‘Fort Trump’ Offer Given Serious Consideration: Poland To Host US Military Base

Authored by Arkady Savitsky via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Actually, there is nothing new about Polish President Andrzej Duda urging President Donald Trump during a joint news conference on Sept. 18 to deploy more American troops and military equipment in Poland, suggesting that the US establish a permanent military base to be named “Fort Trump.”

According to Politico, “This proposal outlines the clear and present need for a permanent US armored division deployed in Poland, Poland’s commitment to provide significant support that may reach $1.5-2 billion by establishing joint military installations and provide for more flexible movement of US forces.”

Poland has been pushing for a larger US permanent presence for a long time. The suggestion of a base was made in late May by the Defense Ministry. The US didn’t take it too seriously until President Duda’s visit to Washington and his talks with President Trump. It’s a change of attitude that’s truly new, because this time the US president said he was open to the idea, on the condition that Poland pay — something it is obviously willing to do.

Warsaw has already offered more than $2 billion to set up a base on Polish soil. Donald Trump promised that the offer was being taken “very seriously.” He said Washington is “in discussions with numerous countries” about paying for American military bases. In his words, “We’re looking at that more and more from the standpoint of defending really wealthy countries.”

This is the first time the issue has been raised during a summit and actually publicly approved by the US administration, at a time when President Trump is ordering a review of the costs of basing US troops in Germany. He has complained about the expense of the American military presence in Germany and South Korea.

The US administration appreciates Poland’s contributions of over 2% to NATO, its decision to purchase American Patriot air-defense systems, and its staunch opposition to the Russian-European Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline.

In a clearly pointed gesture, Moscow’s expected reaction was not mentioned, but the presidents agreed that Russia was “aggressive.” “Russia has acted aggressively,” the US president said at the news conference, adding, “They respect force, they respect strength, as anyone does.”

Nor was NATO  mentioned, thus  making this a bilateral deal and chipping away at the unity of the alliance. The 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act states that “in the current and foreseeable security environment,” NATO would not seek “additional permanent stationing of substantial ground combat forces” inside nations close to Russia. Previously the forces had been deployed on a rotational basis. The establishment of a permanent American base in Poland would be the kiss of death for that act, as well as for other provisions that are still preventing the already tense situation in Europe from deteriorating further. Nothing was said about it during the US-Polish summit.

A full, armored division is a huge force. Setting one up in Poland would mean a return to the darkest days of the Cold War. It would require reliable protection from the air. Additional Air Force units and missile-defense systems could be stationed in Poland and other countries, such as the Baltic states, which are also asking for more American military deployments on their soil. The foreign ministers of the Baltic states visited Washington in May to ask for a larger military presence within their borders.

While anti-US sentiments are growing stronger in Europe, Poland and the Baltic states are obviously united by their anti-Russian, pro-US stand. At the same time, the UK is boosting its defense cooperation with Poland through the Quadriga talks. In December 2017, those parties signed the Treaty on Defense and Security Cooperation. The UK-Poland Defense Action Plan is in the works and will be signed soon. The UK is to leave the EU in March, and the EU-Poland rift is growing, making Polexit a possibility. Those two have a lot in common.

With NATO and the EU teetering on the brink, a new military alliance may emerge at a time when the bonds between Europe and North America are under strain. The planned US deployment in Poland is just part of the process. Meanwhile, Sweden and Finland, non-NATO countries, are forming an alliance of their own with the United States.

The US sees Warsaw’s suggestion of a military base as a purely commercial enterprise. Turning a profit is a good thing, but with the NATO-Russia Founding Act no longer in effect, this will trigger an unfettered arms race. Evidently not all European states will support this policy. Unlike the days of the Cold War, the Western camp is divided into groups pursuing different interests and goals. The problems of migrants and other divisive issues, added to an arms race and a military standoff with a stronger Russia, may be too heavy a load for it to bear. The West will split, with its unity undermined once and for all. That will happen at a time when a West vs. China confrontation is looming on the horizon, a US-Chinese trade war is already in progress, and military preparations are underway as tensions continue to grow in the South China Sea.

Getting paid for defense may look like a lucrative deal but a substantial US military deployment in Poland will have far-reaching consequences. The US military will inevitably find itself overstretched, with commitments in the Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and in Europe. No payments from other states or hikes in defense budgets will be able to help. The mood of the public in the pro-US European states may also change, once the voters become unhappy about their homelands being turned into prime targets for Russia’s armed forces as a result of a provocative policy that actually benefits no one.

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Watch: The Spider’s Web – Britain’s Second Empire Revealed

At the demise of empire, City of London financial interests created a web of secrecy jurisdictions that captured wealth from across the globe and hid it in a web of offshore islands.

Today, up to half of global offshore wealth is hidden in British jurisdictions and Britain and its dependencies are the largest global players in the world of international finance.

