more
Darling, don't you monkey with the monkey
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don't you know you're going to shock the monkey

Wheels keep turning
Something's burning
Don't like it but I guess I'm learning

Shock! – watch the monkey get hurt, monkey

Cover me, when I sleep
Cover me, when I breathe
You throw your pearls before the swine
Make the monkey blind
Cover me, darling please
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don't you know you're going to shock the monkey

Too much at stake
Ground beneath me shake
And the news is breaking

Shock! – watch the monkey get hurt, monkey

Shock the monkey
Shock the monkey
Shock the monkey to life

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

This is tangential to topic of this thread:
I was particularly struck by your comment about art: "the power of art to enlighten the human condition cannot be underestimated." I recall a similar assertion made in one of Howard Zinn's speeches - sorry I can't recall the exact phrasing of his statement or its context.

I'm retired and found a strange calling to make art - a calling I never listened to when I had to worry about supporting a household. I find it difficult to make art that isn't political, satirical or in some way didactic. Whether anyone else would regard my works as art I don't know and in a way I don't care. Art has become a way in which I must express something inside me I don't understand but whose direction I must follow. I suppose similar feeling drive many expressions of art. Perhaps that explains something of the power of art you refer to.

Spencer September 24, 2016 at 7:12 am

For the erosion in income inequality to be fixed, economic policies need fixed. The disparity between income quintiles will continue to widen. Social unrest will continue to proliferate. This situation will simply never get corrected until the commercial banks are driven out of the savings business (however bizarre one might think that solution is).

Vladimir Lenin, leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution said: "The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency." Not so. The best way to destroy capitalists is the deregulation of deposit caps for saver-holders' accounts in the commercial banking system. This policy error simply increased the bank's costs with no increase in their income. Bottling up savings, is first observed by the decline in money velocity, then by a decline in AD (secular stagnation), and when the Fed attempts to offset this decline, by an increase in stagflation.

Moneta September 24, 2016 at 7:43 am

The beliefs come first, then the system reflects these. Creeping individualism and the belief in the self made man will do the trick.

Alejandro September 24, 2016 at 10:52 am

""[V]elocity" is just a dummy variable to "balance" any given equation – a tautology, not an analytic tool."

http://michael-hudson.com/2012/05/paul-krugmans-economic-blinders/

How can the "code" be modified to restrain usurious AND sociopathic behaviour?

Spencer September 24, 2016 at 9:44 pm

Vi is contrived. Vt is money actually exchanging counterparties. But since Ed Fry discontinued the G.6 debit and demand deposit turnover release in Sept. 1996, the Fed has no rudder or anchor.

Required reserves are a surrogate, though the underweight Vt. But RRs are based on payments (money turning over). And 95 percent of all demand drafts clear thru transaction based accounts.

The "code" you speak of relates to the volume of financial transactions consummated. Financial transactions are not random. Financial speculation is a function of money flows. The volume of bank debits during the housing crisis would have stood out like a sore thumb (as it captured both new and existing real-estate transactions).

Only price increases generated by demand, irrespective of changes in supply, provide evidence of inflation. There must be an increase in aggregate demand which can come about only as a consequence of an increase in the volume and/or transactions velocity of money. The volume of domestic money flows must expand sufficiently to push prices up, irrespective of the volume of financial transactions, the exchange value of the U.S. dollar, and the flow of goods and services into the market economy.

The "administered" prices would not be the "asked" prices, were they not "validated" by (M*Vt), i.e., "validated" by the world's Central Banks.

- Michel de Nostredame

Alejandro September 24, 2016 at 10:28 pm

I'm not sure that what you just spewed even makes sense to you, or that you even bothered to read the link provided…but the "code" is about concurrent monetary AND fiscal policy to serve a purpose other than making the rich richer and the poor poorer…

Moneta September 24, 2016 at 7:40 am

If someone gets the waterfront property just because he/she was born first so got there first, he better do something positive for the next generation… The next generation will understand the luck factor as not everyone can be standing in the same spot at the same time, but it will not accept the scrooge.

HotFlash September 24, 2016 at 7:53 am

Prof Weinzieri says

If people are entitled, even in part, to their pre-tax incomes, the optimal tax policy would no longer offset inequality as aggressively. Taxes would, instead, be focused on raising funds for government activities in a way that tries to respect those entitlements.

which seems fair-ish, but also

Given the importance of brute luck (for example, natural ability, childhood home environment, and early schooling)

Oh my! Childhood home environment and (gasp!) early schooling are matters of luck? Oh those Haaahvaahd guys! No, professor, winning the lottery is a matter of luck, and can happen to anyone at any point in their life. Being born in poverty, into a class 15% of whose male population is incarcerated or having to go to a crappy school are *systemic* results of deliberate social structures, the elites just prefer to call it "bad luck". Thus we see how the Ivies serve the elites.

Eclair September 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

Yes, HotFlash. And these 'deliberate social structures,' the 'red-lining' policies, the wildly unequal sentences for crack versus cocaine, the casual brutality of the prison system (over 200,000 male rapes per year), the laws preventing people who have served their sentence for a felony from voting, public housing, scholarship aid, welfare .. in other words, from living and improving their lives .. are structural violence. And then we are 'surprised' when people who have lived their lives under a regime of these subtle but unrelenting acts of economic, social and spiritual violence, finally hit back.

Uahsenaa September 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

It's also worth noting how his examples are still a function of the neoliberal canard that privilege is simply a boost on the ladder of meritocracy. The game is still implicitly understood to be fair.

Yet, it's not clear to me what Alice Walton, for instance, has done to justify being a multi-billionaire. People who are born not just with spoons but entire silver foundries in their mouths could redistribute 90% of the wealth they acquired by virtue of being someone's baby and still be absurdly rich.

Banana Breakfast September 24, 2016 at 9:49 am

The paper seems totally oblivious to the fact that in the scenario presented, all the gains enjoyed by both players are due to luck. Player B is getting a windfall either way, so there's no sense of real unfairness. The perception would be quite different if it was only the difference between A and B that was assigned randomly, while each had to earn some baseline.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL September 24, 2016 at 5:28 pm

And I think the "popular acceptance" part is given a huge boost when the young, black, nominally-Democrat president keeps insisting everything is awesome and anyone who says otherwise is "peddling fiction".

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:45 pm

I think this paper goes to great lengths to build a question around the ideas of the fairness behind progressive taxation. This post hardly seems to pose a question worthy of study. Our tax systems so much favor Corporations and the wealthy that considerations of "fairness" are at best comical - and I'm not laughing.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell September 24, 2016 at 10:20 am

The most important problem in economics is the widening Gap between the rich and the rest. A solution is: https://mythfighter.com/2014/11/09/a-brief-reference-what-you-need-to-know-when-discussing-economics/

kgw September 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

As William Godwin says, if people actually knew who they were, all would be peaceable…

https://www.amazon.com/Enquiry-Concerning-Political-Justice-Influence-ebook/dp/0140400303/ref=la_B000APJ4OS_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474727648&sr=1-5

From Cold Mountain September 24, 2016 at 11:14 am

Yes, the outcome of self awareness will always be Anarchism. I came be an advocate, not through economics or politics, but thought Buddhism and Daoism. It is a story older than humanity that we are just starting to remember.

So here I am sitting, watching, waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:48 pm

What kind of self-knowledge did Hitler find in his imprisonment? It didn't lead to anything I would call peaceable. Was there some inner Hitler he didn't reach in his prison contemplations?

Ivy September 24, 2016 at 10:56 am

If I had only known it was luck, I would not have spent so many late nights in the library during undergrad and grad schools. However, I enjoyed those nights and was enriched by them. Is that taxable?

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Learning must be for its own sake. Like you, I spent many hours in the library. BUT it was to scratch an itch I have not been able to quell - even in these many years since I was in that library.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 11:24 am

Will future generations, if there are any, be able to look back and reflect," what were these people thinking?"

There is no justification for the levels of inequality and environmental destruction we are experiencing. Period. We can all consider ourselves fools, even for entertaining debating these issues much longer. We need to be discussing concrete actions, not theoretical justifications.

Everyone must face the randomness of the universe every day. The only certainty know is the one WE create as human beings- one and together. Why is it do you think that the elite never break ranks. They are creating their own certainty in an uncertain world. Heads I win, tails you loose. TBTF. Race to the bottom. The new normal. Political capture using the revolving door techniques.

Human evolution is racing toward a crisis point. Ending inequality and world conflict are at the focal point of this outcome. Leaders that continue to use the outdated modes of social control will either drive us over the cliff to destruction, or will loose the ability to control outcomes as their numbers dwindle. The day the revelation is made that the elite are full of crap, is the day change becomes possible.

It seems large social structures will always come crashing down. The weakness in human nature and flaws in our social structures lead to eventual failure. Greed and selfish action is seldom tolerated is smaller structures.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:36 pm

I think there will always be inequality between people on many many dimensions. I am constantly humbled by how much I don't know that other people know, people less well educated and I suspect less intelligent - whatever that means - than I am. I celebrate this inequality and sincerely hope this larger knowledge shared with mine and the knowledge of many others will suffice to address the great challenges we face in the all too near future.

HOWEVER - inequality as a matter of power relations - that is different matter. If I were my great great grandson I could never forgive what I have allowed through my cowardice and intent to have a surviving great great grandson - or granddaughter.

sd September 24, 2016 at 11:32 am

I am not sure I really understand the intention of this paper. The example used, that 20% of $90,000 income must be paid in taxes, and then taking surveys of how that distribution should work seems to ignore whether or not the respondents actually understand basic math.

Why do I say this?

The "easy" answer is that Person A pays $15,000 and person B pays $3,000 which is the equivalent of a flat tax. And yet, that's not how most responded. Only 5% selected the easy answer. Which makes me wonder if the targets of the survey even understand basic math.

So I guess I am questioning the questioning….

Vatch September 24, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Actually the easiest answer is for person A to pay the whole $18,000. He's the one who is getting more money before taxes, and if he pays the $18,000, he's still getting $12,000 more than person B. The "flat tax" is probably the second easiest answer. However, since neither person is doing any tangible work to receive the money, the fairest result is for both to get the same after "taxes". If person A pays $24,000, $18,000 will go to the "state", and $6,000 will go to person B, and both A and B will each get $36,000. Person B can force person A to agree to this, because if they don't agree, then person A only gets $600 and person B gets $300.

If we want to get complicated, then the result should be such that the difference between person A's portion and person B's portion is $300, whether they agree or not. So if they agree, person A would pay $23,850 ($18,000 to the "state" and $5,850 to person B), and person A would get $36,150. In that case, person B would get $35,850. The difference between person A's income and person B's income is $300, just as it would have been if they had not agreed.

Vatch September 24, 2016 at 9:52 pm

The "easy" answer is that Person A pays $15,000 and person B pays $3,000 which is the equivalent of a flat tax.

Wait a minute. 20% of $60,000 is $12,000, and 20% of $30,000 is $6,000. Not $15,000 and $3,000.

Anyhow, I still like my solution where person A pays $23,850.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Why not question the $90K - of income? - instead.

In terms of the money and wealth of the people who run our government and economy, and control and direct our lives and the lives of millions of others - $90K barely registers.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:19 pm

I read this post as questioning the basis for progressive taxation - a rationale for taxation we sorely lack.

knowbuddhau September 24, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I have little faith in studies like these. My first question is always, "What's a respondent?" Define Person, please.

Notice how they're treated as entirely substitutable standardized parts. That is, as if people were molecules or atoms. But try as it might, social science ain't physics. You can't just grab the nearest few people, sit them down at a keyboard to play your game (for credit? for fun? on assignment?) and then substitute their behavior for the behavior of all people everywhere.

Which people, where, under what conditions, and how many? Was the sample representative? Did the author go to prisons, ghettos, farm fields, etc. and ask them? Or was it proximity and ease of access that defined it?

It's the old "college sophomores in the lab" problem. As an undergrad psych student, I saw time and time again how people gamed the system, yet PhD candidates and professors took the data as gospel. It's only too often more a demonstration of ability to work the method, to play the academic game, than testing hypotheses.

Or I guess as coders say, GIGO.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:23 pm

Also you might ask what meaning to attribute to a questionable measure of human opinions about a concept like "what is fair" in an environment completely dominated by promotion of ideas of fairness which to my mind are quite unfair.

So I agree with you and wonder why you don't pres further.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm

This post frames inequality in terms of "fairness" and luck/pluck and treats money as some form of prize in an economic "game". I suppose this way of looking at things works up to a point as long as we look to those below us and congratulate our merit while accepting some greater luck of those above us which help rationalize our merit. But any concepts of fairness or the justice things rapidly fractures if we look past those in our own neighborhood. Riding a bubble through the slums here and elsewhere in the world it becomes very difficult to rationalize justice and merit. Looking in the other direction toward the high rises and gated estates and manifestations of wealth I can't even imagine and the fragments of the fairness or justice of things evaporates completely. The "findings" of this post do not scale - at all.

Aside from the living standard which money/wealth affords the notions of "fairness" "merit" and "luck" this post contemplates there is no discussion of other aspects of money/wealth conveniently passed over and ignored.

In our society our money-culture money/wealth is equated with merit. It packages demand for automatic respect and deference. This pecuniary one-size-fits all measure for character, intellect, excellence, creativity, leadership, even physical attractiveness undermines all these values reducing them to commodities of the marketplace.

But the ability of money/wealth to control and command the lives of others and the collective resources of society is far more pernicious. What concept of "fairness" or "justice" can justify this aspect of inequality?

Emma September 24, 2016 at 9:47 pm

JG – Rogge covers this in his book: "World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Poverty_and_Human_Rights ) using the perfect example of the acquisition and management of natural resources.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Your comment to mine leaves me quizzical. Though I value any comments to mine given my wondering how far I am from what is reasonable - global poverty is far beyond the complexity of anything I might address in my comments. I grant global poverty is not a problem beyond solution - but first we need to address the problems of economic philosophy used to justify and enable the gross inequalities of our world.

I have not read Rogge's book. There are far too many books I have not read and of the books i have read there are far too many I have not really understood. I am also concerned by how little this post seems to have stimulated our commentariat - an entity I have come to greatly respect.

Please elaborate on what you mean. I am concerned by this post's lack of consideration of the political power money/wealth confers - something beyond and to some degree outside considerations of poverty and the suffering inequality fosters - even celebrates.

Adar September 24, 2016 at 5:43 pm

My poor non-economist head reels at this article. OK, it's a mind exercise to determine attitudes toward taxation. But it's completely made up – Fig. 1 Tossing a fair coin, doesn't scan for me, it's like a crap game. At the random flip of a coin, A gets twice as much as B, but where did the $18k penalty come from? Is it arbitrary? Why "could" one have to pay more, and who decides? And where did the $24k figure come from? Seems obvious to me A got twice as much, and so should pay 2 out of 3 parts of the penalty. So, re brute luck and tax policy, if inherited wealth or investment income (i.e. rent) vs. wage income is really what's meant here, please say so.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:06 pm

I view this post - at least in part - as questioning the basis for a progressive tax rate based on attitudes toward what is "fair" in turn based on a - sorry - hokey experiment to test attitudes about what is fair. To me the problem is a problem of scale. If we're talking about my place opposed to that of the fellow in the house on the hill or the house down the street - I might - on a good day - buy-in to this post's notions about "fairness". Those notions do NOT scale and they don't give any consideration to the powers of control and command which great wealth confers.

What I can accept in the way of inequality between myself and the guy on the hill does NOT scale when the guy on the hill doesn't live on the hill and only owns the house on the hill as a reminder of his lowly beginnings. He lives in a multi-million dollar 10,000 sq. ft. condominium high in New York City and a similar flat in London, and in Tai Pei and Shanghai and Paris and … and lives in none of them really. And I cannot accept the poverty and oppression found in Camden, New Jersey, Southside Chicago, … in Brazilian favelas or the slums of Seoul.

Doug September 25, 2016 at 6:46 am

Perhaps the failure to scale arises from the compounded flaws that, first, this post is all about "I" and speaks not at all to "we"; and, second, as your comments point out, uses money in typical fashion as the lowest common denominator determining utility and fairness when, 'we' demands a focus on the highest not lowest common denominator (and that's not mathematically or logically convenient).
Further, 'we' must be something more meaningful than a mere agglomeration of "I's". Those are at best 'thin we's' easily seduced into theoretical constructs that, in fact, have nothing to do with the actual experience of 'we' in any meaningful way.

Real, 'thick' we's comprised of actual people who persistently interact and truly know they share some to a lot of their shared fates respond to questions of brute luck, fairness and inequality together (whether democratically or otherwise or blends of ways). They don't determine their shared fates with an eye on abstract individualism grounded in lowest common denominators of 'utility'. They actually care about 'what makes most sense for us together' and balk at devices, questions - indeed swindles - aimed at tearing apart the fabric of 'we'.

Sound of the Suburbs September 25, 2016 at 3:47 am

Milton Freidman, the man that wrecked the world with bad economics.

Milton Freidman's charm, energy and charisma seduced his students and global elites alike into believing he had come up with an economics that could transform the world. His students loved the idea of transforming the world through economics as it made them feel so important. Global elites loved his economics as it worked so well for them and gave a scientific backing for a world that was one that they had always wanted.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of problems with his economics that are making themselves felt today.

His economics was missing:

1) The work of the Classical Economists
2) The true nature of money and debt
3) The work of Irving Fischer in the 1930s

The Classical Economists were the first economists to look at and analyse the world around them, a world of small state, raw capitalism.

They noted how the moneyed classes were always rent seeking and looking to maintain themselves in luxury and leisure, through rent and interest. This sucked money out of the productive side of the economy, reducing the purchasing power within the nation.

They noted how the cost of living must be kept low, to keep the basic minimum wage low, so nations could be competitive in the international arena.

This knowledge is missing today.

The UK dream is to live like the idle, rich rentier, with a BTL portfolio extracting "unearned" rental income from the "earned" income of generation rent.

In the US they removed all the things that kept the cost of living down, not realising these costs would have to be covered by wages. The US now has a very high minimum wage due to soaring costs of housing, healthcare and student loans and US businesses are squealing.

The true nature of money and debt were understood in the 1930s when the Chicago Plan was put forward after a thorough investigation into the 1929 bust.

Money and debt are opposite sides of the same coin.
If there is no debt there is no money.
Money is created by loans and destroyed by repayments of those loans.

This knowledge is missing today.

Today's ubiquitous housing boom is like a printing press creating more and more money as the new mortgage debt comes into existence.

The money supply expands and pours into the real economy making everything look really good.

The only thing that is really happening is the inflation of the price of things that exist already, houses. All the debt being created is not productive investment.

The cost of living goes up and more and more money gets sucked into mortgage and rent payments sucking purchasing power out of the economy. The increasing cost of living, raises the basic minimum wage pricing labour out of international labour markets.

Irving Fisher also looked into the 1929 bust and developed a theory of economic crises called debt-deflation, which attributed the crises to the bursting of a credit bubble.

Irving Fisher looked into debt inflated asset bubbles and realised the huge danger they pose to the whole economy. This knowledge is missing today. The ubiquitous housing boom is a debt inflated asset bubble, with huge amounts of debt spread through the whole economy, when it bursts there is hell to pay.

This was first seen in Japan in 1989, its economy has never recovered.

It was repeated in the US and leveraged up with derivatives leading to 2008.

Ireland and Spain have also wrecked their economies with housing bubbles.

There are housing bubbles around the world, ready to burst and pull that nation into debt deflation.

Milton Freidman, the man that wrecked the world with bad economics.

Sound of the Suburbs September 25, 2016 at 5:20 am

Milton Freidman worked at the Chicago School of Economics and was the global ambassador for his dire economics. This dire economics and the University of Chicago were also behind the design of the Euro, no wonder it doesn't work.

"The putative "father of the Euro", economist Robert Mundell is reported to have explained to one of his university of Chicago students, Greg Palast: "the Euro is the easy way in which Congresses and Parliaments can be stripped of all power over monetary and fiscal policy. Bothersome democracy is removed from the economic system" Michael Hudson "Killing the Host"

Their dire economics predicts the Euro-zone economies will converge into a stable equilibrium.

The reality – the economies are diverging and the poorer nations are going under. It's bad. 2008 – How did that happen?

The neoclassical economists didn't have a clue as the Minsky Moment was approaching.

Two people who did see 2008 coming (there aren't many).

Steve Keen – A whole book "Debunking Economics" on this dire neoclassical economics and the problems of not using realistic assumptions on money and debt.

Michael Hudson – Calls it "junk" economics and has written a whole book on the problems of forgetting the world of Classical Economics – Killing the Host.

Naomi Klein "Shock Doctrine" goes into the brutality of the Chicago Boys and Berkeley Mafia in implementing their economic vision. A right wing "Khmer Rouge" that descended on developing nations to wipe away left wing thinking.

It's bad and Milton Freidman was behind it.

Skippy September 25, 2016 at 6:20 am

Goes a bit deeper than just the Chicago boys imo…

Marginalist economics tends to be characterised primarily by a couple of distinct axioms that operate 'under the surface' to produce its key results. these are simplistically characterise as: the axiom of methodological individualism; the axiom of methodological instrumentalism; and the axiom of methodological equilibration, where models derived from them have ex-ante predictive power.

This is historically Epicurean philosophy, example, Epicurus wrote,

"The magnitude of pleasure reaches its limit in the removal of all pain. When such pleasure is present, so long as it is uninterrupted, there is no pain either of body or of mind or of both together."

Which is a reflection of its materialistic atomism which is basically identical with the marginalist focus on atomistic individuals and makes it an atomistic doctrine. Thorstein Veblen where he wrote in his Why is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science?:

"The hedonistic conception of man is that of a lightning calculator of pleasure and pains, who oscillates like a homogeneous globule of desire of happiness under the impulse of stimuli that shift him about the area, but leave him intact. He has neither antecedent nor consequent. He is an isolated definitive human datum."

Which in turn is just Epicurean ontology where everything becomes objects and not subjects where Epicurean ethics involves individuals maximising pleasure and minimising pain - or, as the marginalists would put it, maximising utility and minimising disutility - it simply follows from the basic ontological position that is put forward.

Just to put a more modern perspective on it – see: Note that the patient suffering from schizophrenia tends not to answer the questions directed at him but rather responds with complete non-sequiturs.

"In his book, King lays out how economists have tried to establish supposedly disaggregated "microfoundations" with which to rest their macroeconomics upon. The idea here is that Keynesian macroeconomics generally deals with large aggregates of individuals – usually entire national economies – and draws conclusions from these while largely ignoring the actions of individual agents. As King shows in the book, however, the idea that a macro-level analysis requires such microfoundations is itself entirely without foundation. Unfortunately though, since mainstream economists are committed to methodological individualism – that is, they try to explain the world with reference to what they think to be the rules of individual behaviour – they tend to pursue this quest across the board and those who proclaim scepticism about the need for microfoundations can rarely articulate this scepticism as they too are generally wedded to the notion that aggregative behaviour can only be explained with reference to supposedly disaggregated behaviour."

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/02/philip-pilkington-of-madness-and-microfoundationsm-rational-agents-schizophrenia-and-a-noble-attempt-by-one-noah-smith-to-break-through-the-mirror.html

You might also like – Le Bon, Gustave. The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, you can get it free online.

Additionally – The Myth of the Rational Market: Wall Street's Impossible Quest for Predictable Markets – by Justin Fox

Chronicling the rise and fall of the efficient market theory and the century-long making of the modern financial industry, Justin Fox's "The Myth of the Rational Market" is as much an intellectual whodunit as a cultural history of the perils and possibilities of risk. The book brings to life the people and ideas that forged modern finance and investing, from the formative days of Wall Street through the Great Depression and into the financial calamity of today. It's a tale that features professors who made and lost fortunes, battled fiercely over ideas, beat the house in blackjack, wrote bestselling books, and played major roles on the world stage. It's also a tale of Wall Street's evolution, the power of the market to generate wealth and wreak havoc, and free market capitalism's war with itself.

The efficient market hypothesis -- long part of academic folklore but codified in the 1960s at the University of Chicago -- has evolved into a powerful myth. It has been the maker and loser of fortunes, the driver of trillions of dollars, the inspiration for index funds and vast new derivatives markets, and the guidepost for thousands of careers. The theory holds that the market is always right, and that the decisions of millions of rational investors, all acting on information to outsmart one another, always provide the best judge of a stock's value. That myth is crumbling.

Disheveled Marsupial…. Main stream econnomics is an extenuation of much deeper metaphysical and resultant ideological beliefs….

[Sep 24, 2016] Backlash Against Trade Deals: The End of U.S.-Led Economic Globalisation?

