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Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

America Dominant Again (in Arms Sales) – TomDispatch.com

Posted by M. C. on May 26, 2021

https://tomdispatch.com/america-dominant-again-in-arms-sales/

William Hartung

Think about this: on Saturday, May 12th, with barely an hour’s notice, Israel took out the al-Jalaa Tower, a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed the Associated Press, al-Jazeera, and other media outlets. That act of destruction, among so many others, caused shock globally and protests not just by those media groups but by previously Israeli-supporting Democrats in Congress. As it happens, the weapon that destroyed that tower was a GBU-31, a Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM (aka a “smart bomb”) that was manufactured in the United States. Not only that, but in the midst of the ongoing carnage in impoverished, increasingly devastated Gaza (as well as in Israel), the Biden administration has been pushing through a new $735-million package of just such weaponry for Israel, ensuring more of the same to the horizon.

This has even disturbed key pro-Israeli congressional figures like Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who, according to the New York Times, “told Democrats on the panel… that he would ask the Biden administration to delay a $735 million tranche of precision-guided weapons to Israel that had been approved before tensions in the Middle East boiled over.” Later, he would pull back on his threat, but Bernie Sanders has actually introduced a resolution in the Senate aimed at halting the future delivery of that weaponry (as several Democrats have already done in the House).

As the invaluable Pentagon specialist and TomDispatch regular William Hartung notes today, the U.S. leads all other nations on this planet by a country mile in selling the latest weaponry globally, as has been true for almost three decades. In other words, this country has been number one (U.S.A.! U.S.A.!) when it comes to such weapons sales (and so future destruction) forever and a day. In the case of Israel, those sales, however, are a secondary matter. For years, the U.S. has annually been giving — yes, giving — nearly $4 billion in military aid to Israel, a relatively wealthy country.  Since 2001, Israel has, in fact, received more than half of all the “military financing” approved by this country. Imagine what those tens of billions of dollars might have done had they been used instead for America’s fading infrastructure or other domestic investments.

In other words, Washington is complicit in the ravaging of Gaza in these last weeks, just as it has been in the devastation of Yemen in these years (thanks to similar sales of weaponry to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates). It’s a money-making, military-industrial tale from hell and Hartung tells it today in all its grim horror. Tom

America Dominant Again (in Arms Sales)

And Again… and Again… and Again

By William Hartung

When it comes to trade in the tools of death and destruction, no one tops the United States of America.

In April of this year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published its annual analysis of trends in global arms sales and the winner — as always — was the U.S. of A. Between 2016 and 2020, this country accounted for 37% of total international weapons deliveries, nearly twice the level of its closest rival, Russia, and more than six times that of Washington’s threat du jour, China. 

Sadly, this was no surprise to arms-trade analysts.  The U.S. has held that top spot for 28 of the past 30 years, posting massive sales numbers regardless of which party held power in the White House or Congress.  This is, of course, the definition of good news for weapons contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, even if it’s bad news for so many of the rest of us, especially those who suffer from the use of those arms by militaries in places like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates.  The recent bombing and leveling of Gaza by the U.S.-financed and supplied Israeli military is just the latest example of the devastating toll exacted by American weapons transfers in these years.

See the rest here

William D. Hartung, a TomDispatch regular, is the director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy and the author, with Elias Yousif, of “U.S. Arms Sales Trends 2020 and Beyond: From Trump to Biden.”

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Oh So True, Not So Funny

Posted by M. C. on May 23, 2021

https://babylonbee.com/news/israel-to-buy-weapons-from-america-with-money-given-to-them-by-america-to-shoot-down-iranian-rockets-paid-for-by-america

JERUSALEM—Biden has approved a $735 million weapons sale to Israel. Israel will be paying for the weapons using money from foreign aid given to them by America. According to experts, Israel needs these weapons so they can shoot down Hamas rockets that were given to them by Iran, who paid for them using money given to them by America. 

“Yeah, it’s all pretty straightforward,” said one Middle East expert. “Not confusing in the least.”

According to sources, Iran bought weapons technology with $1.8 billion in cash given to them by the Obama administration. They then provided those weapons to Hamas terrorists in Gaza in order to kill Jews. 

Israel is responding with weapons systems purchased with American foreign aid dollars from the Trump administration.

“Yeah,” said the expert, “the entire conflict is pretty much a proxy war between Democrats and Republicans at this point.” 

Some in America have started a petition to bring those dollars back to America so Democrats and Republicans can just shoot rockets at each other here at home.

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31 Reasons Why I Won’t Take the Vaccine | Gates of Vienna

Posted by M. C. on February 26, 2021

https://gatesofvienna.net/2021/02/31-reasons-why-i-wont-take-the-vaccine/

Why I Won’t Take the Vaccine

Posted on by Baron Bodissey

The following list was created by the Israeli rabbi Chananya Weissman. Many thanks to MC for the tip.