The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire, is a documentary film that shows how Britain transformed from a colonial power into a global financial power.

Source: Tax Justice Network

The Spider’s Web was substantially inspired by Nicholas Shaxson’s book Treasure Islands.

Sponsor the next film on Patreon

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Why We’re Ungovernable: Germany’s Merkel Demoted To Figurehead

Authored by John Rubino via DollarCollapse.com,

You don’t see “Germany” and “ungovernable” in the same headline very often. But that might be about to change, as Chancellor Angela Merkel, for the past decade the central pillar of Europe’s Establishment, loses influence both at home and abroad.

First came a wave of populist gains across Europe (read anti-euro, anti-austerity, anti-immigration), culminating with an actual victory in Italy’s most recent election. Then came the rise of Germany’s own populist movement, Alternative for Germany, or AfD, which has become a legitimate power in some parts of the country.

And now Mekel has apparently lost control of her cabinet. From yesterday’s New York Times:

As the Far Right Gains in Germany, Merkel Weakens

BERLIN — For nearly two weeks Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to find a way to fire her own domestic intelligence chief, a man who had publicly contradicted her and become the darling of the far right for questioning the authenticity of a video showing angry white men chasing an immigrant.

But she couldn’t — not without risking the collapse of her fragile government.

Hans-Georg Maassen, the rebellious spy, has powerful friends, among them his immediate boss, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Bavarian conservatives and one of Ms. Merkel’s pricklier coalition partners.

Instead of firing Mr. Maassen, Ms. Merkel had to allow Mr. Seehofer to promote him. Mr. Maassen will get a pay raise of about 2,500 euros a month.

“You couldn’t make it up,” said Andrea Römmele, a professor of political science at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

If the episode shows anything, analysts said in the aftermath, it is that Ms. Merkel is growing more feeble even as the far right — in Parliament, online and on the streets — is getting stronger.

The chancellor’s inability to act decisively has exposed the spectacular weakening of a leader who not long ago was seen as a key defender of the liberal order. That view was cemented by her decision in 2015 to welcome to Germany hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere who were not wanted by neighboring European countries.

Three years later, as a nationalist and populist backlash is spreading, Ms. Merkel has so little authority left that many here wonder how much longer she can last.

“Merkel was an authority at home and abroad,” Ms. Römmele said. “She stood up to Trump, negotiated peace deals and passed the laws she wanted to pass. She was the queen of consensus.”

“Now she can’t even fire the head of an agency,” Ms. Römmele added. Six months into her fourth term, “she has become a lame duck.”

Ever since an inconclusive election last September, Ms. Merkel has stumbled from one political crisis to another. In the election, her party saw a significant decline in voter support and a far-right party, the Alternative for Germany, entered Parliament for the first time in more than 60 years.

In the end it took six months to form a government, an unwieldy one straddling left and right, with Ms. Merkel perched precariously at its center.

That government almost fell apart in the summer, when Mr. Seehofer, the interior minister, challenged the chancellor over her immigration policies and demanded the reintroduction of border controls with Austria.

That earlier episode was just a foretaste of how the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, has been using its toehold in Parliament — where it now has the megaphone of being the leading opposition party — to reorder German politics.

Mr. Seehofer’s party, the Christian Social Union, has been veering sharply to the right ahead of state elections in Bavaria next month, trying to fend off a challenge from the AfD, which is on course to deprive it of its absolute majority.

Where to now? The NYT article’s last sentence gives a clue:

“Mr. Seehofer’s party, [Merkel’s coalition partner] the Christian Social Union, has been veering sharply to the right ahead of state elections in Bavaria next month, trying to fend off a challenge from the AfD, which is on course to deprive it of its absolute majority.”

Centrist coalitions faced with a non-mainstream challenge have two choices: Either bring in new partners from the other end of the spectrum (in this case the left) or co-opt the right wing populists by adopting some of the latter’s policies. The Christian Social Union has apparently chosen door number two.

That pulls the central government towards the populists’ point of view, which might be healthy, since unlimited immigration is clearly failing. Or it might be destabilizing since a dominant, pro-European-integration Germany is all that’s keeping the “European Project” on track at the moment.

And let’s not forget that all this is happening in the context of soaring debt and peripheral country banking crises (Italian banks only exist because of ongoing ECB bailouts while Spain’s banks are on the hook for 5% of GDP lent to Turkey) that could easily spread to the core. The current global expansion, meanwhile, is now the longest on record and ought therefore to end shortly.

In other words, big, probably negative changes are coming even with a stable German government. Let Germany descend into political turmoil and the difficult becomes impossible. Get ready for a massive euro devaluation.

Some other posts in this series are here.