Notable quotes:
"... By Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics and Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Originally published at The Frontline ..."
"... President Obama has been a fervent supporter of both these deals, with the explicit aim of enhancing and securing US power. "We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy. We should do it today while our economy is in the position of global strength. …We've got to harness it on our terms. If we don't write the rules for trade around the world – guess what? China will!", he famously said in a speech to workers in a Nike factory in Oregon, USA in May 2015. But even though he has made the case for the TPP plainly enough, his only chance of pushing even the TPP through is in the "lame duck" session of Congress just before the November Presidential election in the US. ..."
"... The official US version, expressed on the website of the US Trade Representative, is that the TPP "writes the rules for global trade-rules that will help increase Made-in-America exports, grow the American economy, support well-paying American jobs, and strengthen the American middle class." This is mainly supposed to occur because of the tariff cuts over 18,000 items that have been written into the agreement, which in turn are supposed to lead to significant expansion of trade volumes and values. ..."
"... But this is accepted by fewer and fewer people in the US. Across the country, workers view such trade deals with great suspicion as causing shifts in employment to lower paid workers, mostly in the Global South. ..."
"... But in fact the TPP and the TTIP are not really about trade liberalisation so much as other regulatory changes, so in any case it is hardly surprising that the positive effects on trade are likely to be so limited. What is more surprising is how the entire discussion around these agreements is still framed around the issues relating to trade liberalisation, when these are in fact the less important parts of these agreements, and it is the other elements that are likely to have more negative and even devastating effects on people living in the countries that sign up to them. ..."
"... Three aspects of these agreements are particularly worrying: the intellectual property provisions, the restrictions on regulatory practices and the investor-state dispute settlement provisions ..."
"... All of these would result in significant strengthening of the bargaining power of corporations vis-à-vis workers and citizens, would reduce the power of governments to bring in policies and regulations that affect the profits or curb the power of such corporations ..."
"... So if such features of US-led globalisation are indeed under threat, that is probably a good thing for the people of the US and for people in their trading partners who had signed up for such deals. ..."
"... The question arises: is Trump evil? Or merely awful? If Trump is merely awful, then we are not faced with voting for the Lesser Evil or otherwise voting Third Party in protest. If we are faced with a choice between Evil and Awful, perhaps a vote for Awful is a vote against Evil just by itself. ..."
"... Trump has backpedaled and frontpedaled on virtually everything, but on trade, he's got Sanders-level consistency. He's been preaching the same sanity since the 90s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZpMJeynBeg ..."
"... While I do not disagree with your comments, they must be placed in proper context: there is no substantive difference between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, and the people who staff the campaigns of Trump and Clinton are essentially the same. (Fundamentally a replay of the 2000 election: Cheney/Bush vs. Lieberman/Gore.) ..."
"... Great Comment. Important to knock down the meme that "this is the most significant or important election of our time" - this is a carbon copy of what we have seen half a dozen times since WW2 alone and that's exactly how our elite handlers want it. Limit the choices, stoke fear, win by dividing the plebes. ..."
"... Let's face it, trade without the iron fist of capitalism will benefit us schlobs greatly and not the 1%. I'm all for being against it (TPP etc) and will vote that way. ..."
"... We'd also have put in enough puppet dictators in resource rich countries that we'd be able to get raw materials cheaply. The low labor/raw material cost will provide a significant advantage for exports but alas, our 99% won't be able to afford our own products. ..."
"... the TPP will completely outlaw any possibility of a "Buy America" clause in the future! ..."
"... The cynic in me wonders if under say NAFTA it would be possible for a multinational to sue for lost profits via isds if TPP fails to pass. That the failure to enact trade "liberalizing" legislation could be construed as an active step against trade. the way these things are so ambiguously worded, I wonder. ..."
"... Here's Obama's actual speech at the Nike headquarters (not factory). http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/barackobama/barackobamatradenike.htm ..."
"... It should be noted that the Oregon Democrats who were free traitors and supported fast track authority were called out that day: Bonamici, Blumenauer, Schrader and Wyden. The only Oregon Ds that opposed: Sen. Merkley and Congressman DeFazio. ..."
"... The Market Realist is far more realistic about Oregon's free traitors' votes. http://marketrealist.com/2015/05/trans-pacific-partnership-affects-footwear-firms/ "US tariffs on footwear imported from Vietnam can range from 5% to 40%, according to OTEXA (Office of Textiles and Apparel). Ratification of the TPP will likely result in lower tariffs and higher profitability for Nike." ..."
"... So what's the incentive for Oregon's free traitors to support the TPP now? ..."
"... Perhaps they still need to show loyalty to their corporate owners and to the principle of "free trade". ..."
"... Obama: "We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy." ..."
"... Thank you, Mr. President, for resolving any doubts that the American project is an imperialist project! ..."
"... Yes, and I would add a jingoistic one as well. Manifest destiny, the Monroe doctrine, etc. are not just history lessons but are alive and well in the neoliberal mindset. The empire must keep expanding into every nook and cranny of the world, turning them into good consumerist slaves. ..."
"... Funny how little things change over the centuries. ..."
"... The West Is The Best, Subhuman Are All The Rest. The perpetual mantra of the Uebermensch since Columbus first made landfall. Hitler merely sought to apply the same to some Europeans. ..."
"... "How the West Came to Rule: The Geopolitical Origins of Capitalism", 2015, Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nisancioglu. ..."
"... The Dem candidate's husband made it appallingly clear what the purpose of the TPP is: "It's to make sure the future of the Asia-Pacific region is not dominated by China". ..."
"... Bill Clinton doesn't even care about "the rise of China". That's just a red herring he sets up to accuse opponents of TPP of soft-on-China treasonism. It's just fabricating a stick to beat the TPP-opponents with. Clinton's support for MFN for China shows what he really thinks about the "rise of China". ..."
"... Clinton's real motivation is the same as the TPP's real reason, to reduce America to colonial possession status of the anti-national corporations and the Global OverClass natural persons who shelter behind and within them. ..."
"... Obama. Liar or stupid? When Elizabeth Warren spoke out about the secrecy of the TPP, Obama, uncharacteristically, ran to the cameras to state that the TPP was not secret and that the charge being leveled by Warren was false. Obama's statement was that Warren had access to a copy so how dare she say it was secret. ..."
"... Obama (and Holder) effectively immunized every financial criminal involved in the great fraud and recession without bothering to run for a camera, and to this day has refused and avoided any elaboration on the subject, but he wasted no time trying to bury Warren publicly. The TPP is a continuation of Obama's give-away to corporations, or more specifically, the very important men who run them who Obama works for. And he is going to pull out all stops to deliver to the men he respects. ..."
"... It's a virtual "black market" of "money laundering" (sterilization). In foreign trade, IMPORTS decrease (-) the money stock of the importing country (and are a subtraction to domestic gDp figures), while EXPORTS increase (+) the money stock and domestic gDp (earnings repatriated to the U.S), and the potential money supply, of the exporting country. ..."
"... I don't WANT the US writing the rules of trade any longer. We know what US-written rules do: plunge worker wages into slave labor territory, guts all advanced country's manufacturing capability, sends all high tech manufacturing to 3rd world nations ..."
"... Time to toss the rules and re-write them for the greatest benefit of the greatest number of NON-wealthy and for the benefit of the planet/ecosystems, NOT for benefit of Wall St. ..."
Sep 22, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics and Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Originally published at The Frontline

There is much angst in the Northern financial media about how the era of globalisation led actively by the United States may well be coming to an end. This is said to be exemplified in the changed political attitudes to mega regional trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that was signed (but has not yet been ratified) by the US and 11 other countries in Latin America, Asia and Oceania; and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) still being negotiated by the US and the European Union.

President Obama has been a fervent supporter of both these deals, with the explicit aim of enhancing and securing US power. "We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy. We should do it today while our economy is in the position of global strength. …We've got to harness it on our terms. If we don't write the rules for trade around the world – guess what? China will!", he famously said in a speech to workers in a Nike factory in Oregon, USA in May 2015. But even though he has made the case for the TPP plainly enough, his only chance of pushing even the TPP through is in the "lame duck" session of Congress just before the November Presidential election in the US.

However, the changing political currents in the US are making that ever more unlikely. Hardly anyone who is a candidate in the coming elections, whether for the Presidency, the Senate or the House of Representatives, is willing to stick their necks out to back the deal.

Both Presidential candidates in the US (Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton) have openly come out against the TPP. In Clinton's case this is a complete reversal of her earlier position when she had referred to the TPP as "the gold standard of trade deals" – and it has clearly been forced upon her by the insurgent movement in the Democratic Party led by Bernie Sanders. She is already being pushed by her rival candidate for not coming out more clearly in terms of a complete rejection of this deal. Given the significant trust deficit that she still has to deal with across a large swathe of US voters, it will be hard if not impossible for her to backtrack on this once again (as her husband did earlier with NAFTA) even if she does achieve the Presidency.

The official US version, expressed on the website of the US Trade Representative, is that the TPP "writes the rules for global trade-rules that will help increase Made-in-America exports, grow the American economy, support well-paying American jobs, and strengthen the American middle class." This is mainly supposed to occur because of the tariff cuts over 18,000 items that have been written into the agreement, which in turn are supposed to lead to significant expansion of trade volumes and values.

But this is accepted by fewer and fewer people in the US. Across the country, workers view such trade deals with great suspicion as causing shifts in employment to lower paid workers, mostly in the Global South. Even the only US government study of the TPP's likely impacts, by the International Trade Commission, could project at best only 1 per cent increase in exports due to the agreement up to 2032. A study by Jeronim Capaldo and Alex Izurieta with Jomo Kwame Sundaram ("Trading down: Unemployment, inequality and other risks of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement", Working Paper 16-01, Global Development and Environment Institute, January 2016) was even less optimistic, even for the US. It found that the benefits to exports and economic growth were likely to be relatively small for all member countries, and would be negative in the US and Japan because of losses to employment and increases in inequality. Wage shares of national income would decline in all the member countries.

But in fact the TPP and the TTIP are not really about trade liberalisation so much as other regulatory changes, so in any case it is hardly surprising that the positive effects on trade are likely to be so limited. What is more surprising is how the entire discussion around these agreements is still framed around the issues relating to trade liberalisation, when these are in fact the less important parts of these agreements, and it is the other elements that are likely to have more negative and even devastating effects on people living in the countries that sign up to them.

Three aspects of these agreements are particularly worrying:

  1. the intellectual property provisions,
  2. the restrictions on regulatory practices
  3. the investor-state dispute settlement provisions.
Three aspects of these agreements are particularly worrying: the intellectual property provisions, the restrictions on regulatory practices and the investor-state dispute settlement provisions.

All of these would result in significant strengthening of the bargaining power of corporations vis-à-vis workers and citizens, would reduce the power of governments to bring in policies and regulations that affect the profits or curb the power of such corporations

For example, the TPP (and the TTIP) require more stringent enforcement requirements of intellectual property rights: reducing exemptions (e.g. allowing compulsory licensing only for emergencies); preventing parallel imports; extending IPRs to areas like life forms, counterfeiting and piracy; extending exclusive rights to test data (e.g. in pharmaceuticals); making IPR provisions more detailed and prescriptive. The scope of drug patents is extended to include minor changes to existing medications (a practice commonly employed by drug companies, known as "evergreening"). Patent linkages would make it more difficult for many generic drugs to enter markets.

This would strengthen, lengthen and broaden pharmaceutical monopolies on cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS drugs, and in general make even life-saving drugs more expensive and inaccessible in all the member countries. It would require further transformation of countries' laws on patents and medical test data. It would reduce the scope of exemption in use of medical formulations through public procurement for public purposes. All this is likely to lead to reductions in access to drugs and medical procedures because of rising prices, and also impede innovation rather than encouraging it, across member countries.

There are also very restrictive copyright protection rules, that would also affect internet usage as Internet Service Providers are to be forced to adhere to them. There are further restrictions on branding that would reinforce the market power of established players.

The TPP and TTIP also contain restrictions on regulatory practices that greatly increase the power of corporations relative to states and can even prevent states from engaging in countercyclical measures designed to boost domestic demand. It has been pointed out by consumer groups in the USA that the powers of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate products that affect health of citizens could be constrained and curtailed by this agreement. Similarly, macroeconomic stimulus packages that focus on boosting domestic demand for local production would be explicitly prohibited by such agreements.

All these are matters for concern because these agreements enable corporations to litigate against governments that are perceived to be flouting these provisions because of their own policy goals or to protect the rights of their citizens. The Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism enabled by these agreements is seen to be one of their most deadly features. Such litigation is then subject to supranational tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards and which do not see the rights of citizen as in any way superior to the "rights" of corporations to their profits. These courts can conduct closed and secret hearings with secret evidence. They do not just interpret the rules but contribute to them through case law because of the relatively vague wording of the text, which can then be subject to different interpretations, and therefore are settled by case law. The experience thus far with such tribunals has been problematic. Since they are legally based on "equal" treatment of legal persons with no primacy for human rights, they have become known for their pro-investor bias, partly due to the incentive structure for arbitrators, and partly because the system is designed to provide supplementary guarantees to investors, rather than making them respect host countries laws and regulations.

If all these features of the TPP and the TTIP were more widely known, it is likely that there would be even greater public resistance to them in the US and in other countries. Even as it is, there is growing antagonism to the trade liberalisation that is seen to bring benefits to corporations rather than to workers, at a period in history when secure employment is seen to be the biggest prize of all.

So if such features of US-led globalisation are indeed under threat, that is probably a good thing for the people of the US and for people in their trading partners who had signed up for such deals.

human , September 22, 2016 at 10:14 am

… his only chance of pushing even the TPP through is in the "lame duck" session of Congress just before the November Presidential election in the US.

"just _after_ the November Presidential election"

Uahsenaa , September 22, 2016 at 10:42 am

I was watching a speech Premier Li gave at the Economic Club of NY last night, and it was interesting to see how all his (vetted, pre-selected) questions revolved around anxieties having to do with resistance to global trade deals. Li made a few pandering comments about how much the Chinese love American beef (stop it! you're killing me! har har) meant to diffuse those anxieties, but it became clear that the fear among TPTB of people's dissatisfaction with the current economic is palpable. Let's keep it up!

allan , September 22, 2016 at 11:30 am

On a related note:

U.S. Court Throws Out Price-Fixing Judgment Against Chinese Vitamin C Makers [WSJ]

A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out a $147 million civil price fixing judgment against Chinese manufacturers of vitamin C, ruling the companies weren't liable in U.S. courts because they were acting under the direction of Chinese authorities.

The case raised thorny questions of how courts should treat foreign companies accused of violating U.S. antitrust law when they are following mandates of a foreign government. …

"I was only following orders" might not have worked in Nuremberg, but it's a-ok in international trade.

different clue , September 22, 2016 at 3:14 pm

The question arises: is Trump evil? Or merely awful? If Trump is merely awful, then we are not faced with voting for the Lesser Evil or otherwise voting Third Party in protest. If we are faced with a choice between Evil and Awful, perhaps a vote for Awful is a vote against Evil just by itself.

Wellstone's Ghost , September 22, 2016 at 11:22 am

Trump has already back peddaled on his TPP stance. He now says he wants to renegotiate the TTP and other trade deals. Whatever that means. Besides, Trump is a distraction, its Mike Pence you should be keeping your eye on. He's American Taliban pure and simple.

RPDC , September 22, 2016 at 2:27 pm

This is simply false. Trump has backpedaled and frontpedaled on virtually everything, but on trade, he's got Sanders-level consistency. He's been preaching the same sanity since the 90s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZpMJeynBeg

Hillary wants to start a war with Russia and pass the trade trifecta of TPP/TTIP/TiSA.

sgt_doom , September 22, 2016 at 5:31 pm

While I do not disagree with your comments, they must be placed in proper context: there is no substantive difference between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, and the people who staff the campaigns of Trump and Clinton are essentially the same. (Fundamentally a replay of the 2000 election: Cheney/Bush vs. Lieberman/Gore.)

Trump was run to make Hillary look good, but that has turned out to be Mission Real Impossible!

We are seeing the absolute specious political theater at its worst, attempting to differentiate between Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Trumpster – – – the only major difference is that Clinton has far more real blood on her and Bill's hands.

Nope, there is no lesser of evils this time around . . .

Quanka , September 23, 2016 at 8:25 am

Great Comment. Important to knock down the meme that "this is the most significant or important election of our time" - this is a carbon copy of what we have seen half a dozen times since WW2 alone and that's exactly how our elite handlers want it. Limit the choices, stoke fear, win by dividing the plebes.

different clue , September 24, 2016 at 1:00 am

Really? Well . . . might as well vote for Clinton then.

First Woman President!
Feminism!
Liberation!

TedWa , September 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Let's face it, trade without the iron fist of capitalism will benefit us schlobs greatly and not the 1%. I'm all for being against it (TPP etc) and will vote that way.

a different chris , September 22, 2016 at 12:17 pm

>only 1 per cent increase in exports due to the agreement up to 2032.

At that point American's wages will have dropped near enough to Chinese levels that we can compete in selling to First World countries…. assuming there are any left.

oh , September 22, 2016 at 4:19 pm

We'd also have put in enough puppet dictators in resource rich countries that we'd be able to get raw materials cheaply. The low labor/raw material cost will provide a significant advantage for exports but alas, our 99% won't be able to afford our own products.

sgt_doom , September 22, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Naaah, never been about competition, since nobody is actually vetted when they offshore those jobs or replace American workers with foreign visa workers.

But to sum it up as succinctly as possible: the TPP is about the destruction of workers' rights; the destruction of local and small businesses; and the loss of sovereignty. Few Americans are cognizant of just how many businesses are foreign owned today in America; their local energy utility or state energy utility, their traffic enforcement company which was privatized, their insurance company (GEICO, etc.).

I remember when a political action group back in the '00s thought they had stumbled on a big deal when someone had hacked into the system of the Bretton Woods Committee (the lobbyist group for the international super-rich which ONLY communicates with the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader, and who shares the same lobbyist and D.C. office space as the Group of Thirty, the lobbyist group for the central bankers [Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, Mario Draghi, Ernesto Zedillo, Bill Dudley, etc., etc.]) and placed online their demand of the senate and the congress to kill the "Buy America" clause in the federal stimulus program of a few years back (it was watered down greatly, and many exemptions were signed by then Commerce Secretary Gary Locke), but such information went completely unnoticed or ignored, and of course, the TPP will completely outlaw any possibility of a "Buy America" clause in the future!

http://www.brettonwoods.org
http://www.group30.org

Arthur J , September 22, 2016 at 12:32 pm

The cynic in me wonders if under say NAFTA it would be possible for a multinational to sue for lost profits via isds if TPP fails to pass. That the failure to enact trade "liberalizing" legislation could be construed as an active step against trade. the way these things are so ambiguously worded, I wonder.

Carla , September 22, 2016 at 4:50 pm

In June 2016, "[TransCanada] filed an arbitration claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) over President Obama's rejection of the pipeline, making good on its January threat to take legal action against the US decision.

According to the official request for arbitration, the $15 billion tab is supposed to help the company recover costs and damages that it suffered "as a result of the US administration's breach of its NAFTA obligations." NAFTA is a comprehensive trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico that went into effect in January 1, 1994. Under the agreement, businesses can challenge governments over investment disputes.

In addition, the company filed a suit in US Federal Court in Houston, Texas in January asserting that the Obama Administration exceeded the power granted by the US Constitution in denying the project."

http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/transcanada_complains_nafta_sues_us_15_bn_keystone_xl_rejection/

Six states have since joined that federal law suit.

Kris Alman , September 22, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Here's Obama's actual speech at the Nike headquarters (not factory). http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/barackobama/barackobamatradenike.htm

It should be noted that the Oregon Democrats who were free traitors and supported fast track authority were called out that day: Bonamici, Blumenauer, Schrader and Wyden. The only Oregon Ds that opposed: Sen. Merkley and Congressman DeFazio.

Obama's rhetoric May 5, 2015 at the Nike campus was all about how small businesses would prosper. Congresswoman Bonamici clings to this rationale in her refusal to tell angry constituents at town halls whether she supports the TPP.

The Market Realist is far more realistic about Oregon's free traitors' votes. http://marketrealist.com/2015/05/trans-pacific-partnership-affects-footwear-firms/
"US tariffs on footwear imported from Vietnam can range from 5% to 40%, according to OTEXA (Office of Textiles and Apparel). Ratification of the TPP will likely result in lower tariffs and higher profitability for Nike."

That appeals to the other big athletic corporations that cluster in the Portland metro: Columbia Sportswear and Under Armour.

A plot twist!

Vietnam will not include ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the agenda for its next parliament session. http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia/1087705/vietnam-delays-tpp-vote So what's the incentive for Oregon's free traitors to support the TPP now?

Vatch , September 22, 2016 at 2:01 pm

So what's the incentive for Oregon's free traitors to support the TPP now?

Perhaps they still need to show loyalty to their corporate owners and to the principle of "free trade".

hemeantwell , September 22, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Obama: "We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy."

Thank you, Mr. President, for resolving any doubts that the American project is an imperialist project!

ChrisFromGeorgia , September 22, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Yes, and I would add a jingoistic one as well. Manifest destiny, the Monroe doctrine, etc. are not just history lessons but are alive and well in the neoliberal mindset. The empire must keep expanding into every nook and cranny of the world, turning them into good consumerist slaves.

Funny how little things change over the centuries.

Brad , September 22, 2016 at 9:39 pm

The West Is The Best, Subhuman Are All The Rest. The perpetual mantra of the Uebermensch since Columbus first made landfall. Hitler merely sought to apply the same to some Europeans.

"How the West Came to Rule: The Geopolitical Origins of Capitalism", 2015, Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nisancioglu.

Minnie Mouse , September 22, 2016 at 3:58 pm

When America writes the rules of the global economy the global economy destroys America.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , September 22, 2016 at 7:44 pm

The Dem candidate's husband made it appallingly clear what the purpose of the TPP is: "It's to make sure the future of the Asia-Pacific region is not dominated by China".

Would be nice if they had even a passing thought for those people in a certain North American region located in between Canada and Mexico.

different clue , September 23, 2016 at 1:40 am

Bill Clinton doesn't even care about "the rise of China". That's just a red herring he sets up to accuse opponents of TPP of soft-on-China treasonism. It's just fabricating a stick to beat the TPP-opponents with. Clinton's support for MFN for China shows what he really thinks about the "rise of China".

Clinton's real motivation is the same as the TPP's real reason, to reduce America to colonial possession status of the anti-national corporations and the Global OverClass natural persons who shelter behind and within them.

different clue , September 22, 2016 at 3:21 pm

If calling the International Free Trade Conspiracy "American" is enough to get it killed and destroyed, then I don't mind having a bunch of foreigners calling the Free Trade Conspiracy "American". Just as long as they are really against it, and can really get Free Trade killed and destroyed.

Chauncey Gardiner , September 22, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Excellent post. Thank you. Should these so called "trade agreements" be approved, perhaps Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS arbitration) futures can be created by Wall Street and made the next speculative "Play-of-the-day" so that everyone has a chance to participate in the looting. … Btw, can you loot your own house?

KYrocky , September 22, 2016 at 4:49 pm

Obama. Liar or stupid? When Elizabeth Warren spoke out about the secrecy of the TPP, Obama, uncharacteristically, ran to the cameras to state that the TPP was not secret and that the charge being leveled by Warren was false. Obama's statement was that Warren had access to a copy so how dare she say it was secret.

At the time he made that statement Warren could go to an offsite location to read the TPP in the presence of a member of the Trade Commission, could not have staff with her, could not take notes, and could not discuss anything she read with anyone else after she left. Or face criminal charges.

Yeah. Nothing secret about that.

Obama (and Holder) effectively immunized every financial criminal involved in the great fraud and recession without bothering to run for a camera, and to this day has refused and avoided any elaboration on the subject, but he wasted no time trying to bury Warren publicly. The TPP is a continuation of Obama's give-away to corporations, or more specifically, the very important men who run them who Obama works for. And he is going to pull out all stops to deliver to the men he respects.

sgt_doom , September 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm

And add to that everything from David Dayen's book (" Chain of Title ") on Covington & Burling and Eric Holder and President Obama, and Thomas Frank's book ("Listen, Liberals") and people will have the full picture!

Spencer , September 22, 2016 at 9:50 pm

It's a virtual "black market" of "money laundering" (sterilization). In foreign trade, IMPORTS decrease (-) the money stock of the importing country (and are a subtraction to domestic gDp figures), while EXPORTS increase (+) the money stock and domestic gDp (earnings repatriated to the U.S), and the potential money supply, of the exporting country.

So, there's a financial incentive (to maximize profits), not to repatriate foreign income (pushes up our exchange rate, currency conversion costs, if domestic re-investment alternatives are considered more circumscribed, plus taxes, etc.).

In spite of the surfeit of $s, and E-$ credits, and unlike the days in which world-trade required a Marshall Plan jump start, trade surpluses increasingly depend on the Asian Tiger's convertibility issues.

Praedor , September 23, 2016 at 10:30 am

I don't WANT the US writing the rules of trade any longer. We know what US-written rules do: plunge worker wages into slave labor territory, guts all advanced country's manufacturing capability, sends all high tech manufacturing to 3rd world nations or even (potential) unfriendlies like China (who can easily put trojan spyware hard code or other vulnerabilities into critical microchips…the way WE were told the US could/would when it was leading on this tech when I was serving in the 90s). We already know that US-written rules is simply a way for mega corporations to extend patents into the ever-more-distant future, a set of rules that hands more control of arts over to the MPAA, rules that gut environmental laws, etc. Who needs the US-written agreements when this is the result?

Time to toss the rules and re-write them for the greatest benefit of the greatest number of NON-wealthy and for the benefit of the planet/ecosystems, NOT for benefit of Wall St.

[Sep 24, 2016] Obama, Our Peace President Turns Out to Be Rather War-Happy

Notable quotes:
"... That Makes Me Mad!, ..."
"... You must be kidding! ..."
"... You must be kidding! ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... You must be kidding! ..."
"... You must be kidding! ..."
"... You must be kidding! ..."
"... Thanks for writing this article; it corroborates everything I've been saying about Obama's lust for war and destabilization. You could have mentioned the Pentagon currently has JSOC kill teams in 147 countries, per Noam Chomsky. You also could have mentioned the US is the most feared force on the global stage, feared, that is, by actual citizens, not so much by their leaders. ..."
"... Years ago Glen Ford of "Black Agenda Report" correctly referred to this shameless sellout as "the more effective evil". The implication was that the perception created by his propagandists that Obama is a committed Democrat who is just trying to do his best against a obstructionist Congress and right-wing media is false. ..."
"... Barry the Liar is an enthusiastic member of the MIC, Wall Street, and the oligarchs. He has actually expanded the powers of the President and the National Security State that we live in and even claims the right to kill an American citizen without trial! When George Carlin said - "I don't believe anything my government tells me" he could have been talking about this shill for the TPB. ..."
"... Yes, why isn't anyone in the mass media picking up on this obvious hypocrisy? For the same reasons it never picks up on anything else of importance - it's controlled. ..."
"... Obama has been one of the most hypocritical presidents ever elected. ..."
"... Obama got his start in politics with money from the family that owns Grumman, and he's been dancing to their tune ever since. ..."
"... Obama sold out on the left. In reality, he was paid from day one to do exactly that. He was literally the ultimate snake oil salesman. Campaign on a platform of change and govern like Bush won 2 more terms. ..."
"... If Obama is the best the Democrats can come up with, then it is high time the left en masse left the Democratic Party. It's one big reason why I cannot support Clinton, who will be even more pro-war. It's a vote for more of the same. ..."
"... And, Hillary Clump was the biggest war monger in his misadministration. As for the nukes, I recently drove by a minuteman nuclear missile silo in Wyoming, you can see the damn thing right there by the road. ..."
Sep 23, 2016 | www.alternet.org/TomDispatch

Recently, sorting through a pile of old children's books, I came across a volume, That Makes Me Mad!, which brought back memories. Written by Steve Kroll, a long-dead friend, it focused on the eternally frustrating everyday adventures of Nina, a little girl whose life regularly meets commonplace roadblocks, at which point she always says... well, you can guess from the title! Vivid parental memories of another age instantly flooded back-of my daughter (now reading such books to her own son) sitting beside me at age five and hitting that repeated line with such mind-blowing, ear-crushing gusto that you knew it spoke to the everyday frustrations of her life, to what made her mad.

Three decades later, in an almost unimaginably different America, on picking up that book I suddenly realized that, whenever I follow the news online, on TV, or-and forgive me for this but I'm 72 and still trapped in another era-on paper, I have a similarly Nina-esque urge. Only the line I've come up with for it is (with a tip of the hat to Steve Kroll) " You must be kidding! "

Here are a few recent examples from the world of American-style war and peace. Consider these as random illustrations, given that, in the age of Trump, just about everything that happens is out-of-this-world absurd and would serve perfectly well. If you're in the mood, feel free to shout out that line with me as we go.

