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War and the Money Machine: Concealing the Costs of War beneath the Veil of Inflation | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on August 24, 2021

We conclude, then, that monetary inflation is the crucial first step in the process by which government seeks to conceal from its citizen-subjects the enormous costs associated with war, particularly the progressive destruction of the nation’s productive wealth. Specifically, the inflationary process is indispensable for masking the capital decumulation crisis precipitated by war mobilization, which would otherwise be swiftly revealed to one and all by monetary calculation.

https://mises.org/library/war-and-money-machine-concealing-costs-war-beneath-veil-inflation

Joseph T. Salerno

n every great war monetary calculation was disrupted by inflation. … The economic behavior of the belligerents was thereby led astray; the true consequences of the war were removed from their view. One can say without exaggeration that inflation is an indispensable means of militarism. Without it, the repercussions of war on welfare become obvious much more quickly and penetratingly; war weariness would set in much earlier.1

[Governments] know that their young men will readily sacrifice their lives and limbs and that their old men will readily sacrifice the lives and limbs of their sons and grandsons, and that their women will readily sacrifice the lives and limbs of their husbands, their sons, and their brothers in what they believe to be a noble cause, but they have a deadly fear— sometimes, but not always, well founded—that women and old men will shrink from pinching the stomachs of themselves and the young children, so that warlike enthusiasm will decay if it once gets about that the association of war with abundance to eat, drink, and wear is delusive, and that there is still truth in the old motto of “Peace and plenty.”… True that to be pinched by high prices rather than by small money incomes and large taxes made the people rage in the first place against the persons who were supposed to profit and often did profit—most of them quite innocently—by the rise of prices instead of against Government.2

[T]he true costs of the war lie in the goods sphere: the usedup goods, the devastation of parts of the country, the loss of manpower, these are the real costs of war to the economies.… Like a huge conflagration the war has devoured a huge part of our national wealth, the economy has become poorer.… However, in money terms the economy has not become poorer. How is this possible? Simply … claims on the state and money tokens have taken the place of stocks of goods in the private economy.3

“War, huh, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin’.
It ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker
Its got one friend, that’s the undertaker.…
War can’t give life, it can only take it away.”4

1. Introduction

The costs of war are enormous, as the above quotations trenchantly indicate, and inflation is a means by which governments attempt, more or less successfully, to hide these costs from their citizens. War not only destroys the lives and limbs of the soldiery, but, by progressively consuming the accumulated capital stock of the belligerent nations, eventually shortens and coarsens the lives and shrivels the limbs of the civilian population. The enormous destruction of productive wealth that war entails would become immediately evident if governments had no recourse but to raise taxes immediately upon the advent of hostilities; their ability to inflate the money supply at will permits them to conceal such destruction behind a veil of rising prices, profits, and wages, stable interest rates, and a booming stock market.

In the following section I explain how war, completely apart from its physical destructiveness, brings about the economic destruction of capital and a consequent decline in labor productivity, real income, and living standards. The argument in this section draws on the Austrian theory of capital as expounded in the works of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Section 3 analyzes the reasons why different methods of war financing will have different effects on the public’s perceptions of the costs attending economic mobilization for war. The analysis developed in this section owes much to the classic discussion of inflationary war financing by Mises.5 Section 4 concludes the paper with a brief explanation of how inflation constitutes the first step on the road to the fascist economic planning that is typically foisted upon capitalist economies in the course of a large-scale war.

2. The Economics of War

The conduct of war requires that scarce resources previously allocated to the production of capital or consumer goods be reallocated to the raising, equipping, and sustaining of the nation’s fighting forces. While the newly enlisted or inducted military personnel must abandon their jobs in the private economy, they still require food, clothing, and shelter, in addition to weapons and other accoutrements of war. In practice this means that “nonspecific” resources such as labor and “convertible” capital goods including steel, electrical power, trucks, etc., which are not specific to a single production process, must be diverted from civilian to military production. Given the reduction in the size of the civilian labor force and the conversion of substantial amounts of the remaining labor and capital to the manufacture of military hardware, the general result is a greater scarcity of consumer goods and a decline of real wages and civilian living standards.

However, the transformation of the economy to a war footing implies much more than merely a “horizontal” reallocation of factors from consumer goods to military production. It also entails a “vertical” shift of resources from the “higher” stages of production to the “lower” stages of production, that is, from the production and maintenance of capital goods temporally remote from the service of the ultimate consumers to the production of war goods for present use. For, as Mises6 points out, “War can be waged only with present goods.” but, in substituting the production of tanks, bombs, and small arms destined for immediate use for the replacement and repair of mining and oil drilling equipment intended to maintain the flow of future consumer goods, the economy is shortening its time structure of production and thus “consuming” its capital. Initially, this capital consumption is manifested in the idleness of fixed capital goods that cannot be converted to immediate war production, e.g., plant and equipment producing oil drilling machinery, and the simultaneous over-utilization of fixed capital goods that can be so converted, e.g., auto assembly plants now used to produce military vehicles. In the short-run, then, the flow of present goods or “real income,” in the form of war goods and consumer goods, may actually rise, even in the face of a loss of part of the labor force to military service. But as years pass, and industrial and agricultural equipment is worn out and not replaced, real income inevitably declines—possibly precipitously— below its previous peacetime level.

Schumpeter7 has provided a graphic summary of the horizontal and vertical shifts of resources caused by the exigencies of a war economy, and the deleterious effect of the vertical shift on the capital stock:

First, “war economy” essentially means switching the economy from production for the needs of a peaceful life to production for the needs of warfare. This means in the first place that the available means of production are used in some part to produce different final goods, chiefly of course war materials, and in the most part to produce the same products as before but for other customers than in peacetime. This means,furthermore, that the available means of production are mainly used to produce as many goods for immediate consumption as possible to the detriment of the production of means of production-particularly machinery and industrial plant—so that that part of production that in peacetime takes up so much room, namely the production for the maintenance and expansion of the productive apparatus, decreases more and more. The possibility to do just this, that is to use for immediate consumption goods, labor, and capital which previously had made producer’s goods and thus only indirectly contributed to the production of consumer’s goods (i.e., which made “future” rather than “present” goods, to use the technical terminology), this possibility was our great reserve which has saved us so far and which has prevented the stream of consumer’s goods from drying up completely.… Our poverty will be brought home to us to its full extent only after the war. Only then will the worn-out machines, the run-down buildings, the neglected land, the decimated livestock, the devastated forests, bear witness to the full depth of the effects of the war.

In commenting upon the effects of World War I on the British economy, Edwin Cannan8 also drew attention to the crucial fact of the vertical shift of resources and the capital consumption it implies, observing that

… during the war addition to material equipment at home and foreign property abroad wholly ceased. The labor thus set free was made available for war production and for the production of immediately-consumable peace-goods.

[Moreover] everyone conversant with business knows that renewals, if not repairs, have been very seriously postponed in all branches of production and that stocks of everything have run down enormously. The labor which would in ordinary times have been keeping up the material equipment was diverted to war-production and the production of immediately consumable peace-goods.… It was chiefly the tapping of these resources that enabled the country as a whole to get through the war with so little privation.

