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Posts Tagged ‘Blowback’

Biden’s Tech-War “Goes Nuclear”. “Blocking China’s Access to Crucial Semiconductor Technology”

Posted by M. C. on October 22, 2022

“Lots of people don’t know what happened yesterday. To put it simply, Biden has forced all Americans working in China to pick between quitting their jobs and losing American citizenship. Every American executive and engineer working in China’s semiconductor manufacturing industry resigned yesterday, paralyzing Chinese manufacturing overnight. One round of sanctions from Biden did more damage than all four years of performative sanctioning under Trump.

Aren’t we still recovering from those two mysterious semiconductor factory fires?

Blowback-A CIA speciality

blow·​back | \ ˈblō-ˌbak  \Definition of blowback

an unforeseen and unwanted effect, result, or set of repercussions

https://www.globalresearch.ca/bidens-tech-war-goes-nuclear/5796840

By Mike Whitney

Global Research

“Lots of people don’t know what happened yesterday. To put it simply, Biden has forced all Americans working in China to pick between quitting their jobs and losing American citizenship. Every American executive and engineer working in China’s semiconductor manufacturing industry resigned yesterday, paralyzing Chinese manufacturing overnight. One round of sanctions from Biden did more damage than all four years of performative sanctioning under Trump. Although American semiconductor exporters had to apply for licenses during the Trump years, licenses were approved within a month.

With the new Biden sanctions, all American suppliers of IP blocks, components, and services departed overnight – thus cutting off all service [to China]. Long story short, every advanced node semiconductor company is currently facing comprehensive supply cut-off, resignations from all American staff, and immediate operations paralysis. This is what annihilation looks like: China’s semiconductor manufacturing industry was reduced to zero overnight. Complete collapse. No chance of survival.”

-Posted at Jordan Schneider’s Twitter account @jordanschnyc from a translated thread at @lidangzzz

The Biden administration intensified its war on China last week when it detonated a thermonuclear bomb at the heart of Beijing’s booming technology industry. In an effort to block China’s access to crucial semiconductor technology, Team Biden announced onerous new export rules aimed at a “comprehensive supply cut-off” of essential semiconductor technology which– according to one analyst– led to an “immediate operations paralysis.” The terror unleashed by the announcement was aptly summarized in a thread posted at Jordan Schneider’s Twitter account from a translated thread at @lidangzzz (See above quote)

Naturally, the Chinese government was blindsided by the draconian new rules which include “all Chinese advanced computing chip design companies”and will undoubtedly “ensure the elimination of all American products and technologies from the entire ecosystem.” The new sanctions regime will likely inflict significant damage on China’s thriving technology industry while causing considerable harm to US partners who were not consulted on the matter. But while the announcement was a complete surprise, it does fit with the much more extensive list of hostile US actions towards China in the last few months. Some of these include:

  1. Multiple US delegations (Nancy Pelosi and other sitting Congressmen) traveled to Taiwan to challenge the One-China policy that has been the cornerstone for normal relations between the two countries for the last 40 years.
  2. Two US warships sail through strait, BBC
  3. US-India maneuvers on the India-China border
  4. The Biden Administration’s persistent determination to provide South Korea with a lethal missile defence system that can be used for offensive purposes and which threatens Chinese security
  5. The relentless strengthening of an “anti-China” coalition
  6. Two U.S. carrier groups conduct exercises in South China Sea
  7. And, now–according to the Financial Times– The EU is being urged to rethink its China policy

While in no way exhaustive, the list should give the reader some sense of the uptick in belligerence that is presently aimed at Beijing. Hectoring China has become a full-time job which is not entirely unexpected as US-China “containment” policy dates back as far as the Cold War. What’s different now –as Biden’s 2022 National Security Strategy indicates– is that the US sees itself in the midst of a “great power struggle” in which the primary enemy is China who is regarded as “the only competitor with both the intent and, increasingly, the capability to reshape the international order.” (NSS) In other words, the Biden administration is admitting that we are at war with China and that we must use any means necessary to prevail in that conflict. As foreign policy analyst Andre Damon recently noted, the NSS is not a strategy for the defense of the Republic but a “blueprint for World War 3”.

Indeed, so containment alone will no longer suffice. What is required is increasingly provocative actions that will help to isolate, vilify and, ultimately, weaken China so that it becomes a “responsible stakeholder” in the “rules-based system”. In other words, Biden seeks a compliant vassal who will click his heels and do as he is told.

Sound familiar?

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The End of Tax Havens?

Posted by M. C. on August 17, 2022

by Jeff Thomas

So, to return to The Great Race by many governments today, what we are witnessing is a last-ditch effort to squeeze as much wealth as possible from their citizens before those governments run out of gas or, in this instance, run out of credit.

The image above is of a World War II German Panzer tank. So, what does that have to do with tax havens? I’ll get to that soon.