31 Reasons Why I Won’t Take the Vaccine

by Chananya Weissman

1. It’s not a vaccine. A vaccine by definition provides immunity to a disease. This does not provide immunity to anything. In a best-case scenario, it merely reduces the chance of getting a severe case of a virus if one catches it. Hence, it is a medical treatment, not a vaccine. I do not want to take a medical treatment for an illness I do not have.
2. The drug companies, politicians, medical establishment, and media have joined forces to universally refer to this as a vaccine when it is not one, with the intention of manipulating people into feeling safer about undergoing a medical treatment. Because they are being deceitful, I do not trust them, and want nothing to do with their medical treatment.
3. The presumed benefits of this medical treatment are minimal and would not last long in any case. The establishment acknowledges this, and is already talking about additional shots and ever-increasing numbers of new “vaccines” that would be required on a regular basis. I refuse to turn myself into a chronic patient who receives injections of new pharmaceutical products on a regular basis simply to reduce my chances of getting a severe case of a virus that these injections do not even prevent.
4. I can reduce my chances of getting a severe case of a virus by strengthening my immune system naturally. In the event I catch a virus, there are vitamins and well-established drugs that have had wonderful results in warding off the illness, without the risks and unknowns of this medical treatment.
5. The establishment insists that this medical treatment is safe. They cannot possibly know this because the long-term effects are entirely unknown, and will not be known for many years. They may speculate that it is safe, but it is disingenuous for them to make such a claim that cannot possibly be known. Because they are being disingenuous, I do not trust them, and I want no part of their treatment.
6. The drug companies have zero liability if anything goes wrong, and cannot be sued. Same for the politicians who are pushing this treatment. I will not inject myself with a new, experimental medical device when the people behind it accept no liability or responsibility if something goes wrong. I will not risk my health and my life when they refuse to risk anything.
7. Israel’s Prime Minister has openly admitted that the Israeli people are the world’s laboratory for this experimental treatment. I am not interested in being a guinea pig or donating my body to science.
8. Israel agreed to share medical data of its citizens with a foreign drug company as a fundamental part of their agreement to receive this treatment. I never consented for my personal medical data to be shared with any such entity, nor was I even asked. I will not contribute to this sleazy enterprise.
9. The executives and board members at Pfizer are on record that they have not taken their own treatment, despite all the fanfare and assurances. They are claiming that they would consider it unfair to “cut the line”. This is a preposterous excuse, and it takes an unbelievable amount of chutzpah to even say such a thing. Such a “line” is a figment of their own imagination; if they hogged a couple of injections for themselves no one would cry foul. In addition, billionaires with private jets and private islands are not known for waiting in line until hundreds of millions of peasants all over the world go first to receive anything these billionaires want for themselves.
10. The establishment media have accepted this preposterous excuse without question or concern. Moreover, they laud Pfizer’s executives for their supposed self-sacrifice in not taking their own experimental treatment until we go first. Since they consider us such fools, I do not trust them, and do not want their new treatment. They can have my place in line. I’ll go to the very back of the line.
11. Three facts that must be put together: Bill Gates is touting these vaccines as essential to the survival of the human race. Bill Gates believes the world has too many people and needs to be “depopulated”. Bill Gates, perhaps the richest man in the world, has also not been injected. No rush. Uh, no. I’ll pass on any medical treatments he wants me to take.
12. The establishment has been entirely one-sided in celebrating this treatment. The politicians and media are urging people to take it as both a moral and civic duty. The benefits of the treatment are being greatly exaggerated, the risks are being ignored, and the unknowns are being brushed aside. Because they are being deceitful and manipulative, I will not gamble my personal wellbeing on their integrity.
13. There is an intense propaganda campaign for people to take this treatment. Politicians and celebrities are taking selfies of themselves getting injected (perhaps in some cases pretending to get injected), the media is hyping this as the coolest, smartest, most happy and fun thing to do. It is the most widespread marketing campaign in history. This is not at all appropriate for any medical treatment, let alone a brand new one, and it makes me recoil.
14. The masses are following in tow, posting pictures of themselves getting injected with a drug, feeding the mass peer pressure to do the same. There is something very alarming and sick about this, and I want no part of it. I never took drugs just because “everyone’s doing it” and it’s cool. I’m certainly not going to start now.
 
15. Those who raise concerns about this medical treatment are being bullied, slandered, mocked, censored, ostracized, threatened, and fired from their jobs. This includes medical professionals who have science-based concerns about the drug and caregivers who have witnessed people under their charge suffering horrible reactions and death shortly after being injected. When the establishment is purging good people who risk everything simply to raise concerns about a new medical treatment — even if they don’t outright oppose it — I will trust these brave people over the establishment every time. I cannot think of a single similar case in history when truth and morality turned out to be on the side of the establishment.
16. This is the greatest medical experiment in the history of the human race.
17. It is purposely not being portrayed as the greatest medical experiment in the history of the human race, and the fact that it is a medical experiment at all is being severely downplayed.
18. Were they up front with the masses, very few would agree to participate in such an experiment. Manipulating the masses to participate in a medical experiment under false pretenses violates the foundations of medical ethics and democratic law. I will not allow unethical people who engage in such conduct to inject me with anything.
19. The medical establishment is not informing people about any of this. They have become marketing agents for an experimental drug, serving huge companies and politicians who have made deals with them. This is a direct conflict with their mandate to concern themselves exclusively with the wellbeing of the people under their care. Since the medical establishment has become corrupted, and has become nothing more than a corporate and political tool, I do not trust the experimental drug they want so badly to inject me with.
20. We are being pressured in various ways to get injected, which violates medical ethics and the foundations of democratic society. The best way to get me not to do something is to pressure me to do it.
21. The government has sealed their protocol related to the virus and treatments for THIRTY YEARS. This is information that the public has a right to know, and the government has a responsibility to share. What are they covering up? Do they really expect me to believe that everything is kosher about all this, and that they are concerned first and foremost with my health? The last time they did this was with the Yemenite Children Affair. If you’re not familiar with it, look it up. Now they’re pulling the same shtick. They didn’t fool me the first time, and they’re definitely not fooling me now.
22. The government can share our personal medical data with foreign corporations, but they won’t share their own protocol on the matter with us? I’m out.
23. The establishment has recruited doctors, rabbis, the media, and the masses to harangue people who don’t want to get injected with a new drug. We are being called the worst sort of names. We are being told that we believe in crazy conspiracies, that we are against science, that we are selfish, that we are murderers, that we don’t care about the elderly, that it’s our fault that the government continues to impose draconian restrictions on the public. It’s all because we don’t want to get injected with an experimental treatment, no questions asked. We are even being told that we have a religious obligation to do this, and that we are grave sinners if we do not. They say that if we do not agree to get injected, we should be forced to stay inside our homes forever and be ostracized from public life.
This is horrific, disgusting, a perversion of common sense, morality, and the Torah. It makes me recoil, and only further cements my distrust of these people and my opposition to taking their experimental drug. How dare they?
24. I know of many people who got injected, but none of them studied the science in depth, carefully weighed the potential benefits against the risks, compared this option to other alternatives, was truly informed, and decided this medical treatment was the best option for them. On the contrary, they got injected because of the hype, the propaganda, the pressure, the fear, blind trust in what “the majority of experts” supposedly believed (assuming THEY all studied everything in depth and were completely objective, which is highly dubious), blind trust in what certain influential rabbis urged them to do (ditto the above), or hysterical fear that the only option was getting injected or getting seriously ill from the virus. When I see mass hysteria and cult-like behavior surrounding a medical treatment, I will be extremely suspicious and avoid it.
25. The drug companies have a long and glorious history of causing mass carnage with wonder drugs they thrust on unsuspecting populations, even after serious problems had already become known. Instead of pressing the pause button and halting the marketing of these drugs until these issues could be properly investigated, the drug companies did everything in their power to suppress the information and keep pushing their products. When companies and people have demonstrated such gross lack of concern for human life, I will not trust them when they hype a new wonder drug. This isn’t our first rodeo.
26. Indeed, the horror stories are already coming in at warp speed, but the politicians are not the least bit concerned, the medical establishment is brushing them aside as unrelated or negligible, the media is ignoring it, the drug companies are steaming ahead at full speed, and those who raise a red flag continue to be bullied, censored, and punished. Clearly my life and my wellbeing are not their primary concern. I will not be their next guinea pig in their laboratory. I will not risk being the next “coincidence”.
27. Although many people have died shortly after getting injected — including perfectly healthy young people — we are not allowed to imply that the injection had anything to do with it. Somehow this is anti-science and will cause more people to die. I believe that denying any possible link, abusing people who speculate that there might be a link, and demonstrating not the slightest curiosity to even explore if there might be a link is what is anti-science and could very well cause more people to die. These same people believe I am obligated to get injected as well. No freaking thanks.
28. I am repulsed by the religious, cult-like worship of a pharmaceutical product, and will not participate in this ritual.
29. My “healthcare” provider keeps badgering me to get injected, yet they have provided me no information on this treatment or any possible alternatives. Everything I know I learned from others outside the establishment. Informed consent has become conformed consent. I decline.
30. I see all the lies, corruption, propaganda, manipulation, censorship, bullying, violation of medical ethics, lack of integrity in the scientific process, suppression of inconvenient adverse reactions, dismissal of legitimate concerns, hysteria, cult-like behavior, ignorance, closed-mindedness, fear, medical and political tyranny, concealment of protocols, lack of true concern for human life, lack of respect for basic human rights and freedoms, perversion of the Torah and common sense, demonization of good people, the greatest medical experiment of all time being conducted by greedy, untrustworthy, godless people, the lack of liability for those who demand I risk everything… I see all this and I have decided they can all have my place in line. I will put my trust in God. I will use the mind He blessed me with and trust my natural instincts. Which leads to the final reason which sums up why I will not get “vaccinated.”
31. The whole thing stinks.
 

