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The need for security actions and endless wars is a self-justifying feature of the US economic and political landscape. The military industrial complex (MIC) is invested in all levels of American society and within the political realm. The MIC is not only good for business, but often it *is* the business providing jobs and civilian infrastructure back in Anytown USA. Certainly the products being made are for bringing death to people, usually brown, in far away lands but ethical concerns aside, everyone wins right?

The war in Oceania goes well.

The infinite war cycle is made possible only because we’ve changed what ‘victory’ looks like. These new victory conditions seem to work very will with the notion that war must remain a profitable endeavour for the American Empire. Nick Turse writes about how changing the conditions for a what a win looks like enables the system to cycle onward:

“Unlike in the Vietnam War years, three presidents and the Pentagon, unbothered by fiscal constraints, substantive congressional opposition, or a significant antiwar movement, have been effectively pursuing this strategy, which requires nothing more than a steady supply of troops, contractors, and other assorted camp followers; an endless parade of Senate-sanctioned commanders; and an annual outlay of hundreds of billions of dollars. By these standards, Donald Trump’s open-ended, timetable-free “Strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia” may prove to be the winningest war plan ever. As he described it:

“From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.”

Think about that for a moment. Victory’s definition begins with “attacking our enemies” and ends with the prevention of possible terror attacks. Let me reiterate: “victory” is defined as “attacking our enemies.” Under President Trump’s strategy, it seems, every time the U.S. bombs or shells or shoots at a member of one of those 20-plus terror groups in Afghanistan, the U.S. is winning or, perhaps, has won. And this strategy is not specifically Afghan-centric. It can easily be applied to American warzones in the Middle East and Africa — anywhere, really.

Decades after the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military has finally solved the conundrum of how to “out-guerrilla the guerrilla.” And it couldn’t have been simpler. You just adopt the same definition of victory. As a result, a conventional army — at least the U.S. military — now loses only if it stops fighting. So long as unaccountable commanders wage benchmark-free wars without congressional constraint, the United States simply cannot lose. You can’t argue with the math. Call it the rule of 4,000,000,029,057.

That calculus and that sum also prove, quite clearly, that America’s beleaguered commander-in-chief has gotten a raw deal on his victory parade. With apologies to the American Legion, the U.S. military is now — under the new rules of warfare — triumphant and deserves the type of celebration proposed by President Trump. After almost two decades of warfare, the armed forces have lowered the bar for victory to the level of their enemy, the Taliban. What was once the mark of failure for a conventional army is now the benchmark for success. It’s a remarkable feat and deserving, at the very least, of furious flag-waving, ticker tape, and all the age-old trappings of victory.”

One of the small side problems of this MIC strategy is that the rest the ‘homeland’ society goes to shit while the arms makers and assorted war profiteers become obscenely wealthy, and then said obscene wealth is used to further distort the democratic system at home to better feed the MIC machine to make more war, and more profit and…

And once war with Oceania is done, the war in Eurasia can begin proper.

 

Much of the talk about the rule of law, at least in international politics seems to be but a mere convenience to be followed when international law happens to be in favour of a countries policies.  When it becomes inconvenient to the national policy or doctrine, then the rule of law becomes an obsolete antiquated legal fixture, or international meddling in a sovereign countries affairs.

The US is rather notorious for this dubious commitment to the international rule of law.

“The United States contempt for international law is neither new nor an aberration but a long standing tradition between both democrats and republicans in the United States.

In another stunning example of human rights abuse by the United States is the case of Khaled El-Masri. Who happened to have the misfortune of having the same name as a terror suspect. He was subsequently kidnapped, flown to Afghanistan and was tortured and sodomosied.(4)

“Masri’s treatment at Skopje airport at the hands of the CIA rendition team — being severely beaten, sodomised, shackled and hooded, and subjected to total sensory deprivation — had been carried out in the presence of state officials of [Macedonia] and within its jurisdiction,” the European Court of Human Rights ruled. (Idid.)