But first, let’s look at the Isle of Jersey, one of the islands in the English Channel. Most people think of it as a British tax haven, but it’s not, strictly speaking, a part of the UK and not a member of the EU. It’s a self-governing parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy and has its own legal, judicial, and, most importantly, financial systems. For decades, it’s been a choice location for those who seek to avoid taxation.

Income tax was first created in England to pay for the Napoleonic Wars (maximum: 10%) and was raised in World War II to a maximum of 99.25%, again to pay for warfare. It was reduced after the war, but climbed again (on investment income over £20,000) to a maximum of 98% in 1974.

Jersey emerged as a tax haven as a result. Since Jersey was not obligated to pay tax to the UK, Britons increasingly deposited their wealth there.

It’s important to mention at this juncture that most of the world’s tax havens first sprouted as a result of similar situations – supply created in response to a clear need. Most people will abide low to moderate taxation but, whenever governments have become truly rapacious in taxing their people, those people have sought to escape enslavement from their own governments. Sometimes, this has meant physically leaving the country (as so many Britons did in the 70’s) and, sometimes, this has meant moving one’s money to a jurisdiction that has either low, or no, direct taxation.

Tax havens have a long history and, since the 70’s, as taxation in much of the world has been on the rise, havens have unsurprisingly flourished.

Not surprising, then, that the blowback from the most rapacious governments has grown. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (a euphemism if ever there was one), or OECD, has led the charge, funded primarily by the US but based in Paris and utilised heavily by the EU as well as the US.

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Why Police Do Nothing While Kids Are Killed

Posted by M. C. on June 24, 2022

In other words, the police had to protect themselves first, because if the police are hurt, then the suspect can do even more damage. There is a certain reasonable logic here, of course, but it’s in conflict with post-Columbine training. Moreover, police know they will not be held to any contractual standard that mandates intervention. They can decide for themselves whether to intervene, and will face no consequences other than some short-term political blowback. Virtually no one in the Uvalde debacle has any reason to fear losing his generous taxpayer-funded pension. 

https://mises.org/wire/why-police-do-nothing-while-kids-are-killed

Ryan McMaken

Here is an often-used tactic employed to defend government police organizations from criticism. Whenever critics point out police incompetence or abuse, defenders counter with “The next time you need help, call a crackhead!” This same phrase was used by Louisiana senator John Kennedy when singing the praises of uniformed government bureaucrats in 2021. The phrase often produces many smug nods from the “Back the Blue” crowd, and one can buy T-shirts with this progovernment slogan as well.

The reality however, is something quite different. Experience continues to teach us again and again, that when one encounters violent felons—as did the children in Uvalde, Texas—calling a crackhead may not produce results much worse than calling the police. A crackhead is probably going to run the other direction when faced with a gun-toting maniac. As we learned at Uvalde, many police officers will do exactly the same. 

The “call a crackhead” propaganda is also especially insidious because it is designed to back the idea that “taxes are the price we pay for civilization” and the myth of the “social contract.” In this supposed quid pro quo, the taxpayers pay their taxes and then the government provides “public safety.” That, at least, is the myth the regime repeats over and over. 

This myth is being exposed for what it is in real time in the Uvalde investigation right now. Each new revelation shows just how uninterested law enforcement officers can be in providing any of that “protection” that they insist the taxpayers pay so much to fund. Rather, Uvalde has shown that the primary interest of law enforcement was officer safety, not public safety. So much for that “social contract” we keep hearing about. 

Ultimately, unlike a private sector service, police do not operate under any contractual obligations to provide services in any particular way. Thus, they can decide to do nothing and face no real consequences. 

New Revelations Show Police Simply Chose to Do Nothing

In the Texas Senate this week, senators and the public are starting to see what passes for police work in Texas. 

Although police spokesmen repeatedly claimed police could not engage the shooter because of a locked door, it turns out that was a lie. Reuters reported yesterday: 

The classroom door in the Uvalde elementary school where 19 children and two teachers were killed in May was not locked even as police waited for a key, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said on Tuesday.

There was no evidence any law enforcement officer ever tried the classroom door to see if it was locked, McCraw said at a Texas Senate hearing into the shooting.

“I don’t believe based on the information we have right now that door was ever secured,” McCraw said. “He (the shooter) didn’t have a key … and he couldn’t lock it from the inside.”

So, why did police wait outside so long? They claimed it was because they didn’t have the equipment they needed. That also turned out to be a lie. According to McGraw: “Three minutes after the subject entered the building, there was a sufficient number of armed personnel to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject…. the on-scene commander decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”

Expect a Cover-Up 

Naturally, police personnel and their allies in local government have acted to conceal information on the police response from the public. The city’s district attorney has intervened to prevent the release of “any records.” Moreover, the Texas Department of Public Safety is pressuring the state’s attorney general to ensure that body camera footage from the incident remains hidden—presumably forever because police rather conveniently claim the footage exposes police tactics to potential future shooters. 