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Watch “Israel’s ‘Green Badge’ – Covid Exit Plan…Or New Tyranny?” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on February 18, 2021

https://youtu.be/BeiIx1UjoO8

RonPaulLibertyReport 278K subscribers

The Israeli government is serious about rolling out its “Green Badge” Covid passport as a part of its plan to end months-old Covid lockdowns. If you cannot prove you’ve had a Covid jab or that you have already recovered from the virus, you essentially cannot participate in any form of public life. Good idea? Is this the future for the rest of the world? Also today: Canada’s worsening Covid Crackdown, Bill Gates attacks skeptics, Cuomo’s feeling the hot water.

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MoA – More Cyber Crimes, Attributed To Russia, Are Shown To Have Come From Elsewhere

Posted by M. C. on January 29, 2021

It is far more likely, as Whitney Webb finds, that Israel was behind it:

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2021/01/more-cyber-crimes-attributed-to-russia-are-shown-to-have-come-from-elsewhere.html#more

Earlier today police in Europe took down the Emotet bot-network:

First discovered as a fairly run-of-the-mill banking trojan back in 2014, Emotet evolved over the years into one of the most professional and resilient cyber crime services in the world, and became a “go-to” solution for cyber criminals.

Its infrastructure acted as a mechanism to gain access to target systems, which was done via an automated spam email process that delivered Emotet malware to its victims via malicious attachments, often shipping notices, invoices and, since last spring, Covid-19 information or offers. If opened, victims would be promoted to enable macros that allowed malicious code to run and instal Emotet.

This done, Emotet’s operators then sold access on to other cyber criminal groups as a means to infiltrate their victims, steal data, and drop malware and ransomware. The operators of TrickBot and Ryuk were among the many users of Emotet.

Up to a quarter of all recent run of the mill cyber-crime was done through the Emotet network. Closing it down is a great success.

Wikipedia falsely claimed that Emotet was based in Russia:

Emotet is a malware strain and a cybercrime operation based in Russia.[1] The malware, also known as Geodo and Mealybug, was first detected in 2014[2] and remains active, deemed one of the most prevalent threats of 2019.[3]


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However the Hindu report linked as source to the Russia claim under [1] only says:

The malware is said to be operated from Russia, and its operator is nicknamed Ivan by cyber security researchers.

“Is said to be operated from Russia” is quite a weak formulation and should not be used as source for attribution claims. It is also definitely false.

The operating center of Emotet was found in the Ukraine. Today the Ukrainian national police took control of it during a raid (video). The police found dozens of computers, some hundred hard drives, about 50 kilogram of gold bars (current price ~$60,000/kg) and large amounts of money in multiple currencies.
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Since the 2016 publishing of internal emails of the DNC and the Clinton campaign attribution of computer intrusions to Russia has become a standard propaganda feature. But in no case was there shown evidence which proved that Russia was responsible for a hack.

The recently discovered deep intrusion into U.S. companies and government networks used a manipulated version of the SolarWinds Orion network management software. The Washington borg immediately attributed the hack to Russia. Then President Trump attributed it to China. But none of those claims were backed up by facts or known evidence.

The hack was extremely complex, well managed and resourced, and likely required insider knowledge. To this IT professional it ‘felt’ neither Russian nor Chinese. It is far more likely, as Whitney Webb finds, that Israel was behind it:

The implanted code used to execute the hack was directly injected into the source code of SolarWinds Orion. Then, the modified and bugged version of the software was “compiled, signed and delivered through the existing software patch release management system,” per reports. This has led US investigators and observers to conclude that the perpetrators had direct access to SolarWinds code as they had “a high degree of familiarity with the software.” While the way the attackers gained access to Orion’s code base has yet to be determined, one possibility being pursued by investigators is that the attackers were working with employee(s) of a SolarWinds contractor or subsidiary. 

Though some contractors and subsidiaries of SolarWinds are now being investigated, one that has yet to be investigated, but should be, is Samanage. Samanage, acquired by SolarWinds in 2019, not only gained automatic access to Orion just as the malicious code was first inserted, but it has deep ties to Israeli intelligence and a web of venture-capital firms associated with numerous Israeli espionage scandals that have targeted the US government.

Samanage offers what it describes as “an IT Service Desk solution.” It was acquired by SolarWinds so Samanage’s products could be added to SolarWinds’ IT Operations Management portfolio. Though US reporting and SolarWinds press releases state that Samanage is based in Cary, North Carolina, implying that it is an American company, Samanage is actually an Israeli firm. It was founded in 2007 by Doron Gordon, who previously worked for several years at MAMRAM, the Israeli military’s central computing unit.

Several months after the acquisition was announced, in November 2019, Samanage, renamed SolarWinds Service Desk, became listed as a standard feature of SolarWinds Orion software, whereas the integration of Samanage and Orion had previously been optional since the acquisition’s announcement in April of that year. This means that complete integration was likely made standard in either October or November. It has since been reported that the perpetrators of the recent hack gained access to the networks of US federal agencies and major corporations at around the same time. Samanage’s automatic integration into Orion was a major modification made to the now-compromised software during that period. 

The U.S. National Security Agency has ways and means to find out who was behind the SolarWinds hack. But if Israel is the real culprit no one will be allowed to say so publicly. Some high ranging U.-S. general or official will fly to Israel and read his counterpart the riot act. Israel will ignore it just as it has done every time when it was caught spying on the U.S. government.

With more then half of Washington’s politicians in its pockets it has no reason to fear any consequences.

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Three Nations That Tried Socialism and Rejected It

Posted by M. C. on January 19, 2021

Widely described as “the sick man of Europe” after three decades of socialism, the United Kingdom underwent an economic revolution in the 1970s and 1980s because of one remarkable person—Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The sick man is in relapse.

https://www.heritage.org/progressivism/commentary/three-nations-tried-socialism-and-rejected-it?fbclid=IwAR1CH-8-sYNiFgeGlou3kMb04E5jIv-km-lYMeM86m-a2sPeW7zRwisoDfE

COMMENTARY BY

Lee Edwards, Ph.D.

Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought Lee Edwards is a leading historian of American conservatism and the author or editor of 25 books.

Israel, India, and the United Kingdom all adopted socialism as an economic model following World War II.

Socialism is guilty of a fatal conceit: It believes its system can make better decisions for the people than they can for themselves.

Socialism has failed in every country in which it has been tried. Copied

Socialists are fond of saying that socialism has never failed because it has never been tried. But in truth, socialism has failed in every country in which it has been tried, from the Soviet Union beginning a century ago to three modern countries that tried but ultimately rejected socialism—Israel, India, and the United Kingdom.

While there were major political differences between the totalitarian rule of the Soviets and the democratic politics of Israel, India, and the U.K., all three of the latter countries adhered to socialist principles, nationalizing their major industries and placing economic decision-making in the hands of the government.

>>> What Americans Must Know About Socialism

The Soviet failure has been well documented by historians. In 1985, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev took command of a bankrupt disintegrating empire. After 70 years of Marxism, Soviet farms were unable to feed the people, factories failed to meet their quotas, people lined up for blocks in Moscow and other cities to buy bread and other necessities, and a war in Afghanistan dragged on with no end in sight of the body bags of young Soviet soldiers.

The economies of the Communist nations behind the Iron Curtain were similarly enfeebled because they functioned in large measure as colonies of the Soviet Union. With no incentives to compete or modernize, the industrial sector of Eastern and Central Europe became a monument to bureaucratic inefficiency and waste, a “museum of the early industrial age.” As the New York Times pointed out at the time, Singapore, an Asian city-state of only 2 million people, exported 20 percent more machinery to the West in 1987 than all of Eastern Europe.

And yet, socialism still beguiled leading intellectuals and politicians of the West. They could not resist its siren song, of a world without strife because it was a world without private property. They were convinced that a bureaucracy could make more-informed decisions about the welfare of a people than the people themselves could. They believed, with John Maynard Keynes, that “the state is wise and the market is stupid.”

Israel, India, and the United Kingdom all adopted socialism as an economic model following World War II. The preamble to India’s constitution, for example, begins, “We, the People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic . . .” The original settlers of Israel were East European Jews of the Left who sought and built a socialist society. As soon as the guns of World War II fell silent, Britain’s Labour Party nationalized every major industry and acceded to every socialist demand of the unions.

At first, socialism seemed to work in these vastly dissimilar countries. For the first two decades of its existence, Israel’s economy grew at an annual rate of more than 10 percent, leading many to term Israel an “economic miracle.” The average GDP growth rate of India from its founding in 1947 into the 1970s was 3.5 percent, placing India among the more prosperous developing nations. GDP growth in Great Britain averaged 3 percent from 1950 to 1965, along with a 40 percent rise in average real wages, enabling Britain to become one of the world’s more affluent countries.

But the government planners were unable to keep pace with increasing population and overseas competition. After decades of ever declining economic growth and ever rising unemployment, all three countries abandoned socialism and turned toward capitalism and the free market. The resulting prosperity in Israel, India, and the U.K. vindicated free-marketers who had predicted that socialism would inevitably fail to deliver the goods. As British prime minister Margaret Thatcher observed, “the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Israel
Israel is unique, the only nation where socialism was successful—for a while. The original settlers, according to Israeli professor Avi Kay, “sought to create an economy in which market forces were controlled for the benefit of the whole society.” Driven by a desire to leave behind their history as victims of penury and prejudice, they sought an egalitarian, labor-oriented socialist society. The initial, homogeneous population of less than 1 million drew up centralized plans to convert the desert into green pastures and build efficient state-run companies.

Most early settlers, American Enterprise Institute scholar Joseph Light pointed out, worked either on collective farms called kibbutzim or in state-guaranteed jobs. The kibbutzim were small farming communities in which people did chores in exchange for food and money to live on and pay their bills. There was no private property, people ate in common, and children under 18 lived together and not with their parents. Any money earned on the outside was given to the kibbutz.

A key player in the socialization of Israel was the Histadrut, the General Federation of Labor, subscribers to the socialist dogma that capital exploits labor and that the only way to prevent such “robbery” is to grant control of the means of production to the state. As it proceeded to unionize almost all workers, the Histadrut gained control of nearly every economic and social sector, including the kibbutzim, housing, transportation, banks, social welfare, health care, and education. The federation’s political instrument was the Labor party, which effectively ruled Israel from the founding of Israel in 1948 until 1973 and the Yom Kippur War. In the early years, few asked whether any limits should be placed on the role of government.

Israel’s economic performance seemed to confirm Keynes’s judgment. Real GDP growth from 1955 to 1975 was an astounding 12.6 percent, putting Israel among the fastest-growing economies in the world, with one of the lowest income differentials. However, this rapid growth was accompanied by rising levels of private consumption and, over time, increasing income inequality. There was an increasing demand for economic reform to free the economy from the government’s centralized decision-making. In 1961, supporters of economic liberalization formed the Liberal party—the first political movement committed to a market economy.

The Israeli “economic miracle” evaporated in 1965 when the country suffered its first major recession. Economic growth halted and unemployment rose threefold from 1965 to 1967. Before the government could attempt corrective action, the Six-Day War erupted, altering Israel’s economic and political map. Paradoxically, the war brought short-lived prosperity to Israel, owing to increased military spending and a major influx of workers from new territories. But government-led economic growth was accompanied by accelerating inflation, reaching an annual rate of 17 percent from 1971 to 1973.

For the first time, there was a public debate between supporters of free-enterprise economics and supporters of traditional socialist arrangements. Leading the way for the free market was the future Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, who urged Israeli policymakers to “set your people free” and liberalize the economy. The 1973 war and its economic impacts reinforced the feelings of many Israelis that the Labor party’s socialist model could not handle the country’s growing economic challenges. The 1977 elections resulted in the victory of the Likud party, with its staunch pro-free-market philosophy. The Likud took as one of its coalition partners the Liberal party.

Because socialism’s roots in Israel were so deep, real reform proceeded slowly. Friedman was asked to draw up a program that would move Israel from socialism toward a free-market economy. His major reforms included fewer government programs and reduced government spending; less government intervention in fiscal, trade, and labor policies; income-tax cuts; and privatization. A great debate ensued between government officials seeking reform and special interests that preferred the status quo.

Meanwhile, the government kept borrowing and spending and driving up inflation, which averaged 77 percent for 1978–79 and reached a peak of 450 percent in 1984–85. The government’s share of the economy grew to 76 percent, while fiscal deficits and national debt skyrocketed. The government printed money through loans from the Bank of Israel, which contributed to the inflation by churning out money.

Finally, in January 1983, the bubble burst, and thousands of private citizens and businesses as well as government-run enterprises faced bankruptcy. Israel was close to collapse. At this critical moment, a sympathetic U.S. president, Ronald Reagan, and his secretary of state, George Shultz, came to the rescue. They offered a grant of $1.5 billion if the Israeli government agreed to abandon its socialist rulebook and adopt some form of U.S.-style capitalism, using American-trained professionals.