When the International Court of Justice ruled against the United States in 1986 in favour of Nicaragua and found the United States was guilty of many international laws and human rights violations it simply upped and walked away from the court. (5)

The US benches were empty when the court announced its decision. Among the Nicaraguan delegates was the Foreign Minister, Father Miguel d’Escoto, who said he hoped that the verdict would help the Americans to re-evaluate their position and stop defying the law and the court.

Dutch legal experts argue that the decision is legally binding on the US, despite the American refusal to recognise the court’s jurisdiction. One said: ‘The USA has always recognised the ICJ. It should have changed its position earlier if it wanted to duck the court in this case.

‘It is a well-known principle of international law that, if a country submits to the jurisdiction of a court, it cannot sidestep the court after the judges have started their work,’ a professor of international law at Amsterdam University said. (Ibid.)”

 

I’d like to live in a world where concepts such as the rule of law actually exist in a state where they applied equally to all parties involved.  The state of the world precludes this fair application of the rules at the moment and it should be taken into account when appeals to the ‘rule of law’ are made.

 

[Source:Counterpunch]

 

 

 

We have a NIMBY problem here.  The bad news is that said NIMBY problem is on a planetary scale and my backyard is really everyone’s back yard so to speak.  The doom of our time is coming, human driven climate change, and we merrily continue to do that very things that will cause our end.  It’s fascinating watching the ecocide play out because if there is one truth to the entire situation it is this – until the elites of our society feel the pain of AGW, nothing will be done – because the current status quo is a just too darn profitable and comfortable to want to change toward a future that might sustain the future of the species.

Of course, from my small balcony in which I view the world, I can point to one system that has been royally screwing the planet since it’s inception – capitalism.  And yes, yes, yes, apologists I’m happy I’ve been given the few crumbs of technology and relative stability that make my balcony observations possible but – and it’s a rather large but – would I trade my technology and relatively easy life style for one that works withing the boundaries of the carrying capacity of the earth?  Absolutely.  It is the adult and responsible course of action; the only hitch is that doing the right thing is rarely a profitable venture and we all know how the ‘right thing’ vs. ‘making money thing’ goes, at least in our current economic paradigm.

Paul Street adds to the argument:

   “Other thinkers of an eco-Marxian bent, myself included, narrow the diagnosis. They historicize the climate crisis, situating it in the specific historical context of capitalism. The concept of “the Anthropocene” has rich geological validity and holds welcome political relevance in countering the carbon-industrial complex’s denial of humanity’s responsibility for contemporary climate change, they note. Still, they counsel, we must guard against lapsing into the historically misleading, fatalistic, and often class-blind use of “Anthro,” projecting the currently and historically recent age of capital onto the broad 100,000-year swath of human activity on and in nature. As the Green Marxist environmental sociologist and geographer Jason Moore reminded radio interviewer Sasha Lilley last a few years ago, “It was not humanity as a whole that created …large-scale industry and the massive textile factories of Manchester in the 19th century or Detroit in the last century or Shenzen today. It was capital.”

Indeed, it was not humanity as a whole that built the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)in 2015 and 2016. It was capital, corralled in the accounts of Energy Transfer Partners, under the supervision of a reckless, eco-cidal and profit-mad billionaire named Kelcy Warren, who funded  the DAPL with billions of dollars from across the world’s leading financial institutions.

It was not humanity as whole that hid evidence of Greenhouse Gassing’s deadly impact on human prospects.  It was capital on various levels but most particularly in the form of Exxon-Mobil, who (in the greatest climate and environmental crime in history) buried the findings of its very own cutting-edge scientists in the 1970s and 1980s— an offence that that, as Chomsky says, “is almost hard to find words to describe.”

Moore and other left analysts argue with good reason that it is more appropriate to understand humanity’s Earth-altering assault on livable ecology as the “Capitalocene.” It is just a  relatively small slice of human history – roughly the last half-millennium give or take a century or so – during which human society has been socially and institutionally wired by a specific form of class rule to relentlessly assault on an ultimately geocidal scale.