Nuking the Planet: I'm sure you remember Barack Obama, the guy who entered the Oval Office pledging to work toward "a nuclear-free world." You know, the president who traveled to Prague in 2009 to say stirringly : "So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons... To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same." That same year, he was awarded the Nobel Prize largely for what he might still do, particularly in the nuclear realm. Of course, that was all so 2009!

Almost two terms in the Oval Office later, our peace president, the only one who has ever called for nuclear "abolition"-and whose administration has retired fewer weapons in our nuclear arsenal than any other in the post-Cold War era-is now presiding over the early stages of a trillion-dollar modernization of that very arsenal. (And that trillion-dollar price tag comes, of course, before the inevitable cost overruns even begin.) It includes full-scale work on the creation of a "precision-guided" nuclear weapon with a "dial-back" lower yield option. Such a weapon would potentially bring nukes to the battlefield in a first-use way, something the U.S. is proudly pioneering .

And that brings me to the September 6th front-page story in the New York Times that caught my eye. Think of it as the icing on the Obama era nuclear cake. Its headline : "Obama Unlikely to Vow No First Use of Nuclear Weapons." Admittedly, if made, such a vow could be reversed by any future president. Still, reportedly for fear that a pledge not to initiate a nuclear war would "undermine allies and embolden Russia and China... while Russia is running practice bombing runs over Europe and China is expanding its reach in the South China Sea," the president has backed down on issuing such a vow. In translation: the only country that has ever used such weaponry will remain on the record as ready and willing to do so again without nuclear provocation, an act that, it is now believed in Washington, would create a calmer planet.

You must be kidding!

Plain Old Bombing: Recall that in October 2001, when the Bush administration launched its invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. was bombing no other largely Islamic country. In fact, it was bombing no other country at all. Afghanistan was quickly "liberated," the Taliban crushed, al-Qaeda put to flight, and that was that , or so it then seemed.

On September 8th, almost 15 years later, the Washington Post reported that, over a single weekend and in a "flurry" of activity, the U.S. had dropped bombs on, or fired missiles at, six largely Islamic countries: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. (And it might have been seven if the CIA hadn't grown a little rusty when it comes to the drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal borderlands that it's launched repeatedly throughout these years.) In the same spirit, the president who swore he would end the U.S. war in Iraq and, by the time he left office, do the same in Afghanistan, is now overseeing American bombing campaigns in Iraq and Syria which are loosing close to 25,000 weapons a year on those countries. Only recently, in order to facilitate the further prosecution of the longest war in our history, the president who announced that his country had ended its "combat mission" in Afghanistan in 2014, has once again deployed the U.S. military in a combat role and has done the same with the U.S. Air Force . For that, B-52s (of Vietnam infamy) were returned to action there, as well as in Iraq and Syria , after a decade of retirement. In the Pentagon, military figures are now talking about " generational " war in Afghanistan-well into the 2020s.

Meanwhile, President Obama has personally helped pioneer a new form of warfare that will not long remain a largely American possession. It involves missile-armed drones, high-tech weapons that promise a world of no-casualty-conflict (for the American military and the CIA), and adds up to a permanent global killing machine for taking out terror leaders, "lieutenants," and "militants." Well beyond official American war zones, U.S. drones regularly cross borders, infringing on national sovereignty throughout the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, to assassinate anyone the president and his colleagues decide needs to die, American citizen or otherwise (plus, of course, anyone who happens to be in the vicinity ). With its White House "kill list" and its "terror Tuesday" meetings, the drone program, promising "surgical" hunting-and-killing action, has blurred the line between war and peace, while being normalized in these years. A president is now not just commander-in-chief but assassin-in-chief , a role that no imaginable future president is likely to reject. Assassination, previously an illegal act, has become the heart and soul of Washington's way of life and of a way of war that only seems to spread conflict further.

You must be kidding!

The Well-Oiled Machinery of Privatized War: And speaking of drones, as the New York Times reported on September 5th, the U.S. drone program does have one problem: a lack of pilots. It has ramped up quickly in these years and, in the process, the pressures on its pilots and other personnel have only grown, including post-traumatic stress over killing civilians thousands of miles away via computer screen. As a result, the Air Force has been losing those pilots fast. Fortunately, a solution is on the horizon. That service has begun filling its pilot gap by going the route of the rest of the military in these years-turning to private contractors for help. Such pilots and other personnel are, however, paid higher salaries and cost more money. The contractors, in turn, have been hiring the only available personnel around, the ones trained by... yep, you guessed it, the Air Force. The result may be an even greater drain on Air Force drone pilots eager for increased pay for grim work and... well, I think you can see just how the well-oiled machinery of privatized war is likely to work here and who's going to pay for it.

You must be kidding!

Selling Arms As If There Were No Tomorrow: In a recent report for the Center for International Policy, arms expert William Hartung offered a stunning figure on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. "Since taking office in January 2009," he wrote , "the Obama administration has offered over $115 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia in 42 separate deals, more than any U.S. administration in the history of the U.S.-Saudi relationship. The majority of this equipment is still in the pipeline, and could tie the United States to the Saudi military for years to come." Think about that for a moment: $115 billion for everything from small arms to tanks, combat aircraft, cluster bombs , and air-to-ground missiles (weaponry now being used to slaughter civilians in neighboring Yemen).

Of course, how else can the U.S. keep its near monopoly on the global arms trade and ensure that two sets of products-Hollywood movies and U.S. weaponry-will dominate the world's business in things that go boom in the night? It's a record to be proud of, especially since putting every advanced weapon imaginable in the hands of the Saudis will obviously help bring peace to a roiled region of the planet. (And if you arm the Saudis, you better do no less for the Israelis, hence the mind-boggling $38 billion in military aid the Obama administration recently signed on to for the next decade, the most Washington has ever offered any country, ensuring that arms will be flying into the Middle East, literally and figuratively, for years to come.)

Blessed indeed are the peacemakers-and of course you know that by "peacemaker" I mean the classic revolver that "won the West."

Put another way...

You must be kidding!

.... .... ....

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture . He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com . His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World .
Selected commnets (117 COMMENTS)
Papachuck111 2 hours ago
I've spelled his name "Obomba" after his second year in office. Bush had "Shock and Awe"... Obomba has "Stealth and Wealth"... The American economy has been a WAR ECONOMY for a long time. But hey, we're freeeeeeeeee… freedom isn't free, and all that other bullshit.
RadioUranus 2 hours ago
It's been all downhill since "Brer Rabbit" Bush got into it with the Middle East "tar baby."
Palimpsestuous 2 hours ago
Aw shucks, Tom, you been reading my posts? Thanks for writing this article; it corroborates everything I've been saying about Obama's lust for war and destabilization. You could have mentioned the Pentagon currently has JSOC kill teams in 147 countries, per Noam Chomsky. You also could have mentioned the US is the most feared force on the global stage, feared, that is, by actual citizens, not so much by their leaders.

President Obama's 58% approval tells me the American public are largely bloodthirsty savages led by a psychopath in pursuit of global tyranny. Either that, or 58% of Americans would rather play Goldilocks and the Three Bears with their political attention than accept responsibility for their part in destroying human civilization.

"Thanks. I'll take the tall, smiling psychopath, second from the right. He looks presidential."

The end of our democracy coincides with the end of our being an informed public. Who could have ever anticipated such a coincidence, but everyone with a passing awareness of history.

southvalley Palimpsestuous an hour ago
Nah, the American people have really no idea what's going on as we try to survive this BS. Most still think we actually have a Constitution. Remember, we wanted an "outsider" in '08 too a new face and he turned out to be silly putty in they're hands. Oh, I just heard Jennifer Flowers is coming to the debates to support Trump. Wonder how much they paid that POS liar
Bill 2 hours ago
No one who has the common sense to say he'll work for a nuclear weapons-free world changes his mind. He either never meant what he said, or he's been compromised by those who control all things political and otherwise in this country. I'm betting on the latter.
Palimpsestuous Bill 2 hours ago
I'll take that bet, even if there's no way to verify who wins. I think Obama's been a duplicitous scumbag from the get go. He's demonstrated a consistently strong dedication to fucking the public while protecting the professional class of mobsters in suits.

And I voted for this asshole, twice. Options, options. Are there any options?

AC3 3 hours ago
These types of articles are why I used to value AlterNet as a source of information. Thank you - it was informative and had a human touch. Your overt trying to manipulate and sway an election with bias overload is tiresome. The HRC/3rd party candidate blackout and 24/7 turbo train of anti-Trump is insulting our intelligence and not effective. You're preaching to the choir, we get it, Trump is psycho, but so is Clinton in her own awful & well established way - just like Obama was, and Bush before that, and Clinton before him, and Bush before... If you want to be 'Alter'native, tell the truth about ALL the candidates and report on the machinations behind the Plutocracy + how we can create an alternative is helpful, enough with the Huffpo-Salon DNC propaganda headquarters.

kyushuphil AC3 2 hours ago

America pushes war on the world through its materialism hegemon.

It's a long-running, vicious war. Tens of millions alone forced from their traditional cultures in Asia, Africa, and Latin America -- simply by a heavily-subsidized U.S. Industrial Ag which underprices commodity crops and kills those local cultures.

Then the big finance boys with their shopping malls, nukes, franchise fast food, and millions upon millions of cars choking the land, poisoning the skies.
U.S. corporate academe could provide alternatives to the mindless materialism. Could keep the humanities central enough in all departments to keep some wider consciences among Americans who for years have been blissfully blind and narcissistic about its war on the world.

The tenured classes will have none of it. They abhor the humanities. They want no perspectives on their specializations.

And so liberals, ever blind to their corporate academe, pop up occasionally "shocked, shocked" at what the U.S. pushes on the world. But the complicity goes on. The blindness goes on.

Don't you think there's something funny about this, as Kate asked her boy Cal in "East of Eden" -- funny how our dear, smug, tenured, dehumanized purists live so totally in their "purity"?

nuanced 3 hours ago
If only Obama had Trump's magic wand for getting things done.
brucebennett 3 hours ago
Years ago Glen Ford of "Black Agenda Report" correctly referred to this shameless sellout as "the more effective evil". The implication was that the perception created by his propagandists that Obama is a committed Democrat who is just trying to do his best against a obstructionist Congress and right-wing media is false.

We have seen repeatedly that the truth is quite different. Barry the Liar is an enthusiastic member of the MIC, Wall Street, and the oligarchs. He has actually expanded the powers of the President and the National Security State that we live in and even claims the right to kill an American citizen without trial! When George Carlin said - "I don't believe anything my government tells me" he could have been talking about this shill for the TPB.

When Mr. Nobel Peace Prize creates even more war and also tells you that President Hillary Clinton would be "continuity you can believe in" I am having none of it. For at least 30 years this Republican Lite party have devolved into the sorry state they are now. I will not assist them to go even further and wreck what is left of the American Dream.
Stein 2016!

Bill denton310 2 hours ago
Yes, why isn't anyone in the mass media picking up on this obvious hypocrisy? For the same reasons it never picks up on anything else of importance - it's controlled.

Now explain why anyone should pay attention to any more articles about what Trump or Clinton just came out with. It just doesn't matter any more.

For_Alternet 4 hours ago
Obama has been one of the most hypocritical presidents ever elected.
tio che 200YearOldJuniper 3 hours ago
Murder is murder, obomber is as guilty as bush/cheney and their lackeys, rice and killary, of terrorist crimes against humanity!
H. M. 4 hours ago
Just think, this is the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama; now, just imagine the neoliberal neocon Hillary at the helm of the war machine!

I'm afraid it will be check-mate for Humanity as we know it!

MYR 5 hours ago
The so-called "peace President" should return his Nobel Prize award immediately, so as not to slander the good intentions of Alfred Nobel.
Promoting wars, supporting war hawks, deploying drones to kill people in sovereign states, selling weapons to tyrannical governments are destructive ideas that Alfred Nobel had sought to counteract.

Sid Samsara 5 hours ago

Oh no, this isn't true. Obama has been playing 11th dimensional chess as policy for the last eight years and let me tell you, folks inhabiting the11th dimension are pretty dam happy with their universal health care, peaceful foreign policy and prosperous for all economy.
DHFabian 6 hours ago
I've personally drifted between "Seriously?" and knowing that there's really not much left to say. Deep into the longest, most expensive war in US history, we don't exactly see massive anti-war protests, people filling the mall in DC to call for peace, churches organizing prayer rallies in the name of the Prince of Peace. Walter Cronkite is gone, and the horrors of war doesn't come into our living rooms each evening. The war is distant, sterile, tidy.

Which decisions are made by Congress, which are made by the president, and in the end, does it matter? America does war. We can no longer afford to do much else, and more importantly, there appears to be little will to change course. Americans can look at the federal budget, see that the lion's share goes into maintaining war, then demand that Congress cut food stamps. (Indeed, in 2015, Congress cut food stamps to the elderly poor and the disabled from $115 per month to $10.)

Budgets stand as a statement about American priorities. There is an endless strream of money for war, but none for the survival of our poor. The progressive discussion of the last eight years can be summed up as an ongoing pep rally for the middle class, with an occasional "BLM!" thrown in for good measure. A revolution to stay the course.

Redacted 8 hours ago
Obama got his start in politics with money from the family that owns Grumman, and he's been dancing to their tune ever since.

Clump, OTOH, takes money from every single MIC source, neocon source, billionaire nutty Israeli warmonger, Saudi warmonger, Central American dictator, even down to lowly death squad commendates, etc etc -and she's extremely well connected to all of them by now I imagine.

This is a person who wants both direct involvement in killing, has already done so from her phone, and enjoys the power of being a merchant of death, I predict she will be the among the most war like and worst presidents ever selected- if not the worst one ever.

tio che Redacted 5 hours ago
Dark days ahead for imperialist amerika; and sadly for the rest of the World; as the empire's death dealing is global!
Christie 8 hours ago
If you think Obama was war happy, you do not want to see war hawk Hillary in action as President.

The debate should be about issues-Hillary would apparently rather talk about sexism that her war hawk record. Trump wants to emphasis tending to America's needs and says we should stop empire building.

"Lies (in which Clinton was deeply complicit) led to the U.S.-led destruction of Iraq and Libya. Lies underlie U.S. policy on Syria. Some of the biggest liars in past efforts to hoodwink the people into supporting more war (Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz) are backing Hillary, whose Washington Post Pinocchio count is "sky-high," for president.

The US Election: an Exercise in Mendacity (untruthfulness) http://www.counterpunch.org/20...
*****************
The Clintons do not want anyone to even mention their corrupt involvement in Haiti:

"The Clinton exploitation of Haiti will eventually go up in flames, and when the smoke settles an emotional and fiscal disaster of enormous proportions will finally be visible to the world. It will be difficult to sift through the ashes to find truth, but the truth is there. Follow the money, follow the pandering, follow the emails, and follow the favors traded for gold.

"The story ends in more pain, suffering, and abuse for the Haitian people as women are sexually harassed and verbally abused by Korean managers in the sweatshops of Caracol, while a former Gap Inc. executive is at the helm of USAID garment industry agreements with Haiti. If the Clinton connections to Wall Street leave Americans yawning, the systematic exploitation of Haitian workers with a wink and a nod from the Clinton Foundation should at the very least create outrage. But then again, this is Haiti, and Haitian lives do not seem to matter.

Recently Leaked Documents Confirm Clinton Haitian Gold Scheme | OpEdNews
http://www.opednews.com/articl...

NoldorElf 8 hours ago
Obama sold out on the left. In reality, he was paid from day one to do exactly that. He was literally the ultimate snake oil salesman. Campaign on a platform of change and govern like Bush won 2 more terms.

The wars went on, the bankers got bailed out and didn't go jail, inequality rose, along with a total failure to address any of the real problems facing society.

If Obama is the best the Democrats can come up with, then it is high time the left en masse left the Democratic Party. It's one big reason why I cannot support Clinton, who will be even more pro-war. It's a vote for more of the same.

DHFabian NoldorElf 5 hours ago
What left? Seriously. We've only heard from liberals who Stand in Solidarity to preserve the advantages of the middle class. They so strongly believe in the success of our corporate state that they think everyone is able to work, and there are jobs for all. If we had a left, they would have been shining a spotlight on our poverty crisis as the proof that our deregulated capitalism is a dismal failure.

The "inequality" discussion has been particularly interesting. Pay attention to what is said. Today's liberal media have narrowed the inequality discussion to the gap between workers and the rich, disappearing all those who are far worse off.

kyushuphil DHFabian 2 hours ago
True, so onerously true what you say, DH.

Does it happen by accident, when our tenured classes have stripped away the humanities from all, guaranteeing what you term narrow discussion?

Redacted 8 hours ago
And, Hillary Clump was the biggest war monger in his misadministration. As for the nukes, I recently drove by a minuteman nuclear missile silo in Wyoming, you can see the damn thing right there by the road.

Very sad that instead of reducing these as he promised to, this idiot modernized them and added more.

Lord Dude Redacted 8 hours ago
Clinton and Kerry voted to invade Iraq and Obama rewards them with the Sec State jobs.
DHFabian Lord Dude 5 hours ago
And the media marketed to liberals began going all out in 2015, before she launched her campaign, to try to sell Clinton as a "bold progressive." This, with her decades-long record of support for the right wing agenda.

Oh well, don't worry about it. As Big Bill so carefully explained, all that any American needs to keep in mind is, "Get up every morning, work hard, and play by all the rules." Don't look around, don't ask questions, don't think.

Redacted Lord Dude 8 hours ago
And now she will be rewarded by the MIC and neocons with the ultimate prize - the white house.
Lord Dude Redacted 8 hours ago
She lacked the courage to filibuster the Iraq Resolution and tell the truth to the American people that they were being lied into a needless war that would waste trillions of their money. And now she's being rewarded. SMH.

Redacted Lord Dude 7 hours ago

She had no wish to filibuster this anymore than the Trojan horse Bernie Sanders wanted to filibuster her drone attacks later on.
Lord Dude 8 hours ago
He will be the first president to have been at war for two complete terms.

And he went into Syria and Libya without permission of Congress. Not even W did that.

taosword 8 hours ago
Many say that Obama's hands are tied in all these matters, and that he cannot get anything past the Congress. I am not sure about that. I would like to see more of a public fighter in him to show us all that he is consistently trying to get us out of the Mideast and not modernize nuclear weapons and not be willing to use them first, and stop this insane, immoral, illegal CIA drone assassination program. Show me strong consistent public statements to this effect for the last 7 years and I may believe it. Otherwise he is like president Johnson who while doing good civil rights things at home was trying to get me killed in Vietnam.
avelna 9 hours ago
Or, to put it more succinctly...We're f**cked. The whole world.
southvalley 9 hours ago
Classic "We must destroy the world in order to save it"
nineteen50 9 hours ago
Vote Hillary for more of the same only "muscled up"
Hometalk222 10 hours ago
How did an article about Obama and nuclear weapons , turn into a hit piece on D Trump??? Oh yeah, this is Alternet.
smkngman3 10 hours ago
Obama learned from the Clintons on how to get those "Foundation" checks rolling in.
David Shaw Jr 10 hours ago
His "peace prize" should be repossessed.

[Sep 24, 2016] Americas Deadliest Export Democracy - The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else

Notable quotes:
"... "If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State." ..."
Amazon.com

Gary Corseri

William Blum's "Cri de Coeur", February 9, 2013

William Blum's Cri de Coeur
A review of "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy" by William Blum (Zed Books, London/New York, 2013.)

(As it has appeared at DissidentVoice, OpEdNews, etc.):

In activist-author-publisher William Blum's new book, America's Deadliest Export: Democracy, he tells the story of how he got his 15 minutes of fame back in 2006. Osama bin Laden had released an audiotape, declaring:

"If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State."

Bin Laden then quoted from the Foreword of Blum's 2000 book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, in which he had mused:

"If I were... president, I could stop terrorist attacks [on us] in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize... to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America's global interventions... have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but... a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. ... That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated."

Unfortunately, Blum never made it to the White House! But, fortunately, for those who have read his books or follow his "Anti-Empire Reports" on the Web, he was not assassinated! And now he has collected his reports and essays of the last dozen years or so into a 352-page volume that will not only stand the test of time, but will help to define this disillusioned, morose, violent and unraveling Age.

America's Deadliest... is divided into 21 chapters and an introduction--and there's something to underline or memorize on every page! Sometimes it's just one of Blum's irrepressible quips, and sometimes it's a matter of searing American foreign or domestic policiy that clarifies that Bushwhackian question of yore: "Why do they hate us?"

Reading this scrupulously documented book, I lost count of the times I uttered, "unbelievable!" concerning some nefarious act committed by the US Empire in the name of freedom, democracy and fighting communism or terrorism. Reading Blum's book with an open mind, weighing the evidence, will bleach out any pride in the flag we have planted in so many corpses around the world. The book is a diuretic and emetic!

Blum's style is common sense raised to its highest level. The wonder of America's Deadliest ... is that it covers so much of the sodden, bloody ground of America's march across our post-Second-World-War world, yet tells the story with such deftness and grace-under-fire that the reader is enticed--not moralized, not disquisitionally badgered--, but enticed to consider our globe from a promontory of higher understanding.

Some of the themes Blum covers (and often eviscerates) include:

  1. Why they hate us;
  2. America means well;
  3. We cannot permit a successful alternative to the capitalist model to develop anywhere in the world;
  4. We will use whatever means necessary--including, lies, deception, sabotage, bribery, torture and war--to achieve the above idea.

Along the way, we get glimpses of Blum's experientially rich life. A note "About the Author" tells us that, "He left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer because of his opposition to what the US was doing in Vietnam. He then became a founder and editor of the Washington Free Press, the first "alternative" newspaper in the capital."

In his chapter on "Patriotism," Blum relates how, after a talk, he was asked: "Do you love America?" He responded with what we may take for his credo: "I don't love any country. I'm a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, meaningful democracy, an economy which puts people before profits."

America's Deadliest... is a book of wisdom and wit that ponders "how this world became so unbearably cruel, corrupt, unjust, and stupid?" In a pointillistic approach, sowing aphoristic seeds for thought, Blum enumerates instances of that cruelty, often with wry, pained commentary. "War can be seen as America's religion," he tells us. Reflecting on Obama's octupling Bush's number of drones used to assassinate, collaterally kill and terrorize, he affirms:

"Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left." And, he avers, "Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good." And then turns around and reminds us--lest we forget--how the mass media have invaded our lives, with memes about patriotism, democracy, God, the "good life": "Can it be imagined that an American president would openly implore America's young people to fight a foreign war to defend `capitalism'?" he wonders.

"The word itself has largely gone out of fashion. The approved references now are to the market economy, free market, free enterprise, or private enterprise."

Cynthia McKinney writes that the book is "corruscating, eye-opening, and essential." Oliver Stone calls it a "fireball of terse information."
Like Howard Zinn, Ralph Nader, Paul Craig Roberts, Cindy Sheehan and Bradley Manning, Blum is committed to setting the historical record straight. His book is dangerous. Steadfast, immutable "truths" one has taken for granted--often since childhood--are exposed as hollow baubles to entertain the un/mis/and dis-informed. One such Blumism recollects Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez's account of a videotape with a very undiplomatic Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and cowboy George Bush: "`We've got to smash somebody's ass quickly,'" Powell said. "`We must have a brute demonstration of power.'

Then Bush spoke: `Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! ... Stay strong! ... Kill them! ... We are going to wipe them out!'"

Blum's intellectual resources are as keen as anyone's writing today. He also adds an ample measure of humanity to his trenchant critiques. He juxtaposes the noble rhetoric of our professed values with the mordant facts of our deeds. The cognitive dissonance makes for a memorable, very unpretty picture of how an immensely privileged people lost themselves, while gorging on junk food, junk politics, junk economics, junk education, junk media. Like an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, he lambastes his own--us!--flaying layers of hypocrisy and betrayals while seeking to reveal the core values of human dignity, empathy and moral rectitude.

Gary Corseri has published and posted prose, poetry and dramas at hundreds of periodicals and websites worldwide, including CommonDreams, Countercurrents, BraveNewWorld.in, OpEdNews, CounterPunch, Outlook India, The New York Times, Dissident Voice. He has published novels, poetry collections and a literary anthology (edited). His dramas have been presented on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere, and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library. He has taught in US public schools and prisons, and at American and Japanese universities. Contact: gary_corseri@comcast.net.

[Sep 24, 2016] Down With Western Democracy !

Notable quotes:
"... German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as 'democratic', and so does this Empire. The British and French empires that exterminated tens of millions of people all over the world, always promoted themselves as 'democracies'. ..."
"... And now, once again, we are witnessing a tremendous onslaught by the business-political-imperialist Western apparatus, destabilizing or directly destroying entire nations, overthrowing governments and bombing 'rebellious' states into the ground. All this is done in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom. ..."
"... This sacrificial altar is called, Democracy, in direct mockery to what the term symbolizes in its original, Greek, language. ..."
Aug 02, 2014 | CounterPunch

A specter is haunting Europe and Western world - it is this time, the specter of fascism. It came quietly, without great fanfare and parades, without raised hands and loud shouts. But it came, or it returned, as it has always been present in this culture, one that has, for centuries, been enslaving our entire planet.

As was in Nazi Germany, resistance to the fascist empire is again given an unsavory name: terrorism. Partisans and patriots, resistance fighters – all of them were and have always been defined by fascist bigots as terrorists.

By the logic of Empire, to murder millions of men, women and children in all corners of the world abroad is considered legitimate and patriotic, but to defend one's motherland was and is a sign of extremism.

German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as 'democratic', and so does this Empire. The British and French empires that exterminated tens of millions of people all over the world, always promoted themselves as 'democracies'.

And now, once again, we are witnessing a tremendous onslaught by the business-political-imperialist Western apparatus, destabilizing or directly destroying entire nations, overthrowing governments and bombing 'rebellious' states into the ground. All this is done in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom.

An unelected monster, as it has done for centuries, is playing with the world, torturing some, and plundering others, or both.

The West, in a final act of arrogance, has somehow confused itself with its own concept of God. It has decided that it has the full right to shape the planet, to punish and to reward, to destroy and rebuild as it wishes.

This horrible wave of terror unleashed against our planet, is justified by an increasingly meaningless but fanatically defended dogma, symbolized by a box (made of card or wood, usually), and masses of people sticking pieces of paper into the opening on the top of that box.

This is the altar of Western ideological fundamentalism. This is a supreme idiocy that cannot be questioned, as it guarantees the status quo for ruling elites and business interests, an absurdity that justifies all crimes, all lies and all madness.