The Histadrut strongly resisted, unwilling to give up their decades-old power and to concede that socialism was responsible for Israel’s economic troubles. However, the people had had enough of soaring inflation and non-existent growth and rejected the Histadrut’s policy of resistance. Still, the Israeli government hesitated, unwilling to spend political capital on economic reform. An exasperated Secretary Schulz informed Israel that if it did not begin freeing up the economy, the U.S. would freeze “all monetary transfers” to the country. The threat worked. The Israeli government officially adopted most of the free-market “recommendations.”

The impact of a basic shift in Israeli economic policy was immediate and pervasive. Within a year, inflation tumbled from 450 percent to just 20 percent, a budget deficit of 15 percent of GDP shrank to zero, the Histadrut’s economic and business empire disappeared along with its political domination, and the Israeli economy was opened to imports. Of particular importance was the Israeli high-tech revolution, which led to a 600 percent increase in investment in Israel, transforming the country into a major player in the high-tech world.

There were troubling side effects such as social gaps, poverty, and concerns about social justice, but the socialist rhetoric and ideology, according to Glenn Frankel, the Washington Post’s correspondent in Israel, “has been permanently retired.” The socialist Labor party endorsed privatization and the divestment of many publicly held companies that had become corrupted by featherbedding, rigid work rules, phony bookkeeping, favoritism, and incompetent managers.

After modest expansion in the 1990s, Israel’s economic growth topped the charts in the developing world in the 2000s, propelled by low inflation and a reduction in the size of government. Unemployment was still too high and taxes took up 40 percent of GDP, much of it caused by the need for a large military. However, political parties are agreed that there is no turning back to the economic policies of the early years—the debate is about the rate of further market reform. “The world’s most successful experiment in socialism,” Light wrote, “appears to have resolutely embraced capitalism.”

India
Acceptance of socialism was strong in India long before independence, spurred by widespread resentment against British colonialism and the land-owning princely class (the zamindars) and by the efforts of the Communist Party of India, established in 1921. Jawaharlal Nehru adopted socialism as the ruling ideology when he became India’s first prime minister after independence in 1947.

For nearly 30 years, the Indian government adhered to a socialist line, restricting imports, prohibiting foreign direct investment, protecting small companies from competition from large corporations, and maintaining price controls on a wide variety of industries including steel, cement, fertilizers, petroleum, and pharmaceuticals. Any producer who exceeded their licensed capacity faced possible imprisonment.

As the Indian economist Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar wrote, “India was perhaps the only country in the world where improving productivity . . . was a crime.” It was a strict application of the socialist principle that the market cannot be trusted to produce good economic or social outcomes. Economic inequality was regulated through taxes—the top personal income tax rate hit a stifling 97.75 percent.

Some 14 public banks were nationalized in 1969; six more banks were taken over by the government in 1980. Driven by the principle of “self-reliance,” almost anything that could be produced domestically could not be imported regardless of the cost. It was the “zenith” of Indian socialism, which still failed to satisfy the basic needs of an ever expanding population. In 1977–78, more than half of India was living below the poverty line.

At the same time, notes Indian-American economist Arvind Panagariya, a series of external shocks shook the country, including a war with Pakistan in 1965, which came on the heels of a war with China in 1962; another war with Pakistan in 1971; consecutive droughts in 1971–72 and 1972–73, and the oil price crisis of October 1973, which contributed to a 40 percent deterioration in India’s foreign trade.

Economic performance from 1965 to 1981 was worse than than at any other time of the post-independence period. As in Israel, economic reform became an imperative. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had pushed her policy agenda as far to the left as possible. In 1980, the Congress party won a two-thirds majority in the Parliament, and Gandhi adopted, at last, a more pragmatic, non-ideological course. But as with everything else in India, economic reform proceeded slowly.

An industrial-policy statement continued the piecemeal retreat from socialism that had begun in 1975, allowing companies to expand their capacity, encouraging investment in a wide variety of industries, and introducing private-sector participation in telecommunications. Further liberalization received a major boost under Rajiv Gandhi, who succeeded his mother in 1984 following her assassination. As a result, GDP growth reached an encouraging 5.5 percent.

Economics continued to trump ideology under Rajiv Gandhi, who was free of the socialist baggage carried by an earlier generation. His successor, P. V. Narasimha Rao, put an end to licensing except in selected sectors and opened the door to much wider foreign investment. Finance minister Manmohan Singh cut the tariff rates from an astronomical 355 percent to 65 percent. According to Arvind Panagariya, “the government had introduced enough liberalizing measures to set the economy on the course to sustaining approximately 6 percent growth on a long-term basis.” In fact, India’s GDP growth reached a peak of over 9 percent in 2005–8, followed by a dip to just under 7 percent in 2017–18.

A major development of the economic reforms was the remarkable expansion of India’s middle class. The Economist estimates there are 78 million Indians in the middle-middle and upper middle-class category. By including the lower middle class, Indian economists Krishnan and Hatekar figure that India’s new middle class grew from 304.2 million in 2004–5 to an amazing 606.3 million in 2011–12, almost one-half of the entire Indian population. The daily income of the three middle classes are lower middle, $2–$4; middle middle, $4–$6; upper middle, $6–$10.

While this is extremely low by U.S. standards, a dollar goes a long way in India, where the annual per capita income is approximately $6,500. If only half of the lower middle class makes the transition to upper-class or middle income, that would mean an Indian middle class of about 350 million Indians—a mid-point between The Economist and Krishnan and Hatekar estimates. Such an enormous middle class confirms the judgment of the Heritage Foundation, in its Index of Economic Freedom, that India is developing into an “open-market economy.”

In 2017, India overtook Germany to become the fourth-largest auto market in the world, and it is expected to displace Japan in 2020. That same year, India overtook the U.S. in smartphone sales to become the second-largest smartphone market in the world. Usually described as an agricultural country, India is today 31 percent urbanized. With an annual GDP of $8.7 trillion, India ranks fifth in the world, behind the United States, China, Japan, and Great Britain. Never before in recorded history, Indian economist Gurcharan Das has noted, have so many people risen so quickly.

All this has been accomplished because the political leaders of India sought and adopted a better economic system—free enterprise—after some four decades of fitful progress and unequal prosperity under socialism.

United Kingdom
Widely described as “the sick man of Europe” after three decades of socialism, the United Kingdom underwent an economic revolution in the 1970s and 1980s because of one remarkable person—Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

See the rest here

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: The Absolutely Crazy Details of the COVID-19 “Stimulus” Bill Are Starting to Emerge

Posted by M. C. on December 25, 2020

The  bill creates a commission tasked with educating “consumers about the dangers associated with using or storing portable fuel containers for flammable liquids near an open flame.”

Representative Thomas Massie reports that $10 million is designated for gender programs in Pakistan.

The bill mandates new hiring measures to ensure diversity in the intelligence community.