It may be objected that empirically, the vertical shift of resources is likely to be trivial, because “investment” constitutes such a small segment of real output and therefore the increase in the output of war goods must come mainly from resources diverted from the consumer goods industries combined with a reduction of the leisure of the civilian population, i.e., through increased overtime and labor participation rates. But this fallacious consumer-belt-tightening theory of war economy is based on the Keynesian national income accounting framework, according to which capital investment constitutes a small fraction of total GDP. For example, during the fourth quarter of 1994, the annual rate of real gross private investment in the U.S. totaled $939.7 billion or slightly more than 17 percent of real GDP while real personal consumption expenditures in the same quarter equaled $3629.6 billion or almost 67 percent of real GDP.9

Unfortunately, in this framework the investment in “intermediate inputs” is netted out to avoid “double counting.” These intermediate inputs to a great extent comprise precisely those types of capital goods, namely, stocks of raw materials, semi finished products, and energy inputs, that can most readily be converted for use in the production of present goods, whether for military or consumption purposes. As Mises10 observes, this is one form that capital consumption took in Germany during the First World War: “The German economy entered the war with an abundant stock of raw materials and semi-finished goods of all kinds. In peacetime, whatever of these stocks were devoted to use or consumption was regularly replaced. During the war the stocks were consumed without being able to be replaced. They disappeared out of the economy; the national wealth was reduced by their value.” These future or higher-stage goods permanently “disappeared” because the resources previously invested in their reproduction had been withdrawn in order to augment the production of war materials.

In fact, in a modern capital-using economy, at any given moment during peacetime, the aggregate value of resources devoted to production and maintenance of capital goods in the higher stages of production far exceeds the value of resources working to directly serve consumers in the final stage of the production process. As an example, for the U.S. economy in 1982 total business expenditures on intermediate inputs plus gross private investment totaled $3,196.7 billion while personal consumer expenditures totaled $2,046.4 billion. Over 6o percent of the available productive resources, outside the government sector, was therefore devoted to the production of capital, or future, goods as opposed to consumer, or present, goods.11,12

3. The Financing of War

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Author:

Contact Joseph T. Salerno

Joseph Salerno is academic vice president of the Mises Institute, professor emeritus of economics at Pace University, and editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.

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Next on the Agenda: War With China | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on August 5, 2021

The Navy routinely conducts what it calls Freedom Of Navigation Operations (FONOPS), in the waters surrounding China, sailing warships through the waters, particularly in the South China Sea, usually provocatively close to Chinese controlled or claimed islands. Biden’s regime just conducted its fourth FONOP. Under Trump, in 2020 the U.S. conducted a record high total of nine FONOPs poking China.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/next-on-the-agenda-war-with-china/

by Connor Freeman

In 2014, Lew Rockwell wrote, “Clearly the empire is targeting China…The U.S. seeks to encircle China and make it bow down before the hegemon. The increasing prosperity and freedom of China threatens the empire’s self-image.”

America’s new Cold War with China is a bi-partisan imperial project. In 2011, former President Barack Obama began it in earnest, dubbing it the “Asia Pivot.” The ‘pivot’ entails surrounding China with hundreds of bases and shifting two thirds of all U.S. naval and air forces to the Asia-Pacific, the greatest military buildup since World War II.

Putative outsider Donald Trump took office and sizably enlarged the U.S. military’s footprint in what is now referred to as the “Indo-Pacific” region and significantly increased provocations of China.

Now President Joe Biden and his hawk infested administration are escalating tensions with Beijing to heights previously unseen.

Biden has said bluntly that the U.S. is in “extreme competition” with China. In his first address to Congress, Biden said we are competing with China to “win the 21st century.” Space Force has plans for the moon to be a “militarized front.” They see it as a venue for a future war. Washington is spending more on the military and so called “defense” than at any time in the nation’s history. The Republican Party’s neocons say that even Biden’s 2022 national security budget request for more than $750 billion is not enough to counter China and are demanding that number be increased by tens of billions.

The Pentagon’s excuse for its record high spending is Beijing, the so called “pacing threat.” China poses a threat to the hawks’ world domination, at least that is what has been said by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. According to the general, since the end of the previous Cold War, America has held “unchallenged global military, political and economic power. With the rise of China, that is changing and changing fast.”

The U.S. Military Is Incessantly Goading China

Last year, while Americans were distracted by the COVID-19 crisis, Trump’s war cabinet seized the opportunity to dramatically expand military activity around China. U.S. warships and aircraft carrier group strike forces sailing in the South China Sea were reported constantly. In July 2020, according to the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a Beijing based think tank, the U.S. flew record numbers of aerial surveillance flights in the South China Sea and near China’s coast. The number of reconnaissance flights averaged three to five per day. In the same month, the Trump administration formally rejected almost all of China’s claims to the waters in the South China Sea. This policy has since been reaffirmed by the Biden regime. Under both administrations, the U.S. has been challenging China, using the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, inserting itself into disputes between regional actors there whom all have overlapping claims on the waters including over various, sometimes unmanned, rocks, reefs, islands, islets, and archipelagos.

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About Connor Freeman

Connor Freeman is a writer at the Libertarian Institute, primarily covering foreign policy. He has been featured in media outlets such as Antiwar.com and Counterpunch, as well as the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He has also been a guest on Conflicts of Interest. You can follow him on Twitter @FreemansMind96

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For What Will We Go to War With China? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 30, 2021

“We also reaffirm,” said Blinken, “that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Is this an American war guarantee to fight the People’s Republic of China, if the Philippines engage a Chinese warship over one of a disputed half-dozen rocks and reefs in the South China Sea? So it would appear.

Is who controls Mischief Reef or Scarborough Shoal a matter of such vital U.S. interest as to justify war between us and China?

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/07/patrick-j-buchanan/for-what-will-we-go-to-war-with-china/

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In his final state of the nation speech Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte defended his refusal to confront China over Beijing’s seizure and fortification of his country’s islets in the South China Sea.

“It will be a massacre if I go and fight a war now,” said Duterte. “We are not yet a competent and able enemy of the other side.”

Duterte is a realist. He will not challenge China to retrieve his lost territories, as his country would be crushed. But Duterte has a hole card: a U.S. guarantee to fight China, should he stumble into war with China.

Consider. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured Manila we would invoke the U.S.-Philippines mutual security pact in the event of Chinese military action against Philippine assets.

“We also reaffirm,” said Blinken, “that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Is this an American war guarantee to fight the People’s Republic of China, if the Philippines engage a Chinese warship over one of a disputed half-dozen rocks and reefs in the South China Sea? So it would appear.

Why are we threatening this?

Is who controls Mischief Reef or Scarborough Shoal a matter of such vital U.S. interest as to justify war between us and China?

Tuesday, in Singapore, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed the American commitment to go to war on behalf of the Philippines, should Manila attempt, militarily, to retrieve its stolen property.

Said Austin: “Beijing’s claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea has no basis in international law. … We remain committed to the treaty obligations that we have to Japan in the Senkaku Islands and to the Philippines in the South China Sea.”