This sacrificial altar is called, Democracy, in direct mockery to what the term symbolizes in its original, Greek, language.

***

In our latest book, "On Western Terrorism – from Hiroshima to Drone Warfare", Noam Chomsky commented on the 'democratic' process in the Western world:

"The goal of elections now is to undermine democracy. They are run by the public relations industry and they're certainly not trying to create informed voters who'll make rational choices. They are trying to delude people into making irrational choices. The same techniques that are used to undermine markets are used to undermine democracy. It's one of the major industries in the country and its basic workings are invisible."

But what is it that really signifies this 'sacred' word, this almost religious term, and this pinnacle of Western demagogy? We hear it everywhere. We are ready to sacrifice millions of lives (not ours of course, at least not yet, but definitely lives of the others) in the name of it.

Democracy!

All those grand slogans and propaganda! Last year I visited Pyongyang, but I have to testify that North Koreans are not as good at slogans as the Western propagandists are.

"In the name of freedom and democracy!" Hundreds of millions tons of bombs fell from the sky on the Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese countryside… bodies were burned by napalm, mutilated by spectacular explosions.

"Defending democracy!" Children were raped in front of their parents in Central America, men and women machine-gunned down by death squads that had been trained in military bases in the United States of America.

"Civilizing the world and spreading democracy!" That has always been a European slogan, their 'stuff to do', and a way of showing their great civilization to others. Amputating hands of Congolese people, murdering around ten million of them, and many more in Namibia, East Africa, West Africa and Algiers; gassing people of the Middle East ( "I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes", to borrow from the colorful lexicon of (Sir) Winston Churchill).

So what is it really? Who is it, that strange lady with an axe in her hand and with a covered face – the lady whose name is Democracy?

***

It is all very simple, actually. The term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) "rule of the people". Then and now, it was supposed to be in direct contrast to ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratia), that means "rule of an elite".

'Rule of the people'… Let us just visit a few examples of the 'rule of the people'.

People spoke, they ruled, they voted 'democratically' in Chile, bringing in the mild and socialist government of 'Popular Unity' of Salvador Allende.

Sure, the Chilean education system was so brilliant, its political and social system so wonderful, that it inspired not only many countries in Latin America, but also those in far away Mediterranean Europe.

That could not be tolerated, because, as we all know, it is only white Europe and North America that can be allowed to supply the world with the blueprint for any society, anywhere on this planet. It was decided that "Chile has to scream", that its economy had to be ruined and the "Popular Unity" government kicked out of power.

Henry Kissinger, belonging, obviously, to a much higher race and country of a much higher grade, made a straightforward and in a way very 'honest' statement, clearly defining the North American stand towards global democracy: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its people."

And so Chile was ravaged. Thousands of people were murdered and 'our son-of-a-bitch' was brought to power. General Pinochet was not elected: he bombed the Presidential palace in Santiago, he savagely tortured the men and women who were elected by the Chilean people, and he "disappeared" thousands.

But that was fine, because democracy, as it is seen from Washington, London or Paris, is nothing more and nothing less than what the white man needs in order to control this planet, unopposed and preferably never criticized.

Of course Chile was not the only place where 'democracy' was 'redefined'. And it was not the most brutal scenario either, although it was brutal enough. But it was a very symbolic 'case', because here, there could be absolutely no dispute: an extremely well educated, middle class country, voted in transparent elections, just to have its government murdered, tortured and exiled, simply because it was too democratic and too involved in improving the lives of its people.

There were countless instances of open spite coming from the North, towards the 'rule of the people' in Latin America. For centuries, there have been limitless examples. Every country 'south of the border' in the Western Hemisphere, became a victim.

After all, the self-imposed Monroe Doctrine gave North Americans 'unquestionable rights' to intervene and 'correct' any 'irresponsible' democratic moves made by the lower races inhabiting Central and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands.

There were many different scenarios of real ingenuity, in how to torture countries that embarked on building decent homes for their people, although soon there was evidence of repetitiveness and predictability.

The US has been either sponsoring extremely brutal coups (like the one in Guatemala in 1954), or simply occupying the countries in order to overthrow their democratically elected governments. Justifications for such interventions have varied: it was done in order to 'restore order', to 'restore freedom and democracy', or to prevent the emergence of 'another Cuba'.

From the Dominican Republic in 1965 to Grenada in 1983, countries were 'saved from themselves' through the introduction (by orders from mainly the Protestant North American elites with clearly pathological superiority complexes) of death squads that administered torture, rape and extrajudicial executions. People were killed because their democratic decisions were seen as 'irresponsible' and therefore unacceptable.

While there has been open racism in every aspect of how the Empire controlled its colonies, 'political correctness' was skillfully introduced, effectively reducing to a bare minimum any serious critiques of the societies that were forced into submission.

In Indonesia, between 1 and 3 million people were murdered in the years1965/66, in a US -sponsored coup, because there too, was a 'great danger' that the people would rule and decide to vote 'irresponsibly', bringing the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), at that time the third most numerous Communist Party anywhere in the world, to power.

The democratically elected President of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, was murdered in 1961, by the joint efforts of the United States and Europe, simply because he was determined to use the vast natural resources of his country to feed his own people; and because he dared to criticize Western colonialism and imperialism openly and passionately.

East Timor lost a third of its population simply because its people, after gaining independence from Portugal, dared to vote the left-leaning FRETILIN into power. "We are not going to tolerate another Cuba next to our shores", protested the Indonesian fascist dictator Suharto, and the US and Australia strongly agreed. The torture, and extermination of East Timorese people by the Indonesian military, was considered irrelevant and not even worth reporting in the mass media.

The people of Iran could of course not be trusted with 'democracy'. Iran is one of the oldest and greatest cultures on earth, but its people wanted to use the revenues from its oil to improve their lives, not to feed foreign multi-nationals. That has always been considered a crime by Western powers – a crime punishable by death.

The people of Iran decided to rule; they voted, they said that they want to have all their oil industry nationalized. Mohammad Mosaddeq, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953, was ready to implement what his people demanded. But his government was overthrown in a coup d'état, orchestrated by the British MI6 and North American CIA, and what followed was the murderous dictatorship of the deranged Western puppet – Reza Pahlavi. As in Latin America and Indonesia, instead of schools, hospitals and housing projects, people got death squads, torture chambers and fear. Is that what they wanted? Is that what they voted for?

There were literally dozens of countries, all over the world, which had to be 'saved', by the West, from their own 'irresponsible citizens and voters'. Brazil recently 'celebrated' the 50th anniversary of the US-backed military coup d'état, which began a horrendous 20 year long military dictatorship. The US supported two coups in Iraq, in 1963 and 1968 that brought Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party to power. The list is endless. These are only some random examples.

On closer examination, the West has overthrown, or made attempts to overthrow, almost any democratically elected governments, on all continents attempting to serve their own people, by providing them with decent standards of living and social services. That is quite an achievement, and some stamina!

Could it be then that the West only respects 'Democracy' when 'people are forced to rule' against their own interests? And when they are 'defending' what they are ordered to defend by local elites that are subservient to North American and European interests?… and also when they are defending the interests of foreign multi-national companies and Western governments that are dependent on those companies?

***

Can anything be done? If a country is too weak to defend itself by military means, against some mighty Western aggressor, could it approach any international democratic institutions, hoping for protection?

Unthinkable!

A good example is Nicaragua, which had been literally terrorized by the United States, for no other reason than for being socialist. Its government went to court.

The case was called: The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America.

It was a 1986 case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which the ICJ ruled in favor of Nicaragua and against the United States and awarded reparations to Nicaragua.

The judgment was long, consisting of 291 points. Among them that the United States had been involved in the "unlawful use of force." The alleged violations included attacks on Nicaraguan facilities and naval vessels, the mining of Nicaraguan ports, the invasion of Nicaraguan air space, and the training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying of forces (the "Contras") and seeking to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government.

Judgment was passed, and so were UN votes and resolutions. The UN resolution from 1986 called for the full and immediate compliance with the Judgment. Only Thailand, France and the UK abstained. The US showed total spite towards the court, and it vetoed all UN resolutions.

It continued its terror campaign against Nicaragua. In the end, the ruined and exhausted country voted in 1990. It was soon clear that it was not voting for or against Sandinista government, but whether to endure more violence from the North, or to simply accept depressing defeat. The Sandinista government lost. It lost because the voters had a North American gun pointing at their heads.

This is how 'democracy' works.

I covered the Nicaraguan elections of 1996 and I was told by voters, by a great majority of them, that they were going to vote for the right-wing candidate (Aleman), only because the US was threatening to unleash another wave of terror in case the Sandinista government came back to power, democratically.

The Sandinistas are now back. But only because most of Latin America has changed, and there is unity and determination to fight, if necessary.

***

While the Europeans are clearly benefiting from neo-colonialism and the plunder that goes on all over the world, it would be ridiculous to claim that they themselves are 'enjoying the fruits of democracy'.

In a dazzling novel "Seeing", written by Jose Saramago, a laureate for the Nobel Prize for literature, some 83% of voters in an unidentified country (most likely Saramago's native Portugal), decide to cast blank ballots, expressing clear spite towards the Western representative election system.

This state, which prided itself as a 'democratic one', responded by unleashing an orgy of terror against its own citizens. It soon became obvious that people are allowed to make democratic choices only when the result serves the interests of the regime.

Ursula K Le Guin, reviewing the novel in the pages of The Guardian, on 15 April 2006, admitted:

Turning in a blank ballot is a signal unfamiliar to most Britons and Americans, who aren't yet used to living under a government that has made voting meaningless. In a functioning democracy, one can consider not voting a lazy protest liable to play into the hands of the party in power (as when low Labour turn-out allowed Margaret Thatcher's re-elections, and Democratic apathy secured both elections of George W Bush). It comes hard to me to admit that a vote is not in itself an act of power, and I was at first blind to the point Saramago's non-voting voters are making.

She should not have been. Even in Europe itself, terror had been unleashed, on many occasions, against the people who decided to vote 'incorrectly'.

Perhaps the most brutal instance was in the post WWII period, when the Communist Parties were clearly heading for spectacular victories in France, Italy and West Germany. Such 'irresponsible behavior' had to be, of course, stopped. Both US and UK intelligence forces made a tremendous effort to 'save democracy' in Europe, employing Nazis to break, intimidate, even murder members of progressive movements and parties.

These Nazi cadres were later allowed, even encouraged, to leave Europe for South America, some carrying huge booty from the victims who vanished in concentration camps. This booty included gold teeth.

Later on, in the 1990's, I spoke to some of them, and also to their children, in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. They were proud of their deeds, unrepentant, and as Nazi as ever.

Many of those European Nazis later actively participated in Operation Condor, so enthusiastically supported by the Paraguayan fascist and pro-Western dictator, Alfredo Strössner. Mr Strössner was a dear friend and asylum-giver to many WWII war criminals, including people like Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor known as the "Angel of Death", who performed genetic experiments on children during the WWII.

So, after destroying that 'irresponsible democratic process' in Europe (the post-war Western Empire), many European Nazis that were now loyally serving their new master, were asked to continue with what they knew how to do best. Therefore they helped to assassinate some 60,000 left-wing South American men, women and their children, who were guilty of building egalitarian and just societies in their home countries. Many of these Nazis took part, directly, in Operacion Condor, under the direct supervision of the United States and Europe.

As Naomi Klein writes in her book, Shock Doctrine:

"Operación Cóndor, also known as Plan Cóndor, Portuguese: Operação Condor) was a campaign of political repression and terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents, officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America. The program was intended to eradicate communist or Soviet influence and ideas, and to suppress active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments."

In Chile, German Nazis rolled up their sleeves and went to work directly: by interrogating, liquidating and savagely torturing members of the democratically elected government and its supporters. They also performed countless medical experiments on people, at the so-called Colonia Dirnidad, during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, whose rule was manufactured and sustained by Dr. Kissinger and his clique.

But back to Europe: in Greece, after WWII, both the UK and US got heavily involved in the civil war between the Communists and the extreme right-wing forces.

In 1967, just one month before the elections in which the Greek left-wing was expected to win democratically (the Indonesian scenario of 1965), the US and its 'Greek colonels' staged a coup, which marked the beginning of a 7 year savage dictatorship.

What happened in Yugoslavia, some 30 years later is, of course clear. A successful Communist country could not be allowed to survive, and definitely not in Europe. As bombs fell on Belgrade, many of those inquisitive and critically thinking people that had any illusions left about the Western regime and its 'democratic principles', lost them rapidly.

But by then, the majority of Europe already consisted of indoctrinated masses, some of the worst informed and most monolithic (in their thinking) on earth.

Europe and its voters… It is that constantly complaining multitude, which wants more and more money, and delivers the same and extremely predictable electoral results every four, five or six years. It lives and votes mechanically. It has totally lost its ability to imagine a different world, to fight for humanist principles, and even to dream.

It is turning into an extremely scary place, a museum at best, and a cemetery of human vision at the worst.

***

As Noam Chomsky pointed out:

Americans may be encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is a method of marginalizing the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalized quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, "That's politics." But it isn't. It's only a small part of politics.
The population has been carefully excluded from political activity, and not by accident. An enormous amount of work has gone into that disenfranchisement. During the 1960s the outburst of popular participation in democracy terrified the forces of convention, which mounted a fierce counter-campaign. Manifestations show up today on the left as well as the right in the effort to drive democracy back into the hole where it belongs.

Arundhati Roy, commented in her "Is there life after democracy?"

The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be?

***

After all that brutality, and spite for people all over the world, the West is now teaching the planet about democracy. It is lecturing Asians and Africans, people from Middle East and Sub-Continent, on how to make their countries more 'democratic'. It is actually hard to believe, it should be one of the most hilarious things on earth, but it is happening, and everyone is silent about it.

Those who are listening without bursting into laughter are actually well paid.

There are seminars; even foreign aid projects related to 'good governance', sponsored by the European Union, and the United States. The EU is actually much more active in this field. Like the Italian mafia, it sends covert but unmistakable messages to the world: "You do as we say, or we break your legs… But if you obey, come to us and we will teach you how to be a good aide to Cosa Nostra! And we will give you some pasta and wine while you are learning."

Because there is plenty of money, so called 'funding'… members of the elite, the academia, media and non-government organizations, from countries that have been plundered by the West – countries like Indonesia, Philippines, DR Congo, Honduras, or Colombia –send armies of people to get voluntarily indoctrinated, (sorry, to be 'enlightened') to learn about democracy from the greatest assassins of genuine 'people's power'; from the West.

Violating democracy is an enormous business. To hush it up is part of that business. To learn how to be idle and not to intervene against the external forces destroying democracy in your own country, while pretending to be 'engaged and active', is actually the best business, much better than building bridges or educating children (from a mercantilist point of view).

Once, at the University of Indonesia where I was invited to speak, a student asked me 'what is the way forward', to make his country more democratic? I replied, looking at several members of the professorial staff:

"Demand that your teachers stop going to Europe on fully funded trips. Demand that they stop being trained in how to brainwash you. Do not go there yourself, to study. Go there to see, to understand and to learn, but not to study… Europe had robbed you of everything. They are still looting your country. What do you think you will learn there? Do you really think they will teach you how to save your nation?"

Students began laughing. The professors were fuming. I was never invited back. I am sure that the professors knew exactly what I was talking about. The students did not. They were thinking that I made a very good joke. But I was not trying to be funny.

***

As I write these words, the Thai military junta has taken over the country. The West is silent: the Thai military is an extremely close ally. Democracy at work…

And as I write these words, the fascist government in Kiev is chasing, kidnapping and "disappearing" people in the east and south of Ukraine. By some insane twist of logic, the Western corporate media is managing to blame Russia. And only a few people are rolling around on the floor, laughing.

As I write these words, a big part of Africa is in flames, totally destroyed by the US, UK, France and other colonial powers.

Client states like the Philippines are now literally being paid to get antagonistic with China.

Japanese neo-fascist adventurism fully supported by the Unites States can easily trigger WWIII. So can Western greed and fascist practices in Ukraine.

Democracy! People's power!

If the West had sat on its ass, where it belongs, in Europe and in North America, after WWII, the world would have hardly any problems now. People like Lumumba, Allende, Sukarno, Mosaddeq, would have led their nations and continents. They would have communicated with their own people, interacted with them. They would have built their own styles of 'democracy'.

But all that came from the Bandung Conference of 1955, from the ideals of the Non-Aligned movement, was ruined and bathed in blood. The true hopes of the people of the world cut to pieces, urinated on, and then thrown into gutter.

But no more time should be wasted by just analyzing, and by crying over spilt milk. Time to move on!

The world has been tortured by Europe and the United States, for decades and centuries. It has been tortured in the name of democracy… but it has all been one great lie. The world has been tortured simply because of greed, and because of racism. Just look back at history. Europe and the United States have only stopped calling people "niggers", but they do not have any more respect for them than before. And they are willing, same as before, to sacrifice millions of human lives.

Let us stop worshiping their box, and those meaningless pieces of paper that they want us to stick in there. There is no power of people in this. Look at the United States itself – where is our democracy? It is a one-party regime fully controlled by market fundamentalists. Look at our press, and propaganda…

Rule of the people by the people, true democracy, can be achieved. We the people had been derailed, intellectually, so we have not been thinking how, for so many decades.

Now we, many of us, know what is wrong, but we are still not sure what is right.

Let us think and let us search, let us experiment. And also, let us reject their fascism first. Let them stick their papers wherever they want! Let them pretend that they are not slaves to some vendors and swindlers. Let them do whatever they want – there, where they belong.

Democracy is more than a box. It is more than a multitude of political parties. It is when people can truly choose, decide and build a society that they dream about. Democracy is the lack of fear of having napalm and bombs murdering our dreams. Democracy is when people speak and from those words grow their own nation. Democracy is when millions of hands join together and from that brilliant union, new trains begin to run, new schools begin to teach, and new hospitals begin to heal. All this by the people, for the people! All this created by proud and free humans as gift to all – to their nation.

Yes, let the slave masters stick their pieces of paper into a box, or somewhere else. They can call it democracy. Let us call democracy something else – rule of the people, a great exchange of ideas, of hopes and dreams. Let our taking control over our lives and over our nations be called 'democracy'!

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called "Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear". He has just completed the feature documentary, "Rwanda Gambit" about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

[Sep 24, 2016] A Foreign Enemy is a Tyrants Best Friend

Notable quotes:
"... This activates what Randolph Bourne called their "herd mind," inducing them to rally around their governments in a militaristic stampede so as to create the national unity of purpose deemed necessary to defend the homeland against the foreign menace. When you lay siege to an entire country, don't be surprised when it starts to look and act like a barracks. ..."
"... Imperial governments like to pretend that affairs are quite the reverse, adopting the essentially terrorist rationale that waging war against the civilian populace of a rogue state will pressure them to blame and turn against their governments. In reality, it only tends to bolster public support for the regime. ..."
"... The imperial "bogeygoat" is an essential prop for the power of petty tyrants, just as rogue state bogeymen are essential props for the power of grand tyrants like our own. Thus, it should be no surprise that the staunchest opponents to the Iran nuclear deal include both American and Iranian hardliners. Just as there is a "symbiosis of savagery" between imperial hawks and anti-imperial terrorists (as I explain here), there is a similar symbiotic relationship between imperial and rogue state hardliners. ..."
Jul 28, 2015 | Antiwar.com

Cold wars freeze despotism in place, and thaws in foreign relations melt it away

The recent Iran nuclear deal represents a thaw in the American cold war against that country. It is a welcome sequel to the Obama administration's partial normalization with Cuba announced late last year.

Hardliners denounce these policies as "going soft" on theocracy and communism. Yet, it is such critics' own hardline, hawkish policies that have done the most to ossify and strengthen such regimes.

That is because war, including cold war, is the health of the state. Antagonistic imperial policies - economic warfare, saber-rattling, clandestine interventions, and full-blown attacks - make the citizens of targeted "rogue states" feel under siege.

This activates what Randolph Bourne called their "herd mind," inducing them to rally around their governments in a militaristic stampede so as to create the national unity of purpose deemed necessary to defend the homeland against the foreign menace. When you lay siege to an entire country, don't be surprised when it starts to look and act like a barracks.

Rogue state governments eagerly amplify and exploit this siege effect through propaganda, taking on the mantle of foremost defender of the nation against the "Yankee Imperialist" or "Great Satan." Amid the atmosphere of crisis, public resistance against domestic oppression by the now indispensable "guardian class" goes by the board. "Quit your complaining. Don't you know there's a cold war on? Don't you know we're under siege?"

Moreover, cold wars make it easy for rogue state governments to shift the blame for domestic troubles away from their own misrule, and onto the foreign bogeyman/scapegoat ("bogeygoat?") instead. This is especially easy for being to some extent correct, especially with regard to economic blockades and other crippling sanctions, like those Washington has imposed on Cuba, Iran, etc.

Imperial governments like to pretend that affairs are quite the reverse, adopting the essentially terrorist rationale that waging war against the civilian populace of a rogue state will pressure them to blame and turn against their governments. In reality, it only tends to bolster public support for the regime.

The imperial "bogeygoat" is an essential prop for the power of petty tyrants, just as rogue state bogeymen are essential props for the power of grand tyrants like our own. Thus, it should be no surprise that the staunchest opponents to the Iran nuclear deal include both American and Iranian hardliners. Just as there is a "symbiosis of savagery" between imperial hawks and anti-imperial terrorists (as I explain here), there is a similar symbiotic relationship between imperial and rogue state hardliners.

The last thing hardliners want is the loss of their cherished bogeygoat. Once an emergency foreign threat recedes, and the fog of war hysteria lifts, people are then more capable of clearly seeing their "guardians" as the domestic threat that they are, and more likely to feel that they can afford to address that threat without exposing themselves to foreign danger. This tends to impel governments to become less oppressive, and may even lead to their loss of power.

Thus after Nixon normalized with communist China and belatedly ended the war on communist Vietnam, both of those countries greatly liberalized and became more prosperous. Even Soviet reforms and the ultimate dissolution of the Soviet Union only arose following American detente.

Simultaneously, as the American cold wars against communist Cuba and communist North Korea continued without stint for decades, providing the Castros and Kims the ultimate bogeygoat to feature in their propaganda, the impoverishing authoritarian grip of those regimes on their besieged people only strengthened.

Similarly, ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the puppet dictator that the CIA had installed over Iran in a 1953 coup, the Ayatollahs have been able to exploit ongoing hostility from the American "Great Satan" to retain and consolidate their repressive theocratic power.

All this is an object lesson for US relations with Putin's Russia, Chavista Venezuela, and beyond. Disastrously, it is being unheeded.

Even while thawing relations with Iran, the Obama administration has triggered a new cold war with Russia over Ukraine. This has only made Russian President Vladimir Putin more domestically popular than ever.

And even while normalizing relations with Cuba, Obama recently declared Venezuela a national security threat, imposing new sanctions. As journalist Alexandra Ulmer argued, these sanctions "may be godsend for struggling Venezuelan leader," President Nicolas Maduro. As Ulmer wrote in Reuters:

"Suddenly, the unpopular leader has an excuse to crank up the revolutionary rhetoric and try to fire up supporters, copying a tactic used skillfully for more than a decade by his mentor and predecessor, the late socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez.

A new fight with the enemy to the north may also help unite disparate ruling Socialist Party factions and distract Venezuelans from relentless and depressing talk about their day-to-day economic problems."

[Sep 22, 2016] Much-disputed Iranian nuclear bomb

An interesting warning about possible return of neocons in Hillary administration. Looks like not much changed in Washington from 2005 and Obama more and more looks like Bush III. Both Hillary and Trump are jingoistic toward Iran. Paradoxically Trump is even more jingoistic then Hillary.
Notable quotes:
"... That no one yet claims actually exists, has begun. Once again we seem to be heading down a highway marked "counterproliferation war." What makes this bizarre is that the Middle East today, for all its catastrophic problems, is actually a nuclear-free zone except for one country, Israel, which has a staggeringly outsized, semi-secret nuclear arsenal. ..."
"... And not much has changed since. I recommend as well a piece written even earlier by Ira Chernus on a graphic about the Israeli nuclear arsenal tucked away at the MSNBC website (and still viewable ). ..."
"... Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and one of the founders of the group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, considers the Iranian and Israeli bombs, and Bush administration policy in relation to both below in a piece that, he writes, emerged from "an informal colloquium which has sprung up in the Washington, DC area involving people with experience at senior policy levels of government, others who examine foreign policy and defense issues primarily out of a faith perspective, and still others with a foot in each camp. We are trying to deal directly with the moral -- as well as the practical -- implications of various policy alternatives. One of our group recently was invited to talk with senior staffers in the House of Representatives about Iran, its nuclear plans, its support for terrorists, and U.S. military options. Toward the end of that conversation, a House staffer was emboldened to ask, 'What would be a moral solution?' This question gave new energy to our colloquium, generating a number of informal papers, including this one. I am grateful to my colloquium colleagues for their insights and suggestions." ..."
"... What about post-attack "Day Two?" Not to worry. Well-briefed pundits are telling us about a wellspring of Western-oriented I find myself thinking: Right; just like all those Iraqis who welcomed invading American and British troops with open arms and cut flowers. ..."
"... In 2001, the new President Bush brought the neocons back and put them in top policymaking positions. Even former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, convicted in October 1991 of lying to Congress and then pardoned by George H. W. Bush, was called back and put in charge of Middle East policy in the White House. In January, he was promoted to the influential post (once occupied by Robert Gates) of deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs. From that senior position Abrams will once again be dealing closely with John Negroponte, an old colleague from rogue-elephant Contra War days, who has now been picked to be the first director of national intelligence. ..."
"... Those of us who -- like Colin Powell -- had front-row seats during the 1980s are far too concerned to dismiss the re-emergence of the neocons as a simple case of déjà vu . They are much more dangerous now. Unlike in the eighties, they are the ones crafting the adventurous policies our sons and daughters are being called on to implement. ..."
"... So why would Iran think it has to acquire nuclear weapons? Sen. Richard Lugar, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked this on a Sunday talk show a few months ago. Apparently having a senior moment, he failed to give the normal answer. Instead, he replied, "Well, you know, Israel has..." At that point, he caught himself and abruptly stopped. ..."
Sep 22, 2005 | www.washingtonpost.com
That no one yet claims actually exists, has begun. Once again we seem to be heading down a highway marked "counterproliferation war." What makes this bizarre is that the Middle East today, for all its catastrophic problems, is actually a nuclear-free zone except for one country, Israel, which has a staggeringly outsized, semi-secret nuclear arsenal.