The bill decriminalizes unauthorized use of the Swiss Coat of Arms or Smokey the Bear

There’s $5 billion in military aid to Israel.

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2020/12/the-absolutely-crazy-details-of-covid.html

The COVID-19 stimulus bill agreed on Sunday by Republican and Democratic leadership is part of a larger 2021 government continuing resolution spending program. In total, it is a spending bill of $2.4 trillion.

The entire bill is 5,593 pages. 

Here is what the bill looks like:

Who the hell in Congress is going to read that?

What is worse is the House has a rule to give everyone 72 hours to read bills. Democrats in the House voted to suspend the rule for this package. That is each congressman will have around 8 hours to read the entire 5,593 pages before voting on the bill. 

The bill has 544 pages for coronavirus relief, 1,915 pages for appropriations, and 3,126 pages for extensions and corrections.

Even AOC understands the madness (UPDATE: But she voted for it):

Think about this. The COVID-19 stimulus part of the bill has a price tag of $900 billion but only $600 per person is going to individual Americans.

There are exceptions, but even if we assume every American gets $600 that is only $198 billion. Where is the other $702 billion going?

This bill is an early Christmas gift for global leaders who bow when the Empire says to bow, lobbyists, cronies and those who appreciate absurdity.

Here are some early outrages and absurdities spotted in the bill.

There’s $5 billion in military aid to Israel.

Here is aid other countries are getting for various projects:

Egypt = $1,300,000,000

Sudan = $700,000,000

Ukraine = $453,000,000

Israel = $500,000,000

Burma = $135,000,000

Nepal = $130,000,000

Cambodia = $85,500,000

There’s $1.4 billion for “Asia Reassurance Initiative Act”

The bill will establish a new Smithsonian  American Women’s History Museum and a Smithsonian  National Museum of the American Latino.

The  bill creates a commission tasked with educating “consumers about the dangers associated with using or storing portable fuel containers for flammable liquids near an open flame.”

Representative Thomas Massie reports that $10 million is designated for gender programs in Pakistan.

The bill mandates new hiring measures to ensure diversity in the intelligence community.

The bill decriminalizes unauthorized use of the Swiss Coat of Arms or Smokey the Bear

The bill spends five pages laying out the process for determining who will be recognized as the next reincarnation of the Dalia Lama.

The bill outlays funds to address gender inequality amongst statues.

The Covid relief bill stipulates funds can’t be used for accessing pornographic websites unless it’s “official business”

Here is the entire bill, please leave in the comments any outrages or absurdities you spot in the bill.

And this, from Don Boudreaux, sets the scene for the part of the COVID-19 package that isn’t crony:

Can Anyone Tell Me… 

… why we should take seriously politicians who think that concocting increases in nominal spending power will keep the economy secure in the face of (1) government lockdowns that forcibly prevent a great deal of production from taking place, and (2) government- and media-stirred popular derangement that further dampens actual productive activity?

We are “governed” – a more appropriate term is “lorded over” – by people who, if we judge them by their publicly spoken words, are imbeciles. And these imbeciles, sadly, are cheered on by most intellectuals (some of whom even boast advanced degrees in economics).I would simply add that “nominal spending power” is never a good idea, just bad Keynesian economics.
RW
UPDATE
The House has passed the bill.
UPDATE 2
The Senate has passed the bill.
UPDATE 3
The bill passed in the Senate 92-6.
Voting “NO” were: BlackburnCruzJohnsonLeePaul Scott (FL)

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Facing up to Israel’s destabilizing behavior – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on December 17, 2020

The contrast with the state that killed Fakhrizadeh is stark. Israel, which is not a party to the NPT, is generally believed to possess a sizable arsenal of nuclear weapons. It has acquired that stockpile clandestinely, closed off from any international scrutiny or regulatory regime, and with Israel never admitting what it has.

Don’t look to any of our Middle Eastern “friends” for peace and tranquility.

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/12/02/facing-up-to-israels-destabilizing-behavior/

Written by
Paul R. Pillar

Responsibility for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is still officially a matter of speculation, but it is highly likely that Israel did it. Israel has the motive, the methods, and the moxie. It also has the record, including not only a string of murders of other Iranian nuclear scientists some eight years ago but also a more widely used killing machine that has made Israel the world’s leader in targeted assassinations.

The killing of Fakhrizadeh was not a blow for nuclear non-proliferation. The demise of no one individual will make a significant dent in Iran’s nuclear program. Fakhrizadeh’s work on a possible nuclear weapon took place in the past, before Tehran suspended that work some 17 years ago. The knowledge on a shelf remains, even if this man does not.

The killing did not pre-empt an Iranian attack or any other untoward Iranian action, and instead is more likely to stimulate such an attack. Iran, which has no nuclear weapons and as a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is committed never to acquire any, closed all possible paths to a bomb several years ago through the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the multilateral agreement that gutted Iran’s nuclear program and opened what remained of it to intrusive international monitoring.

The contrast with the state that killed Fakhrizadeh is stark. Israel, which is not a party to the NPT, is generally believed to possess a sizable arsenal of nuclear weapons. It has acquired that stockpile clandestinely, closed off from any international scrutiny or regulatory regime, and with Israel never admitting what it has.

The recent assassination did not even serve a purpose comparable to, say, the extraterritorial rubout of a terrorist who will never see the inside of a courtroom and, it might be argued, can be eliminated as a threat in no other way. Instead, the assassination itself was an act of terrorism. It certainly meets the official definition that the State Department uses in compiling statistics on international terrorism, which is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience”.

Failure to acknowledge that reality while fulminating about terrorism in other contexts or at the hands of other actors represents a double standard. The double standard becomes all the clearer by imagining what the reaction would be if Iran or someone else had assassinated an Israeli nuclear scientist — or an American one.

The Netanyahu government’s evident objective — probably pursued with the encouragement of the lame duck Trump administration, as part of its salting of the earth on its way out the door — is to subvert the Biden administration’s diplomacy with Iran and efforts to return to compliance with the JCPOA. The timing of the Fakhrizadeh assassination is too much of a coincidence to have merely reflected when an operational opportunity happened to arise.

A dangerous road ahead

The next phase in this story depends on the Iranian reaction. If the leadership in Tehran can resist Iranians’ understandable anger and desire for revenge, Netanyahu will at least have humiliated Iran and shown it to be weak. But his favored scenario would be for Iran to do something in retaliation that in turn could become the rationale for escalated military action against Iran by Israel and especially by the United States. The fact that President Trump has already looked into a possible attack on Iran must lead Netanyahu to conclude that he has a good chance of instigating just such a military confrontation, which would be his most effective way yet of pre-emptively trashing the incoming U.S. administration’s diplomacy.

Instigation and provocation of Iran already were part of an Israeli campaign before the Fakhrizadeh killing and before the U.S. election. A probable facet of that campaign was a series of unclaimed explosions in Iran this summer, which hit not only military-related and nuclear facilities but also other targets such as power plants and oil pipelines.