No Accountability 

Unfortunately, legal recourse for police incompetence and inaction is virtually nonexistent in the US,

See the rest here

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US, NATO Rush MANPADS Systems Into Ukraine, Downplay Proliferation Risks

Posted by M. C. on March 14, 2022

Russia: West ‘grossly ignoring’ agreements on Manpads

by Jason Ditz

Anti-tank missiles were the centerpiece of western arms shipments to Ukraine earlier in the war. New indications are that the focus is shifting to shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles (MANPADS), with the US and NATO getting as many as they can into the Ukraine.

The expectation is that the MANPADS will offer Ukraine substantial anti-aircraft capacity. Shipping a lot of MANPADS into a country is always a danger, because if they end up in the wrong hands they could threaten civilian airliners, and after the wars they tend to go missing into the global black market.

That’s been a problem more than a few times, with the US shipping MANPADS into Afghanistan during the Soviet War, only to lose control of many of them. The most recent concerns were in the NATO regime change in Libya, where Libya’s huge cache of MANPADS were looted and sold across the region

Both NATO and the airline industry are largely mum on the threats posed by such missiles. Russian officials are noting that the west is “grossly ignoring” a number of international agreements designed to prevent MANPADS proliferation.

Senior US officials say its a “risk worth taking,” which is easy to say since the risk of proliferation is chiefly in Europe, and the US has ample experience in ditching responsibility for unintended, albeit easily-predictable, blowback.

It seems that the missiles are being used as a replacement for the warplanes Ukraine sought, and which the US feared would be seen as too big of an escalation. The assumption seems to be MANPADS are less of a risk in that regard.

Either way, it’s no secret what NATO is doing, and it sets a precedent where Russia or others might distribute MANPADS in other proxy wars they might want to get involved in.

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Setting Up Crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine

Posted by M. C. on February 9, 2022

Despite crocodile tears that U.S. officials will openly shed for the people of Ukraine, the truth is that U.S. officials couldn’t care one whit how many of them are killed, injured, or maimed in such an invasion, any more than they were concerned about the people of Afghanistan who were killed, injured, and maimed after U.S. officials succeeded in goading the Soviets to invade Afghanistan or, for that matter, after the Pentagon and the CIA invaded and occupied the country in 2001.

by Jacob G. Hornberger

As I have watched how the U.S. national-security establishment has set up its latest crisis, this one in Ukraine, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how it set up a similar crisis in Afghanistan in 1979. 

Back then, the goal of U.S. national-security state officials was to goad the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan. U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski put it succinctly when he told President Carter, “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.”

What he meant by that was the opportunity of getting Soviet soldiers killed, maimed, and injured for no good reason, just as the Pentagon and the CIA did to tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. Additionally, the Soviet Union would have to waste large sums of taxpayer money, just as the U.S. government also did in Vietnam.

To goad the Soviets into invading Afghanistan, U.S. officials began supporting the anti-Soviet resistance that was committed to removing a pro-Soviet regime from power. U.S. officials figured that faced with the possibility that Afghanistan might end up with a pro-U.S. regime, the Soviets would have no choice but to invade.

The scheme worked brilliantly. The Soviets invaded on December 24, 1979, and for the next decade were bogged down in a guerrilla war, much like the United States was when it invaded Vietnam and, for that matter, when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001. In the process, many Soviet soldiers were killed, maimed, and injured, just as U.S. officials hoped they would be. Moreover, the war helped to bankrupt the Soviet Union, which ultimately led to its dismantling. 

Needless to say, U.S. national-security state officials were ecstatic over what they had accomplished. As Brzezinski gloated, “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.” 

Of course, the U.S. government played the innocent and portrayed the Soviet Union as a horrible aggressor. The following year, the U.S. government boycotted the Summer Olympics in Russia to protest Soviet aggression in Afghanistan.

When asked in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998 whether he regretted any of this, Brzezinski was shocked that anyone would even ask such a question. He responded, “Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.’ Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”

The interviewer then asked, “And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?” Brezinski responded, “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”

Of course, that interview was conducted prior to the blowback of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. I can’t help but wonder whether Brzezinski would have considered his scheme to be worth it in light of what those attacks did to America.

The irony is that the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1989 also brought a sudden and surprising end to the U.S. national-security state’s Cold War racket, which was guaranteeing them a perpetual flow of ever-increasing amounts of U.S. taxpayer money into the coffers of the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, the CIA, and the NSA. 

That was when U.S. officials went into the Middle East and began poking hornets’ nests, which succeeded in producing terrorist blowback. That’s when we got the “war on terrorism,” which replaced the “war on communism.” That guaranteed the continuous flow of ever-increasing amounts of U.S. taxpayer money into the pockets of the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and the entire “defense” industry. 