As Los Angeles Times reporter Douglas Frantz wrote at one point, "Though Israel is a democracy, debating the nuclear program is taboo… A military censor guards Israel's nuclear secrets." And this "taboo" has largely extended to American reporting on the subject. Imagine, to offer a very partial analogy, if we all had had to consider the Cold War nuclear issue with the Soviet, but almost never the American nuclear arsenal, in the news. Of course, that would have been absurd and yet it's the case in the Middle East today, making most strategic discussions of the region exercises in absurdity.

I wrote about this subject under the title, Nuclear Israel , back in October 2003, because of a brief break, thanks to Frantz, in the media blackout on the subject. I began then, "Nuclear North Korea, nuclear Iraq, nuclear Iran - of these our media has been full for the last year or more, though they either don't exist or hardly yet exist. North Korea now probably has a couple of crude nuclear weapons, which it may still be incapable of delivering. But nuclear Israel, little endangered Israel? It's hard even to get your head around the concept, though that country has either the fifth or sixth largest nuclear arsenal in the world." And not much has changed since. I recommend as well a piece written even earlier by Ira Chernus on a graphic about the Israeli nuclear arsenal tucked away at the MSNBC website (and still viewable ).

Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and one of the founders of the group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, considers the Iranian and Israeli bombs, and Bush administration policy in relation to both below in a piece that, he writes, emerged from "an informal colloquium which has sprung up in the Washington, DC area involving people with experience at senior policy levels of government, others who examine foreign policy and defense issues primarily out of a faith perspective, and still others with a foot in each camp. We are trying to deal directly with the moral -- as well as the practical -- implications of various policy alternatives. One of our group recently was invited to talk with senior staffers in the House of Representatives about Iran, its nuclear plans, its support for terrorists, and U.S. military options. Toward the end of that conversation, a House staffer was emboldened to ask, 'What would be a moral solution?' This question gave new energy to our colloquium, generating a number of informal papers, including this one. I am grateful to my colloquium colleagues for their insights and suggestions." Now, read on. ~ Tom

Attacking Iran: I Know It Sounds Crazy, But...

By Ray McGovern

"'This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.'

"(Short pause)

"'And having said that, all options are on the table.'

"Even the White House stenographers felt obliged to note the result: '(Laughter).'"

( The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin on George Bush's February 22 press conference)

For a host of good reasons -- the huge and draining commitment of U.S. forces to Iraq and Iran's ability to stir the Iraqi pot to boiling, for starters -- the notion that the Bush administration would mount a "preemptive" air attack on Iran seems insane. And still more insane if the objective includes overthrowing Iran's government again, as in 1953 -- this time under the rubric of "regime change."

But Bush administration policy toward the Middle East is being run by men -- yes, only men -- who were routinely referred to in high circles in Washington during the 1980s as "the crazies." I can attest to that personally, but one need not take my word for it.

According to James Naughtie, author of The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency , former Secretary of State Colin Powell added an old soldier's adjective to the "crazies" sobriquet in referring to the same officials. Powell, who was military aide to Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger in the early eighties, was overheard calling them "the f---ing crazies" during a phone call with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw before the war in Iraq. At the time, Powell was reportedly deeply concerned over their determination to attack -- with or without UN approval. Small wonder that they got rid of Powell after the election, as soon as they had no more use for him.

If further proof of insanity were needed, one could simply look at the unnecessary carnage in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003. That unprovoked attack was, in my view, the most fateful foreign policy blunder in our nation's history...so far.

It Can Get Worse

"The crazies" are not finished. And we do well not to let their ultimate folly obscure their current ambition, and the further trouble that ambition is bound to bring in the four years ahead. In an immediate sense, with U.S. military power unrivaled, they can be seen as "crazy like a fox," with a value system in which "might makes right." Operating out of that value system, and now sporting the more respectable misnomer/moniker "neoconservative," they are convinced that they know exactly what they are doing. They have a clear ideology and a geopolitical strategy, which leap from papers they put out at the Project for the New American Century over recent years.

The very same men who, acting out of that paradigm, brought us the war in Iraq are now focusing on Iran, which they view as the only remaining obstacle to American domination of the entire oil-rich Middle East. They calculate that, with a docile, corporate-owned press, a co-opted mainstream church, and a still-trusting populace, the United States and/or the Israelis can launch a successful air offensive to disrupt any Iranian nuclear weapons programs -- with the added bonus of possibly causing the regime in power in Iran to crumble.

But why now? After all, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency has just told Congress that Iran is not likely to have a nuclear weapon until "early in the next decade?" The answer, according to some defense experts, is that several of the Iranian facilities are still under construction and there is only a narrow "window of opportunity" to destroy them without causing huge environmental problems. That window, they say, will begin to close this year.

Other analysts attribute the sense of urgency to worry in Washington that the Iranians may have secretly gained access to technology that would facilitate a leap forward into the nuclear club much sooner than now anticipated. And it is, of course, neoconservative doctrine that it is best to nip -- the word in current fashion is "preempt" -- any conceivable threats in the bud. One reason the Israelis are pressing hard for early action may simply be out of a desire to ensure that George W. Bush will have a few more years as president after an attack on Iran, so that they will have him to stand with Israel when bedlam breaks out in the Middle East.

What about post-attack "Day Two?" Not to worry. Well-briefed pundits are telling us about a wellspring of Western-oriented I find myself thinking: Right; just like all those Iraqis who welcomed invading American and British troops with open arms and cut flowers. For me, this evokes a painful flashback to the early eighties when "intelligence," pointing to "moderates" within the Iranian leadership, was conjured up to help justify the imaginative but illegal arms-for-hostages-and-proceeds-to-Nicaraguan-Contras caper. The fact that the conjurer-in-chief of that spurious "evidence" on Iranian "moderates," former chief CIA analyst, later director Robert Gates, was recently offered the newly created position of director of national intelligence makes the flashback more eerie -- and alarming.

George H. W. Bush Saw Through "The Crazies"

During his term in office, George H. W. Bush, with the practical advice of his national security adviser Gen. Brent Scowcroft and Secretary of State James Baker, was able to keep "the crazies" at arms length, preventing them from getting the country into serious trouble. They were kept well below the level of "principal" -- that is, below the level of secretary of state or defense.

Even so, heady in the afterglow of victory in the Gulf War of 1990, "the crazies" stirred up considerable controversy when they articulated their radical views. Their vision, for instance, became the centerpiece of the draft "Defense Planning Guidance" that Paul Wolfowitz, de facto dean of the neoconservatives, prepared in 1992 for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. It dismissed deterrence as an outdated relic of the Cold War and argued that the United States must maintain military strength beyond conceivable challenge -- and use it in preemptive ways in dealing with those who might acquire "weapons of mass destruction." Sound familiar?

Aghast at this radical imperial strategy for the post-Cold War world, someone with access to the draft leaked it to the New York Times , forcing President George H. W. Bush either to endorse or disavow it. Disavow it he did -- and quickly, on the cooler-head recommendations of Scowcroft and Baker, who proved themselves a bulwark against the hubris and megalomania of "the crazies." Unfortunately, their vision did not die. No less unfortunately, there is method to their madness -- even if it threatens to spell eventual disaster for our country. Empires always overreach and fall.

The Return of the Neocons

In 2001, the new President Bush brought the neocons back and put them in top policymaking positions. Even former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, convicted in October 1991 of lying to Congress and then pardoned by George H. W. Bush, was called back and put in charge of Middle East policy in the White House. In January, he was promoted to the influential post (once occupied by Robert Gates) of deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs. From that senior position Abrams will once again be dealing closely with John Negroponte, an old colleague from rogue-elephant Contra War days, who has now been picked to be the first director of national intelligence.

Those of us who -- like Colin Powell -- had front-row seats during the 1980s are far too concerned to dismiss the re-emergence of the neocons as a simple case of déjà vu . They are much more dangerous now. Unlike in the eighties, they are the ones crafting the adventurous policies our sons and daughters are being called on to implement.

Why dwell on this? Because it is second in importance only to the portentous reality that the earth is running out of readily accessible oil – something of which they are all too aware. Not surprisingly then, disguised beneath the weapons-of-mass-destruction smokescreen they laid down as they prepared to invade Iraq lay an unspoken but bedrock reason for the war -- oil. In any case, the neocons seem to believe that, in the wake of the November election, they now have a carte-blanche "mandate." And with the president's new "capital to spend," they appear determined to spend it, sooner rather than later.

Next Stop, Iran

When a Special Forces platoon leader just back from Iraq matter-of-factly tells a close friend of mine, as happened last week, that he and his unit are now training their sights (literally) on Iran, we need to take that seriously. It provides us with a glimpse of reality as seen at ground level. For me, it brought to mind an unsolicited email I received from the father of a young soldier training at Fort Benning in the spring of 2002, soon after I wrote an op-ed discussing the timing of George W. Bush's decision to make war on Iraq. The father informed me that, during the spring of 2002, his son kept writing home saying his unit was training to go into Iraq. No, said the father; you mean Afghanistan... that's where the war is, not Iraq. In his next email, the son said, "No, Dad, they keep saying Iraq. I asked them and that's what they mean."

Now, apparently, they keep saying Iran ; and that appears to be what they mean.

Anecdotal evidence like this is hardly conclusive. Put it together with administration rhetoric and a preponderance of other "dots," though, and everything points in the direction of an air attack on Iran, possibly also involving some ground forces. Indeed, from the New Yorker reports of Seymour Hersh to Washington Post articles , accounts of small-scale American intrusions on the ground as well as into Iranian airspace are appearing with increasing frequency. In a speech given on February 18, former UN arms inspector and Marine officer Scott Ritter (who was totally on target before the Iraq War on that country's lack of weapons of mass destruction) claimed that the president has already "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June in order to destroy its alleged nuclear weapons program and eventually bring about "regime change." This does not necessarily mean an automatic green light for a large attack in June, but it may signal the president's seriousness about this option.

So, again, against the background of what we have witnessed over the past four years, and the troubling fact that the circle of second-term presidential advisers has become even tighter, we do well to inject a strong note of urgency into any discussion of the "Iranian option."

Why Would Iran Want Nukes?

So why would Iran think it has to acquire nuclear weapons? Sen. Richard Lugar, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked this on a Sunday talk show a few months ago. Apparently having a senior moment, he failed to give the normal answer. Instead, he replied, "Well, you know, Israel has..." At that point, he caught himself and abruptly stopped.

Recovering quickly and realizing that he could not just leave the word "Israel" hanging there, Lugar began again: "Well, Israel is alleged to have a nuclear capability."

Is alleged to have…? Lugar is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and yet he doesn't know that Israel has, by most estimates, a major nuclear arsenal, consisting of several hundred nuclear weapons? (Mainstream newspapers are allergic to dwelling on this topic, but it is mentioned every now and then, usually buried in obscurity on an inside page.)

Just imagine how the Iranians and Syrians would react to Lugar's disingenuousness. Small wonder our highest officials and lawmakers -- and Lugar, remember, is one of the most decent among them -- are widely seen abroad as hypocritical. Our media, of course, ignore the hypocrisy. This is standard operating procedure when the word "Israel" is spoken in this or other unflattering contexts. And the objections of those appealing for a more balanced approach are quashed.

If the truth be told, Iran fears Israel at least as much as Israel fears the internal security threat posed by the thugs supported by Tehran. Iran's apprehension is partly fear that Israel (with at least tacit support from the Bush administration) will send its aircraft to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, just as American-built Israeli bombers destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981. As part of the current war of nerves, recent statements by the president and vice president can be read as giving a green light to Israel to do just that; while Israeli Air Force commander Major General Eliezer Shakedi told reporters on February 21 that Israel must be prepared for an air strike on Iran "in light of its nuclear activity."

US-Israel Nexus

The Iranians also remember how Israel was able to acquire and keep its nuclear technology. Much of it was stolen from the United States by spies for Israel. As early as the late-1950s, Washington knew Israel was building the bomb and could have aborted the project. Instead, American officials decided to turn a blind eye and let the Israelis go ahead. Now Israel's nuclear capability is truly formidable. Still, it is a fact of strategic life that a formidable nuclear arsenal can be deterred by a far more modest one, if an adversary has the means to deliver it. (Look at North Korea's success with, at best, a few nuclear weapons and questionable means of delivery in deterring the "sole remaining superpower in the world.") And Iran already has missiles with the range to hit Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has for some time appeared eager to enlist Washington's support for an early "pre-emptive" strike on Iran. Indeed, American defense officials have told reporters that visiting Israeli officials have been pressing the issue for the past year and a half. And the Israelis are now claiming publicly that Iran could have a nuclear weapon within six months -- years earlier than the Defense Intelligence Agency estimate mentioned above.

In the past, President Bush has chosen to dismiss unwelcome intelligence estimates as "guesses" -- especially when they threatened to complicate decisions to implement the neoconservative agenda. It is worth noting that several of the leading neocons – Richard Perle, chair of the Defense Policy Board (2001-03); Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and David Wurmser, Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney -- actually wrote policy papers for the Israeli government during the 1990s. They have consistently had great difficulty distinguishing between the strategic interests of Israel and those of the US -- at least as they imagine them.

As for President Bush, over the past four years he has amply demonstrated his preference for the counsel of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who, as Gen. Scowcroft said publicly , has the president "wrapped around his little finger." (As Chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board until he was unceremoniously removed at the turn of the year, Scowcroft was in a position to know.) If Scowcroft is correct in also saying that the president has been "mesmerized" by Sharon, it seems possible that the Israelis already have successfully argued for an attack on Iran.

When "Regime Change" Meant Overthrow For Oil

To remember why the United States is no favorite in Tehran, one needs to go back at least to 1953 when the U.S. and Great Britain overthrew Iran's democratically elected Premier Mohammad Mossadeq as part of a plan to insure access to Iranian oil. They then emplaced the young Shah in power who, with his notorious secret police, proved second to none in cruelty. The Shah ruled from 1953 to 1979. Much resentment can build up over a whole generation. His regime fell like a house of cards, when supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini rose up to do some regime change of their own.

Iranians also remember Washington's strong support for Saddam Hussein's Iraq after it decided to make war on Iran in 1980. U.S. support for Iraq (which included crucial intelligence support for the war and an implicit condoning of Saddam's use of chemical weapons) was perhaps the crucial factor in staving off an Iranian victory. Imagine then, the threat Iranians see, should the Bush administration succeed in establishing up to 14 permanent military bases in neighboring Iraq. Any Iranian can look at a map of the Middle East (including occupied Iraq) and conclude that this administration might indeed be willing to pay the necessary price in blood and treasure to influence what happens to the black gold under Iranian as well as Iraqi sands. And with four more years to play with, a lot can be done along those lines. The obvious question is: How to deter it? Well, once again, Iran can hardly be blind to the fact that a small nation like North Korea has so far deterred U.S. action by producing, or at least claiming to have produced, nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Is the Nub

The nuclear issue is indeed paramount, and we would do well to imagine and craft fresh approaches to the nub of the problem. As a start, I'll bet if you made a survey, only 20% of Americans would answer "yes" to the question, "Does Israel have nuclear weapons?" That is key, it seems to me, because at their core Americans are still fair-minded people.

On the other hand, I'll bet that 95% of the Iranian population would answer, "Of course Israel has nuclear weapons; that's why we Iranians need them" -- which was, of course, the unmentionable calculation that Senator Lugar almost conceded. "And we also need them," many Iranians would probably say, "in order to deter 'the crazies' in Washington. It seems to be working for the North Koreans, who, after all, are the other remaining point on President Bush's 'axis of evil.'"

The ideal approach would, of course, be to destroy all nuclear weapons in the world and ban them for the future, with a very intrusive global inspection regime to verify compliance. A total ban is worth holding up as an ideal, and I think we must. But this approach seems unlikely to bear fruit over the next four years. So what then?

A Nuclear-Free Middle East

How about a nuclear-free Middle East? Could the US make that happen? We could if we had moral clarity -- the underpinning necessary to bring it about. Each time this proposal is raised, the Syrians, for example, clap their hands in feigned joyful anticipation, saying, "Of course such a pact would include Israel, right?" The issue is then dropped from all discussion by U.S. policymakers. Required: not only moral clarity but also what Thomas Aquinas labeled the precondition for all virtue, courage. In this context, courage would include a refusal to be intimidated by inevitable charges of anti-Semitism.

The reality is that, except for Israel, the Middle East is nuclear free. But the discussion cannot stop there. It is not difficult to understand why the first leaders of Israel, with the Holocaust experience written indelibly on their hearts and minds, and feeling surrounded by perceived threats to the fledgling state's existence, wanted the bomb. And so, before the Syrians or Iranians, for example, get carried away with self-serving applause for the nuclear-free Middle East proposal, they will have to understand that for any such negotiation to succeed it must have as a concomitant aim the guarantee of an Israel able to live in peace and protect itself behind secure borders. That guarantee has got to be part of the deal.

That the obstacles to any such agreement are formidable is no excuse not trying. But the approach would have to be new and everything would have to be on the table. Persisting in a state of denial about Israel's nuclear weapons is dangerously shortsighted; it does nothing but aggravate fears among the Arabs and create further incentive for them to acquire nuclear weapons of their own.

A sensible approach would also have to include a willingness to engage the Iranians directly, attempt to understand their perspective, and discern what the United States and Israel could do to alleviate their concerns.

Preaching to Iran and others about not acquiring nuclear weapons is, indeed, like the village drunk preaching sobriety -- the more so as our government keeps developing new genres of nuclear weapons and keeps looking the other way as Israel enhances its own nuclear arsenal. Not a pretty moral picture, that. Indeed, it reminds me of the Scripture passage about taking the plank out of your own eye before insisting that the speck be removed from another's.

Lessons from the Past...Like Mutual Deterrence

Has everyone forgotten that deterrence worked for some 40 years, while for most of those years the U.S. and the USSR had not by any means lost their lust for ever-enhanced nuclear weapons? The point is simply that, while engaging the Iranians bilaterally and searching for more imaginative nuclear-free proposals, the U.S. might adopt a more patient interim attitude regarding the striving of other nation states to acquire nuclear weapons -- bearing in mind that the Bush administration's policies of "preemption" and "regime change" themselves create powerful incentives for exactly such striving. As was the case with Iraq two years ago, there is no imminent Iranian strategic threat to Americans -- or, in reality, to anyone. Even if Iran acquired a nuclear capability, there is no reason to believe that it would risk a suicidal first strike on Israel. That, after all, is what mutual deterrence is all about; it works both ways.

It is nonetheless clear that the Israelis' sense of insecurity -- however exaggerated it may seem to those of us thousands of miles away -- is not synthetic but real. The Sharon government appears to regard its nuclear monopoly in the region as the only effective "deterrence insurance" it can buy. It is determined to prevent its neighbors from acquiring the kind of capability that could infringe on the freedom it now enjoys to carry out military and other actions in the area. Government officials have said that Israel will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon; it would be folly to dismiss this as bravado. The Israelis have laid down a marker and mean to follow through -- unless the Bush administration assumes the attitude that "preemption" is an acceptable course for the United States but not for Israel. It seems unlikely that the neoconservatives would take that line. Rather…

"Israel Is Our Ally."

Or so said our president before the cameras on February 17, 2005. But I didn't think we had a treaty of alliance with Israel; I don't remember the Senate approving one. Did I miss something?

Clearly, the longstanding U.S.-Israeli friendship and the ideals we share dictate continuing support for Israel's defense and security. It is quite another thing, though, to suggest the existence of formal treaty obligations that our country does not have. To all intents and purposes, our policymakers -- from the president on down -- seem to speak and behave on the assumption that we do have such obligations toward Israel. A former colleague CIA analyst, Michael Scheuer, author of Imperial Hubris , has put it this way: "The Israelis have succeeded in lacing tight the ropes binding the American Gulliver to Israel and its policies."

An earlier American warned:

"A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation facilitates the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, infuses into one the enmities of the other, and betrays the former into participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.... It also gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, who devote themselves to the favorite nation, facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country." ( George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796 )

In my view, our first president's words apply only too aptly to this administration's lash-up with the Sharon government. As responsible citizens we need to overcome our timidity about addressing this issue, lest our fellow Americans continue to be denied important information neglected or distorted in our domesticated media.

Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years -- from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. During the early 1980s, he was one of the writers/editors of the President's Daily Brief and briefed it one-on-one to the president's most senior advisers. He also chaired National Intelligence Estimates. In January 2003, he and four former colleagues founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Copyright 2005 Ray McGovern

[Sep 22, 2016] Academic Penury Adjunct Faculty as the New Precariat naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... the true rate of pay is often around the minimum wage. ..."
"... i was an adjunct professor of urban studies at new york university for 12 years. the entire academic department was staffed by adjuncts and part-time instructors except for the chairman, who was ironically a tenured professor of labor history. ..."
"... Having come up through the academic process and seeing the handwriting on the wall deciding to opt out of trying for an academic career, I think I can comment a bit. ..."
"... First, no one is forcing these folks to be adjuncts. It's their choice. ..."
"... The real issue is one of information and honesty or at least reality over hopeful expectations. When I was an undergrad my professors encouraged me to go to grad school and were pleased when I decided to pursue a Ph.D. They all implied, if not said, that I would be able to then get an academic job. I think they really believed this, but the reality was far different even at that time. By the time I graduated, unemployment in my field was at an all time high. The reality was that only 20-25% of graduates would get "potentially permanent" positions in either academia or research. So, when I finally graduated I posted a letter for the undergraduates informing them of the future in the field. Needless to say the faculty were taken aback, but when they checked they found that my data was correct. ..."
"... Yes, their choice. They can abandon the academic pursuit and choose another career. Most people with advanced degrees do just that. ..."
"... I agree that their are way too many grad students and they become the adjuncts that are desperate for full time jobs. But grad students serve an important purpose as cheap labor, particularly in research universities. ..."
"... What if the point of a review process was to improve teaching methods and get feedback from students about what works and what doesn't? ..."
"... We are looking at the decades long pursuit of making higher education "more like business". The mantra of privatization and that attitude that segments of our society which served the public: schools, universities, hospitals, departments of governments at all levels, etc., would all be better if they were run as businesses has been proven false a million times over. ..."
"... University Boards have, for decades, been stacked with advocates of market based systems which have been imposed on institutions which formerly served their students and the public. Students are no longer viewed as students but as revenue streams. Public funding for higher education has similarly declined as the cult of the marketplace including that institutions serving a public purpose needed to be more self funding. Because forcing them to have more skin in the game would force them to trim the fat and innovate. You know, like Walmart. ..."
"... This is a false hope–especially in higher education. The University, the large corporation, the particular governmental agency, are now beyond internal reform and we all know this in our bones. ..."
"... Somehow we must individually and collectively find the courage and creativity to move, maneuver and survive outside of these institutions–trading in the fear and anxiety of trying to succeed in dying institutions for the fear and anxiety which comes with creating new institutions. ..."
Sep 22, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"The work is there," Wangerin tells me, "they just don't want to pay."

A one-time adjunct and contract lecturer myself, I decide to look into the matter more deeply. Are Wangerin's contentions particular to her own experience or are they more widely shared across the United States? And if they are, what does this mean for higher education?

Information, as it turns out, isn't hard to come by. I write one message to a long-time Twitter contact who also happens to be a contingent faculty member and my inbox explodes. As I sort through my e-mails a picture of higher education begins to emerge and, far removed from the conventional image of pipe-smoking professors in book-lined studies, it is largely one of exploitation and control.

"I am currently teaching one class, and in all honesty, unemployment benefits pay double that," a community college lecturer who wished to remain anonymous told me, "I would be better off not teaching at all."

An art professor from Ohio writes in to tell me that she's just thrown in the towel after more than a decade of work: "My class was canceled two weeks before classes start and I decided to get my Alternative Educator License and teach at the high school level."

I hear of a lecturer whose courses were allocated to someone else after he spoke out about a contract clause that demanded access to his DNA; about an adjunct who could not afford to pay property taxes on the family home after 20 years of teaching; and of someone who was fired after a student complaint that he was a "black racist." "Whatever that means," the adjunct reporting the incident grumbles.

... ... ...

"Education claims to ameliorate class stratification, but it actually reinforces it," says Alex Kudera, who has taught college writing and literature off the tenure track for over twenty years.

It's not hard to see what he means. The average adjunct lecturer receives only $2700 per course taught. While that amount is sometimes portrayed as easy money, in addition to time spent in class lecturers must also prepare course content, create exams and assignments, grade, advise students, and, of course, travel from campus to campus. When academics are employed on a casual basis, such activity is not compensated, meaning that the true rate of pay is often around the minimum wage.

Jim Haygood , September 21, 2016 at 6:36 am

'Academics may enjoy more intellectual freedom than many workers, but they also have a duty that does not generally fall on others: to research and to publish the results of that research regardless of how unpopular it may be.'

Proposal for a joint Econ/Law paper

Thesis : US academia is a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization

Synopsis : using de facto antitrust immunity garnered by its politically connected administrators, academia relentlessly hikes tuitions as well as its intake of governmental funding.

Via false and deceptive marketing, students are promised nonexistent benefits from earning a degree, then subjected to a loan sharking racket which indebts them for life, at inflated cartelized prices, without informing them of the non-dischargeability of those debts.

Systemic marketing fraud is further enabled by glossy alumni magazines touting the achievements of tenured faculty, without divulging that a majority of classes are taught by adjuncts.

Recommendations : RICO the entire industry; consolidate it; convict the managers; reopen it under new leadership (former politicians banned for life), under new legislation prohibiting marketing fraud and loan sharking.

Norb , September 21, 2016 at 9:02 am

Seems like the logical solution and the only way to avoid actual collapse of the institutions. This higher education scam can only continue until parental funds are tapped out, which is this current generation of collage age families. New entrants into the workforce, on whole, will not be able to save enough, or have job security to even consider college for their children.

The social contract that the elite are forging ahead with is the bond and willingness to be scammed. It is amazing to see their disbelieving expressions when any form of resistance is encountered. The rational response would be to ease up on the exploitation, but doesn't seem to be happening. Other forces will have to be brought to bear.

ProNewerDeal , September 21, 2016 at 6:48 am

"non-tenure track teaching staff – commonly referred to as adjuncts and contingent faculty – now make up approximately 70% of all teaching staff in American higher education. This means that roughly three out of every four courses a student takes are taught by someone without job security who is working on minimal pay."

Is this actually true? If say some adjuncts are full-time other job & teach only 1 course, some adjuncts are perma-temp FT & teach ~4 courses, & tenure-track teach ~4 courses; then you could have a situation where say
1 portion of teachers that are adjuncts. The article mentioned 70% of ANY teachers teaching at least 1 course in a given semester at Universities are adjuncts

2 portion of courses taught that are taught by adjuncts: A lower number, say 40% of the courses taught at Univs are taught by adjuncts, due to having tenure-track Profs teaching ~4 courses & adjuncts teaching ~1 course each.