Netanyahu’s government has consistently promoted unending, unqualified hostility toward Iran aimed at keeping it forever ostracized, sanctioned, and loathed. This campaign of permanent confrontation keeps a potential regional rival weak and aims to keep Israel’s U.S. patron away from doing any diplomatic or other business with Tehran. Keeping Iran as a perpetual bête noire to be blamed for everything wrong in the Middle East helps to deflect blame for those wrongs from others, especially Israel. The value to Netanyahu’s government of the bête noire as an all-purpose distraction is reflected in how often that government responds to unwelcome attention to its own conduct by proclaiming, “But the real problem in our region is Iran…”

Partly, but by no means wholly, because of this Israeli demonization campaign, Iran’s conduct routinely gets discussed in the United States in shorthand terms that refer to Tehran’s “malign” or “destabilizing” behavior and support for terrorism. The shorthand obscures inattention to exactly what Iran has been doing and why it does it. It leaves unsaid that most of what Iran does in the region is reaction to what others do — including in response to what Israel has done with terrorism or other destructive action.

By any objective measure of destabilizing behavior, Israel in recent times has been doing at least as much as Iran to destabilize the Middle East, and probably more. This is true of terrorism, sabotage, and other clandestine operations, as illustrated most recently by the assassination of Fakhrizadeh.

It is true of the use of violent proxies, which in Israel’s case has included an Iranian cult/terrorist group that has American blood on its hands. It is true of aggressive military action across international borders — including Israel’s current sustained campaign of aerial assaults in Syria — which is much different from a consensual relationship in which military assistance is given in support of, and in alliance with, an incumbent government.

And it certainly is true when looking at who is urging a return to diplomacy to settle differences, and who instead is subverting diplomacy and promoting confrontation, even to the point of trying to trigger a new war.

A policy challenge for the new administration

All this is grim reality for the incoming Biden administration as it shapes its relationship with Israel. The smart money in Washington is betting against Biden spending much of his precious political capital in trying to make progress in resolving the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That’s too bad for the Palestinians and for justice and human rights, but it also is too bad for regional stability, especially given how Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians has long been a prime motivator for extremism and terrorism.

The destabilization goes well beyond the Palestinian conflict, however, and includes the Israeli terrorism, sabotage, and provocations aimed at Iran. The grimmest of the grim realities is that the current government of Israel is not only actively trying to subvert the new administration’s foreign policy but also is trying to drag the United States into a new Middle East war.

That is an unfriendly act. The Biden administration somehow will have to take that into account in shaping a bilateral relationship that has been characterized — even before the extreme obeisance toward Israel of the Trump administration — by protective vetoes in the U.N. Security Council and $3.8 billion annually in unrestricted aid. The Biden people can start by being honest — consistent with the president-elect’s pledge of truthfulness — about the sources of instability in the Middle East.

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A Dangerous Opinion – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on December 15, 2020

It is a dangerous opinion to say that the U.S. government should take resources from Americans who have them and give them to foreign countries that “need” them. It is a dangerous opinion because if the government can legitimately take resources from Americans and give them to foreigners, then the government can certainly also legitimately take resources from Americans and give them to other Americans. A defense of foreign aid is a defense of the welfare state.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/12/laurence-m-vance/a-dangerous-opinion/

By Laurence M. Vance

Some opinions are unprovable, but innocent; others are clearly false, but harmless; and some are downright dangerous.

Some people think that brown eggs taste better than white eggs. Others think that the earth is flat. But some people think that the government should take resources from those who have them and give them to those who “need” them.

Like the woman who wrote me back in September.

On September 9, I wrote an article about foreign aid titled “Foreign Aid Folly.” But it wasn’t until just the other day that I noticed an e-mail in my in-box dated September 9 (Yes, I am drowning in e-mails.) Here is the complete e-mail I received in response to my article that was critical of foreign aid:

Stop it. We have more than enough to aid foreign countries. The problem is greed here in this country.

First of all, who are the “we” who have more than enough to aid foreign countries?

It can’t be the U.S. government. Uncle Sam has nothing of his own. Every dime in his bank account has been confiscated from American taxpayers.

It can’t be all Americans. Ask the people that work at fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and day care centers if they have more than enough to aid foreign countries. Ask the single mothers trying to raise their children if they have more than enough to aid foreign countries. Ask the families trying to make ends meet if they have more than enough to aid foreign countries. Ask those living paycheck to paycheck if they have more than enough to aid foreign countries. Ask those with college degrees who are waiting tables and struggling to pay their student loans if they have more than enough to aid foreign countries. Ask those on the verge of bankruptcy if they have more than enough to aid foreign countries. Ask those who have lost their job or business due to the government’s draconian and ridiculous response to Covid-19 if they have more than enough to aid foreign countries.

And while you’re at it, go to rich neighborhoods and knock on the doors and ask the people who do have more than enough to aid foreign countries if they would like to write a check to the countries of Egypt, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Columbia, Ukraine, Thailand, Indonesia, Mongolia, Poland, Croatia, Romania, Peru, or Zimbabwe? You wouldn’t collect enough money to buy a ham sandwich. Go to evangelical churches and ask Christians who do have more than enough to aid foreign countries, but think the U.S. government should give billions in foreign aid to Israel, how much they are willing to give to Israel out of their own pocket. You wouldn’t collect enough money to buy a bowl of matzah ball soup.

Second, is it greed to want to keep your own money?

Is it greed to not want to give money to countries that vote against the United States in the UN? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries with authoritarian governments? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries where U.S. jobs have been outsourced? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries that will waste it? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries so they can buy weapons? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries that never gets to the people in the countries that actually need it the most? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries with socialist governments? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries that violate human rights? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries that are nothing more than bribes? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries because it crowds out private charity? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries that has been confiscated from U.S. taxpayers? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries with corrupt regimes? Is it greed to not want to give money to countries that benefits their privileged contractors?

It is a dangerous opinion to say that the U.S. government should take resources from Americans who have them and give them to foreign countries that “need” them. It is a dangerous opinion because if the government can legitimately take resources from Americans and give them to foreigners, then the government can certainly also legitimately take resources from Americans and give them to other Americans. A defense of foreign aid is a defense of the welfare state.

Sorry lady, I will not “stop it.” I will continue to point out the folly of foreign aid. I will continue to point out that no American should be forced to “contribute” to the aid of foreigners, their governments, or NGOs working in other countries. I will continue to point out that the decision to aid foreigners should be a decision left up to each individual American. I will continue to point out that all charity should be private and voluntary. And I will continue to point out that charity that is not voluntary is theft.

The Best of Laurence M. Vance Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom; War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism; War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy; King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, and many other books. His newest books are Free Trade or Protectionism? and The Free Society.