Austin went on: “Beijing’s unwillingness to … respect the rule of law isn’t just occurring on the water. We have also seen aggression against India … destabilizing military activity and other forms of coercion against the people of Taiwan … and genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.”

The Defense secretary is publicly accusing China of crimes against its Uyghur population in Xinjiang comparable to those for which the Nazis were hanged at Nuremberg.

Austin has also informed Beijing, yet again, that the U.S. is obligated by a 70-year-old treaty to go to war to defend Japan’s claims to the Senkakus, half a dozen rocks Tokyo now occupies and Beijing claims historically belong to China.

The secretary also introduced the matter of Taiwan, with which President Jimmy Carter broke relations and let lapse our mutual security treaty in 1979.

There remains, however, ambiguity on what the U.S. is prepared to do if China moves on Taiwan. Would we fight China for Taiwan’s independence, an island President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger said in 1972 was “part of China”?

And if China ignores our protests of its “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” against the Uyghurs, and of its human rights violations in Tibet, and of its crushing of democracy in Hong Kong, what are we prepared to do?

Sanctions? A decoupling of our economies? Confrontation? War?

This is not an argument for threatening war, but for an avoidance of war by providing greater clarity and certitude as to what the U.S. response will be if China ignores our protests and remains on its present course.

Some of us can still recall how President Dwight Eisenhower refused to intervene when Nikita Khrushchev ordered Russian tanks into Budapest to drown the 1956 Hungarian revolution in blood. Instead, we welcomed Hungarian refugees.

When the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, President John F. Kennedy called up the reserves and went to Berlin to make a famous speech, but did nothing.

“Less profile, more courage!” was the response of Cold War hawks.

But Kennedy was saying, as Eisenhower had said by his inaction in Hungary, that America does not go to war with a great nuclear power such as the Soviet Union over the right of East Germans to flee to West Berlin.

Which brings us back to Taiwan.

In the Shanghai Communique signed by Nixon, Taiwan was conceded to be a “part of China.” Are we now going to fight a war to prevent Beijing from bringing the island home to the “embrace of the motherland”?

And if we are prepared to fight, Beijing should not be left in the dark. China ought to know the risks it would be taking.

Cuba is an island, across the Florida Strait, with historic ties to the United States. Taiwan is an island 7,000 miles away, on the other side of the Pacific.

This month, Cubans rose up against the 62-year-old Communist regime fastened upon them by Fidel and Raul Castro.

By what yardstick would we threaten war for the independence of Taiwan but continue to tolerate 60 years of totalitarian repression in Cuba, 90 miles away?

Patrick J. Buchanan is co-founder and editor of The American Conservative. He is also the author of Where the Right Went Wrong, and Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. His latest book is Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever See his website.

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One Question Before Us Is: Will We Be Destroyed in War Before We Lose Our Civil Liberty to the Establishment’s Orchestrated “Covid Pandemic”? – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Posted by M. C. on April 15, 2021

One Question Before Us Is: Will We Be Destroyed in War Before We Lose Our Civil Liberty to the Establishment’s Orchestrated “Covid Pandemic”?

Shoigu understands that this is the only way to deal with the “exceptional, indispensable” people who regard hegemony as their right.  Shoigu says if you test your hegemony on the battlefield with us, Russia will show you just how unexceptional you are.

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2021/04/14/one-question-before-us-is-will-we-be-destroyed-in-war-before-we-lose-our-civil-liberty-to-the-establishments-orchestrated-covid-pandemic/

Paul Craig Roberts

Americans have few sources of reliable information except for a handful of websites that few know anything about.  Americans are unaware that the low-grade morons currently ruling and disinforming them from Washington have given an American military guarantee to the neo-nazis installed in Ukraine with Washington’s “Maidan Revolution.” The Ukraine government, if that is what it is, has, in effect, declared war on Russia, vowing to retake Crimea and the Donbass Republics.

I never thought any government would prove to be as stupid as the British government that in 1939 gave a military guarantee to Poland that caused the Polish military dictatorship to break off discussions with Germany about returning German territory and people stolen by the Versailles Treaty.  This British guarantee was the cause of World War II.

Now the Washington idiots have one-upped the British idiots.  They have given a military guarantee to a Ukrainian government as stupid as Poland’s in 1939.  If the American puppets in Ukraine believe the American “guarantee” and act on it, Ukraine will cease to exist as an independent country.  If Washington gets involved, the US will cease to exist.

How can it be that people are so stupid as to get in such a situation?

As I have emphasized for years, part of the dangerous situation of which few are aware is the fault of the Kremlin. President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov and their spokespersons have responded to Washingtons’s insults and provocative actions in a lighthearted manner in order to avoid escalating a situation provoked by the warmongers in Washington.  We have to respect the Russian leadership for this.  However, to Washington the responsible Kremlin response is misinterpreted as a lack of backbone.

Washington is so confident of its intimidating military power that it has sent two warships into the Russian Black Sea as a warning to Russia in the event Ukraine renews its attacks on Donbass.  Washington miscalculated the Russian response, which was not passive. Russia said Washington should remove its warships “for their own protection.”

If you look into the eyes of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu,  you are looking into eyes willing and able to destroy you.  If you look into the eyes of Biden, Kamala, Austin, Blinkin, you are looking into eyes that hate white patriotic Americans.  The Woke Regime in Washington is powerless against Shoigu who can walk through woke creatures easier than walking through wet paper bags.

Washington might misread Putin as lacking in intestinal fortitude, but it is impossible to repeat this mistake with Shoigu. The Russian Defense Minister announded on April 13 that sufficient Russian military was activated to deal with Ukraine, NATO, and the Americans.  If they want a bloody nose, he will be certain that they get one and more.

Shoigu understands that this is the only way to deal with the “exceptional, indispensable” people who regard hegemony as their right.  Shoigu says if you test your hegemony on the battlefield with us, Russia will show you just how unexceptional you are.

Russia holds all the cards unless Putin and Lavrov again give in to the Western-worshiping Russian Atlanticists Integrationists.  It is a mystery that Putin cannot free himself of these traitors. Stalin would have executed every one of them.  They are a fifth column within Russia, and they are Washington’s hope. If Washington prevails over Russia, it will be because of the Russian fifth column—the Atlanticist Integrationists.  

Without the support of the armed services, no government has power.  Unlike Biden who is purging the best elements of the US military, Putin understands that in the face of Western hostility, the Russian military is the decisive entity.

Shoigu announced that the Russian military is in full readiness and in full ability to dispose of any threat from any quarter.

Can the low-grade morons ruling in Washington understand the language?

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Why ‘Public Health’ Is the Health of the State – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 14, 2021

The reasons for this can be understood by reading the following passages from Randolph Bourne’s famous essay where I have substituted the words “pandemic” or “public health” (in brackets) for the word “war”:

“The republican state has almost no trappings to appeal to the common man’s emotions . . . .  The moment a [pandemic] is declared, however, the mass of the people . . . with the exception of a few malcontents, proceed to allow themselves to be regimented, coerced, deranged in all the environments of their lives . . . .  The citizen throws off his contempt and indifference to government, identifies himself with its purposes . . . and the state once more walks . . .”