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US Nuclear Safety: A Critical Problem That Has Largely Been Kept Out Of The Public Eye

Authored by Peter Korzun via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The issue of nuclear safety has been a hot topic in the second half of 2018. It has just been discussed in detail at the 62nd International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference in Geneva, which was held Sept. 17-21. The international conference on “The Security of Radioactive Material: The Way Forward for Prevention and Detection,” which is scheduled for Vienna, Dec. 3-7, is going to be a landmark international event that will be a focus for the media spotlight.

It is true that poor storage conditions and low nuclear-safety standards threaten the environment and increase the possibility of nuclear materials getting into the wrong hands.

Russia can be proud of its achievements in this area. The days of the 1990s when it needed outside help to tackle this problem are long gone. In 2013, Moscow ended the joint Russian-US Cooperative Threat Reduction program (the Nunn-Lugar program) because it is now able to manage these issues on its own. The cooperation over the secure storage of weapons-grade materials was suspended in 2014. The IAEA reports that today Russia boasts high nuclear-safety standards. Sophisticated protection equipment has been installed and all nuclear sites are jointly safeguarded by the military, ROSATOM’s security agency, and on-site security teams. The materials are properly safeguarded during transportation. A special program to upgrade the transportation infrastructure has been in place since 2010.

The report “The Use of Highly Enriched Uranium as Fuel in Russia,” issued by the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), a group based at Princeton University, admits that the country has made great progress to ensure the safety of uranium stockpiles and transportation. It also includes criticism, the absence of which would be odd in any report prepared by a US think tank. It states that “highly enriched uranium (HEU) poses special concerns, as it can be used relatively easily in simple nuclear explosive devices by states with limited nuclear weapon expertise or even by non-state actors … [Russia] has not made highly enriched uranium minimization a priority.” The paper concludes that it is essential to secure Russia’s commitment to the development of a comprehensive, global, highly enriched uranium minimization strategy. Greenpeace has also acknowledged progress, but criticized Russia for what it sees as shortcomings. But one thing is certain – this is not a country where nuclear materials where nuclear materials go missing while being transported to or from storage sites. They are well guarded and all accounted for.

Russia is not the only power whose contribution to a global nuclear-safety strategy is crucial. The situation in the United States offers good cause for concern. Repeated safety lapses have hobbled the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was sheer good luck that prevented real trouble from happening to the surrounding area. According to Science, “most remarkably, Los Alamos’s managers still have not figured out a way to fully meet the most elemental nuclear safety standards.” “There’s a systemic issue here,” said Michaele Brady Raap, a former president of the American Nuclear Society and a member of the Energy Department’s elite Criticality Safety Support Group, a team of 12 government experts that analyzes and recommends ways to improve struggling federal nuclear-safety programs. “There are a lot of things there [at Los Alamos] that are examples of what not to do.”

According to the Center for Public Safety, two security experts from the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory drove to San Antonio, Texas, in March 2017 with a sensitive mission: to retrieve dangerous nuclear materials from a nonprofit research lab there and transport them safely back to their state without allowing the materials to fall into the wrong hands. The materials — plutonium and cesium — as well as equipment were stolen on that trip and have never been found. They were simply left unattended in a car! The incident was concealed from the public, but the information was obtained by the Center for Public Safety under the Freedom of Information Act. That source reports that this was just a part of a much larger quantity of plutonium that over the years has gone quietly missing from stockpiles owned by the US military.

Madeleine Jennewein of Harvard University writes in her blog, which is published by Science in the News (SITN), that “Across the United States, nuclear waste is accumulating in poorly maintained piles. 90,000 metric tons of nuclear waste requiring disposal are currently in temporary storage. The United States, however, has yet to construct a long-term storage solution for this waste, leaving the nuclear material vulnerable to extreme weather events such as hurricanesrising sea levels, and wildfire.”

In 2016, seven electrical engineers who worked for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission took the unusual step of petitioning the NRC as private citizens in hopes of forcing regulators to fix a “significant safety concern” that affects all but one of the nation’s 100 nuclear plants. Nuclear waste is also a big problem in the US. Safety concerns plague key sites that have been proposed for nuclear bomb production.

Nuclear safety in the US is a urgent issue that deserves far greater public attention. According to reports, much information is deliberately kept out of the public eye. To be honest, today it is Russia who appears to be in a position to assist the US in its efforts to tackle the issue of nuclear safety, instead of the other way around. Busy waging trade wars with other countries and getting involved in distant conflicts, such as in Syria, that have nothing whatsoever to do with the United States, Washington is largely ignoring a real problem that is threatening the country’s national security each and every day. 

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“Lifelong Friend” Of Kavanaugh Accuser Denies Attending Party Where Alleged Sexual Assault Occurred

A woman believed to have been one of five people at a party some 35 years ago where Christine Blasey Ford claims she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh has become the fourth person to deny any recollection of the event.  