It is only during the relatively brief period of history when capitalism has ruled the world system (since 1600 or thereabouts by some calculations, earlier and later by others) that human social organization has developed the inner, accumulation-, commodification-, “productivity”-, and growth-mad compulsion to transform Earth systems – with profitability and “productivity” dependent upon on the relentless appropriation of  “cheap nature” (cheap food, cheap energy, cheap raw materials and cheap human labor power)  Moore maintains that “humanity’s”  destruction of livable ecology is explained by changes that capitalism’s addictive and interrelated pursuits of profit and empire imposed on its behavior within “the web of life.”

It is capitalism and its quarterly earnings obsession with short-term profits, not Rich’s “human nature,” that constantly plunders and poisons the commons and trumps long-term planning for the common good.”

Hurricanes give no fucks about your socioeconomic status.

Our short-sighted nature will be the end of us.  Unless…

“This in one of the timeworn paths to societal ruin discussed in a paper published five years ago by mathematician Safa Motesharrei, atmospheric scientist Eugenia Kalnay and political scientist Jorge Rivas in the journal Ecological Economics. Reviewing past societal collapses, they reflected on a potential current global scenario in which:

“[T]he Elites—due to their wealth—do not suffer the detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners. This buffer of wealth allows   Elites to continue ‘business as usual’ despite the impending catastrophe. It … explain[s] how historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases). This buffer effect is further reinforced by the long, apparently sustainable trajectory prior to the beginning of the collapse. While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory ‘so far’ in support of doing nothing.”

Is this not the state of “humanity” under the command of capital today, with many millions of disproportionately poor and powerless people already suffering from climate disruption while the wealthy few continue to enjoy lives of unimaginable, environmentally shielded opulence atop a recklessly fossil-fueled planet so vastly unequal that the world’s eight richest people possess as much wealth between them as the bottom half of the species?

It’s “the rich,” not humanity in general, that “are destroying the Earth,” as Herve Kempf noted in the title and text of an important book eleven years ago. At the same time however, it is in fact up to “our species,” yes, humanity, to save itself and other Earthly life forms by engaging in a great mass uprising against those who have plundered and poisoned the commons for private profit. (If there’s another intelligent life form out there that survived the transition to high-tech modernity and developed the capacity to save other species in the galaxy, now would be the time for them to travel through tie and space to lend us a hand.  I’m not holding my breath for that!)   The best bet we have, my fellow world citizens and common(s)ers, is is eco-socialist people’s revolution here on the planet itself.”

Revolt or die comrades.  :/

 

Bonus Reading: Human Nature and Dynamics There is a good deal of math here, however, also a very readable paper on the collapse of complex societies. It’s a good read and worth your time.

 

 

What happens when you integrate your military into the fabric of the economy?  Why the F-35 debacle of course.

Given how the world works, I find it hard to believe that Canada is taking a principled stand on human rights in Saudi Arabia. Western democracies certainly try to own the rhetoric when it comes to democracy, peace, and freedom – but their realpolitik is quite similar to the nations they routinely criticize for being autocratic dictatorships that are terrible to their people.

My skepticism aside, this is the tweet that started the diplomatic furor between Saudi Arabia and Canada:

Well, the powers that be in Saudi Arabia didn’t like that one bit:

“We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

“Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada’s internal affairs,” it said.

“Saudi state television later reported that the Education Ministry was coming up with an “urgent plan” to move thousands of Saudi scholarship students out of Canadian schools to take classes in other countries.”

“Saudi Arabia said it is also freezing all new trade and investment transactions with Canada and “reserves its right to take further action.” Saudi Arabia is one of Canada’s largest export markets in the region, and some 10 per cent of Canadian crude oil imports come from Saudi Arabia.”

“Of course the major worry for Canada will now be the fate of a $15-billion contract for almost 1,000 light armoured vehicles between the Saudi government and London, Ont.’s General Dynamics. The controversial deal, struck in 2014 and approved in 2016, called for the vehicles to be delivered starting in 2017, but it’s not clear how many have already been sent as Ottawa refuses to release the “commercially confidential” information.”

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is reportedly selling off its assets in Canada and will stop buying Canadian wheat and barley, in the latest escalation in the sudden diplomatic dispute between the two countries.”