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/04/thomas-dilorenzo/why-public-health-is-the-health-of-the-state/

By Thomas DiLorenzo

One of the most remarkable articles written about the growth of government during the twentieth-century is “War is the Health of the State” by Randolph Bourne.  Published in 1918, Bourne’s essay explained how it is human nature to mostly ignore the state because the state during peacetime has “almost no trappings to appeal to the common man’s emotions.”  War, however, is the all-purpose tool of the state to stir up the public’s emotions in a way that motivates it to hand over to the state virtually unlimited powers, abandoning all constitutional constraints – and to subsequently relinquish most of their supposedly cherished freedoms.

But the state has other tricks up its sleaves in its never-ending quest for totalitarian control of society.  And do not delude yourself:  All states aspire to become totalitarian by nature – it’s only a matter of time.

Wars are very expensive; they generate antiwar movements, fierce political opposition, and sometimes assassinations.  And they can go very, very badly.  As both Napoleon and Hitler learned when they foolishly invaded Russia.

Other kinds of less risky (to the state) “emergencies” will often suffice as totalitarianism’s propaganda/brainwashing strategies.  As the world has learned in the past year, a “public health emergency” (or the perception of a fabricated and phony one) can do the job just fine without the messiness and expenses of war.  The reasons for this can be understood by reading the following passages from Randolph Bourne’s famous essay where I have substituted the words “pandemic” or “public health” (in brackets) for the word “war”:

“The republican state has almost no trappings to appeal to the common man’s emotions . . . .  The moment a [pandemic] is declared, however, the mass of the people . . . with the exception of a few malcontents, proceed to allow themselves to be regimented, coerced, deranged in all the environments of their lives . . . .  The citizen throws off his contempt and indifference to government, identifies himself with its purposes . . . and the state once more walks . . .”

Every single word of this is a perfectly accurate description of how Americans have behaved ever since the “public health” bureaucrats declared a pandemic.  It was shocking how immediate millions of people so immediately agreed to be regimented, coerced, and deranged in all aspects of their lives.  Of course, the fact that all of the dictates by the local government mini-Mussolinies were enforced by armed police also helped to “convince”  Boobus Americanus that he must genuflect to the state.

Bourne continues:

“[Public health] is the health of the state.  It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the government coercing into obedience the [numerical] minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense.  The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties; the minorities are either intimidated into silence . . . .  Minorities are rendered sullen . . .”

Those Americans who “lack the herd sense” regarding the Hitlerian dictates of Anthony Fauci and his ilk have been fired from their jobs, canceled from Facebook, Twitter, etc., and generally demonized as enemies of human civilization.  “Minorities” have been literally silenced by the “Tech giants” with no “persuasion” at all involved.  Well-known drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine that could have saved untold numbers of lives were effectively banned, and the common sense approach of boosting one’s immunity with vitamins D and C and zinc (and a half hour of vitamin D-generating sunshine a day) were either ignored or denounced as snake oil by the state, the television networks, the laughingly-called “media” in general, and many others who have prostituted themselves to the pharmaceutical industry.

Once the “public health” bureaucracy declared a pandemic, millions of Americans instantly turned into mental infants, eager for the D.C. bureaucracy to become their real mommies and daddies and protect them from the big bad coronavirus wolf.  As Bourne explained:

“There is . . . in the feeling toward the state a large element of pure filial mysticism.  The sense of insecurity, the desire for protection, sends ones desire back to father and mother . . . .  It is not for nothing that one’s state is still thought of as Father or Motherland.  The [pandemic] has shown that nowhere under the shock of danger have these primitive childlike attitudes failed to assert themselves . . .”

Anthony Fauci, who went to medical school sixty years ago; never actually practiced medicine himself; who has been a tenured federal bureaucrat for more than half a century; and who parades around in public wearing two masks despite having been vaccinated, became every American’s all-knowing, protective “father.”  His Stepford wife-ish, half-body scarf-wearing sidekick, Dr. Deborah Birx, became everyone’s stand-in for “mother.”  Every state and local government in America did exactly what these two bureaucratic weasels demanded that they do.  “Listen to Dr. Fauci,” Joe Biden has repeatedly demanded.  Anyone asking for a second opinion was either ignored or smeared as an enemy of society.  There are myriad stories of doctors who did offer second opinions who were fired or punished in other ways.  (For giving a speech in which she argued that the CDC death count numbers were not reliable since they conflated death with COVID and death from COVID, a physician friend of yours truly was banned from referring her patients to the hospital she had been associated with.  Today, the CDC admits that only 6 percent of the half million or so “COVID” deaths in the U.S. can be legitimately called death from COVID).

As with war, the state attempts to crush all dissent when it comes to its “public health” emergencies.  As Bourne further wrote:

“[D]issent is like sand in the bearings.  Any difference with ‘unity’ turns the whole vast impulse toward crushing it . . . .  the herd becomes divided into the hunters and the hunted, and the [pandemic] becomes not only a technical game but a sport as well.”

Ah, “unity,” the new mating call of the Party of Biden.  Dissent from Unity’s Official Truth, and you will in fact be hunted down, possibly lose your job, or have your life destroyed.

Now, for any readers who still believe the government lie that “we are the government” and, therefore, the government would never manipulate us in these ways, I recommend another online essay, this one by economic historian Robert Higgs entitled “The Song that is irresistible.”  In that essay Higgs states the truism that:

“States, by their very nature, are perpetually at war – not always against foreign foes, of course, but always against their own subjects.  The state’s most fundamental purpose, the activity without which it cannot exist, is robbery . . .  which it pretties up ideologically by giving it a different name (taxation) and by striving to sanctify its intrinsic crime as permissible and socially necessary” (emphasis added).

Or as yours truly has written on numerous occasions:  The purpose of government is for those who run it to plunder those who do not.

The state also “sanctifies” mass murder, by the way, thinly disguised by calling it “war” and by enlisting legions of intellectual prostitutes to dream up myriad excuses and rationales for its mass murdering sprees.  Mainstream “Lincoln scholarship” would be the most egregious example of this kind of intellectual whoremongering (and warmongering).

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Murray Rothbard on War and “Isolationism” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 4, 2021

Well, the Progressive period begins around 1900 with Teddy Roosevelt and so forth. Woodrow Wilson cements it with his so-called reforms, which totally subject the banking system to federal power, and with the Federal Trade Commission, which did for business what the Interstate Commerce Commission did for the railroads. In other words, he imposed a system of monopoly capitalism, or corporate state monopoly, which we now call the partnership of the government and of big business and industry, which means essentially a corporate state, or we can call it economic fascism. It culminated in World War I economic planning, for the war consisted of a totally collectivized economy headed by the sainted and revered Bernard Mannes Baruch, head of the War Industries Board.

https://mises.org/wire/murray-rothbard-war-and-isolationism

Murray N. Rothbard

[These edited extracts, from an interview in the February 1973 issue of Reason magazine, first ran in the June 1999 issue ofthe Rothbard-Rockwell Report.]

Q: Why, in your view, is isolationism an essential tenet of libertarian foreign policy?