In a Saturday night email to the Senate Judiciary Committee also received by several news outlets, Leland Ingham Keyser – a “longtime friend” of Blasey Ford’s said through her attorney: 

“Simply put, Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford,” said Keyser’s attorney Howard Walsh, who has been “engaged in the limited capacity” of corresponding with the committee on behalf of Keyser, according to Politico.

Kavanaugh and Mark Judge – the other teenager allegedly in the room during the alleged sexual assault – have both stated that they have no recollection of the incident, while a third man who Ford claims was at the party – Patrick J. Smyth, also denied any recollection of the event, telling the Judiciary Committee last week in a statement: “I understand that I have been identified by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as the person she remembers as ‘PJ’ who supposedly was present at the party she described in her statements to the Washington Post,” Smyth wrote in his statement. “I am issuing this statement today to make it clear to all involved that I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.”

Smyth added: “Personally speaking, I have known Brett Kavanaugh since high school and I know him to be a person of great integrity, a great friend, and I have never witnessed any improper conduct by Brett Kavanaugh towards women. To safeguard my own privacy and anonymity, I respectfully request that the Committee accept this statement in response to any inquiry the Committee may have.”

On Saturday night, a tentative deal was reached for Ford to testify publicly on Thursday, according to the New York Times

After a brief call late on Saturday, the woman’s lawyers and aides to Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, planned to talk again Sunday morning to continue the halting negotiations over the conditions of the testimony, according to three people familiar with the call. Aides to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s top Democrat, were also involved. –NY Times

The Times notes, however, that Leland Keyser’s statement “seemed to eliminate any chance of corroboration of Dr. Blasey’s account by anyone who attended the high school party where she says she was assaulted.” 

If no deal is reached for Blasey Ford’s testimony next week, Sen. Grassley will be left to decide on Sunday whether or not to move ahead with a scheduled vote to confirm Kavanaugh on Monday. 

Grassley has engaged in a back-and-forth with Ford’s legal team, allowing them to miss several deadlines to continue negotiations. While Grassley may be trying to avoid the appearance of the Judiciary Committee panel of 11 men bullying an female victim alleging sexual assault, many conservatives have expressed frustration at the Chairman’s acquiescence to virtually every demand Ford has made. 

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Latest iPhones Greeted With Abysmal Demand In China

Apple’s latest – and disappointing – iPhone product unveiling also revealed the two biggest headaches troubling CEO Tim Cook today: first is the lack of a new “must have” gadget (Apple watch EKG aside), with the iPhone failing to impress the faithful for the second year in a row, and prompting sellside analysts to conclude that for one more year there won’t be a “must have”  iPhone supercycle. Second is that as a result of this lack of creativity and innovation, and perhaps due to market saturation, iPhone sales have now been largely stagnant for three years, with AAPL reporting a modest decline in iPhone sales in the last quarter.

And while we have yet to see channel check data on the latest iPhone sales in the US, anecdotal reports from China suggest that Tim Cook’s latest product offerings may be nothing short of a complete flop, as retailers and resellers in Hong Kong and mainland China reported one of their worst sale records for the latest batch of iPhones when they hit the stores on Friday.

According to SCMP, just a handful of people had lined up outside the Apple store in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong before it opened at 8am on Friday. Some who planned to resell the phones to scalpers only offered HK$1 (US$0.13) more than the original price. Some were even offered a discount.

Buyer Wilson Poon, 30, gave up on trying to resell his two 256GB iPhone XS Maxes to scalpers waiting outside the Causeway Bay store after he was offered less than what he had just paid.

“The scalpers here offer HK$100 lower [than the original of price of HK$10,799, US$1,382]. Sin Tat Plaza should offer HK$300-400 [US$38-51] higher than the original price, according to my experience,” he said, referring to the shopping centre in Mong Kok where numerous phone repair and accessories shops are located.

Ivy Wong, a 30-year-old clerk, also failed to resell her 256GB gold iPhone XS Max.

When the stores opened around 10am, scalper demand emerged only for the high-end phone, with scalpers only interested in buying the 512GB iPhone XS Max phones at HK$300-500 higher than the original price, as models with smaller storage were ignored. Then, around noon at Sin Tat Plaza, the smaller 64GB and 256GB iPhone XS were sold to shops at the mall at HK$249 to HK$399 lower than the original price, according to a local online forum.

While scalper demand is a subjective metric, it demonstrates the “coolness factor” of the latest Apple gadget among the more fanatical supporters. Only in this case, the word “fanatic” is used loosely, because compared to prior years the latest iPhone products simply failed to provoke any notable interest.