The author seems to make a logic error assuming that metric #2 is the same as #1. It may happen to be, but doesn't necessarily need to be.

What actually is the metric #2 number?

I have empathy for the perma-temp FT adjuncts, IMHO it is no different than perma-temp FT workers in other occupations, despite the prestige of Unviersities perhaps somewhat masking its practice.

diptherio , September 21, 2016 at 11:42 am

You're right that we don't have enough info to know #2 from the article, but I also don't know that you've got it quite right.

If full time instructors are half-and-half tenure/tenure-track and adjunct (for instance), that would mean that 30% of profs are tenure and 30% are full time adjuncts. That would leave another 40% of the total that are less-than-full time adjuncts. So you'd have a majority of classes being taught by adjuncts. But, of course, we need more info to figure it out for sure, but it seems more likely to me, based on my experience (~ half my classes were taught by adjuncts during my college days, which were in the late nineties-early aughties) that adjuncts represent a firm majority of both personnel and classroom hours.

MooCows , September 21, 2016 at 1:18 pm

I'm not an adjunct but I'm a non-tenure track faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at a very large university. I teach 8 technical courses a year (3/3/2) while the tenured faculty teach 3 or 4 (2/1/0). We also have adjuncts who typically teach one course a semester.

I bring this up because it could be that, from the author's perspective, I still fall into the adjunct category because my contract must be renewed yearly and the administration can choose not to renew without cause. I would say that non-tenure track faculty are responsible for about 50% of the courses in this department but, being in engineering, our department is small relative to something in the College of Liberal Arts.

upstater , September 21, 2016 at 8:02 am

This fits in, sort of, to this posting… the dean of the B-school, with a $500K salary, a supposed expert on "risk management" at Syracuse University, busted in a prostitution sting:

SU dean arrested in prostitution bust told students: 'Nothing is worth your integrity'

I guess he'll have to hire out at Goldman - aren't they the ones with the running tab at a NYC escort service?

Plenty of adjuncts at Syracuse University, where the tuition is $55K/year.

PlutoniumKun , September 21, 2016 at 8:03 am

More of a question here, as I see the author teaches in Ireland. If Dr. Fuller comes below the line I'd be interested to hear her thoughts on whether the same process is infecting Irish and other European universities. I know if at least one college administrator in Itelamd who loudly proclaims the superiority if the US system. One can only wonder why…

Anon , September 21, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Superior in what way? Science? Technical research? Economic research?

For the US undergad, adjunct instructors is the norm. (My local community college has 70% adjunct instructors.). My local University has slightly less, but uses more experienced gad students to guide less experienced grad students. In any event, the product/experience has been cheapened.

tony , September 21, 2016 at 9:52 am

Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows.

Report: First two years of college show small gains

Morris Berman has pointed out that US college has become a social rather than a learning experience. I suspect this cultural shift has made academics themselves replaceable. Does it really matter who babysits these four-year party retreats?

Robert Dannin , September 21, 2016 at 10:10 am

i was an adjunct professor of urban studies at new york university for 12 years. the entire academic department was staffed by adjuncts and part-time instructors except for the chairman, who was ironically a tenured professor of labor history.

my classes were always bursting to seams, we studied contemporary issues and were focusing on the sub-prime crisis back in 1995. one class toward the end of my lecture, i wrote the math for my salary on the blackboard. it came down to twenty-five cents per student per class, a tiny fraction of their per semester tuition. a student from the business school remarked that i could probably make more panhandling the same hours outside in washington square park. everyone laughed. by the time i got back to the department less than 20 minutes later, the chair invited me into his office. "don't talk about salary issues with your students. GOT IT!" someone had ratted me out. guess i spoiled their day. easier to discuss poor people in the outer boroughs than someone on your doorstep. in the following years i spent my spare time organizing the first adjunct faculty union. door-to-door, button-holing adjuncts on the sidewalk or in the hallways. the less experience they had, the more reluctant they were to get involved for fear of ruining their chances for a F/T tenure track position. they wouldn't listen, when i explained, once an adjunct, always an adjunct. after five more years, they began to see the light and wanted union. then the uaw swooped in, demanding my lists and fealty. they knew nothing about activism on an urban campus and didn't want to listen. when i tried to participate in meetings, i was accused of disrespecting the regional organizer who commuted to the union hqtrs. from her home in litchfield, ct. at one meeting they told us who our "friends" were on campus. yep, heading the list was my dept chair, the good-old red-diaper baby himself. finally, there was a vote, the union won a shitty package that deliberately excluded any new hires. end of the semester the dept chair sends me an email, you're fired! meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

SpringTexan , September 21, 2016 at 10:46 am

Thanks. Wish every adjunct would teach this if this is appropriate to the class. (and mention it in passing if it's not)

Uahsenaa , September 21, 2016 at 11:07 am

I do this with my students as well, noting that about 10% of their tuition goes to me, while the rest goes to the University.

I also like to point out that they pay six six times the tuition compared to what the people running the university did, and that's before you take into consideration that they didn't have to pay an extra 1K in "fees."

If they simply cut me a check for the percentage of their tuition that goes to the class, I'd make upwards of 300K a year.

ProNewerDeal , September 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Robert,

Thanks for sharing your story. I am sorry to hear that you were fired, apparently for exercising you human & Constitutional right to labor-organize.

The fact that your boss was "a labor history Prof" is worst-tier hypocrisy & irony. Reminds me of Constitutional Law Prof 0bama, who continually defecates on the Constitution with his assasination of US citizens overseas program, NSA bulk spying, etc.

I hope you found an alternative job that had better working conditions & a fairer boss.

flora , September 21, 2016 at 10:20 am

This essay is spot-on in every respect. Thanks for posting.

NoBrick , September 21, 2016 at 10:26 am

"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, We're finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming, Four dead in Ohio." CSNY

It seems the "social unrest" stemmed from the collective consciousness permitted by
unrestrained objectivity. The master-client relationship was overwhelmed by repeated
gestures that breached the ordained demeandor of prostrate obedience.

The balance between confusion and illumination (consciousness) must be modified!
After all, successful marketing/propaganda begins where consciousness ends…

Benedict@Large , September 21, 2016 at 10:32 am

I was fortunate enough (a long time ago) to attend an Ivy League university, with my brother attending the same two class years ahead of me. I became frustrated at one point, finding my courses to always be a number of degrees more abstract in what they were teaching than I had anticipated, and sought my brother's advice. "Brown," he said, "doesn't make engineers; they make graduate students." As I would later come to say, we were not taught to be mathematicians or chemists or historian; we were taught to think like them. I can't tell you how valuable that approach to education has turn out to be for me, both professionally and personally, as I've made my way through life. These are things you don't unlearn.

I think about this whenever I read articles (like this one) about the direction of education today, especially but not limited to the college level. These experiences are being lost as we turn our schools into trade schools and our students into mere mechanics; OK at any situation for which they have been specifically trained, but kind of useless for those when that has not been the case. Our elites tell us that this is what the market wants, but I never see any of them actually asking the students, and when I check back at the Ivy, I find that the elites still teach their own the way I was taught. The answer is clear. we are deliberately being divided by education into a world where the children of the elites, whether they have earned it or not, will find no intellectual competition from the classes below them. The Poors really will be stupid, but it will be intentional, and built in to the Nature and Nurture the elites have allowed them to have.

beans , September 21, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Excellent comment, Benedict. The art of teaching people how to think instead of what to think – the educator who can do this is invaluable, now more than ever.

Punxsutawney , September 21, 2016 at 10:33 am

I might add as well, that many of these adjuncts came out of industry, having lost well paying jobs as operations were moved overseas.

Now working part-time for less than 1/2 of what they were making, if they are lucky!

Bitman , September 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

Few points to add to this excellent article:

1. The shift needed to understand the modern University is to think of it not as an institution of higher learning, but as a processing plant – it produces "students" and "graduates, and adjuncts are the staff assigned the role of processors. The model is industrial. Elite institutions of all sorts have conspired with the University to require professional credentials for more and more of the occupations they staff, in order to assure large flows of people pass through. This also means that larger populations are drawn into the debt system and thereby depoliticized.

2. The most important role an adjunct can play is to bring the issues associated with the industrializing of the university into the classroom. Make students aware of the labor situation, and what they're buying. Explain to them that adjuncts, like nurses in hospitals, are expected to overperform, and that their overperformance is what props up a diseased, corrupt institution. It's very, very important for adjuncts not to get caught up in the official institutional morality that guilts them into overperformance (hospitals are probably the leader in this respect). How much overperformance you indulge in is a personal decision, in my view, but it should never be taken on uncritically.

My own individualized response to this system has been to take on as many classes as I humanly can, so that a) my wages actually compare to those of my tenured colleagues, and b) to demonstrate to students by so doing that the University does not give a shit about their education. No one pays attention to how many courses I teach or how prepared I am to teach them. I've taught hundreds of courses (no exaggeration) and no one ever supervises me or even checks in (It's happened twice in 25 years) .Fact is, I happen to be prepared, but I stress that that is not at all a concern of the University. I've been asked to teach courses in subjects where I have absolutely no expertise, but since I'm teaching undergrads, know how to read, construct a syllabus, and make compelling arguments, I get by, sometimes even comfortably. Many get by this way. But it shouldn't be confused with providing student a good education. And I'm getting too old to maintain the pace, as we all do.

According to the evaluation numbers I'm somehow still providing students with an above-average experience in their courses, but I do so full in the knowledge that I WILL NOT overperform without making the students aware that that is what unfairly is expected of me, even though I'm given none of the resources tenured faculty are given. I cancel classes sometimes, for the express purpose of the fact I need a break (I don;t get sabbaticals). They almost invariably understand. They also are sometimes infuriated that this state of affairs persists, though like adjuncts they fear making waves.

3. Tenured faculty are the enemy (unfortunately) or PT faculty. Eevn the labor activists among them have different class interests than PT faculty at most large universities. Full-time faculty are dominated by the administration and feel themselves to be under siege, but one response to this is that they dominate PT faculty as a means of freeing themselves as much as possible from the industrial-style teaching of large University life. As a rule, they are not willing to equitably share the burdens PT faculty face, and there's no getting around that.

David , September 21, 2016 at 11:51 am

Having come up through the academic process and seeing the handwriting on the wall deciding to opt out of trying for an academic career, I think I can comment a bit.

First, no one is forcing these folks to be adjuncts. It's their choice.

The real issue is one of information and honesty or at least reality over hopeful expectations. When I was an undergrad my professors encouraged me to go to grad school and were pleased when I decided to pursue a Ph.D. They all implied, if not said, that I would be able to then get an academic job. I think they really believed this, but the reality was far different even at that time. By the time I graduated, unemployment in my field was at an all time high. The reality was that only 20-25% of graduates would get "potentially permanent" positions in either academia or research. So, when I finally graduated I posted a letter for the undergraduates informing them of the future in the field. Needless to say the faculty were taken aback, but when they checked they found that my data was correct.

Do these adjuncts believe that a "potentially permanent" position awaits them if they keep going on their present path? Are they being told that by the universities? If so, then they are being deceived. Or, is this just a case of blind optimism and not wanting to give up their dream? In this case, it goes back to being their choice. Or do they want a career as a serial adjunct, and just want the job to be better? The this is just typical employer/employee bargaining and back to their choice.

So, they can agitate for more money, security, authority, etc. which is what they appear to be doing, or they can leave the field for one that is more lucrative, which is what the vast majority of us have done.

http://canonicalthoughts.blogspot.com

reslez , September 21, 2016 at 2:08 pm

It's their "choice" to be an adjunct. Really? If there was a true choice wouldn't the vast majority "choose" to be full-time faculty with benefits and equivalent pay? Free marketeers keep using the word "choice", but the choice they offer is usually one where you get to "choose" between homelessness and and marginal survival at $11 an hour. A mighty impressive choice!

Do they "believe" they're going to get a full-time position, because realistic career expectations wouldn't help universities get cheap grad student labor?

Or maybe they end up in grad school like a lot of people I know - because the job market was so terrible that the idea of staying in school for another couple of years was their best "choice" at that point in time? Since the media constantly tells us education is always good, and those who don't have it will fall behind, the idea that more education isn't always better comes as a foreign idea to a lot of 22 year olds. An assembly line of cheap grad student labor then gets funneled into adjunct teaching.

David , September 21, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Yes, their choice. They can abandon the academic pursuit and choose another career. Most people with advanced degrees do just that.

I agree that their are way too many grad students and they become the adjuncts that are desperate for full time jobs. But grad students serve an important purpose as cheap labor, particularly in research universities. Why would they want to give that up? Again, this is an issue of information, which is why I posted my letter. If undergrads knew the actual prospects for grad students after they graduate perhaps they would choose a different path. But, grad school and academia are extremely attractive pursuits for many people so they readily put up with all the impediments in the hope of making it as a professor. The reality is that academia has become an avocation, a hobby, rather than a vocation for most people.

diptherio , September 21, 2016 at 11:59 am

Here's a thought: maybe if our education system weren't built around fear, we'd be able to present a more united front.

Consider: instructors are tasked with judging students and, if they grade on the curve, punishing some of them regardless of their skill or effort…and often enough this sorting is accomplished through BS methods like high-stakes, time-limited testing. So yeah, sometimes students get resentful of the instructors who get seen as the enemy. And so, they take it out be leaving a bad review.

The reviews, just like the tests and grading systems, are being used to sort and punish profs. Bad reviews from students can be devastating financially and career-wise, as detailed in the article. So profs get scared and therefore fail to ask much of the students, so as to come off as a "nice guy/gal." The students live in fear and don't learn, and the teachers live in fear and don't teach. But what if we did things differently?

What if the point of a review process was to improve teaching methods and get feedback from students about what works and what doesn't? What if reviews were done in a way aimed at supporting instructors, rather than censuring them? And what if students were treated the same way. What if, instead of a reprimand and a shaming, students were given support and encouragement (more like Evergreen and Sarah Lawrence)?

Maybe then we'd stop being afraid of each other and be able to support eachother as we demand an answer to the question of how it is that tuitions keep going up while faculty pay keeps going down. Demand in no uncertain terms that the top Admins take major pay cuts or step down so their secretary can take over for them (with a hefty pay raise, of course, but something reasonable ).

That's my two sense.

KYrocky , September 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm

We are looking at the decades long pursuit of making higher education "more like business". The mantra of privatization and that attitude that segments of our society which served the public: schools, universities, hospitals, departments of governments at all levels, etc., would all be better if they were run as businesses has been proven false a million times over.

University Boards have, for decades, been stacked with advocates of market based systems which have been imposed on institutions which formerly served their students and the public. Students are no longer viewed as students but as revenue streams. Public funding for higher education has similarly declined as the cult of the marketplace including that institutions serving a public purpose needed to be more self funding. Because forcing them to have more skin in the game would force them to trim the fat and innovate. You know, like Walmart.

For decades, political contributions bought politicians who in turn mandated that federal student loans had to be administered by banks, thereby siphoning off billions, if not tens of billions, of dollars that could have otherwise gone to students and universities. The politicians also permit these banks to gouge students on interest rates, to pass laws making it harder or impossible to discharge loan debt through bankruptcy, or to refinance their loans. None of these abuses of students served a public interest. All of these abuses exemplify our current model for how to apply business practices to higher education.

In the business sense, the only concern a University has for its product is its relationship to the revenue stream. A little like the charter school model. Universities have a need for instructors, and in applying the methods of successful business as it is defined today they will seek to fill that labor need at the absolute lowest cost achievable. Those who long for the past are out of luck; universities are never going back. Faculty pay will keep going down as long there are new warm bodies to take the place of those who don't like it, and adjuncts will be squeezed for all that can be wrung from them.

Adjuncts are nameless, faceless, and entirely forgettable as far the University administration is concerned. The administration will blow as much smoke up adjunct's asses as needed to keep their slots filled. Adjuncts are in an abusive relationship, whether they understand it or not. The abuse is never going to end, as the obstacles are not just the administration and the university Board, but the politicians, the big donors, and the attitudes of our society at large.

templar555510 , September 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm

What you have so precisely described is yet another Ponzi scheme. Of course it is because that is what post capitalist Capitalism is .

Think of it like this : there is approximately 7 billion of us living on planet Earth and between us we can and do produce enough food, clothing and could produce enough housing ( that's another matter ) for all 7 billion.

So the problem for the capitalist is how do I create the illusion of scarcity upon which Capitalism works. Answer : grab by any and every means possible – legal and illegal , it's all the same thing – the lions share of what already exists ; in other words steal it . That's the 1 % .

And then con the 99% into believing resources are scarce etc, etc and bending to the will of the 1 %.

Jim , September 21, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Most of us continue to hope that we will eventually find a secure/meaningful position somewhere in one of the major institutions that make-up our society.

This is a false hope–especially in higher education. The University, the large corporation, the particular governmental agency, are now beyond internal reform and we all know this in our bones.

Somehow we must individually and collectively find the courage and creativity to move, maneuver and survive outside of these institutions–trading in the fear and anxiety of trying to succeed in dying institutions for the fear and anxiety which comes with creating new institutions.

[Sep 21, 2016] An interesting view on Russian intelligencia by the scientist and writer Zinoviev expressed during perestroika in 1991

The intelligentsia (Latin: intellegentia, Polish: inteligencja, Russian: интеллигенция; IPA: [ɪntʲɪlʲɪˈɡʲentsɨjə]) is a social class of people engaged in complex mental labor aimed at guiding or critiquing, or otherwise playing a leadership role in shaping a society's culture and politics.[1] This therefore might include everyone from artists to school teachers, as well as academics, writers, journalists, and other hommes de lettres (men of letters) more usually thought of as being the main constituents of the intelligentsia.
Intelligentsia is the subject of active polemics concerning its own role in the development of modern society not always positive historically, often contributing to higher degree of progress, but also to its backward movement.[2]... In pre-revolutionary Russia the term was first used to describe people possessing cultural and political initiative.[3] It was commonly used by those individuals themselves to create an apparent distance from the masses, and generally retained that narrow self-definition. [citation needed]
en.wikipedia.org

If intellectuals replace the current professional politicians as the leaders of society the situation would become much worse. Because they have neither the sense of reality, nor common sense. For them, the words and speeches are more important than the actual social laws and the dominant trends, the dominant social dynamics of the society. The psychological principle of the intellectuals is that we could organize everything much better, but we are not allowed to do it.

But the actual situation is as following: they could organize the life of society as they wish and plan, in the way they view is the best only if under conditions that are not present now are not feasible in the future. Therefore they are not able to act even at the level of current leaders of the society, which they despise. The actual leaders are influenced by social pressures, by the current social situation, but at least they doing something. Intellectuals are unhappy that the real stream of life they are living in. They consider it wrong. that makes them very dangerous, because they look really smart, while in reality being sophisticated professional idiots.

[Sep 18, 2016] We Have to Deal With Putin

Notable quotes:
"... Moscow did indeed support secessionist pro-Russia rebels in East Ukraine. But did not the U.S. launch a 78-day bombing campaign on tiny Serbia to effect a secession of its cradle province of Kosovo? ..."
"... Russia is reportedly hacking into our political institutions. If so, it ought to stop. But have not our own CIA, National Endowment for Democracy, and NGOs meddled in Russia's internal affairs for years? ..."
"... Scores of the world's 190-odd nations are today ruled by autocrats. How does it advance our interests or diplomacy to have congressional leaders yapping "thug" at the ruler of a nation with hundreds of nuclear warheads? ..."
"... Very good article indeed. Knee-jerk reaction of american politicians and journalists looks extremely strange. As a matter of fact they look like idiots or puppets. ..."
"... Rubio and Graham are reflexively ready to push US influence everywhere, all the time, with military force always on the agenda, and McCain seems to be in a state of constant agitation ..."
"... Very sensible article. And as the EU falls further into disarray and possible disintegration, due to migration and other catastrophically mishandled problems, a working partnership with Russia will become even more important. Right now, we treat Russia as an enemy and Saudi Arabia as a friend. That makes no sense at all. ..."
"... As I've stated many times, Obama the narcissist hates Putin because Putin doesn't play the sycophantic lapdog yapping about how good it is to interact with the "smartest person in the room". ..."
"... I'm serious. Obama craves sources of narcissistic supply and has visceral contempt for sources of narcissistic injury. I.e., people who may reveal the mediocrity that he actually is. Obama considers Putin a threat in that context. ..."
"... The downside for the U.S. is that Obama has extended hating Putin to hating Russia. And yes, Washington is flooded with sources of sycophantic narcissistic supply for Obama including the MSM. And they are happy to massage his twisted ego by enthusiastically playing along with the Putin/Russia fear-monger bashing. ..."
"... P.S. too bad Hillary is saturated with her own psychopathology that portends more Global Cop wreckage. ..."
"... Anyway, what Buchanan is saying is, "We have to deal with him," not "favor him." The two terms should not be confused. ..."
"... There are a lot of "allies" of questionable usefulness that the US should stop "favoring," and a lot of competitors (and potential allies in the true sense) out there the US should begin "dealing" with. ..."
"... Everything the Western elite does is about dollar hegemony and control of energy. ..."
"... As long as Russia is not a puppet of the globalist banking cartel they will be presented as an "enemy". Standing in the way of energy imperialism was the last straw for the all out hybrid war being launched on Russia now. ..."
"... If the Western public wasn't so lazy and stupid we would remove the globalists controlling us. Instead people, especially liberals, get in bed with the globalists plans against Russia bc they can't stand Russia is Christian and supports the family. ..."
"... Every word about Russia allowed in the Western establishment are lies funded and molded by people like Soros and warmongers. This is the reality. Nobody who will speak honestly or positively about Russia is allowed any voice. And scumbag neoliberal globalists like Kasperov are presented as "Russians" while real Russian people are given zero voice. ..."
"... What the Western elite is doing right now in Ukraine and Syria is reprehensible and its all our fault for letting these people control us. ..."
Sep 16, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com

...Arriving on Capitol Hill to repair ties between Trump and party elites, Gov. Mike Pence was taken straight to the woodshed.

What causes the Republican Party to lose it whenever the name of Vladimir Putin is raised?

Putin is no Stalin, whom FDR and Harry Truman called "Good old Joe" and "Uncle Joe." Unlike Nikita Khrushchev, he never drowned a Hungarian Revolution in blood. He did crush the Chechen secession. But what did he do there that General Sherman did not do to Atlanta when Georgia seceded from Mr. Lincoln's Union?

Putin supported the U.S. in Afghanistan, backed our nuclear deal with Iran, and signed on to John Kerry's plan have us ensure a cease fire in Syria and go hunting together for ISIS and al-Qaida terrorists.

Still, Putin committed "aggression" in Ukraine, we are told. But was that really aggression, or reflexive strategic reaction? We helped dump over a pro-Putin democratically elected regime in Kiev, and Putin acted to secure his Black Sea naval base by re-annexing Crimea, a peninsula that has belonged to Russia from Catherine the Great to Khrushchev. Great powers do such things.

When the Castros pulled Cuba out of America's orbit, we decided to keep Guantanamo, and dismiss Havana's protests?

Moscow did indeed support secessionist pro-Russia rebels in East Ukraine. But did not the U.S. launch a 78-day bombing campaign on tiny Serbia to effect a secession of its cradle province of Kosovo?

... ... ...

Russia is reportedly hacking into our political institutions. If so, it ought to stop. But have not our own CIA, National Endowment for Democracy, and NGOs meddled in Russia's internal affairs for years?

... ... ...

Is Putin's Russia more repressive than Xi Jinping's China? Yet, Republicans rarely use "thug" when speaking about Xi. During the Cold War, we partnered with such autocrats as the Shah of Iran and General Pinochet of Chile, Ferdinand Marcos in Manila, and Park Chung-Hee of South Korea. Cold War necessity required it.

Scores of the world's 190-odd nations are today ruled by autocrats. How does it advance our interests or diplomacy to have congressional leaders yapping "thug" at the ruler of a nation with hundreds of nuclear warheads?

... ... ...

Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority

Tiktaalik , says: September 16, 2016 at 2:41 am

  • >>During the Cold War, we partnered with such autocrats as the Shah of Iran and General Pinochet of Chile, Ferdinand Marcos in Manila, and Park Chung-Hee of South Korea
  • buttressed could be even more pertinent)
  • Very good article indeed. Knee-jerk reaction of american politicians and journalists looks extremely strange. As a matter of fact they look like idiots or puppets.
  • bacon , says: September 16, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Rubio and Graham are reflexively ready to push US influence everywhere, all the time, with military force always on the agenda, and McCain seems to be in a state of constant agitation whenever US forces are not actively engaged in combat somewhere. They are loud voices, yes, but irrational voices, too.

    Skeptic , says: September 16, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Very sensible article. And as the EU falls further into disarray and possible disintegration, due to migration and other catastrophically mishandled problems, a working partnership with Russia will become even more important. Right now, we treat Russia as an enemy and Saudi Arabia as a friend. That makes no sense at all.

    John Blade Wiederspan , says: September 16, 2016 at 10:18 am

    "Just" states the starvation of the Ukraine is a western lie. The Harvest of Sorrow by Robert Conquest refutes this dangerous falsehood. Perhaps "Just" believes The Great Leap Forward did not lead to starvation of tens of millions in China. After all, this could be another "western lie". So to could be the Armenian genocide in Turkey or slaughter of Communists in Indonesia.

    SteveM , says: September 16, 2016 at 10:23 am

    As I've stated many times, Obama the narcissist hates Putin because Putin doesn't play the sycophantic lapdog yapping about how good it is to interact with the "smartest person in the room".

    I'm serious. Obama craves sources of narcissistic supply and has visceral contempt for sources of narcissistic injury. I.e., people who may reveal the mediocrity that he actually is. Obama considers Putin a threat in that context.

    The downside for the U.S. is that Obama has extended hating Putin to hating Russia. And yes, Washington is flooded with sources of sycophantic narcissistic supply for Obama including the MSM. And they are happy to massage his twisted ego by enthusiastically playing along with the Putin/Russia fear-monger bashing.

    And so the U.S. – Russia relationship is wrecked by the "smartest person in the room".

    P.S. too bad Hillary is saturated with her own psychopathology that portends more Global Cop wreckage.

    blimbax , says: September 16, 2016 at 11:29 am

    John asks, "We also have to deal with our current allies. Whom would Mr. Buchanan like to favor?"

    Well, we could redouble our commitment to our democracy and peace loving friends in Saudi Arabia, we could deepen our ties to those gentle folk in Egypt, and maybe for a change give some meaningful support to Israel. Oh, and our defensive alliances will be becoming so much stronger with Montenegro as a member, we will need to pour more resources into that country.

    Anyway, what Buchanan is saying is, "We have to deal with him," not "favor him." The two terms should not be confused.