A: The libertarian position, generally, is to minimize state power as much as possible, down to zero, and isolationism is the full expression in foreign affairs of the domestic objective of whittling down state power. In other words, interventionism is the opposite of isolationism, and of course it goes on up to war, as the aggrandizement of state power crosses national boundaries into other states, pushing other people around etc. So this is the foreign counterpart of the domestic aggression against the internal population. I see the two as united.

The responsibility of trying to limit or abolish foreign intervention is avoided by many conservative libertarians in that they are very, very concerned with things like price control—of course I agree with them. They are very, very concerned about eliminating taxes, licensing, and so forth—with which I agree—but somehow when it comes to foreign policy there’s a black out. The libertarian position against the state, the hostility toward expanding government intervention and so forth, goes by the board—all of a sudden you hear those same people who are worried about government intervention in the steel industry cheering every American act of mass murder in Vietnam or bombing or pushing around people all over the world.

This shows, for one thing, that the powers of the state apparatus to bamboozle the public work better in foreign affairs than in domestic. In foreign affairs you still have this mystique that the nation-state is protecting you from a bogeyman on the other side of the mountain. There are “bad” guys out there trying to conquer the world and “our” guys are in there trying to protect us. So not only is isolationism the logical corollary of libertarianism, which many libertarians don’t put into practice; in addition, as Randolph Bourne says, “war is the health of the state.”

The state thrives on war—unless, of course, it is defeated and crushed—expands on it, glories in it. For one thing, when one state attacks another state, it is able through this intellectual bamboozlement of the public to convince them that they must rush to the defense of the state because they think the state is defending them.

In other words, if, let’s say, Paraguay and Brazil are going to get into a war, each state—the Paraguayan government and the Brazilian government—is able to convince their own subjects that the other government is out to get them and loot them and murder them in their beds and so forth, so they are able to induce their own hapless subjects to fight against the other state, whereas in actual practice, of course, it is the states that have the quarrel, not the people. The people are outside the quarrels of the state and yet the state is able to generate this patriotic mass war hysteria and to call everybody up to the colors physically and spiritually and economically and therefore, of course, aggrandize state power permanently.

Most conservatives and libertarians are very familiar with—and deplore—the increase in state power in the American government in the last 50 or 70 years, but what they don’t seem to realize is that most of these increases took place in giant leaps during wartime. It was wartime that provided the crisis situation—the spark—which enabled the states to put on so-called emergency measures, which of course never got lifted, or rarely got lifted.

Even the War of 1812—seemingly a harmless little escapade—was evil, and also in the domestic sense, in that it ruined the Jeffersonian Party for a long time to come, it established federalism, which means monopoly state-capitalism in essence, it imposed a central bank, it imposed high tariffs, it imposed domestic federal taxation, which never existed before, internal taxation, and it took a long time to get rid of it, and we never really did get back to the pre–War of 1812 level of minimal state power.

Then, of course, the Mexican War [Mexican-American War, 1846–48] had consequences of slave expansion and so forth. But the Civil War was, of course, much worse—the Civil War was really the great turning point, one of the great turning points in the increase of state power, because with the Civil War you now have the total introduction of things like railroad land grants, subsidies of big business, permanent high tariffs, which the Jacksonians had been able to whittle away before the Civil War, and a total revolution in the monetary system so that the old pure gold standard was replaced first by greenback paper, and then by the National Banking Act—a controlled banking system. And for the first time we had the imposition in the United states of an income tax and federal conscription. The income tax was reluctantly eliminated after the Civil War as was conscription: all the other things—such as high excise taxes—continued on as a permanent accretion of state power over the American public.

The third huge increase of power came out of World War I. World War I set both the foreign and the domestic policies for the twentieth century. Woodrow Wilson set the entire pattern for foreign policy from 1917 to the present. There is a total continuity between Wilson, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson, and Nixon—the same thing all the way down the line.

Q: You’d include Kennedy in that?

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Murray N. Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard made major contributions to economics, history, political philosophy, and legal theory. He combined Austrian economics with a fervent commitment to individual liberty.

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War with Iran was planned in 1996

Posted by M. C. on February 9, 2021

https://mailchi.mp/e64b770ac913/the-us-celebrates-30-years-of-bombing-iraq-4196737?e=de2d0eded6

What you need to know when your friends think war with Iran is a good idea:
Neoconservatives wrote a policy paper for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu back in 1996, to overthrow Saddam and eventually conquer Iran.Seven years later, at Benjamin Netanyahu’s behest, the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam.That 1996 neocon plan became the blueprint for U.S. foreign policy. The crown jewel of the plan has always been a war with Iran.Media corporations—which are little more than the broadcast system of the military industrial complex—always have fresh reasons to advertise war with Iran. But it is all based on an old plan written decades ago that serves the interests of a foreign power at the expense the American people.In Chapter 6 of Gus Cantavero’s video adaptation of Scott’s new book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, Scott delves into the neoconservative policy paper “A Clean Break,” and explores the personal incentives each man in the Bush administration had for toppling Saddam.
https://youtu.be/3Wx-8VLtQ0c
Arm yourself with knowledge so you can fight for peace. Buy Scott’s new book, Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism

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Peering Into a Forever-War Crystal Ball – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on January 22, 2021

The war in Afghanistan is hopeless and has long been failing by every one of the US military’s own measurable metrics, so much so that the Pentagon and the Kabul government classified them all as secret information a few years back.  

It hardly requires clairvoyance to offer such guesswork.  That’s because Biden basically is who he says he is and who he’s always been, and the man’s simply never been transformational.  One need look no further than his long and generally interventionist past record or the nature of his current national-security picks to know that the safe money is on more of the same.

https://original.antiwar.com/?p=2012341875

by Maj. Danny Sjursen, USA (ret.)

Originally posted at TomDispatch.

More than 19 years ago, the U.S. launched the air war that would become the ground invasion and “liberation” of Afghanistan. More than 17 years ago, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared “major combat” over in that country with just 8,000 US troops still stationed there. Approximately nine years after that, at the end of an Obama-era “surge,” US troop levels would reach around 100,000 (not counting contingents of NATO allies, as well as private contractors, CIA agents, and those involved in the American air war in that country). Today, those troop levels are finally down to 2,500 (plus, of course, those private contractors and that air power, which actually ramped up significantly in the Trump years). That, in other words, is how Donald Trump “ended” the American war in Afghanistan. Those remaining troops are supposed to be gone by May 1, 2021, but don’t count on it in the Biden era, since our new president (who, as vice president, had indeed been against the Obama-era troop surge) is seemingly committed to keeping some kind of “counterterror” force in that country.

In any case, 19-plus years after Washington put everything it had into Afghanistan except nuclear weapons (something Donald Trump threatened to do at one point), the Taliban is the very opposite of defeated. As the PBS NewsHour described the situation in an on-screen note introducing a recent report on developments there: “The Taliban is stronger in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001, occupying one-fifth of the country with around 60,000 full-time fighters.”