Sheung Leung from G World at Sin Tat Plaza, who sells the gadget mainly to local and mainland customers, said that profit was slashed by half compared to recent years. “Two or three years ago, Hong Kong sold the product earlier than the mainland, so many mainland customers come deliberately to buy the phones. Now, only those who happen to be travelling here would drop by to get one,” Leung said.

Meanwhile in China, retailers found sales disappointing as well, with one Shenzhen vendor claiming that “the new iPhone was one of the worst sales situations she had encountered for many years.

Why the tepid demand? First and foremost the stratospheric price.

At Huaqianbei, an electronics manufacturing hub in Shenzhen, smartphone retailer Cat Fu said she sold just two units of the iPhone XR in the morning of its debut. The two phones – one gold and one silver – were bought in Hong Kong for HK$9,499 (8,290 yuan) and sold for 9,860 yuan (HK$11,289) in mainland China. The same model on Apple’s official China website is 9,588 yuan (HK$10,977).

“The prices of the new iPhones are crazily high and ordinary consumers could not afford them. And most of the customers say they do not see a big difference between new iPhones and the old ones,” Fu said.

Not even Apple’s traditional gimmick of using online delivery delays to “represent” strong demand has worked this time around.

Li Yiqiang, who bought a gold Hong Kong-version of the 64GB iPhone XR Max at the price of 9,800 yuan (HK$11,220) in Huaqiangbei, said: “If I place an order in the Apple Store, I have to wait for 10 days to get one. But now I only pay 200 yuan (HK$229) more to get one immediately. Why not?” Li said.

And in the worst possible news for Apple which tries to capitalize on the annual upgrade cycle by offering its latest phones at prices that are sometimes orders of magnitude higher than the competition, many of the potential buyers will simply turn to older, lower priced models.

“Now we notice a lot of consumers are considering to buy older versions like iPhone 7 and iPhone 8,” said Fu.

“We know the current economic situation is not good and many people are strapped for cash. I could hardly become optimistic about the new iPhone sales this year.”

In an attempt to offset the tepid – if not declining – demand for iPhones with little innovation or the elusive “must have” factor, Tim Cook has instead focused on average selling prices, which in recent years have been rising, helping overall revenues. And, as we showed last week, Apple is hoping to capitalize on more of the same this holiday season with the iPhone Xs’ sharply higher price points.

However, in light of the abysmal reception of the new product in China, Apple’s plan to offset declining volumes with higher ASPs may have finally met a brick wall, and not just due to the higher price: the magic no longer appears to be there.

I do not feel excited to get the new one. The iPhone XR Max does not look very different from the older ones. I think Chinese people now are spoiled by multiple choices of mobile phones” said HK-buyer Li Yiqiang.

If Li’s sentiment is representative of what the typical iPhone buyer thinks, the world’s most valuable company will soon have to dig very deep in its bag of “buyback tricks” to keep the the typical AAPL stock buyer happy.

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Unipolar Moments Never Last More Than A Moment

Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

American leaders, politicians, policymakers and pundits are fond of talking about the “Unipolar Moment” and “Hyper Power” position that they imagine the United States enjoys in the world.

Totally lacking from this fantasy are any inconvenient historical facts.

The US Unipolar Moment (insofar as it existed at all) lasted less than a decade from the break-up of the Soviet Union at the end of December 1991 to June 15, 2001. The US “moment” barely made it into the 21st Century.

On that epochal day of June 15, 2001, two major events happened.

First, US President George W. Bush gave a speech in Warsaw pledging to integrate the three tiny Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into NATO as a prime strategic goal of the United States.

That very same day, Russia and China created with four Central Asian nations the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): The most populous and powerful international security organization in history.

This year, the SCO doubled in population by adding India and Pakistan at the same time – two major nuclear powers with a combined population of 1.5 billion people. That means the SCO now includes more than 3 billion people, around 40 percent of the human race.

From the moment the SCO was created – dedicated from its inception to preserve and protect a multipolar world from the domination of any one power, the US unipolar moment was dead and gone.

This reality was confirmed less than three months later when al-Qaeda’s terror attacks of September 11, 2001 killed almost 3,000 people. More Americans died that day than in the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

George W. Bush should have been impeached for his gross incompetence. Instead his popularity soared. Imagining the Unipolar Moment (or Era) to be still in full flood he invaded Afghanistan later that year and Iraq less than two years later. The United States is still endlessly stuck in those unending wars.

The patterns of history – totally ignored by the US media, pundit-ocracy and political world – in fact teach this lesson consistently. Over the past half a millennium, there have been several unipolar moments for great powers seeking to reign supreme over the world and they all collapsed after only a few years.

When Habsburg Spain and its allies decisively defeated the huge fleet of the mighty Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, Spain’s imperial domination over Europe seemed assured. But in fact Spain was already embroiled in a Dutch revolt that started in 1568. Over the following decades, it became even more exhausting than the current US deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

King Philip II of Spain’s dream of domination was totally buried only 17 years after Lepanto with the destruction of his giant Armada fleet to conquer England in 1588.