“The national Saudi Arabian airline, Saudia, said this week that it would suspend all flights between the country and Canada, starting next week.”

[Sources cbc.ca 1, 2, 3, 4]

I think I speak for many Canadian when I say. “WTF just happened here?”.  The Saudi record on human rights isn’t a particularly deep dark secret and to call for a what seems to be a bit of leniency in one specific case doesn’t seem as beyond the pale as the Saudi’s seem to think it is.

Would Canada recall its ambassadors and impose sanctions if Norway made light of our decidedly horrible treatment of our First Nations people?  I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t.  Most likely some diplomatic hand-waves and some impassioned statements about how we’re working hard (we’re not) to improve the lives of all Canadians and then the issues would pass.

What is more intriguing is that despite the Saudi backlash, Canada’s government isn’t backing down:

     Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada isn’t backing down from its position that led to diplomatic sanction from Saudi Arabia.

Freeland made the comments Monday afternoon in Vancouver a day after Saudi Arabia announced it would cease new trade deals with Canada and expel the Canadian ambassador.

“I will say Canada is very comfortable with our position. We are always going to speak up for human rights; we’re always going to speak up for women’s rights; and that is not going to change,” she told a news conference.

“Canadians expect our foreign policy to be driven by and to embody Canadian values, and that is how we intend to continue our foreign policy.”

On Friday, Global Affairs Canada had tweeted, “Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists.”

This is post is just full of WTF’s.   Freeland seems to be articulating a values based position on a foreign policy issue.  It makes little sense has Saudi Arabia is clearly demonstrating their willingness to go full-trump and punish Canada economically for having the ‘bombast’ to ask them to release a blogger they have detained and are torturing (sorry folks, flogging is torture any way you want to slice it.)

It’s sad that I’m feeling so cynical about this particular story, and continue to look for the angle that the Canadian government is not sharing with the press.  Like, since when do nations actually take ethical stands on any issue these days?  It just isn’t good for business.

I’m going to continue to follow this story folks, because something just isn’t adding up.

 

Chalmers Johnson wrote this piece for Tom’s Dispatch in 2009.  I think the prescription remains as accurate, perhaps even more so in today, as we witness the untrammelled bellicose behaviour of the US on the international stage.  The interesting part of the current republican administration’s method is that, in fact, the bluntly brutish bulling behaviour of the American empire is not a new feature of the American geopolitical strategy.  Trump knows not of the (small) mailed fist in the velvet glove, as we witness US foreign policy initiatives bash their way across the globe imprudently applying sanctions and threats.  It’s just that this imperial behaviour has almost been cloaked in diplomatic language and carefully scrubbed for domestic consumption in the past.  It is just so much easier to see now.

The Era of the American Empire is coming to a close.  I just hope that they realize they can drawn down voluntarily(ish) as Britain did, and not choose option B – internal dissolution and collapse – which is the route the Soviet Union chose.

Here are what Chalmers Johnson believes to be the way out for the USA.

 

“1. We need to put halt to the serious environmental damage done by our bases planet-wide. We also need to stop writing SOFAs that exempt us from any responsibility for cleaning up after ourselves.a

2. Liquidating the empire will end the burden of carrying our empire of bases and so of the “opportunity costs” that go with them — the things we might otherwise do with our talents and resources but can’t or won’t.

3. As we already know (but often forget), imperialism breeds the use of torture. In the 1960s and 1970s we helped overthrow the elected governments in Brazil and Chile and underwrote regimes of torture that prefigured our own treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. (See, for instance, A.J. Langguth, Hidden Terrors [Pantheon, 1979], on how the U.S. spread torture methods to Brazil and Uruguay.) Dismantling the empire would potentially mean a real end to the modern American record of using torture abroad.

4. We need to cut the ever-lengthening train of camp followers, dependents, civilian employees of the Department of Defense, and hucksters — along with their expensive medical facilities, housing requirements, swimming pools, clubs, golf courses, and so forth — that follow our military enclaves around the world.

5. We need to discredit the myth promoted by the military-industrial complex that our military establishment is valuable to us in terms of jobs, scientific research, and defense. These alleged advantages have long been discredited by serious economic research. Ending empire would make this happen.