    There are a lot of "allies" of questionable usefulness that the US should stop "favoring," and a lot of competitors (and potential allies in the true sense) out there the US should begin "dealing" with.

    Joe the Plutocrat , says: September 16, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    "During the Cold War, we partnered with such autocrats as the Shah of Iran and General Pinochet of Chile, Ferdinand Marcos in Manila, and Park Chung-Hee of South Korea. Cold War necessity required it (funny, you failed to mention Laos, South Vietnam, Nicaragua, Noriega/Panama, and everyone's favorite 9/11 co-conspirator and WMD developer, Saddam Hussein). either way how did these "alliances" work out for the US? really doesn't matter, does it? it is early 21st century, not mid 20th century. there is a school of thought in the worlds of counter-terrorism/intelligence operations, which suggests if you want to be successful, you have to partner with some pretty nasty folks. Trump is being "handled" by an experienced, ruthless (that's a compliment), and focused "operator". unless, of course, Trump is actually the superior operator, in which case, this would be the greatest black op of all time.

    Clint , says: September 16, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    "From Russia With Money - Hillary Clinton, the Russian Reset and Cronyism,"

    "Of the 28 US, European and Russian companies that participated in Skolkovo, 17 of them were Clinton Foundation donors" or sponsored speeches by former President Bill Clinton, Schweizer told The Post.

    http://nypost.com/2016/07/31/report-raises-questions-about-clinton-cash-from-russians-during-reset/

    WakeUp , says: September 16, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Everything the Western elite does is about dollar hegemony and control of energy. Once you understand that then the (evil)actions of the Western elite make sense. Anyone who stands in the way of those things is an "enemy". This is how they determine an "enemy".

    As long as Russia is not a puppet of the globalist banking cartel they will be presented as an "enemy". Standing in the way of energy imperialism was the last straw for the all out hybrid war being launched on Russia now.

    If the Western public wasn't so lazy and stupid we would remove the globalists controlling us. Instead people, especially liberals, get in bed with the globalists plans against Russia bc they can't stand Russia is Christian and supports the family.

    Every word about Russia allowed in the Western establishment are lies funded and molded by people like Soros and warmongers. This is the reality. Nobody who will speak honestly or positively about Russia is allowed any voice. And scumbag neoliberal globalists like Kasperov are presented as "Russians" while real Russian people are given zero voice.

    What the Western elite is doing right now in Ukraine and Syria is reprehensible and its all our fault for letting these people control us.

    [Sep 18, 2016] Obama the narcissist hates Putin because Putin doesnt play the sycophantic lapdog yapping about how good it is to interact with the smartest person in the room

    Notable quotes:
    "... As I've stated many times, Obama the narcissist hates Putin because Putin doesn't play the sycophantic lapdog yapping about how good it is to interact with the "smartest person in the room". ..."
    "... I'm serious. Obama craves sources of narcissistic supply and has visceral contempt for sources of narcissistic injury. I.e., people who may reveal the mediocrity that he actually is. Obama considers Putin a threat in that context. ..."
    "... The downside for the U.S. is that Obama has extended hating Putin to hating Russia. And yes, Washington is flooded with sources of sycophantic narcissistic supply for Obama including the MSM. And they are happy to massage his twisted ego by enthusiastically playing along with the Putin/Russia fear-monger bashing. ..."
    "... P.S. too bad Hillary is saturated with her own psychopathology that portends more Global Cop wreckage. ..."
    Sep 16, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com
    SteveM , says: September 16, 2016 at 10:23 am

    As I've stated many times, Obama the narcissist hates Putin because Putin doesn't play the sycophantic lapdog yapping about how good it is to interact with the "smartest person in the room".

    I'm serious. Obama craves sources of narcissistic supply and has visceral contempt for sources of narcissistic injury. I.e., people who may reveal the mediocrity that he actually is. Obama considers Putin a threat in that context.

    The downside for the U.S. is that Obama has extended hating Putin to hating Russia. And yes, Washington is flooded with sources of sycophantic narcissistic supply for Obama including the MSM. And they are happy to massage his twisted ego by enthusiastically playing along with the Putin/Russia fear-monger bashing.

    And so the U.S. – Russia relationship is wrecked by the "smartest person in the room".

    P.S. too bad Hillary is saturated with her own psychopathology that portends more Global Cop wreckage.

    [Sep 18, 2016] Protesting Youth in the Age of Neoliberal Cruelty

    Notable quotes:
    "... Reality always has this power to surprise. It surprises you with an answer that it gives to questions never asked - and which are most tempting. A great stimulus to life is there, in the capacity to divine possible unasked questions. ..."
    "... - Eduardo Galeano ..."
    "... Fred Jameson has argued that "that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." ..."
    "... One way of understanding Jameson's comment is that within the ideological and affective spaces in which the neoliberal subject is produced and market-driven ideologies are normalized, there are new waves of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is driven by a kind of mad violence and form of self-sabotage, and that if it does not come to an end, what we will experience, in all probability, is the destruction of human life and the planet itself. ..."
    "... 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 ..."
    "... As an ideology, it casts all dimensions of life in terms of market rationality, construes profit-making as the arbiter and essence of democracy ..."
    "... Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one's individual needs and self-interests. ..."
    "... The unemployment rate for young people in many countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece hovers between 40 and 50 per cent. To make matters worse, those with college degrees either cannot find work or are working at low-skill jobs that pay paltry wages. In the United States, young adjunct faculty constitute one of the fastest growing populations on food stamps. Suffering under huge debts, a jobs crisis, state violence, a growing surveillance state, and the prospect that they would inherit a standard of living far below that enjoyed by their parents, many young people have exhibited a rage that seems to deepen their resignation, despair, and withdrawal from the political arena. ..."
    "... They now inhabit a neoliberal notion of temporality marked by a loss of faith in progress along with the emergence of apocalyptic narratives in which the future appears indeterminate, bleak, and insecure. Heightened expectations and progressive visions pale and are smashed next to the normalization of market-driven government policies that wipe out pensions, eliminate quality health care, raise college tuition, and produce a harsh world of joblessness, while giving millions to banks and the military. ..."
    "... dispossessed youth continued to lose their dignity, bodies, and material goods to the machineries of disposability. ..."
    "... Against the ravaging policies of austerity and disposability, "zones of abandonment appeared in which the domestic machinery of violence, suffering, cruelty, and punishment replaced the values of compassion, social responsibility, and civic courage" (Biehl 2005:2). ..."
    "... In opposition to such conditions, a belief in the power of collective resistance and politics emerged once again in 2010, as global youth protests embraced the possibility of deepening and expanding democracy, rather than rejecting it. ..."
    "... What is lacking here is any critical sense regarding the historical conditions and dismal lack of political and moral responsibility of an adult generation who shamefully bought into and reproduced, at least since the 1970s, governments and social orders wedded to war, greed, political corruption, xenophobia, and willing acceptance of the dictates of a ruthless form of neoliberal globalization. ..."
    "... London Review of Books ..."
    "... This is not a diary ..."
    "... Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment ..."
    "... Against the terror of neoliberalism ..."
    "... Against the violence of organized forgetting: beyond America's disimagination machine ..."
    "... Debt: The First 5,000 Years ..."
    "... The democracy project: a history, a crisis, a movement ..."
    "... 5th assessment report by the intergovernmental panel on climate change ..."
    "... Unlearning With Hannah Arendt ..."
    "... Agnonistics: thinking the world politically ..."
    "... Capital in the twenty-first century ..."
    www.truth-out.org

    Reality always has this power to surprise. It surprises you with an answer that it gives to questions never asked - and which are most tempting. A great stimulus to life is there, in the capacity to divine possible unasked questions.

    - Eduardo Galeano

    Neoliberalism's Assault on Democracy

    Fred Jameson has argued that "that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." He goes on to say that "We can now revise that and witness the attempt to imagine capitalism by way of imagining the end of the world" (Jameson 2003). One way of understanding Jameson's comment is that within the ideological and affective spaces in which the neoliberal subject is produced and market-driven ideologies are normalized, there are new waves of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is driven by a kind of mad violence and form of self-sabotage, and that if it does not come to an end, what we will experience, in all probability, is the destruction of human life and the planet itself. Certainly, more recent scientific reports on the threat of ecological disaster from researchers at the University of Washington, NASA, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reinforce this dystopian possibility. [1]

    To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

    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). As a political project, it includes "the deregulation of finance, privatization of public services, elimination and curtailment of social welfare programs, open attacks on unions, and routine violations of labor laws" (Yates 2013). As an ideology, it casts all dimensions of life in terms of market rationality, construes profit-making as the arbiter and essence of democracy, consuming as the only operable form of citizenship, and upholds the irrational belief that the market can both solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations. As a mode of governance, it produces identities, subjects, and ways of life driven by a survival-of-the fittest ethic, grounded in the idea of the free, possessive individual, and committed to the right of ruling groups and institutions to exercise power removed from matters of ethics and social costs. As a policy and political project, it is wedded to the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection of private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, the eradication of government regulation of financial institutions and corporations, the destruction of the welfare state and unions, and the endless marketization and commodification of society.

    Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one's individual needs and self-interests. Matters of mutual caring, respect, and compassion for the other have given way to the limiting orbits of privatization and unrestrained self-interest, just as it has become increasingly difficult to translate private troubles into larger social, economic, and political considerations. As the democratic public spheres of civil society have atrophied under the onslaught of neoliberal regimes of austerity, the social contract has been either greatly weakened or replaced by savage forms of casino capitalism, a culture of fear, and the increasing use of state violence. One consequence is that it has become more difficult for people to debate and question neoliberal hegemony and the widespread misery it produces for young people, the poor, middle class, workers, and other segments of society - now considered disposable under neoliberal regimes which are governed by a survival-of-the fittest ethos, largely imposed by the ruling economic and political elite.

    That they are unable to make their voices heard and lack any viable representation in the process makes clear the degree to which young people and others are suffering under a democratic deficit, producing what Chantal Mouffe calls "a profound dissatisfaction with a number of existing societies" under the reign of neoliberal capitalism (Mouffe 2013:119). This is one reason why so many youth, along with workers, the unemployed, and students, have been taking to the streets in Greece, Mexico, Egypt, the United States, and England.

    The Rise of Disposable Youth

    What is particularly distinctive about the current historical conjuncture is the way in which young people, particularly low-income and poor minority youth across the globe, have been increasingly denied any place in an already weakened social order and the degree to which they are no longer seen as central to how a number of countries across the globe define their future. The plight of youth as disposable populations is evident in the fact that millions of them in countries such as England, Greece, and the United States have been unemployed and denied long term benefits. The unemployment rate for young people in many countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece hovers between 40 and 50 per cent. To make matters worse, those with college degrees either cannot find work or are working at low-skill jobs that pay paltry wages. In the United States, young adjunct faculty constitute one of the fastest growing populations on food stamps. Suffering under huge debts, a jobs crisis, state violence, a growing surveillance state, and the prospect that they would inherit a standard of living far below that enjoyed by their parents, many young people have exhibited a rage that seems to deepen their resignation, despair, and withdrawal from the political arena.

    This is the first generation, as sociologist Zygmunt Bauman argues, in which the "plight of the outcast may stretch to embrace a whole generation." (Bauman 2012a; 2012b; 2012c) He rightly insists that today's youth have been "cast in a condition of liminal drift, with no way of knowing whether it is transitory or permanent" (Bauman 2004:76). Youth no longer occupy the hope of a privileged place that was offered to previous generations. They now inhabit a neoliberal notion of temporality marked by a loss of faith in progress along with the emergence of apocalyptic narratives in which the future appears indeterminate, bleak, and insecure. Heightened expectations and progressive visions pale and are smashed next to the normalization of market-driven government policies that wipe out pensions, eliminate quality health care, raise college tuition, and produce a harsh world of joblessness, while giving millions to banks and the military.

    Students, in particular, found themselves in a world in which unrealized aspirations have been replaced by dashed hopes and a world of onerous debt (Fraser 2013; On the history of debt, see Graeber 2012).

    The Revival of the Radical Imagination

    Within the various regimes of neoliberalism that have emerged particularly in North since the late 1970s, the ethical grammars that drew attention to the violence and suffering withered or, as in the United States, seemed to disappear altogether, while dispossessed youth continued to lose their dignity, bodies, and material goods to the machineries of disposability. The fear of losing everything, the horror of an engulfing and crippling precarity, the quest to merely survive, the rise of the punishing state and police violence, along with the impending reality of social and civil death, became a way of life for the 99 percent in the United States and other countries. Under such circumstances, youth were no longer the place where society reveals its dreams, but increasingly hid its nightmares. Against the ravaging policies of austerity and disposability, "zones of abandonment appeared in which the domestic machinery of violence, suffering, cruelty, and punishment replaced the values of compassion, social responsibility, and civic courage" (Biehl 2005:2).

    In opposition to such conditions, a belief in the power of collective resistance and politics emerged once again in 2010, as global youth protests embraced the possibility of deepening and expanding democracy, rather than rejecting it. Such movements produced a new understanding of politics based on horizontal forms of collaboration and political participation. In doing so, they resurrected revitalized and much needed questions about class power, inequality, financial corruption, and the shredding of the democratic process. They also explored as well as what it meant to create new communities of mutual support, democratic modes of exchange and governance, and public spheres in which critical dialogue and exchanges could take place (For an excellent analysis on neoliberal-induced financial corruption, see Anderson 2004).

    A wave of youth protests starting in 2010 in Tunisia, and spreading across the globe to the United States and Europe, eventually posed a direct challenge to neoliberal modes of domination and the corruption of politics, if not democracy itself (Hardt & Negri 2012). The legitimating, debilitating, and depoliticizing notion that politics could only be challenged within established methods of reform and existing relations of power was rejected outright by students and other young people across the globe. For a couple of years, young people transformed basic assumptions about what politics is and how the radical imagination could be mobilized to challenge the basic beliefs of neoliberalism and other modes of authoritarianism. They also challenged dominant discourses ranging from deficit reduction and taxing the poor to important issues that included poverty, joblessness, the growing unmanageable levels of student debt, and the massive spread of corporate corruption. As Jonathan Schell argued, youth across the globe were enormously successfully in unleashing "a new spirit of action", an expression of outrage fueled less by policy demands than by a cry of collective moral and political indignation whose message was

    'Enough!' to a corrupt political, economic and media establishment that hijacked the world's wealth for itself… sabotaging the rule of law, waging interminable savage and futile wars, plundering the world's finite resources, and lying about all this to the public [while] threatening Earth's life forms into the bargain. (Schell 2011)

    Yet, some theorists have recently argued that little has changed since 2011, in spite of this expression of collective rage and accompanying demonstrations by youth groups across the globe.

    The Collapse or Reconfiguration of Youthful Protests?

    Costas Lapavitsas and Alex Politaki, writing in The Guardian, argue that as the "economic and social disaster unfolded in 2012 and 2013", youth in Greece, France, Portugal, and Spain have largely been absent from "politics, social movements and even from the spontaneous social networks that have dealt with the worst of the catastrophe" (Lapavitsas & Politaki 2014). Yet, at the same time, they insist that more and more young people have been "attracted to nihilistic ends of the political spectrum, including varieties of anarchism and fascism" (Lapavitsas & Politaki 2014). This indicates that young people have hardly been absent from politics. On the contrary, those youth moving to the right are being mobilized around needs that simply promise the swindle of fulfillment. This does not suggest youth are becoming invisible. On the contrary, the move on the part of students and others to the right implies that the economic crisis has not been matched by a crisis of ideas, one that would propel young people towards left political parties or social formations that effectively articulate a critical understanding of the present economic and political crisis. Missing here is also a strategy to create and sustain a radical democratic political movement that avoids cooptation of the prevailing economic and political systems of oppression now dominating the United States, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, France, and England, among other countries.

    This critique of youthful protesters as a suspect generation is repeated in greater detail by Andrew R. Myers in Student Pulse (Myers 2012). He argues that deteriorating economic and educational conditions for youth all over Europe have created not only a profound sense of political pessimism among young people, but also a dangerous, if not cynical, distrust towards established politics. Regrettably, Myers seems less concerned about the conditions that have written young people out of jobs, a decent education, imposed a massive debt on them, and offers up a future of despair and dashed hopes than the alleged unfortunate willingness of young people to turn their back on traditional parties. Myers argues rightly that globalization is the enemy of young people and is undermining democracy, but he wrongly insists that traditional social democratic parties are the only vehicles and hope left for real reform. As such, Myers argues that youth who exhibit distrust towards established governments and call for the construction of another world symbolize political defeat, if not cynicism itself. Unfortunately, with his lament about how little youth are protesting today and about their lack of engagement in the traditional forms of politics, he endorses, in the end, a defense of those left/liberal parties that embrace social democracy and the new labor policies of centrist-left coalitions. His rebuke borders on bad faith, given his criticism of young people for not engaging in electoral politics and joining with unions, both of which, for many youth, rightfully represent elements of a reformist politics they reject.

    It is ironic that both of these critiques of the alleged passivity of youth and the failure of their politics have nothing to say about the generations of adults that failed these young people - that is, what disappears in these narratives is the fact that an older generation accepted the "realization that one generation no longer holds out a hand to the next" (Knott 2011:ix). What is lacking here is any critical sense regarding the historical conditions and dismal lack of political and moral responsibility of an adult generation who shamefully bought into and reproduced, at least since the 1970s, governments and social orders wedded to war, greed, political corruption, xenophobia, and willing acceptance of the dictates of a ruthless form of neoliberal globalization.

    In fact, what was distinctive about the protesting youth across the globe was their rejection to the injustices of neoliberalism and their attempts to redefine the meaning of politics and democracy, while fashioning new forms of revolt (Hardt & Negri 2012; Graeber 2013). Among their many criticisms, youthful protesters argued vehemently that traditional social democratic, left, and liberal parties suffered from an "extremism of the center" that made them complicitous with the corporate and ruling political elites, resulting in their embrace of the inequities of a form of casino capitalism which assumed that the market should govern the entirety of social life, not just the economic realm (Hardt & Negri 2012:88).

    ... ... ...

    References:

    Related Stories

    Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books include: Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Paradigm 2013), America's Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014), and The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America's Disimagination Machine (City Lights, 2014). The Toronto Star named Henry Giroux one of the twelve Canadians changing the way we think! Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.

    [Sep 18, 2016] Benedict Option FAQ

    Notable quotes:
    "... The "Benedict Option" refers to Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire, ..."
    "... Benedict wrote his famous Rule , which became the guiding constitution of most monasteries in western Europe in the Middle Ages. The monasteries were incubators of Christian and classical culture, and outposts of evangelization in the barbarian kingdoms ..."
    Sep 18, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com

    The "Benedict Option" refers to Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire, and who therefore are keen to construct local forms of community as loci of Christian resistance against what the empire represents.

    Put less grandly, the Benedict Option - or "Ben Op" - is an umbrella term for Christians who accept MacIntyre's critique of modernity, and who also recognize that forming Christians who live out Christianity according to Great Tradition requires embedding within communities and institutions dedicated to that formation.

    ... ... ...

    For one, the it awakened many small-o orthodox Christians to something that ought to have been clear to them a long, long time ago: the West is truly a post-Christian civilization, and we had better come up with new ways of living if we are going to hold on to the faith in this new dark age. The reason gay rights were so quickly embraced by the American public is because the same public had already jettisoned traditional Christian teaching on the meaning of sex, of marriage, and even a Christian anthropology. Same-sex marriage is only the fulfillment of a radical change that had already taken place in Western culture.

    ... ... ...

    Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480-537) was an educated young Christian who left Rome, the city of the recently fallen Empire, out of disgust with its decadence. He went south, into the forest near Subiaco, to live as a hermit and to pray. Eventually, he gathered around him some like-minded men, and formed monasteries. Benedict wrote his famous Rule , which became the guiding constitution of most monasteries in western Europe in the Middle Ages. The monasteries were incubators of Christian and classical culture, and outposts of evangelization in the barbarian kingdoms. As Cardinal Newman wrote:

    St Benedict found the world, physical and social, in ruins, and his mission was to restore it in the way not of science, but of nature, not as if setting about to do it [the caveat], not professing to do it by any set time, or by any rare specific, or by any series of strokes, but so quietly, patiently, gradually, that often till the work was done, it was not known to be doing. It was a restoration rather than a visitation, correction or conversion.

    The new work which he helped to create was a growth rather than a structure . Silent men were observed about the country, or discovered in the forest, digging, clearing and building; and other silent men, not seen, were sitting in the cold cloister, tiring their eyes and keeping their attention on the stretch, while they painfully copied and recopied the manuscripts which they had saved.

    There was no one who contended or cried out, or drew attention to what was going on, but by degrees the woody swamp became a hermitage, a religious house, a farm, an abbey, a village, a seminary, a school of learning and a city.

    ... ... ...

    Here are some basic Benedictine principles that we might think of as tools for living the Christian life:

    1. Order. Benedict described the monastery as a "school for the service of the Lord." The entire way of life of the monastic community was ordered by this telos , or end. The primary purpose of Christian community life is to form Christians. The Benedict Option must teach us to make every other goal in our lives secondary to serving God. Christianity is not simply a "worldview" or an add-on to our lives, as it is in modernity; it must be our lives, or it is something less than Christianity.

    2. Prayer and work. Life as a Christian requires both contemplation and action. Both depend on the other. There is a reason Jesus retired to the desert after teaching the crowds. Work is as sacred as prayer. Ordinary life can and should be hallowed.

    3. Stability. The Rule ordinarily requires monks to stay put in the monastery where they professed their vows. The idea is that moving around constantly, following our own desires, prevents us from becoming faithful to our calling. True, we must be prepared to follow God's calling, even if He leads us away from home. But the far greater challenge for us in the 21st century is learning how to stay put - literally and metaphorically - and to bind ourselves to a place, a tradition, a people. Only within the limits of stability can we find true freedom.

    4. Community. It really does take a village to raise a child. That is, we learn who we are and who we are called to be in large part through our communities and their institutions. We Americans have to unlearn some of the ways of individualism that we absorb uncritically, and must relearn the craft of community living.

    Not every community is equally capable of forming Christians. Communities must have boundaries, and must build these metaphorical walls because, as the New Monastic pioneer Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove writes, "we cannot become the gift to others we are called to be until we embrace the limits that are necessary to our vocation." In other words, we must withdraw behind some communal boundaries not for the sake of our own purity, but so we can first become who God wants us to be, precisely for the sake of the world. Beliefs and practices that are antithetical to achieving the community's telos must be excluded.

    5. Hospitality. That said, we must be open to outsiders, and receive them "as Christ," according to the Rule. For Benedictine monks, this had a specific meaning, with regard to welcoming visitors to the monastery. For modern laypersons, this will likely have to do with their relationship to people outside the community. The Benedictines are instructed to welcome outsiders so long as they don't interrupt communal life. It should be that way with us, too. We should always be open to others, in charity, to share what we have with them, including our faith.

    6. Balance. The Rule of St. Benedict is marked by a sense of balance, of common sense. As Ben Oppers experiment with building and/or reforming communities and institutions in a more intentional way, we must be vigilant against the temptations to fall intorigid legalism, cults of personality, and other distortions that have been the ruin of intentional communities. There must be workable forms of accountability for leadership, and the cultivation of an anti-utopian sensibility among the faithful. A community that is too lax will dissolve, or at least be ineffective, but one that is too strict will also produce disorder. A Benedict Option community must be joyful and confident, not dour and fearful.

    Can you point to any contemporary examples of Ben Op communities?

    Yes. There is a Catholic agrarian community around Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey in eastern Oklahoma. The lay community gathered around St. John Orthodox cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska, is another. Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia , is working towards incorporating a version of the Rule of St. Benedict within its congregational life. Rutba House, a New Monastic community in Durham, North Carolina, and its School for Conversion , is still another. I recently met a couple in Waco, Texas - Baylor philosophy professor Scott Moore and his wife Andrea - who bought a property near Crawford, Texas, and who are rehabilitating it into a family home and a Christian retreat called Benedict Farm. There is the Bruderhof.

    I think schools can be a form of the Benedict Option. Consider St. Jerome's, a classical school in the Catholic tradition , in Hyattsville, Maryland, or the Scuola G.K. Chesterton in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy, which is run by Catholics for Catholic children, following the vision of the late Stratford Caldecott (see his essay, "A Question of Purpose" ). Homeschool groups can be motivated by the Ben Op.

    I am certain that there is no such thing as a perfect Ben Op community, and that each and every one of them will have struggled with similar problems. In working on the Benedict Option book, I intend to visit as many of these communities as I can, to find out what they are doing right, what they wish they did better, and what we can all learn from them. The Benedict Option has to be something that ordinary people can do in their own circumstances.

    Do you really think you can just run away from the world and live off in a compound somewhere? Get real!

    No, I don't think that at all. While I wouldn't necessarily fault people who sought geographical isolation, that will be neither possible nor desirable for most of us. The early Church lived in cities, and formed its distinct life there. Most of the Ben Op communities that come to mind today are not radically isolated, in geography or otherwise, from the broader community. It's simply nonsense to say that Ben Oppers want to hide from the world and live in some sort of fundamentalist enclave. Some do, and it's not hard to find examples of how this sort of thing has gone bad. But that is not what we should aim for. In fact, I think it's all too easy for people to paint the Benedict Option as utopian escapism so they can safely wall it off and not have to think about it.

    Isn't this a violation of the Great Commission? How can we preach the Gospel to the nations when we're living in these neo-monastic communities?

    Well, what is evangelizing? Is it merely dispersing information? Or is there something more to it. The Benedict Option is about discipleship , which is itself an indirect form of evangelism. Pagans converted to the early Church not simply because of the words the first Christians spoke, but because of the witness of the kinds of lives they lived. It has to be that way with us too.

    Pope Benedict XVI said something important in this respect. He said that the best apologetic arguments for the truth of the Christian faith are the art that the Church has produced as a form of witness, and the lives of its saints:

    Yet, the beauty of Christian life is even more effective than art and imagery in the communication of the Gospel message. In the end, love alone is worthy of faith, and proves credible. The lives of the saints and martyrs demonstrate a singular beauty which fascinates and attracts, because a Christian life lived in fullness speaks without words. We need men and women whose lives are eloquent, and who know how to proclaim the Gospel with clarity and courage, with transparency of action, and with the joyful passion of charity.

    The Benedict Option is about forming communities that teach us and help us to live in such a way that our entire lives are witnesses to the transforming power of the Gospel.

    It sounds like you are simply asking for the Church to be the Church. Why do you need to brand it "the Benedict Option"?