But U.S. officials weren’t about to let go of the Russians so easily. Rather than dismantle NATO, which was nothing more than a Cold War dinosaur, they used the organization to gobble up former members of the Warsaw Pact, with the aim of stationing U.S. troops, missiles, and tanks closer and closer to Russia’s borders. The scheme ultimately called for NATO to absorb Ukraine, which would mean that the Pentagon and the CIA would be able to install their missiles, tanks, and troops on Russia’s border. 

Thus, their latest scheme has placed Russia in the position of choosing between invading Ukraine, which would thereby prevent the Pentagon and the CIA from installing their troops, missiles, and tanks on Russia’s border versus letting NATO absorb Ukraine, which would enable the Pentagon and the CIA to install their troops, missiles, and tanks on Russia’s border.

If Russia invades, there is no doubt that the U.S. national-security establishment will, once again, play the innocent and cry out against those aggressive Russians. And make no mistake about it: Despite crocodile tears that U.S. officials will openly shed for the people of Ukraine, the truth is that U.S. officials couldn’t care one whit how many of them are killed, injured, or maimed in such an invasion, any more than they were concerned about the people of Afghanistan who were killed, injured, and maimed after U.S. officials succeeded in goading the Soviets to invade Afghanistan or, for that matter, after the Pentagon and the CIA invaded and occupied the country in 2001. The people of Ukraine are as much pawns in the evil machinations of the U.S. national-security establishment as the people of Afghanistan.

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When Deplorables Become Ungovernables — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on December 17, 2020

A perverse form of blowback is already in effect as informed global citizens may now see, crystal clear, the astonishing depth and reach of Deep State power – the ultimate decider of what happens next in Dystopia Central.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/12/16/when-deplorables-become-ungovernables/

Pepe Escobar

China, Russia and Iran are the top three existential “threats” to the U.S., according to the National Security Strategy. Three features distinguish the top three. They are all sovereign powers. They are under varying degrees of sanctions. And they are the top three nodes of the 21st century’s most important, evolving geopolitical process: Eurasia integration.

What do the three sovereigns see when they examine the dystopia that took over Exceptionalistan?

They see, once again, three – discombobulated – nodes in conflict: the post-historic Pacific and Atlantic coasts; the South – a sort of expanded Dixieland; and the Midwest – what would be the American heartland.

The hyper-modern Pacific-Atlantic nodes congregate high-tech and finance, profit from Pentagon techno-breakthroughs and benefit from the “America rules the waves” ethos that guarantees the global primacy of the U.S. dollar.

The rest of America is largely considered by the Pacific-Atlantic as just a collection of flyover states: the South – which regards itself as the real, authentic America; and the Midwest, largely disciplined and quite practical-minded, squeezed ideologically between the littoral powerhouses and the South.

Superstructure, tough, is key: no matter what happens, whatever the fractures, this remains an Empire, where only a tiny elite, a de facto plutocratic oligarchy, rules.

It would be too schematic, even though essentially correct, to assert that in the presidential election, invisible campaigner Joe Biden represented the Pacific-Atlantic nodes, and Trump represented the whole South. Assuming the election was not fraudulent – and that remains a big “if” – the Midwest eventually swung based on three issues.

  1. Trump, as much as he relied on a sanctions juggernaut, could not bring back manufacturing jobs home. 2. He could not reduce the military footprint across the Greater Middle East. 3. And, before Covid-19, he could not bring down immigration.

Everything that lies ahead points to the irreconcilable – pitting the absolute majority that voted Dem in the Atlantic-Pacific nodes versus the South and a deeply divided Midwest. As much as Biden-Harris is bound to isolate the South even more, their prospects of “pacifying” the Midwest are less than zero.

Whose ground control?

Beyond the raucous altercations on whether the presidential election was fraudulent, these are the key factual points.

  1. A series of rules in mostly swing states were changed, through courts, bypassing state legislatures, without transparence, before the election, paving the way to facilitate fraud schemes.
  2. Biden was de facto coronated by AP, Google and Twitter even before the final, official result, and weeks before the electoral college vote this past Monday.
  3. Every serious, professional audit to determine whether all received and tabulated votes were valid was de facto squashed.

In any Global South latitude where the empire did “interfere” in local elections, color revolution-style, this set of facts would be regarded by scores of imperial officials, in a relentless propaganda blitz, as evidence of a coup.

On the recent Supreme Court ruling, a Deep State intel source told me, “the Supreme Court did not like to see half the country rioting against them, and preferred the decision be made by each state in the House of Representatives. That is the only way to handle this without jeopardizing the union. Even prominent Democrats I know realize that the fix took place. The error was to steal too many votes. This grand theft indicts the whole system, that has always been corrupt.”