Isn’t it strange when you think about it that, other than some antiwar efforts by veterans of those conflicts, Americans have been so little concerned with nearly two decades of constant military failure across the globe for which we’ve squandered trillions of taxpayer dollars? Worst of all, those “forever wars” show every sign of continuing in the Biden years and possibly beyond, as former Army officer and TomDispatch regular Danny Sjursen, author most recently of Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War, explains so vividly (and painfully) today. Sjursen, who has in the past been all too accurate in his expectations about American war-making, offers a little crystal-ball look at what all of us might expect in the next four years from the country that just won’t stop fighting and a citizenry that seems as if it could care less. ~ Tom


The Future of War, American-StyleBy Maj. Danny Sjursen (ret.)

Hard as it is to believe in this time of record pandemic deaths, insurrection, and an unprecedented encore impeachment, Joe Biden is now officially at the helm of the US war machine.  He is, in other words, the fourth president to oversee America’s unending and unsuccessful post-9/11 military campaigns.  In terms of active US combat, that’s only happened once before, in the Philippines, America’s second-longest (if often forgotten) overseas combat campaign. 

Yet that conflict was limited to a single Pacific archipelago. Biden inherits a global war – and burgeoning new Cold War – spanning four continents and a military mired in active operations in dozens of countries, combat in some 14 of them, and bombing in at least seven.  That sort of scope has been standard fare for American presidents for almost two decades now.  Still, while this country’s post-9/11 war presidents have more in common than their partisan divisions might suggest, distinctions do matter, especially at a time when the White House almost unilaterally drives foreign policy.

So, what can we expect from commander-in-chief Biden?  In other words, what’s the forecast for US service-members who have invested their lives and limbs in future conflict, as well as for the speculators in the military-industrial complex and anxious foreigners in the countries still engulfed in America’s war on terror who usually stand to lose it all? 

Many Trumpsters, and some libertarians, foresee disaster: that the man who, as a leading senator facilitated and cheered on the disastrous Iraq War, will surely escalate American adventurism abroad.  On the other hand, establishment Democrats and most liberals, who are desperately (and understandably) relieved to see Donald Trump go, find that prediction preposterous.  Clearly, Biden must have learned from past mistakes, changed his tune, and should responsibly bring US wars to a close, even if at a time still to be determined.

In a sense, both may prove right – and in another sense, both wrong.  The guess of this longtime war-watcher (and one-time war fighter) reading the tea leaves: expect Biden to both eschew big new wars and avoid fully ending existing ones.  At the margins (think Iran), he may improve matters some; in certain rather risky areas (Russian relations, for instance), he could worsen them; but in most cases (the rest of the Greater Middle East, Africa, and China), he’s likely to remain squarely on the status-quo spectrum.  And mind you, there’s nothing reassuring about that.

It hardly requires clairvoyance to offer such guesswork.  That’s because Biden basically is who he says he is and who he’s always been, and the man’s simply never been transformational.  One need look no further than his long and generally interventionist past record or the nature of his current national-security picks to know that the safe money is on more of the same.  Whether the issues are war, race, crime, or economics, Uncle Joe has made a career of bending with the prevailing political winds and it’s unlikely this old dog can truly learn any new tricks.  Furthermore, he’s filled his foreign policy squad with Obama-Clinton retreads, a number of whom were architects of – if not the initial Iraq and Afghan debacles – then disasters in Libya, Syria, West Africa, Yemen, and the Afghan surge of 2009.  In other words, Biden is putting the former arsonists in charge of the forever-war fire brigade.

There’s further reason to fear that he may even reject Trump’s “If Obama was for it, I’m against it” brand of war-on-terror policy-making and thereby reverse The Donald’s very late, very modest troop withdrawals in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia.  Yet even if this new old hand of a president evades potentially existential escalation with nuclear Russia or China and offers only an Obama reboot when it comes to persistent low-intensity warfare, what he does will still matter – most of all to the global citizens who are too often its victims.  So, here’s a brief region-by-region flyover tour of what Joe’s squad may have in store for both the world and the American military sent to police that world.

The Middle East: Old Prescriptions for Old Business

It’s increasingly clear that Washington’s legacy wars in the Greater Middle East – Iraq and Afghanistan, in particular – are generally no longer on the public’s radar.  Enter an elected old man who’s charged with handling old business that, at least to most civilians, is old news.  Odds are that Biden’s ancient tricks will amount to safe bets in a region that past US policies essentially destroyed.  Joe is likely to take a middle path in the region between large-scale military intervention of the Bush or Obama kind and more prudent full-scale withdrawal. 

As a result, such wars will probably drag on just below the threshold of American public awareness, while avoiding Pentagon or partisan charges that his version of cutting-and-running endangered US security.  The prospect of “victory” won’t even factor into the equation (after all, Biden’s squad members aren’t stupid), but political survival certainly will.  Here’s what such a Biden-era future might then look like in a few such sub-theaters.

The war in Afghanistan is hopeless and has long been failing by every one of the US military’s own measurable metrics, so much so that the Pentagon and the Kabul government classified them all as secret information a few years back.  Actually dealing with the Taliban and swiftly exiting a disastrous war likely to lead to a disastrous future with Washington’s tail between its legs is, in fact, the only remaining option.  The question is when and how many more Americans will kill or be killed in that “graveyard of empires” before the US accepts the inevitable.  Toward the end of his tenure, Trump signaled a serious, if cynical, intent to so.  And since Trump was by definition a monster and the other team’s monsters can’t even occasionally be right, a coalition of establishment Democrats and Lincoln-esque Republicans (and Pentagon officials) decided that the war must indeed go on.  That culminated in last July’s obscenity in which Congress officially withheld the funds necessary to end it.  As vice president, Biden was better than most in his Afghan War skepticism, but his incoming advisers weren’t, and Joe’s nothing if not politically malleable.  Besides, since Trump didn’t pull enough troops out faintly fast enough or render the withdrawal irreversible over Pentagon objections, expect a trademark Biden hedge here.

Syria has always been a boondoggle, with the justifications for America’s peculiar military presence there constantly shifting from pressuring the regime of Bashar al-Assad, to fighting the Islamic State, to backing the Kurds, to balancing Iran and Russia in the region, to (in Trump’s case) securing that country’s meager oil supplies.  As with so much else, there’s a troubling possibility that, in the Biden years, personnel once again may become destiny.  Many of the new president’s advisers were bullish on Syrian intervention in the Obama years, even wanting to take it further and topple Assad.  Furthermore, when it comes time for them to convince Biden to agree to stay put in Syria, there’s a dangerous existing mix of motives to do just that: the emotive sympathy for the Kurds of known gut-player Joe; his susceptibility to revived Islamic State (ISIS) fear-mongering; and perceptions of a toughness-testing proxy contest with Russia.

When it comes to Iran, expect Biden to be better than the Iran-phobic Trump administration, but to stay shackled “inside the box.”  First of all, despite Joe’s long-expressed desire to reenter the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran that Trump so disastrously pulled out of, doing so may prove harder than he thinks.  After all, why should Tehran trust a political basket case of a negotiating partner prone to significant partisan policy-pendulum swings, especially given the way Washington has waged nearly 70 years of interventions against Iran’s politicians and people?  In addition, Trump left Biden the Trojan horse of Tehran’s hardliners, empowered by dint of The Donald’s pugnacious policies.  If the new president wishes to really undercut Iranian intransigence and fortify the moderates there, he should go big and be transformational – in other words, see Obama’s tension-thawing nuclear deal and raise it with the carrot of full-blown diplomatic and economic normalization. Unfortunately, status-quo Joe has never been a transformational type.