France rose next. Its domination over Europe appeared to be sealed with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. But by the mid-1660s, glory-crazed Louis XIV, the so-called “Sun King” had already repeated the Spanish mistake and bogged his country down in half a century of endless wars in what is now Belgium, the Netherlands and southern Germany. France’s unipolar moment lasted less than 20 years.

The British came next. Even after winning the Napoleonic Wars against France, they knew they could not rule the world alone and were forced to share it with the far more conservative major monarchies of Europe – Russia, Austria-Hungary and Prussia.

Finally in 1848, the kings of France, Austria-Hungary and Prussia were all rocked or topped by liberal popular revolutions. The British thought then, as the Americans did in 1989-91, that their Unipolar Moment had finally come and would last for eternity. The whole world would look to London for guidance and wisdom.

It didn’t: By 1871, Prussia under its Iron Chancellor Otto von Bismarck had united Germany, smashed France, by then Britain’s ally and humiliatingly swept the British out of any continental pretensions of power and influence.

When asked what he would do if the tiny British Army ever invaded North Germany, Bismarck replied that he would send the police to arrest it.

After the defeat of Imperial Germany in World War I, Britain seemed to enjoy another hyper-power moment. The isolationist United States and the Soviet Union both temporarily withdrew from the world stage.

However, that British fantasy did not even last until the rise of Hitler in 1933. Two years earlier in 1931, Imperial Japan had occupied Manchuria – a huge chunk of Northeastern China: British military leaders were forced to admit to Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald there was nothing they could do about it. Britain’s unipolar moment had lasted only 12 years – from 1919 to 1931.

Once these historical facts are understood, it is easy to see why the US Unipolar Moment only lasted even less time than Britain’s 20th century one had – less than a decade.

Since 2001, the United States has bankrupted and exhausted itself, just as Habsburg Spain, Bourbon France and post-Victorian Britain did before it in futile, doomed and ludicrous attempts to deny and roll back the inevitable tides of history.

That should come as no surprise: As Friedrich Hegel warned us, “The only thing that we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”

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Gowdy: No National Security Risk In Classified Russia Docs; DOJ Stonewalling Over Brennan, FBI Embarassment

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said in a Thursday interview that the information contained in the Russia documents withheld by the Department of Justice (DOJ) pose no risk to national security, and would be embarrassing to former CIA Director John Brennan, the DOJ and the FBI. 

“I’ve read it. Some of it’s embarrassing for the Department of Justice — some of it’s embarrassing for the FBI. Embarrassment is not a reason to classify something,” said Gowdy. “A lot of it should be embarrassing to John Brennan, and maybe therein lies why he is so adamant that this information not be released.”

“I don’t think it’s going to change anyone’s mind, but I’ve seen nothing in it that is going to jeopardize the national security interest of this country,” Gowdy added. “Other than one document related to George Papadopoulos, I don’t think people are going to be that interested in it. And I don’t think any mind’s are going to be changed.”


Brennan, meanwhile, suggested in a Tuesday MSNBC interview that government officials should resign rather than comply with President Trump’s order to release the records

Brennan, who now serves as an MSNBC contributor, has been a vocal critic of Trump’s over the past year. Trump recently responded by ordering Brennan’s security clearance revoked. Gowdy criticized Brennan, saying the Obama appointee is “part of the reason we are in this historic conundrum.” He did not describe what information in the classified documents will embarrass Brennan and other government officials. But as CIA director, Brennan was directly involved in gathering and sharing intelligence used to investigate whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.

The documents in question are related to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants obtained against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as well as FBI notes of interviews used to obtain the warrants. –Daily Caller

According to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), Trump’s order to declassify a broad swath of DOJ/FBI documents related to the Russia investigation will also expose the infamous “insurance policy” referred to in an August 15, 2016 text between former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. 

Speaking with Fox News‘s Laura Ingraham last week, Nunes said that declassification will provide exculpatory evidence, including a dozen or so 302 witness interview forms from DOJ official Bruce Ohr which may shed light on his significant relationship with former MI6 spy Christopher Steele and “many other rotten apples.” 

“A lot of people think that the insurance policy was getting the FISA warrant on [former Trump campaign aide] Carter Page,” Nunes told Ingraham, adding “We actually believe it was more explicit than that.”

Trump also ordered the DOJ to release text messages from several key players in the Trump-Russia investigation, “without redaction,” of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr. 

A spokesman from the Justice Department told Fox News that the DOJ and FBI “are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the President’s order,” while ODNI spokesperson Kellie Wade told the network: “As requested by the White House, the ODNI is working expeditiously with our interagency partners to conduct a declassification review of the documents the President has identified for declassification.