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Allies Aren’t Friends and Clients Aren’t Allies | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on October 29, 2020

The U.S. needs to cut back the support it provides to reckless clients, and it needs to reevaluate seriously which of its formal allies deserve the protection that our government has promised them.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/allies-arent-friends-and-clients-arent-allies/

Daniel Larison

The U.S. has had so many formal alliances and informal partnerships for so long that many of our political leaders have forgotten the reason why we have allies and partners in the first place. Our government forms alliances with other states because there is supposed to be some mutual benefit to our security and theirs, but over time these alliances have hardened into unquestionable idols that have to be supported whether they serve any useful purpose or not. It is commonplace for presidents and presidential candidates to declare that this or that relationship is “unbreakable,”“eternal,” or “sacred,” but by its nature every alliance has to be breakable, temporary, and open to challenge and criticism.

Many partnerships are of even more questionable value, but they are frequently described as alliances when they are not and there is tremendous political pressure to treat them as if they deserved U.S. protection. The U.S. needs to reassess which relationships are worth preserving, and it needs to remember the reason why we have these relationships. That will mean reducing some commitments and ending others when they have outlived their usefulness.

In modern Washington, D.C., limited security relationships are transmuted into alliances, and alliances are made into sacred cows that must not be threatened no matter what. When Washington and Jefferson warned us against permanent and entangling alliances, these were some of the pitfalls that they hoped the U.S. would avoid, but instead we have spent the last eighty years adding more commitments than we can possibly uphold and conflating our interests with the interests of dozens of other countries all over the world. It has reached a point where many Americans no longer recognize where American interests end and those of other states start, and our leaders tend to treat local and regional threats to minor clients as if they were endangering America’s vital interests.

This leads our government into a series of corrupting arrangements with authoritarian governments in the name of a never-ending “war on terror,” and it commits the U.S. to risk major wars over small rocks in the ocean and indefensible countries on the European frontier. Alliances are supposed to make both the U.S. and our allies safer, but in practice they have sometimes become the excuse for unnecessary interventions that have nothing to do with collective defense. Partnerships that were once considered temporary expedients are absurdly elevated into “crucial” relationships that have to be indulged despite the harm they are doing to U.S. interests.

There is a tendency to sentimentalize our relationships with allies, clients, and partners by claiming them as our “friends.” There are no friendships between states. There may be better or worse relationships, and there may be friendly working relationships between individual leaders, but it isn’t possible for governments to have friends and it is a mistake to think of our ties to other countries in these terms.

Americans have had the luxury of misunderstanding our relationships this way because our country is extraordinarily secure in a way that few others are, but it is a dangerous error to perceive even our closest allies as friends. It blinds us to divergences of interests and prevents us from changing our policies as circumstances require. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are among the many politicians that fall into this bad habit of seeing foreign policy in simple terms of supporting friends and punishing enemies. Sen. Harris summed this up in one of her statements at the vice presidential debate when she said:

Foreign policy: it might sound complicated, but really it’s relationships there – just think about it as relationships. And so we know this, in our personal, professional relationships – you guys keep your word to your friends. Got to be loyal to your friends. People who have stood with you, got to stand with them. You got to know who your adversaries are, and keep them in check.

The U.S. should seek to keep its word when it gives it, but that also means that it must be much more discerning when it makes binding commitments. Other states are not our friends, and we are not theirs, and we should not allow past cooperation to make us feel obliged to do things that make no sense for our security. For example, many supporters of intervention in Libya in 2011 insisted that the U.S. somehow “owed” European allies for their support in Afghanistan, and that was used to make it seem as if refusing to wage a war of choice in North Africa amounted to a betrayal of our “friends” that had fought alongside us elsewhere. In the end, this bad argument prevailed and the U.S. enabled the misguided Anglo-French scheme, and the intervening governments have had reason to regret their involvement ever since. Earlier, the U.S. tried to guilt and browbeat its European allies into backing the illegal and unjust invasion of Iraq by appealing to the role that the U.S. had played in defending western Europe during the Cold War. In both cases, the hawks that sought to manipulate allies with appeals to the past were masking the lousy case for intervention. The skeptics that rejected this emotional blackmail were right not to join these wars, and the leaders that went along with these campaigns later realized the error of their ways.

Today the U.S. is confronted with somewhat different problems. Many of our political leaders and analysts intentionally misrepresent the nature of some of our client relationships to make them seem more important and unquestionable than they are. Catering to the whims of Saudi Arabia is the chief example of this error, but the same goes for U.S. relations with Egypt, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates. There are no formal treaties that oblige the U.S. to defend these countries, and they are likewise under no obligation to aid the U.S. These relationships are nothing like our treaty alliances, but they are routinely described and defended in this way. The U.S. has also tended to give these clients blank checks to behave as outrageously and destructively as they want without having to worry about losing Washington’s backing.

The most recent instance of this misrepresentation was Kenneth Pollack’s defense of what he called the Saudi “alliance.” No such alliance exists, and the U.S. owes the Saudis nothing, but you would never know that from reading Pollack’s account. The Saudi relationship is a significant test of our ability to reassess the value of a partnership when it has long since become a liability. So far, with some honorable exceptions in Congress and among the public, the U.S. is failing that test. U.S. and Saudi interests have been diverging for the last decade, and they began quickly moving in opposite directions beginning in 2015 with the accession of Salman as the new king with his reckless son Mohammed in tow.

The peril in talking about allies as friends comes from encouraging more of what Barry Posen has called reckless driving. If clients are wrongly labeled as allies and allies are mistaken for friends, these governments will believe that they can expect U.S. support no matter what. Patrick Porter and Josh Shifrinson call attention to this danger in a recent article:

Equally important, the approach risks undermining international stability by giving U.S. partners ill-placed faith in U.S. commitments. After four years of the Trump administration’s bullying, allies from Canada to Germany to South Korea worry about American reliability and seek a course correction. In pledging fidelity to its “friends,” however, the Biden approach risks going too far in the opposite direction. It could create a false expectation among allies of a restored friendship with Washington without conditions. It could even tempt allies to take U.S. support for granted and behave recklessly.

Permanent alliance structures create perverse incentives for the most reckless members, and the other members of the alliance are then stuck with them because there is no mechanism for expelling the troublemakers. Today Turkey goes out of its way to poke fingers in the eyes of many of its putative allies by stoking conflict in Syria and Karabakh, threatening Greece, and meddling in Libya, but NATO finds itself powerless to discourage this behavior or penalize Turkey for what it has done. There are even some hawks that are urging the the U.S. take the side of Azerbaijan in its offensive in Karabakh because the attack has Turkey’s support, and Turkey is technically an ally. Turkey’s government today is clear proof that allies aren’t friends, and it is showing that even a formal treaty ally can effectively cease to be a real ally with its aggressive and irresponsible policies.

The U.S. needs to cut back the support it provides to reckless clients, and it needs to reevaluate seriously which of its formal allies deserve the protection that our government has promised them. It is long past time that we stopped venerating alliances and client relationships and started looking at them critically. This will become even more important in the coming years, when there will be a concerted effort from Washington to “restore” all of these relationships.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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