Keep an Eye on Africa

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Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel Frostlands (the second in the Splinterlands series), Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular, is a retired U.S. Army major, contributing editor at Antiwar.com, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, and director of the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN). He taught history at West Point and served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the author of Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge and Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War. He co-hosts the “Fortress on a Hill” podcast.

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Joe Biden’s War

Posted by M. C. on January 19, 2021

All in all, it does not appear possible that Biden will have the luxury of picking and choosing theaters of Cold War, which sets us up for the spectacle of the United States that could not defeat the Taliban attempt to tackle two Eurasian major powers all at once. 

https://southfront.org/joe-bidens-war/

Writtne by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

The 2000 presidential race being done and over, except for the tens of millions of Americans who believe the election was stolen and a general cloud of illegitimacy that will hang over the Biden presidency for the entirety of his term, Joe Biden finds himself in the place of a dog who was chasing a car—and caught it. Given the magnitude of America’s problem, one would have to be a spectacularly vain and/or power-hungry individual to want the job of President, but then again, who if not Joe Biden is that guy? And now that he has the job, he will have to address a broad range of domestic and international issues in a way that somehow prevents the increasingly intractable problems from causing a system-wide crack-up of US politics. The occupation of the US Capitol with the participation of great many active and retired police officers and members of the military, to the point of prompting US Joint Chiefs to issue an unprecedented proclamation to their troops to shut up and follow orders, means that the temptation to seal the deepening chasms dividing the US society through some sort of desperate foreign adventure intended to secure new markets and resources for US corporations, and therefore US workers and farmers, will increase. That expansion is to be accomplished at the expense of China and Russia, replacing their own homegrown corporations and state monopolies with US-based ones, on the model of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states, and even European countries that are heavily penetrated by US financial and information technology firms to the point of having sacrificed a great deal of their sovereignty. Russia and China have preserved themselves from becoming US “semi-periphery”, in both economic and political sense, which makes them obvious targets for Biden’s own “maximum pressure” campaigns to subjugate them, of the sort that Iran and Cuba, for example, have been bearing for decades. But while it’s clear that US will be openly hostile to both China and Russia, seeking to delegitimize their political institutions and promote destabilization and regime change, it does not appear the Biden administration foreign policy team has a clear plan on how to prioritize between these to biggest targets.

The Indirect Road to China

It is evident from a variety of sources, including quasi-private think tanks like the Atlantic Council and the pronouncements of senior US military officers like Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Milley that the US establishment regards China as a rising power and Russia as a declining one. The latter assessment appears to be based on a simple lack of understanding of processes occurring within the Russian Federation in the last two decades, combined with the Western propensity to regard course of history in linear rather than cyclical terms. US power has grown since 1776, therefore it will always continue to grow. Russia’s power declined after the collapse of USSR, therefore it is bound to continue to decline. But regardless of the source of the misconception, in practical terms it means that while China is viewed as the bigger threat, the Main Enemy, as it were, Russia is seen as a more vulnerable and therefore more attractive target. Judging by the changes in the US policies toward Russia, it appears that the goal of US foreign policy became first regime change in Russia, followed by economic isolation of China that would be much easier to achieve once both the Middle East and the Russian Federation, potential or actual sources of vast quantities of raw materials China’s manufacturing and population require, became US satellites in the same way Australia, for example, already is.

This development would place China in a position identical to Japan’s in the late 1930s, a country that proved highly vulnerable to steadily escalating US economic warfare and which moreover could not capitalize on its Non-Aggression Pact with USSR due to its rather ill-conceived alliance with Nazi Germany. Once isolated by US pressure, Japan gambled everything on a three-theater war against China, the British Empire, and the United States which it ultimately lost. Moreover, should Russia become a US satellite state, its military forces could be committed to a land campaign against China, in the name of “democracy promotion”, mirroring USSR’s decision to join the war against Japan that was solicited by Western powers unwilling to sustain the heavy losses an invasion of Japan would inevitably cause.

The Russian Bear Refuses to Play

The “Free Russia” component of US strategy went into high gear in 2014, when it was expected that the Kiev Maidan would be swiftly followed by one in Moscow, particularly after Western economic sanctions that were imposed as “punishment” for the reunification of Crimea. Were that strategy implemented two decades later, it would have likely enjoyed quick success. Instead it merely validated Prime Minister Witte’s “if you give Russia 20 years of peace, you won’t recognize her”. Instead of becoming a US client state, Russia became more independent and assertive internationally, demonstrating this not only in Ukraine but also in Syria. In spite of the US dominance in the Middle East, the small Russian military contingent in Syria proved impossible to dislodge through the usual US means of supplying and directing proxy non-state actors against the Russian presence.

It does not appear that Western powers-that-be have fully grasped the import of the 2014 “stab in the back” to the Russia-West relations for contrary to the usual Western propaganda, the Russian Federation in 2014 was very much a West-oriented country, seeking greater membership and involvement in Western economic and political institutions. The betrayal of these aspirations by Western actions means that Western leaders are now viewed as utterly untrustworthy, which means that greater exposure to and interdependence with Western economies and institutions is seen as a source of mortal danger to the Russian state. Since both nature and geopolitics abhor a vacuum, the West’s rejection of Russia meant better and more extensive relations with China, motivated by both countries’ shared interest in countering aggressive policies aimed at each of the two. In practical terms it means that it is not in China’s self-interest to see Russia succumb to Western pressure, just as it is not in Russia’s interest to see China fall either. That convergence of Russian and Chinese interests means that Obama-Harris foreign policy will have to reassess the Obama-Biden strategy of “Russia first, China second”.

Escalation or a Two-Front War?

Simply continuing the Obama-Biden strategy will be tempting but tricky. For starters, US sanctions against Russia have already greatly escalated during the Donald “Kremlin Asset” Trump presidency, whose initial outreach toward Russia which triggered #RussiaGate was likely nothing more than an attempt to interest Moscow in an alliance against Beijing, followed by economic warfare when it turned out Moscow was not about to sacrifice its stable relationship with Beijing for the sake of courting favor of fickle and unreliable United States and other Western countries. OFAC’s admission that there is hardly anything more that can be sanctioned in Russia suggests that all the “painless” options have been exhausted. Further expansion of sanctions, by leveling them against Russia’s sovereign debt or cutting Russia off from SWIFT, for example, would also have serious consequences for the United States and Europe. There is a reason these lines have not been crossed yet, and it remains to be seen whether the Biden Administration will be desperate enough to cross them. Further escalation of sanctions would also damage US-EU relations that Biden claims he wants to restore, and it is telling that Biden is framing the restoration of these alliances in terms of opposing China. Germany’s opposition to Trump-era sanctions against North Stream 2 means that the United States is limited where Europe’s vital interests are concerned.