Meanwhile, Trump agreed to delay the release on Friday – allowing the DOJ’s Inspector General to review the documents prior to declassification. 

In Friday morning Tweets, Trump said: “I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents. They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release. Therefore, the Inspector General has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me – and everyone!”

 So it looks like Brennan’s embarrassment has been delayed…

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Saturday Satire: Down With The Working Classes!

Authored by CJ Hopkins via Unz.com,

If the Left is ever going to come together to save the world from Donald Trump and his legions of fascistic Putin-Nazis, we’re going to need to confront our primary enemy… the international working classes.

Yes, my comrades, I’m afraid it’s time to face the facts, depressing as they are. The working classes are not our friends. Just look at how they’ve been betraying us… and after all we’ve done for them all these years!

This cannot be allowed to continue, not if we are going to rescue democracy from Trump, Putin, Assad, the Iranians, and Palestinian kids with terrorist kites, and eventually stem the blood-dimmed tide of neo-fascist anti-Globalism!

Now, OK, I know you’re probably asking, “how can the international working classes possibly be the enemy of the Left?” and “wouldn’t that render the whole concept of the Left completely absurd and essentially meaningless?” and other pertinent questions like that. And that’s totally fine, you’re allowed to ask that. Questioning aspects of the official narrative the ruling classes are forcing everyone to conform to like members of a worldwide cult doesn’t make you a Nazi or anything. It’s perfectly OK to ask such questions, as long as you don’t continue to ask them, over and over, and over again, after the facts have been explained to you. Here are those facts, one more time.

The international working classes are racists. They are misogynists. Xenophobic transphobes. They do not think the way we want them to. Some of them actually still believe in God. They are white supremacists. Anti-Semites. Gun-toting, Confederate-flag-flying rednecks. Most of them have never even heard of terms like “intersectionality,” “TERF,” and so on. They do not respect the corporate media. They think that news sources like the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and so on, are basically propaganda outlets for the global corporations and oligarchs who own them, and thus are essentially no different from FOX, whose pundits they believe every word of. Their minds are so twisted by racism and xenophobia that they can’t understand how global capitalism, the graduated phase-out of national sovereignty, the privatization of virtually everything, the debt-enslavement of nearly everyone, and the replacement of their so-called “cultures” with an ubiquitous, smiley-faced, gender-neutral, non-oppressive, corporate-friendly, Disney simulation of culture are actually wonderfully progressive steps forward on the road to a more peaceful, less offensive world.

Now this has been proved in numerous studies with all kinds of charts and graphs and so on. And not only by the corporate statisticians, and the corporate media, and liberal think tanks. Why, just this week, Mehdi Hasan, in an exasperated jeremiad in the pages of The Intercept, that bastion of fearless, adversarial journalism owned by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, proved, once again, that Donald Trump was elected because PEOPLE ARE GODDAMN RACISTS!

Apparently, Hasan has just about had it with these Putin-loving Trump-apologists proposing that general dissatisfaction with global capitalism, neoliberalism, and identity politics could have had anything to do with Americans electing a bombastic ass clown with absolutely no political experience to the highest office in the land. Hasan cites a number of expert studies, among them one by the Democracy Fund, which just happens to be another Omidyar outfit. But let’s not get all paranoid or anything. There are literally hundreds of such studies at this point, each and every one of which has been cited by the mainstream media, the alternative media, the far-alternative media, and virtually every Trump-obsessed loon with a blog or a Facebook or Twitter account.

Look, I realize the truth is painful, but the science of statistics leaves no room for doubt. As much as some of us may want to deny it, the fact is, the country that elected Barack Obama (who is Black) president, twice, has been transformed by Putin’s brainwashing agents into a cesspool of xenophobia and racism, and it is up to us lefties to set things right!

Now, to do this, we need to unite the Left, and get everyone marching in lockstep, and so on. Which means that we need to identify and weed out all the fake leftists among us. Then, and only then (i.e., after we’ve tracked down, sanctimoniously denounced, and exiled any and all neo-Stasserist “alt-Right” infiltrators, Sputnik leftists, and Assad-apologists), can we turn our attention to meeting face-to-face with the international working classes and sanctimoniously denouncing them as a bunch of filthy racists.

OK, that sounds a little harsh, and possibly totally idiotic, but what other choice do we really have? If we’re going to defeat these Putin-Nazis, a few eggs are going to have to get broken. This is not the time to abandon our commitment to imposing our identity-based ideology on every last person on the planet Earth, or to indulge in that ugly kind of old-fashioned leftism that is based on what the working classes want. Who gives a damn what the working classes want? What’s important is what we want them to want. This isn’t the 1990s, after all. All that nonsense about globalization, and supranational entities like the WTO, and the World Bank, not to mention “American jobs” … only fascists talk like that these days!