Dangers abound. On the propaganda front, for instance, far right nationalists are absolutely convinced that U.S. media can be brought to heel only by occupying the six main offices of the top conglomerates, plus Facebook, Google and Twitter: then you’d have full control of the U.S. propaganda mill.

Another Deep State source, now retired, adds that, “the U.S. Army does not want to intervene as their soldiers may not obey orders.

Many of these far right nationalists were officers in the armed forces. They know where the nuclear missiles and bombers are. There are many in sympathy with them as the U.S. falls apart in lockdowns.”

Meanwhile, Hunter Biden’s dodgy dealings simply will not be made to vanish from public scrutiny. He’s under four different federal investigations. The recent subpoena amounts to a very serious case pointing to a putative crime family. It’s been conveniently forgotten that Joe Biden bragged to the Council on Foreign Relations

that he forced Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Viktor Shokin to be fired exactly when he was investigating corruption by Burisma’s founder.

Of course, a massive army of shills will always invoke another army of omniscient and oh so impartial “fact checkers” to hammer the same message: “This is Trump’s version. Courts have said clearly all the evidence is baseless.”

District Attorney William Barr is now out of the picture (see his letter of resignation). Barr is a notorious Daddy Bush asset since the old days – and that means classic Deep State. Barr knew about all federal investigations on Hunter Biden dating back to 2018, covering potential money laundering and bribery.

And still, as the Wall Street Journal delightfully put it, he “worked to avoid their public disclosure during the heated election campaign”.

A devastating report (Dems: a Republican attack report) has shown how the Biden family was connected to a vast financial network with multiple foreign ramifications.

Then there’s Barr not even daring to say there was enough reason for the Department of Justice to engage in a far-reaching investigation into voting fraud, finally putting to rest all “baseless” conspiracy theories.

Move on. Nothing to see here. Even if an evidence pile-up featured, among other instances, ballot stuffing, backdated ballots, statistical improbabilities, electronic machine tampering, software back doors, affidavits from poll workers, not to mention the by now legendary stopping the vote in the dead of night, with subsequent, huge batches of votes miraculously switching from Trump to Biden.

Once again an omniscient army of oh so impartial “fact checkers” will say everything is baseless.

A perverse blowback

A perverse form of blowback is already in effect as informed global citizens may now see, crystal clear, the astonishing depth and reach of Deep State power – the ultimate decider of what happens next in Dystopia Central.

Both options are dire.

  1. The election stands, even if considered fraudulent by nearly half of U.S. public opinion. To quote that peerless existentialist, The Dude, there’s no rug tying the room together anymore.
  2. Was the election to be somehow overturned before January 20, the Deep State would go Shock and Awe to finish the job.

In either case, The Deplorables will become The Ungovernables.

It gets worse. A possible implosion of the union – with internal convulsions leading to a paroxysm of violence – may even be coupled with an external explosion, as in a miscalculated imperial adventure.

For the Three Sovereigns – Russia, China and Iran – as well as the overwhelming majority of the Global South, the conclusion is inescapable: if the current, sorry spectacle is the best Western liberal “democracy” has to offer, it definitely does not need any enemies or “threats”.

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Responsible Statecraft – An appreciation: Chalmers Johnson’s writings on American empire

Posted by M. C. on April 15, 2020

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/04/12/an-appreciation-chalmers-johnsons-writings-on-american-empire/


Richard Drake

It has been nearly ten years since Chalmers Johnson died, and twice that long since the publication of “Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.” That Johnson’s condemnation of American imperialism originated in a conservative political and philosophical tradition makes him a somewhat unusual figure. Such viewpoints more characteristically come from the left than the right. The “Blowback” series, eventually comprising three volumes, remains a prime source for understanding the motives of American foreign policy in the Trump era and merits a retrospective appreciation.

A longtime political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Johnson was one of that institution’s most publicly visible conservatives during the anti-war protests of the 1960s. In “Blowback,” Johnson described himself as an Eisenhower Republican. He had believed in America’s anti-communist Cold War mission. After serving as a naval officer during the Korean War, he earned graduate degrees in political science at Berkeley and became a leading expert on China and Japan at his alma mater. He performed consulting work for the CIA where the term “blowback” was used to refer to unintended consequences of government policies.

Only after the end of the Cold War did Johnson begin to question the assumptions of the American foreign policy he had served in and out of uniform. He had understood the need for a far-flung American military presence to oppose the murderous tyranny of the Soviet Union. Why even after the Soviet Union had disappeared, however, did the United States continue to maintain an ever-increasing network of military bases? In “Blowback,” he set out to find answers to this question.