    That's a great point, actually. If all the churches did what they were supposed to do, we wouldn't need the Ben Op. Thing is, they don't. The term "Benedict Option" symbolizes a historically conscious, antimodernist return to roots, an undertaking that occurs with the awareness that Christians have to cultivate a sense of separation, of living as what Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon call "resident aliens" in a "Christian colony," in order to be faithful to our calling. And, "Benedict Option" calls to mind monastic disciplines that we can appropriate in our own time.

    It also draws attention to the centrality of practices in shaping our Christian lives. The Reformed theologian James K.A. Smith, in his great books Imagining the Kingdom and Desiring the Kingdom , speaks of these things. A recent secular book by Matthew B. Crawford, The World Beyond Your Head , talks about the critical importance of practice as a way of knowledge. Here is Crawford writing about tradition and organ making:

    When the sovereignty of the self requires that the inheritance of the past be disqualified as a guide to action and meaning, we confine ourselves in an eternal present. If subjectivism works against the coalescing of communities and traditions in which genuine individuals can arise, does the opposite follow? Do communities that look to established forms for the meanings of things somehow cultivate individuality?

    … [C]onsider that when you go deep into some particular skill or art, it trains your powers of concentration and perception. You become more discerning about the objects you are dealing with and, if all goes well, begin to care viscerally about quality, because you have been initiated into an ethic of caring about what you are doing. Usually this happens by the example of some particular person, a mentor, who exemplifies that spirit of craftsmanship. You hear disgust in his voice, or see pleasure on his face, in response to some detail that would be literally invisible to someone not initiated. In this way, judgment develops alongside emotional involvement, unified in what Polanyi calls personal knowledge. Technical training in such a setting, though narrow in its immediate application, may be understood as part of education in the broadest sense: intellectual and moral formation.

    … What emerged in my conversations at Taylor and Boody [a traditional organ-making shop] is that the historical inheritance of a long tradition of organ making seems not to burden these craftspeople, but rather to energize their efforts in innovation. They intend for their organs still be be in use four hundred years from now, and this orientation toward the future requires a critical engagement with the designs and building methods of the past. They learn from past masters, interrogate their wisdom, and push the conversation further in an ongoing dialectic of reverence and rebellion. Their own progress in skill and understanding is thus a contribution to something larger; their earned independence of judgment represents a deepening of the craft itself. This is a story about the progressive possibilities of tradition, then.

    The Benedict Option is about how to rightly order the practices in our Christian lives, in light of tradition, for the sake of intellectual and moral formation in the way of Christ. You might even say that it's a story about the progressive possibilities of tradition, and a return to roots in defiance of a rootless age.

    [Sep 18, 2016] What is "Globalization" and "Free Trade" really?

    Notable quotes:
    "... What is "Globalization" and "Free Trade" really?… Does it encompass the slave trade, trading in narcotics, deforestation and export of a nation's tropical hardwood forests, environmentally damaging transnational oil pipelines or coal ports, fisheries depletion, laying off millions of workers and replacing them and the products they make with workers and products made in a foreign country, trading with an enemy, investing capital in a foreign country through a subsidiary or supplier that abuses its workers to the point that some commit suicide, no limits on or regulation of financial derivatives and transnational financial intermediaries?… the list is endless. ..."
    "... As always, the questions are "Cui bono?"… "Who benefits"?… How and Why they benefit?… Who selects the short-term "Winners" and "Losers"? And WRT those questions, the final sentence of this post hints at its purpose. ..."
    "... Yeah, how is European colonialism - starting in, what, like the 15th century, or something - not "globalisation"? What about the Roman and Persian and Selucid empires? Wasn't that globalisation? I think we've pretty much always lived in a globalised world, one way or another (if "globalised world" even makes sense). ..."
    "... Bring back the broader, and more meaningful conception of Political Economy and some actual understanding can be gained. The study of economics cannot be separated from the political dimension of society. Politics being defined as who gets what in social interactions. ..."
    "... The neoliberal experiment has run its course. Milton Friedman and his tribe had their alternative plan ready to go and implemented it when they could- to their great success. The best looting system developed-ever. This system only works with the availability of abundant resources and the mental justifications to support that gross exploitation. Both of which are reaching limits. ..."
    "... If only the Milton Friedman tribe had interested itself in sports instead of economics. They could have argued that referees and umpires should be removed from the game for greater efficiency of play, and that sports teams would follow game rules by self-regulation. ..."
    "... Wouldn't the whole thing just work out more efficiently if you leave traffic lights and rules out of it? Just let everyone figure it out at each light, survival of the fittest. ..."
    "... With increasingly free movement of people as tourists whose spending impacts nations GDP, where does it fit in to discussions on globalization and trade? ..."
    www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Chauncey Gardiner

    What is "Globalization" and "Free Trade" really?… Does it encompass the slave trade, trading in narcotics, deforestation and export of a nation's tropical hardwood forests, environmentally damaging transnational oil pipelines or coal ports, fisheries depletion, laying off millions of workers and replacing them and the products they make with workers and products made in a foreign country, trading with an enemy, investing capital in a foreign country through a subsidiary or supplier that abuses its workers to the point that some commit suicide, no limits on or regulation of financial derivatives and transnational financial intermediaries?… the list is endless.

    As always, the questions are "Cui bono?"… "Who benefits"?… How and Why they benefit?… Who selects the short-term "Winners" and "Losers"? And WRT those questions, the final sentence of this post hints at its purpose.

    diptherio

    Yeah, how is European colonialism - starting in, what, like the 15th century, or something - not "globalisation"? What about the Roman and Persian and Selucid empires? Wasn't that globalisation? I think we've pretty much always lived in a globalised world, one way or another (if "globalised world" even makes sense).

    Norb

    Bring back the broader, and more meaningful conception of Political Economy and some actual understanding can be gained. The study of economics cannot be separated from the political dimension of society. Politics being defined as who gets what in social interactions.

    What folly. All this complexity and strident study of minutia to bring about what end? Human history on this planet has been about how societies form, develop, then recede form prominence. This flow being determined by how well the society provided for its members or could support their worldview. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

    The neoliberal experiment has run its course. Milton Friedman and his tribe had their alternative plan ready to go and implemented it when they could- to their great success. The best looting system developed-ever. This system only works with the availability of abundant resources and the mental justifications to support that gross exploitation. Both of which are reaching limits.

    Only by thinking, and communicating in the broader terms of political economy can we hope to understand our current conditions. Until then, change will be difficult to enact. Hard landings for all indeed.

    flora

    If only the Milton Friedman tribe had interested itself in sports instead of economics. They could have argued that referees and umpires should be removed from the game for greater efficiency of play, and that sports teams would follow game rules by self-regulation.

    LA Mike September 17, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    While in traffic, I was thinking about that today. For some time now, I've viewed the traffic intersection as being a good example of the social contract. We all agree on its benefits. But today, I thought about it in terms of the Friedman Neoliberals.

    Why should they have to stop at red lights. Wouldn't the whole thing just work out more efficiently if you leave traffic lights and rules out of it? Just let everyone figure it out at each light, survival of the fittest.

    sd

    Something I have wondered for some time, how does tourism fit into trade? With increasingly free movement of people as tourists whose spending impacts nations GDP, where does it fit in to discussions on globalization and trade?

    I Have Strange Dreams

    Other things to consider:
    – negative effects of immigration (skilled workers leave developing countries where they are most needed)
    – environmental pollution
    – destruction of cultures/habitats
    – importation of western diet leading to decreased health
    – spread of disease (black death, hiv, ebola, bird flu)
    – resource wars
    – drugs
    – happiness
    How are these "externalities" calculated?

    [Sep 18, 2016] Some animals are more equal than others.

    Sep 18, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com
    hedgeless_horseman BuddyEffed Sep 17, 2016 10:58 AM

    Kirby declined to answer whether Israel should face the same treatment
    as Iran and North Korea – both of which have been sanctioned for alleged
    or actual violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Some animals are more equal than others.

    ROZETKA - Результаты поиска телефон mini-SIM Поиск

    [Sep 18, 2016] Neoliberalism has grown decadent and corrupt. It is a secular religion: a massive systemic force that some can manipulate for their own gain, but as a society we've lost the will or ability to control it's macro forces which have the power grind up whole demographics, communities, or crash the whole economy.

    Notable quotes:
    "... Something along the lines of Sweden, or maybe Germany: the means of production is left in private hands and the owning class is welcome to get rich (there are the equivalent of billionaires in both countries) but there are strict limits as to how much they can screw their workers, cheat their customers or damage the environment. ..."
    "... Also, basic social welfare matters (healthcare, child care etc.) are publicly provided, or at least publicly backstopped. The model may not be perfect but it appears to work quite well all in all. ..."
    "... Sweden has no taxes on inheritance or residential property, and its 22 percent corporate income tax rate is far lower than America's 35 percent." ..."
    "... I do not think that drag queens reading stories, Lionel Shriver's speech and backlash, or the latest Clinton scandal mean civilizational death. They are outliers, but serve to remind the vast majority of the country that there is plenty of room in America for eccentrics of every description to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ..."
    "... HRC is not really unthinkable. She is just not preferable. A vote for HRC is an acquiescence to the status quo of corrupt, big money politics. Voting for the status quo is unthinkable only if you think the apocalypse is around the next bend. Let's be serious. ..."
    "... "we are at the mercy of systematic forces, difficult to name, which can be manipulated by the powerful but not governed by them, and that our problems are unsolvable" ..."
    "... I would argue that the "system" is capitalism grown decadent and corrupt. It is a secular religion that we've given ourselves over to and is exactly as he describes: a massive systemic force that some can manipulate for their own gain, but as a society we've lost the will or ability to control it's macro forces which have the power grind up whole demographics, communities, or crash the whole economy. ..."
    "... The reaction and fall out from the financial crisis amounted to everyone shrugging and declaring innocence and ignorance. They seemed to say, how could anyone see such a thing coming or do anything about it? How could anyone control such a huge system? ..."
    "... I'm always struck by these posts detailing how everything is coming apart in America. I look around and frankly, life looks pretty good. Maybe it's because I'm a minority female, who grew up poor and now has a solidly middle class life. My mother, God rest her soul, was smarter and worked harder than I ever will but did not have one-quarter of the opportunities (education, housing) I've had. My sons have travelled the globe, and have decent jobs and good friends. I am grateful. ..."
    "... I wouldn't say that [neo] Liberalism is "spent" as a force, rather that its credibility is. As a cultural force (covering both politics and the economy, among other things), its strength is and remains vast. It is Leviathan. For all intents and purposes, it defines the culture, and thus dictates the imperatives and methods, of our governing and economic elites. ..."
    "... Bush proved that electing an imbecile to the Presidency has real consequences for our standing in the world. ..."
    "... Trump starts speaking without knowing how his sentence will end, and then he will go to down fighting to defend whatever it was he said even though he never really meant it in the first place. That mix of arrogance and stupidity is more dangerous than Bush. ..."
    "... Totally unconvincing. It couldn't be more obvious that Hillary stands for rule by globalists whereas Trump intends to return control of the federal government to We the People. ..."
    "... Which candidate is traveling to Louisiana? Flint? Detroit? Mexico (on behalf of America)? Which candidate calls tens of millions of Americans irredeemable and thus it would be justified in exterminating them? ..."
    "... What makes Mr. Cosimano so sure that what America is passing into is anything like a "civilization" at all? We could simple pass into barbarism. Can anyone name the leaders who hope to build any kind of civilization at all? ..."
    "... For 70+ years, other than while working on a university degree in history, I never gave a thought to civilizational collapse, so I would have been a poor choice to ask for a definition of the term. But after a few years of reading TAC I think I have a handle on it. It's a situation in which someone or some group sees broad social change they don't like. So probably civilizational collapse is constant and ongoing. ..."
    "... I would only point out that there is no clear path to economic safety for working Americans, whether they are white are black. Training and hard work will only take you so far in our demand-constrained economy. Whether black optimism or white pessimism turns out to be empirically justified is far from certain. We are constructing the future as we speak, and our actions will determine the answer to this question. ..."
    "... As the WikiLeaks dox show, it wasn't "barrel bombs" or "chemical warfare against his own people" that made the elites hungry to overthrow the government there, it was the 2009 decision by Syria not to allow an oil pipeline through from Qatar to Turkey, whereupon the CIA was directed to start funding jihadists and regime change. ..."
    "... I'd note that Popes going back to Leo XIII have written on the destructive effects of capitalism or rather the unmitigated pursuit of wealth. Both Benedict and Francis have eloquently expressed the need for a spiritual conversion to solve the world's problems. A conversion which recognizes our solidarity with one another as well as our obligation to the health of Creation. I rather doubt we will find the impetus for this conversion among our politicians. ..."
    "... The problem is not civilization-level, Mr. Dreher. The problem is species -level. Humanity as a whole is discovering that it cannot handle too high a level of technology without losing its ability to get feedback from its environment. Without that feedback, its elite classes drift off into literal insanity. The rest of the society soon follows. ..."
    "... James Parker in The Atlantic comes to a similar conclusion from a very different starting place ..."
    "... "For Trump to be revealed as a salvational figure, the conditions around him must be dire. Trumpism-like fascism, like a certain kind of smash-it-up punk rock-begins in apprehensions of apocalypse." ..."
    "... Classical [neo]liberalism presents itself not as a tentative theory of how society might be organized but as a theory of nature. It claims to lay out the forces of nature and to make these a model for social order. Thus free-market fundamentalism, letting the market function "as nature intended". It's an absurd position when applied dogmatically, and no more "natural" than other economic arrangements humans might come up with. ..."
    "... Further, as I suggest, our two camps "left" and "right" are no longer distinctly left and right in any traditional sense. The market forces and self-marketing that lead to the fetishization of identity by the left are the same market forces championed by the capitalist right. In America today, both left and right are merely different bourgeois cults of Self. ..."
    "... "Pope Francis (and to a slighly lesser degree, his two predecessors) has spoken frequently about unbridled capitalism as a source of the world ills. But his message hasn't been that well received among American conservatives." ..."
    Sep 17, 2016 | john-uebersax.com

    Andrew E. says: September 16, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Will she be inviting them in from parallel universes? Because we do not have 40 million illegals. The number is closer to eleven million.

    Wrong, see Adios America

    JonF says: September 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm
    Re: we have yet to hear a cogent description of what "bridled" capitalism is/looks like

    Something along the lines of Sweden, or maybe Germany: the means of production is left in private hands and the owning class is welcome to get rich (there are the equivalent of billionaires in both countries) but there are strict limits as to how much they can screw their workers, cheat their customers or damage the environment.

    Also, basic social welfare matters (healthcare, child care etc.) are publicly provided, or at least publicly backstopped. The model may not be perfect but it appears to work quite well all in all.

    CatherineNY says: September 16, 2016 at 6:28 pm
    Re: Sweden as an example of "bridled capitalism," here is an article about how many billionaires Sweden has (short answer: lots) http://www.slate.com/articles/business/billion_to_one/2013/10/sweden_s_billionaires_they_have_more_per_capita_than_the_united_states.html "The Swedish tax code was substantially reformed in 1990 to be friendlier toward capital accumulation, with a flat rate on investment income. Sweden has no taxes on inheritance or residential property, and its 22 percent corporate income tax rate is far lower than America's 35 percent."

    I think a lot of American capitalists would welcome those bridles. As for Hanby's critique of the liberal order that (thankfully) prevails in the West, it is only because of that liberal order that we are freely discussing these matters here, that we can talk about a Benedict Option in which we can create an economy within the economy, because in the non-liberal orders that prevailed through most of history, and that still prevail in a lot of places, we'd be under threat from the state for free discussion, and we would have little or no choice of education or jobs, because we'd be serfs or slaves or forced by government to go into a certain line of work (like my husband's Mandarin teacher, a scientist who was forced into the countryside during the Cultural Revolution and then told that she had to become a language teacher.)

    I'd be interested to know what kind of system Hanby would like to see replace our liberal order. Presumably one where he would be in charge.

    Harvey says: September 15, 2016 at 3:36 pm
    [neo]Liberalism is exhausted? What does that even mean, except as a high-brow insult?

    If there is one statistic that disproves this claim, it's that religious attendance is plummeting and the number of people who are "nones" are rising rapidly.

    What's exhausted is religion as a necessary component of social life. Since that is indisputably true, I guess the only thing that is left is for the remaining stalwarts resisting the tide to project this idea of exhaustion onto the other side.

    [NFR: You don't understand his point. He's not talking about liberalism as the philosophy of the Democratic Party. He's talking about liberalism as the political culture and system of the West. - RD]

    Clint says: September 15, 2016 at 3:38 pm
    "There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic."

    Could be that Trump is God's Hot Foot Angel With The Dirty Face waking Americans up to the increasingly Godless Agenda of The Washington Establishment and The Corporate Media.

    Elijah says: September 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm
    Talk about cynical. There's a lot to take exception to here, but let's start with this:

    "In other words, the fact that we are in civilizational crisis is becoming unavoidably apparent, though there is obviously little agreement as to what this crisis consists in or what its causes are and little interest from the omnipresent media beyond how perceptions of crisis affect voter behavior."

    Possibly because he's one of the relatively few people who think we're in such a crisis. A lot of us – Republican and Democrat – still believe ideas and ideals are important and we support them (and their torchbearers, however flawed) with all the vigor we can muster.

    I do not think that drag queens reading stories, Lionel Shriver's speech and backlash, or the latest Clinton scandal mean civilizational death. They are outliers, but serve to remind the vast majority of the country that there is plenty of room in America for eccentrics of every description to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I will admit to thinking this kind of thing much more important on college campuses, where it can affect the quality of an education.

    "We would not see it as a crisis of soul, but a crisis of management…"

    Probably true: I'm not so sure that our founding principles really envision our civilization as having a soul rather than virtues. And the idea of a national government mucking around with the souls of the people gives me the heebie-jeebies much as Putin's alliance with the Orthodox church does you. And if there's anything we can take from the current election, I think it's that Americans have had enough sociologists, economists, lawyers, and other "experts" tell them what to do to last a lifetime. It's part and parcel of the distrust you just posted about.

    And I'm not at all sure that Americans are generally despairing, though it's pretty clear they think our country is on the wrong track. Hillary ought to be running away with this thing – why isn't she? Because she's seen as more of the same. Sanders offered the hope of something new, something transformative: the same thing people see in Trump. Their hope MAY be misplaced but time will tell. This election cycle ought to make people a little less confident in their predictions.

    "Hope is hard, I admit. But my response is that it is not the pessimist about liberalism who lacks hope, but the optimist who cannot see beyond its horizons."

    Hope is hard if you're investing in our institutions to carry us through. They aren't designed to. Our hope is in Christ, Our Redeemer, and that His will "be done on earth as it is in Heaven." And I will gladly admit to not being able to see beyond liberalism's horizons – again, the predictions of experts and philosophers haven't held up too well over time.

    I can say that blithely because my hope is not in liberalism, ultimately. Do I think some semblance of liberalism can and will survive? Yes, but the cultural struggles we are going through are part and parcel of the system. Do I like that? No.

    And as much as we need to reinforce communities (through the BenOp) we also need to recognize that our job isn't always to understand and prepare. As Christians, it is to obey. It means we repent, fast, and pray. It means we take the Great Commission seriously even when it's uncomfortable.

    I'm sorry to rip your friend here, I just don't find his piece compelling at all.

    allaround says: September 15, 2016 at 4:13 pm
    HRC is not really unthinkable. She is just not preferable. A vote for HRC is an acquiescence to the status quo of corrupt, big money politics. Voting for the status quo is unthinkable only if you think the apocalypse is around the next bend. Let's be serious.

    Voting for Trump is unthinkable because he is totally clueless about seemingly he talks about. His arrogance is only surpassed by his ignorance. Gary Johnson was excoriated because he did not know what Aleppo is. I bet a paycheck Trump couldn't point to Syria on a map. Trump get's no serious criticism for insistence that we steal Iraq's oil, his confusion about why Iran wasn't buying our airplanes, his assertion that Iran is North Koreas largest trading partner, that South Korea and Japan ought to have nukes, his threats to extort our NATO allies. There are dozens of gems like these, but you get the picture. One only needs to read transcripts from his interviews to understand the limits of his intellect. Voting for such a profound ignoramus is truly unthinkable.

    Gary says: September 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm
    Not (at least directly) related, but Rod thought this might give you some hope today (albeit it's from the <a href=" http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3790614/They-don-t-like-drugs-gay-marriage-HATE-tattoos-Generation-Z-conservative-WW2.html"Daily Mail but I found it interesting):

    Teenagers born after 2000 – the so-called 'Generation Z' – are the most socially conservative generation since the Second World War, a new study has found.

    The youngsters surveyed had more conservative views on gay marriage, transgender rights and drugs than Baby Boomers, Generation X or Millennials.

    The questioned were more prudent than Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers but not quite as cash-savvy as those born in 1945 or before.

    Only 14 and 15-year-olds were surveyed, by brand consultancy The Gild, as they were classed as being able to form credible opinions by that age.

    When asked to comment on same-sex marriage, transgender rights and cannabis legislation, 59 per cent of Generation X teenagers said they had conservative views.

    Around 85 per cent of Millennials and those in Generation X had a 'quite' or 'very liberal' stance overall.

    When asked for their specific view on each topic only the Silent Generation was more conservative that Generation Z.

    One in seven – 14% – of the 14 and 15-year-olds took a 'quite conservative' approach, while only two per cent of Millennials and one per cent of Generation X.

    The Silent Generation had a 'quite conservative' rating of 34 per cent.

    I think this was done in Britain but as we know, social trends in the rest of the West tend to spill over into the States.

    Are we looking at another Alex P. Keaton generation? Kids likely to rebel against the liberalism of their parents?

    Adamant says: September 15, 2016 at 4:43 pm
    I can never quite understand the tension between these two concepts: enlightenment liberalism as a spent force, enervated, listless, barely able to stir itself even in its own defense, and simultaneously weaponized SJWism, modern day Jacobins, an army of clenched-jawed fanatics who will stop at nothing to destroy its enemies.

    It seems that one of these perspectives must be less true than the other.

    [NFR: SJWs are a betrayal of classical liberalism. - RD]

    The Other Sands says: September 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm
    I realize that I only comment here when something sets me off, and not when I agree with you (which is after all why I keep reading you).

    So here I am agreeing with this post.

    "we are at the mercy of systematic forces, difficult to name, which can be manipulated by the powerful but not governed by them, and that our problems are unsolvable"

    I would argue that the "system" is capitalism grown decadent and corrupt. It is a secular religion that we've given ourselves over to and is exactly as he describes: a massive systemic force that some can manipulate for their own gain, but as a society we've lost the will or ability to control it's macro forces which have the power grind up whole demographics, communities, or crash the whole economy.

    The reaction and fall out from the financial crisis amounted to everyone shrugging and declaring innocence and ignorance. They seemed to say, how could anyone see such a thing coming or do anything about it? How could anyone control such a huge system?

    As your friend says, even if we want to exert more control over this system (which we can with the will), this would end up being a technocratic project, not a spiritual one. Sad because a spiritual argument against the excesses of capitalism might actually gain more traction at this point, than tired liberal arguments.

    xrdsmom says: September 15, 2016 at 5:15 pm
    I'm always struck by these posts detailing how everything is coming apart in America. I look around and frankly, life looks pretty good. Maybe it's because I'm a minority female, who grew up poor and now has a solidly middle class life. My mother, God rest her soul, was smarter and worked harder than I ever will but did not have one-quarter of the opportunities (education, housing) I've had. My sons have travelled the globe, and have decent jobs and good friends. I am grateful.

    My friends and I went out the other night in Austin, and there were families, very diverse, walking in the outdoor mall, standing in line to buy $5 scoops of ice cream for their children. Not hipsters, or God forbid the elite, just regular middle class folk enjoying an evening out. The truth is, life has improved immeasurably for many Americans. Do we have serious problems? Of course, but can we have just a wee bit of perspective?

    Will Harrington says: September 15, 2016 at 5:24 pm
    The Other Sands

    You may be right about the problem, but not its nature. Capitalism is not an impersonal force that can't be controlled, it's what people do economically if they are left alone to do it. The problem comes when people are not, simply put, virtuous. When people seek a return on investment that is not simply reasonable, but rather the most they can possibly get. We have had a capitalist system for long enough that some people who are both good at manipulating it and, often, unethical enough to not care what impact their choices have on others, have accumulated vast amounts of wealth while others, over generations, have made choices that have not been profitable, have lost wealth.

    There used to be mechanisms for preventing these trends to continue to their logical conclusion, as they are here. Judea had Jubilee. The Byzantine Empire had an Emperor whose interests were served by a prosperous landed middle class to populate the Thematic armies and who would occasionally step in and return the land his part time soldiers had lost through bad loans from aristocrats. We have no such mechanism for a farmer to regain land lost due to foreclosure.

    We should not redistribute wealth in such a way that a person has no incentive to work, but we should never allow a person's means of earning a livelihood to be taken from them.

    C. L. H. Daniels says: September 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm
    I wouldn't say that [neo] Liberalism is "spent" as a force, rather that its credibility is. As a cultural force (covering both politics and the economy, among other things), its strength is and remains vast. It is Leviathan. For all intents and purposes, it defines the culture, and thus dictates the imperatives and methods, of our governing and economic elites. The crisis of Western political legitimacy that is manifest in the nomination of Trump, Brexit and numerous other movements and incidents is a sign that the legitimacy of this order has been undermined and is dissolving within the societies it effectively governs; in some unspoken sense, the unwashed masses of the West (those not part of the so-called "New Class") have come to understand that they have been betrayed by the Liberal order, that it has not lived up to its promises, even that it is becoming or has become a force destructive of their communities and their ability to thrive as human beings.

    The ever-increasing autonomy promised by the Liberal order has turned out to be a poisoned chalice for many. As it has dissolved the bonds of families and communities, it has atomized people into individuals without traditional social supports in an increasingly cutthroat and uncaring world. People cannot help but understand that they have lost something or are missing something, even if they are not able to articulate or identify that loss. It is a sickness of the soul, in the sense that the ailment is somewhere close to the heart of what it means to be human. We are what we are, and the Liberal order is pushing us into opposition to our own natures, as if we can choose to be something other than what we are.

    Anne says: September 15, 2016 at 5:32 pm
    This idea that Democrats hate Hillary in the same way Republicans despise Trump is way off base in my opinion. This attempt at equivalency, like so many others, is false. I voted for Sanders because I liked him better, but I am not holding my nose to vote for Hillary Clinton. There are several things I actually admire about her, including her attention to detail and tenacity. I'll always remember how she sat before Congress as First Lady, no paper or crib sheet in sight, and presented her detailed and compelling case for national health care . I thought that was awesome then, and still do.

    Still, as I've noted many times, I never liked the Clintons that much, mainly because I hated a lot of what Bill Clinton stood for and what he did. Aside from his embarrassing sexual escapades, most of that pertaine