Moreover, it does seem that the US “Deep State” is frustrated by Russia’s resistance and is getting impatient to finally grapple with China. It has already made many moves in that direction during the Trump administration, including the crackdown on Huawei, the effort to ban or seize Tik-Tok, last-minute moves to expand US contacts with Taiwan in violation of the “One China” policy, and most notably by the growing importance of naval and air power in Pentagon thinking. When Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley of the U.S. Army says that the Army will need to have its spending cut in order to bolster the U.S. Navy budget, this is no longer some Trumpian whim, but rather an expression of broad-based consensus preferences. Something that violates the long-standing if unwritten rule that each of the three major services, Army, Navy, Air Force, gets an equal share of the defense budget, cannot be anything other than an indicator of a major shift of focus.

Because while a US naval build-up would have consequences for Russia, since USN warships carry long-range land-attack missiles that are to be supplemented by hypersonic weapons and possess anti-ballistic missile defense capabilities, they are hardly suitable for the task of “defending the Suwalki Gap” and other NATO missions in Eastern Europe. Even the US Marine Corps, which during the Cold War had a major European NATO mission in Norway, is shedding its tanks and artillery to reshape itself as a force for littoral combat in the many archipelagoes of western Pacific. So, if anything, it looks like the United States military is actually sacrificing its ability to put boots, and tanks and guns, on the ground in continental Europe for the sake of putting ships and planes into and over the East China Sea and possibly the Arctic Ocean.

Biden’s team could try to reverse all that, but doing so would carry high political costs. Hunter Biden’s China ties are a liability that will be exploited should Joe “show weakness” toward China. The “Uyghur genocide” rhetoric will only intensify in the coming years, there is nothing that Biden can do to stem that, not anymore than Trump could tamp down on the “Russian collusion” theories that proliferated over the years. China’s success at tackling COVID-19 has only raised the sense of urgency about the “China threat” among the US supremacists. And finally there are the domestic US constituencies, often consisting of traditional Democratic Party voters, who backed Trump because the confrontation with China meant the possibility of manufacturing jobs of coming back to the US.

Oceania vs. Eurasia

All in all, it does not appear possible that Biden will have the luxury of picking and choosing theaters of Cold War, which sets us up for the spectacle of the United States that could not defeat the Taliban attempt to tackle two Eurasian major powers all at once. As in the previous iteration of “Cold War”, the battlefield will be the peripheral countries that are torn between the United States and the Eurasian powers. These include the European Union, whose economic interests are not served by US-led escalation toward either Russia or China, but also Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Australia, Philippines, and even India which collectively represent a geopolitical “no-man’s land” since their alliance commitments to the US are balanced by economic ties to America’s “designated enemies”.

Whether the United States is up to the task of handling this kind of a challenge is an open question. China’s, Russia’s economic systems are far more viable than they were during the Cold War, and are also healthier than Western economies that are struggling under massive debt burdens and require constant monetary stimulus policies by their respective central banks. US internal problems and divisions will likewise drain attention and budget funding away from international adventures. Should Biden focus on implementing this extreme foreign policy agenda at the expense of domestic priorities, the next round of isolationist backlash in the US will be even stronger than the previous one. So the situation in many ways resembles that facing the Nixon Administration in the late 1960s. However, is anyone in the Biden Administration willing to pursue détente policies?

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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Cleaning Up The Leftovers From Biden’s Last Bout Of Leadership

Posted by M. C. on January 5, 2021

Let there be no doubt, in foreign policy terms “leadership” is the bipartisan and benign euphemism for America First nationalism. And that usually means some sort of war. Biden already has his warriors in place from the Obama years: Bloody Susan Rice, Blinken at State, Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense. There will be others filling in the mid ranks as those principals call in their former deputies, who call theirs.

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2021/january/04/cleaning-up-the-leftovers-from-biden-s-last-bout-of-leadership/

Written by Peter Van Buren

As Trump leaves office the only president to have not started a new war since WWII—and Joe Biden, who supported so many of America’s wars, including (vice-) presiding over the second and third Iraq Wars, heads into office—the talk is again what should be the most terrifying words anyone outside the US could hear: More American Leadership. Thing is, we haven’t cleaned up the leftovers from the last bout of leadership yet.

President-Elect Biden pulls no punches about how he feels about Trump’s lack of war, saying “Trump has abdicated American leadership in mobilizing collective action to meet new threats. This is the time to tap the strength and audacity that took us to victory in two world wars and brought down the Iron Curtain.” His SecState-nominee Antony Blinken used the word “leadership” in a speech 16 times. Biden himself wrote an essay in Foreign Affairs titled “Why America Must Lead Again.” Introducing his national security nominees, Biden said “America is back, ready to lead the world.”

Let there be no doubt, in foreign policy terms “leadership” is the bipartisan and benign euphemism for America First nationalism. And that usually means some sort of war. Biden already has his warriors in place from the Obama years: Bloody Susan Rice, Blinken at State, Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense. There will be others filling in the mid ranks as those principals call in their former deputies, who call theirs.

The problem with America’s leadership spurts is that they are often left uncompleted. They are played for US domestic political consumption and leave behind a mess someone else has to clean up when politics shift. Worst of all, no one in America seems to ask those overseas who are about to be freed, liberated, encouraged to revolt, or otherwise enlightened by the arrival of the American Empire if they indeed want any leadership today.

So maybe before spewing out any new leadership, Biden could start by cleaning up some of the leadership he and others left behind. Start with Iraq.

Quick, Jeopardy-style, when did the Iraq War end? Correct answer of course is “What is never.” America wrecked the place from the air in 1991, then invaded by land in 2003. Those American troops mostly left in 2010, then returned in 2014, and today loiter like dropouts in the high school parking lot in unknown but relatively small numbers. The American Embassy in Iraq, physically still the size of the Vatican and once the largest embassy in the world in diplomatic headcount, sits mostly empty with a security guard-to-diplomat ratio that would embarrass any Twitter warrior.

You would wish that was all, but the horrors of the Iraq Wars are such that even bodies already buried find their way to the surface. Among the many US atrocities few today know about (Google “Haditha Massacre,” “Mahmudiyah rape,” “Abu Ghraib torture”) loom the Nisour Square murders.

On a hot as hell September 16, 2007, Blackwater mercenaries hired by the State Department as security killed 17 Iraqi civilians—including two children—and injured 20 in Nisour Square, central Baghdad. The US lied and prevaricated for years, until finally the truth slithered out that none of the Iraqis were armed, the Blackwater guys panicked, and their so-called defensive fire was beyond any legitimate rule of war.

The State Department tried to intervene, allowing the defendants to claim State’s own Diplomatic Security officers had offered them on-the-street immunity in return for later recanted testimony (Nisour Square wasn’t the only time State lied to cover for Blackwater). It took seven years until a US court convicted four Blackwater employees. All four were pardoned by Trump in December 2020.

“That was years ago” say many of the same Americans willing to connect a police shooting today to the first slaves arriving on this continent in 1619. Though the average American might vaguely remember something bad happened with Blackwater, every Iraqi knows what Nisour Square stands for: American invasion, false promises of freedom, arrogant use of power. The same way Vietnamese know My Lai and thousands of other such incidents whose names never made it into the American press. Or perhaps how the remaining scraps of the Lakota people still reference Wounded Knee. No reckoning allowed save the marvelous sleight of hand of America’s fragile memory.

Read the whole article here.

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