But, seriously … if you’ve made it this far in my essay, and you consider yourself a leftist of some sort, you’re probably extremely frustrated with what passes for the Left these days, and with how the working classes are flocking to the Right, both in the United States and all over the world. If I’ve got that right, you might want to read this essay by Diana Johnstone (which we lefties are technically not allowed to read, because it’s posted in The Unz Review, where a lot of “alt-Right” pieces are also posted … and you don’t want to get any of that stuff on you!)

What she is writing about is the ongoing “populist” insurgency against globalized capitalism, which is what I’ve also been writing about for the better part of the last two years. This is the historical moment we are experiencing, a clumsy, sloppy, partly fascistic, partly non-fascistic democratic uprising against the continuing spread of global capitalism, the erosion of what is left of national sovereignty, and … yes, people’s cultures and values.

The international working classes understand this. The neo-nationalist Right understands this. The majority of the Left does not understand this, and is refusing to admit that it’s happening, and so is standing around on the sidelines calling everybody “racists” and “fascists” while the global capitalist ruling classes and the neo-nationalists sort things out.

Which is exactly what the ruling classes want, and what the official Putin-Nazi narrative was designed to achieve from the very beginning. The “Overton Window” (i.e., the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse) works best when divided into two clean halves. During the so-called “War on Terror,” it was Democracy versus the Islamic Terrorists. Now, it’s Democracy versus the Putin-Nazis. Both of which narratives are fairy tales, of course, the reality, as ever, being rather more messy.

If what is left of the Left expects to play any meaningful part in our historical moment (other than sanctimoniously cheerleading for the global capitalist ruling classes), it is going to need to get its hand a littler dirtier, mingle a bit more with all those working class “populists,” talk to them, and, I don’t know, maybe even listen to them.

Or maybe I’m completely out of my mind…

I mean, actually listening to the working classes? Some of them are sure to say racist things, and anti-Semitic and transphobic things, which we cannot ignore for even one second, or rationally discuss and disagree with, because that would mean giving their racism a platform. Yeah, screw it, I don’t know what I was thinking … forget all that stuff I just made you read. Down with the fascist working classes!

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Libya Urges United Nations To Take “Concrete Action” To Halt Chaos In Tripoli

More than seven years after NATO launched a regime change war in Libya on the side of anti-Gaddafi rebels, the West is again being asked to intervene as the country further descends into civil war

Except this time it’s the internationally recognized government since installed in Tripoli that is at war with itself, and the death toll from inter-factional fighting since August has now reached over 100 and is growing as street battles in Tripoli suburbs rage, causing leaders to urge the United Nations to act. 

Tripoli street scene in early September. Via Libya Observer 

The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) issued a statement late Friday calling on the U.N. to take “concrete and effective” action to protect civilians and halt fighting near the capital. The GNA urged the UN mission to “present the Security Council with the reality of the bloody events in Libya so that it can… protect the lives and property of civilians”.

On Friday alone clashes in Tripoli left 15 dead and dozens more wounded, according to official health ministry statements

Since fresh fighting again erupted in Tripoli on August 26 (there’s been internecine battles in the capital for years), whole sections of the city have been shut down, especially the southern suburbs where initial street battles began, which has witnessed  the shelling of residential areas, street-to-street fighting, and tanks in the streets all reminiscent of the 2011 war which eventually led to a NATO air campaign and forcible removal and assassination of Libya’s longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

According to international reports, some of the feuding militias have come mostly from Libya’s third city Misrata and the town of Tarhouna southeast of the capital; however, the early weeks of fighting were driven mostly by rival factions within the GNA itself

On Friday UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a statement through his spokesman, saying he is “alarmed by the increasing number of violations of the ceasefire agreement.” Guterres called on the warring militias to respect a prior truce and to “refrain from any actions that would increase the suffering of the civilian population”. 

He said groups responsible for “the violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law must be held responsible,” according to the statement. 

Previously the UN Support Mission in Libya voiced concerns over “the use of indiscriminate fire and heavy weapons in densely populated residential areas.”

Since the NATO-backed overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has remained split between rival parliaments and governments in the east and west, with militias and tribes lining up behind each, resulting in fierce periodic clashes

In March 2011 the UN passed Resolution 1973 which authorized the imposition of a No Fly Zone over Libya, ostensibly to protect civilians from pro-Gaddafi forces. The US, UK, France, and other NATO and Gulf allies bombed the country while claiming to act in the name of democracy and human rights. 

Though the recently “liberated” Libya has remained conflict-prone after NATO and US forces promised an “Arab Spring”-style “blossoming of democracy” — things have clearly only gone from worse to worse as the capital now again slides toward full blown civil war. Welcome to the “new” Libya.

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