Johnson began with a confession. Although abysmally ignorant about the dysfunction and oppression in communist societies, the Berkeley radicals had understood the nature of American capitalism better than he had. American foreign policy did make sense only in the light of economics. During the Second World War, the United States had taken the lead in creating the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as the financial means of creating a global capitalist order. To defend that order, an American empire of military bases would ring the globe. Everything everywhere would be a concern of the United States in its self-appointed role as the guardian of the status quo. The Soviet Union had been more a pretext than a reason for these worldwide operations, as the continued existence of an American empire of bases after the Cold War made manifest.

Keeping a lid on the cauldron of international problems stemming from a world order in which billions of people lived on less than two dollars a day and whole cultures suffered from the resentments of ethnic or religious marginalization would have the United States perpetually on the march fighting endless wars. This would be one form of blowback. Terrorism would be another. Read the rest of this entry »

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America Has Come Full Circle in the Middle East – Defense One

Posted by M. C. on February 1, 2020

In US interventionist foreign policy circles this is considered progress.

Eisenhower hastily convened a meeting with his top national-security advisers on the day of the Iraqi king’s downfall. John Foster Dulles, a consummate Cold Warrior and the U.S. secretary of state at the time, argued that a failure to heed Chamoun’s call would signal to the Soviets that the United States wasn’t ready to take risks for its allies, and would thus mean “the decline and indeed the elimination of our influence—from Indonesia to Morocco.”

More than half a century later, the future of the United States’ military presence in the Middle East is once again up for discussion, as Iraq calls on the U.S. to end its roughly 5,000-strong troop presence in the country and Trump struggles to remove American forces from Syria and Afghanistan as well. U.S. politicians are now grappling with the possibility of a post-American period in the region.

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/01/america-has-come-full-circle-middle-east/162655/?oref=d-river

“We are opening a Pandora’s Box,” Dwight Eisenhower warned when he ordered the first U.S. combat mission in the region. Little did he know how right he would be.

In 1958, U.S. leaders stood at the threshold of an American era in the Middle East, conflicted about whether it was worth the trouble to usher in.

A year earlier, in the context of the emergent Cold War and fading British and French power in the region, Dwight Eisenhower had articulated and received congressional approval for what became known as the Eisenhower doctrine. The United States had for the first time staked out national interests in the Middle East—oil, U.S. bases and allies, Soviet containment—and declared that it was prepared to defend them with military force.

Sixty-two years before President Donald Trump dispatched a drone to Baghdad to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, this is how American combat missions in the post–World War II Middle East began.

Eisenhower felt compelled to issue his doctrine following a showdown over the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, an Arab nationalist whom U.S. officials perceived as allied with the Soviet Union. The U.S. president had pledged to honor requests for American military assistance by countries facing aggression from proponents of “international communism.”

That U.S. commitment was tested when insurrectionist Iraqi army officers executed their country’s last king, the Western-friendly Faisal II, in Baghdad in the summer of 1958. Camille Chamoun, the Christian leader of Lebanon and an opponent of Nasser, asked for American aid against the backdrop of the coup in Iraq and looming civil war in his own country. (The revolution in Iraq had little connection to Nasser, but the U.S. didn’t initially grasp that.) In keeping with the grand domino theorizing of that period, U.S. officials worried that if they didn’t act decisively, U.S. partners such as Lebanon and Jordan would be next to fall to Nasserite nationalism and, by extension, Soviet communism.

Eisenhower hastily convened a meeting with his top national-security advisers on the day of the Iraqi king’s downfall. John Foster Dulles, a consummate Cold Warrior and the U.S. secretary of state at the time, argued that a failure to heed Chamoun’s call would signal to the Soviets that the United States wasn’t ready to take risks for its allies, and would thus mean “the decline and indeed the elimination of our influence—from Indonesia to Morocco.” In a calculation that has been turned on its head today, the president maintained that “to lose this area by inaction would be far worse than the loss in China, because of the strategic position and resources of the Middle East.” His team insisted that the U.S. was on sound footing to intercede militarily in another country’s civil war, because Lebanon’s president had invited them in, a poignant point to read today as Iraqi officials seek to kick the U.S. military out of the country in retaliation forSoleimani’s killing. As for intervening in Iraq as well, Eisenhower, a celebrated World War II general who was typically cautious about taking military action, dismissed the notion as unworkable. In an illustration of just how new all this was to Americans, Eisenhower’s speech announcing the operation included a geography lesson, noting that Lebanon was “a small country, a little less than the size of Connecticut” and that Iraq was “nearby.” He was also mindful of the risks. “I realize we are opening a Pandora’s Box here,” a jumpy Eisenhower told Britain’s equally nervous prime minister on the eve of deploying the Marines to Lebanon.