6. As a self-respecting democratic nation, we need to stop being the world’s largest exporter of arms and munitions and quit educating Third World militaries in the techniques of torture, military coups, and service as proxies for our imperialism. A prime candidate for immediate closure is the so-called School of the Americas, the U.S. Army’s infamous military academy at Fort Benning, Georgia, for Latin American military officers. (See Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire [Metropolitan Books, 2004], pp. 136-40.)

7. Given the growing constraints on the federal budget, we should abolish the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and other long-standing programs that promote militarism in our schools.

8. We need to restore discipline and accountability in our armed forces by radically scaling back our reliance on civilian contractors, private military companies, and agents working for the military outside the chain of command and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (See Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater:The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army [Nation Books, 2007]). Ending empire would make this possible.

9. We need to reduce, not increase, the size of our standing army and deal much more effectively with the wounds our soldiers receive and combat stress they undergo.

10. To repeat the main message of this essay, we must give up our inappropriate reliance on military force as the chief means of attempting to achieve foreign policy objectives.

Unfortunately, few empires of the past voluntarily gave up their dominions in order to remain independent, self-governing polities. The two most important recent examples are the British and Soviet empires. If we do not learn from their examples, our decline and fall is foreordained.”

Tough sell politically speaking, but necessary if the US wishes to be an important power in the world.

 

Why would rational people choose the least efficient method of priming the economic pump? I’m sure it has much to do with making the the correct people and factions in society benefit from the policies put in place. The notion of the ‘public good’ seems almost a quaint notion in the realm of US politics.

 “The Pentagon’s Covert Industrial Policy

One reason the Trump administration has chosen to pump money into the Pentagon is that it’s the path of least political resistance in Washington. A combination of fear, ideology, and influence peddling radically skews “debate” there in favor of military outlays above all else. Fear — whether of terrorism, Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea — provides one pillar of support for the habitual overfunding of the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state (which in these years has had a combined trillion-dollarannual budget). In addition, it’s generally accepted in Washington that being tagged “soft on defense” is the equivalent of political suicide, particularly for Democrats. Add to that the millions of dollars spent by the weapons industry on lobbying and campaign contributions, its routine practice of hiring former Pentagon and military officials, and the way it strategically places defense-related jobs in key states and districts, and it’s easy to see how the president and Congress might turn to arms spending as the basis for a covert industrial policy.

The Trump plan builds on the Pentagon’s already prominent role in the economy. By now, it’s the largest landowner in the country, the biggestinstitutional consumer of fossil fuels, the most significant source of funds for advanced government research and development, and a major investor in the manufacturing sector. As it happens, though, expanding the Pentagon’s economic role is the least efficient way to boost jobs, innovation, and economic growth.

Unfortunately, there is no organized lobby or accepted bipartisan rationale for domestic funding that can come close to matching the levers of influence that the Pentagon and the arms industry have at their command. This only increases the difficulty Congress has when it comes to investing in infrastructure, clean energy, education, or other direct paths toward increasing employment and economic growth.

Former congressman Barney Frank once labeled the penchant for using the Pentagon as the government’s main economic tool “weaponized Keynesianism” after economist John Maynard Keynes’s theory that government spending should pick up the slack in investment when private-sector spending is insufficient to support full employment. Currently, of courseOK, the official unemployment rate is low by historical standards. However, key localities and constituencies, including the industrial Midwest, rural areas, and urban ones with significant numbers of black and Hispanic workers, have largely been left behind. In addition, millions of “discouraged workers” who want a job but have given up actively looking for one aren’t even counted in the official unemployment figures, wage growth has been stagnant for years, and the inequality gap between the 1% and the rest of America is already in Gilded Age territory.

Such economic distress was crucial to Donald Trump’s rise to power. In campaign 2016, of course, he endlessly denounced unfair trade agreements, immigrants, and corporate flight as key factors in the plight of what became a significant part of his political base: downwardly mobile and displaced industrial workers (or those who feared that this might be their future fate).”

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