The episode and its aftermath are essential to understanding how the United States went from being deeply apprehensive about getting involved militarily in the Middle East to conducting more military interventions there than in any other region in the world. The trajectory of U.S. involvement is one of American leaders gradually putting stock in their ability to achieve their objectives through discrete military action and then investing everything in costly military misadventures, to the point that we’ve come full circle: The American public and its leaders are profoundly ambivalent about even limited and critical missions, such as the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Even in 1958, now-familiar patterns of military intervention in the Middle East were evident. Though he advocated for a troop deployment to Lebanon, for example, Dulles warned that the United States was entering a situation in which “it will be easy to get ourselves involved, and very hard to get out.” Then, as now, military inaction was equated with the United States renouncing its interests in the region. “We must act [in Lebanon], or get out of the Middle East entirely,” Eisenhower told his aides, presenting a stark choice that Trump is surely acquainted with. Then, as now, the White House debated whether it needed congressional authorization for its combat operations. Then, as now, U.S. leaders offered the public misleading justifications for their use of force; Eisenhower greatly inflated the situation in Lebanon to be about avoiding another world war by refusing to appease the Soviet Union, when it mostly had to do with internal Lebanese politics.

Despite Eisenhower’s soaring rhetoric, the actual U.S. objective was narrow in scope: to prop up a friendly government. And that goal was achieved with surprising ease. Dulles had predicted that the military intervention would generate blowback, such as an oil crisis as Egypt and its ally Syria retaliated against commercial infrastructure, or “a wave of anti-Western feeling in the Arab world.” Yet when hundreds of U.S. marines came ashore in Beirut on July 15, 1958—backed up by three aircraft carriers and dozens of warships in the Mediterranean Sea, plus the threat of the U.S. deploying nuclear weapons from Germany—they were greeted merely by sunbathers and vendors on the beach. U.S. diplomats soon negotiated a political settlement that eased Chamoun out of power. American forces, eventually numbering in the thousands, left the country in October after suffering only one fatality, from sniper fire, during the three-month deployment. They got in easily, they stabilized the situation, and they got out easily.

More than half a century later, the future of the United States’ military presence in the Middle East is once again up for discussion, as Iraq calls on the U.S. to end its roughly 5,000-strong troop presence in the country and Trump struggles to remove American forces from Syria and Afghanistan as well. U.S. politicians are now grappling with the possibility of a post-American period in the region.

Though Eisenhower and his advisers couldn’t have known it at the time, their swift, successful operation would prove the exception rather than the rule. “Subsequent American combat missions in the Middle East would not be so lucky or so cost-free,” Bruce Riedel, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, has written. “The wars in Iraq have now seemingly become endless.”

In the years following the campaign in Lebanon, Iran underwent an Islamic revolution, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and violent Sunni Islamist movements rose up—all seismic developments that encouraged the United States to double down on its investments in the Middle East. By the ’80s, Washington had created a combatant command for the greater region and unveiled the Carter doctrine to defend Persian Gulf partners. The U.S. came to view Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq as its top threat after the Soviet Union collapsed, and George H. W. Bush’s carefully calibrated multinational military operations to reverse Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait arguably represented the height of U.S. military competence in the Middle East.

In the space of a decade and two Bush presidencies, however, the United States veered into a major debacle in Iraq. James Jeffrey, now Trump’s special representative for Syria, noted in a 2016 study that after the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush decided not to manage the challenges to U.S. interests in the region, as his predecessors had done for the past three decades, but to try to eliminate those challenges altogether. Through its post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and especially Iraq, the Bush administration attempted not only to root out hostile regimes but also to fundamentally remake the region in a manner consistent with U.S. interests and values.

Bush, of course, failed in spectacular fashion to achieve that transformation. Barack Obama, who ran for president in part to remedy those failures, mostly maintained America’s security architecture in the region and sought (largely unsuccessfully) to overhaul America’s role in the Middle East without resorting to military force. Trump, by contrast, has been willing to use limited military force, but has also demonstrated little interest in effecting any change in the region beyond retiring the United States as a security guarantor. Ultimately, he wants out.

And even if Trump doesn’t get his way entirely, he will undoubtedly seize on additional opportunities to reduce the American military presence in the Middle East, as fed-up Americans and progressive presidential candidates push in the same direction. When Eisenhower elected to open that “Pandora’s Box” back in 1958, his justification was that it would be “disastrous” if “we don’t.” Perhaps nothing signals the coming post-American era in the Middle East more than the fact that so many U.S. leaders these days fear the disastrous consequences of leaving the box open.

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Suez Crisis | Middle East [1956] | Britannica.com

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How Obama’s Mid-East Policy Led to Nazi Rebirth in Today’s Germany — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on January 31, 2020

Europe (and especially Germany) has been compassionate toward the refugees, and are now experiencing the political blowback, at home, from their admission of refugees from America’s foreign policy

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/01/30/how-obama-mid-east-policy-led-nazi-rebirth-germany/

 Eric Zuesse

On January 12th, Deutsche Welle (Germany’s public broadcaster like BBC, PBS, NPR, and RT) headlined “Mayor’s resignation highlights threat to German leaders: Arnd Focke, the Social Democratic mayor of a town in Lower Saxony, was regularly threatened by nationalists. Now he has resigned. Regional officials have repeatedly faced threats across Germany.” He quit for his safety, because carrying out Germany’s compassionate policies toward the flood of mainly Middle-Eastern refugees has produced a backlash that is becoming increasingly organized and dangerous to Germany’s democracy.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s policies in support of overthrowing secular governments (such as in Libya and Syria) in the Middle East, and his attempts to install there new governments — which were planned to be allied with the fundamentalist-Sunni Saud family who own Saudi Arabia — caused the exodus, from those secularly-headed U.S.-attacked Middle-Eastern countries, of millions, some of whom live now in Germany and are not accepted there, for many of reasons, some valid and some invalid. The resulting influx of millions of culturally markedly different people has given rise to a rebirth of Germany’s Nazi movement.

Whereas Obama’s U.S., and especially now Trump’s U.S., has refused entry of refugees from these countries that America (by means of its tens of thousands of jihadist proxy-forces from around the world) invaded, Europe (and especially Germany) has been compassionate toward the refugees, and are now experiencing the political blowback, at home, from their admission of refugees from America’s foreign policy — a policy favoring dictatorial fundamentalist-Sunni Arab regimes, to overthrow secular governments in the Middle East.

How and why did this happen?

Muammar Gaddafi was a socialist who believed in spreading to the masses (instead of to foreign investors) the wealth from the nation’s oil and who consequently was rejected by the U.S.-and-allied aristocracies who control the private oil companies. Gaddafi was demonized by their governments and their media. After extensive planning by the CIA and associated coup-organizations, he was finally overthrown in an “Arab Spring” in 2011 and replaced by what they expected to be a re-privatization of Libya’s oil. Hillary Clinton proudly proclaimed, “We came, we saw, he died! Ha, ha, hah!” Europe gets the refugees.

Bashar al-Assad was similar, in those basics. During 2012, Obama was well-warned by U.S. intelligence — and even by the anti-Assad ‘rebels’ themselves — that if he tried to overthrow Assad, then the U.S. would need to be using proxy-fighters to do it, jihadists, under the direction of Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch al-Nusra, and he chose that option and left to the Saud family to choose whom to rule Syria in the aftermath. Consequently, the Saud family selected the individuals who were to ‘represent the rebels’ at the UN-sponsored ’peace’-talks to end the Syrian ‘civil’ war. It was all a set-up deal, by Obama and his foreign allies. Even the pro-Obama New York Times reported on 27 April 2013 that “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.” But still Obama insisted that “Assad must go.” (Though that was a common headline on news-reports about Obama’s position, he was too slick ever to utter that phrase: in his rhetoric he was the exact opposite of his successor, who continued Obama’s Syria-policy.) Conquering Syria for the Sauds to control was the aim. Europe has received the refugees from that U.S. decision, not only from the other ones, on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere. By Europe’s siding with the United States, it has opted to side with the Sauds, and with jihadists, and, now, also with Nazis, and other racist-fascists.

Now that Trump has gone so far as to terminate Obama’s only good foreign-policy action, the JCPOA or Iran nuclear agreement, and to opt for war against Iran, the dangers to democracy in Europe could escalate even farther. But for some people, the rebirth of Nazism in Germany might be enough of a reason for Europe to reverse its foreign policies in fundamental ways.

 

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: U.S. Threatens Iraq That It Will Lose Access to Its Bank Account at the Federal Reserve

Posted by M. C. on January 12, 2020

You can be sure that every country in the world will take notice of the threat.

When the move away from the dollar as a reverse currency begins in earnest, the flight from the dollar on foreign exchange markets will be fierce.

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2020/01/us-threatens-iraq-that-it-will-lose.html

This is stunning news.

The Trump administration warned Iraq this past week that it risks losing access to a critical government bank account if Baghdad kicks out American forces following the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general, according to Iraqi officials, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Here are the details via The Journal:

The State Department warned that the U.S. could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a move that could jolt Iraq’s already shaky economy, the officials said.

Iraq, like other countries, maintains government accounts at the New York Fed as an important part of managing the country’s finances, including revenue from oil sales. Loss of access to the accounts could restrict Iraq’s use of that revenue, creating a cash crunch in Iraq’s financial system and constricting a critical lubricant for the economy.

Bottom line: The U.S. continues to use the global dominance of the US dollar to bully countries that don’t fall in line with its demands.

You can be sure that every country in the world will take notice of the threat.

When the move away from the dollar as a re(serve)verse currency begins in earnest, the flight from the dollar on foreign exchange markets will be fierce.

And that is what economic blowback will look like: The crash of the dollar.

RW

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