Dog Days 2015 Post

 

Best summer ever….

 

Crush – Open Thread July 2015

 

Open Thread June

BeLl1e8

A CIA Guide to Assassination
The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins, Robert B. Baer
By DANIEL GABRIEL • June 4, 2015

Twenty-Three Geniuses
by James Howard Kunstler
June 1st, 2015

There were two terror bombings in Saudi Arabia the past two weeks. Did anyone notice the significance of that? Or that the May 29th incident was against a Shiite mosque, or that the Shia population of Saudi Arabia is concentrated in the eastern province of the kingdom where nearly all of the oil production is concentrated? (Or that the newly failed state of neighboring Yemen is about 40 percent Shiite?) Have any of the 23 genius-level reporters at The New York Times tried to calculate what it would mean to the humming global economy if Arabian oil came off the market for only a few weeks?

Making the World Less Safe
Sending the wrong message to Russia, China and Iran
PHILIP GIRALDI • MAY 19, 2015

I argued that while Washington should be sympathetic to Ukraine’s aspirations it has no actual horse in the race, that the imperative for bilateral relations with Russia, which is the only nation on earth that can attack and destroy the United States, is that they be stable and that all channels for communication remain open.

I also observed that the negative perception of Washington-driven democracy promotion around the world has been in part shaped by the actual record on interventions since 2001, which has not been positive. Each exercise of the military option has wound up creating new problems, like the mistaken policies in Libya, Iraq and Syria, all of which have produced instability and a surge in terrorism. I noted that the U.S. does not need to bring about a new Cold War by trying to impose democratic norms in Eastern Europe but should instead be doing all in its power to encourage a reasonable rapprochement between Moscow and Kiev.

Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (2008)
by John Gray

The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths (2013)
by John Gray

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Is ISIS Coming to Damascus?
by Patrick J. Buchanan
June 05, 2015

Half of Syria has been lost to ISIS, the Nusra front, and other jihadist and rebel groups. All of Syria’s border crossings with Iraq have been lost to ISIS. All of the border crossing with Turkey, excluding Kobani, have been lost to ISIS or rebels linked to al-Qaida. Syria’s border with Lebanon is becoming a war zone.

Some 100 Russian military advisers are said to have pulled out of Syria, suggesting Vladimir Putin may be reconsidering Russia’s historic investment.

Indicating the gravity of the situation, Syrian sources claim 7,000 to 10,000 foreign Shiite fighters, Iraqi and Iranian, have arrived to defend Damascus and launch an offensive to recapture Idlib.

Israel’s deputy chief of staff, Gen. Yair Golan, who headed the Northern Command, was quoted this week, “The Syrian Army has, for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist.”

Iraqi Sunni Tribes Announce Backing for ISIS as Sectarian Tensions Soar
Group of Tribal Leaders Vows to Fight Against Shi’ite Government
by Jason Ditz
June 04, 2015

Israel’s Unlikely Alliance
Is Israel helping al-Qaeda in Syria?

by Asa Winstanley

Gen. Allen: ISIS War to Last ‘A Generation or More’
Obama’s War Envoy Insists ISIS a Threat to Progress
by Jason Ditz, June 03, 2015

History – First Draft 05.11.2015

History – First Draft 05.11.2015T-14

The Killing of Osama bin Laden
Seymour M. Hersh

 

Another Idiotic Plan to Hurt Russia
America’s Start is Setting
BY MIKE WHITNEY • APRIL 20, 2015

The Laussanne negotiations between Iran and the so called P5+1 group (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany) have nothing to do with nuclear proliferation. They are, in fact, another attempt to weaken and isolate Russia by easing sanctions, thus allowing Iranian gas to replace Russian gas in Europe. Laussanne shows that Washington still thinks that the greatest threat to its dominance is the further economic integration of Russia and Europe, a massive two-continent free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok that would eventually dwarf dwindling US GDP while decisively shifting the balance of global power to Asia. To counter that threat, the Obama administration toppled the elected government of Ukraine in a violent coup, launched a speculative attack on the ruble, forced down global oil prices, and is presently arming and training neo-Nazi extremists in the Ukrainian army. Washington has done everything in its power to undermine relations between the EU and Russia risking even nuclear war in its effort to separate the natural trading partners and to strategically situate itself in a location where it can control the flow of vital resources from East to West.

http://www.businessinsider.com/protests-against-israeli-police-brutality-and-racism-are-turning-increasingly-violent-2015-5

http://www.businessinsider.com/israeli-soldiers-describe-situations-where-rules-of-engagement-went-horribly-wrong-2015-5

Big News – May 2015

Saudi king’s naming of new heir a sign of toughening regional stance
BY TOM HUSSAIN
McClatchy Foreign Staff
April 29, 2015

Lessons of the Vietnam War
We haven’t learned them
by Justin Raimondo
May 1st, 2015

Similarly, such gains as Al Qaeda has made are due, in large part, to our own actions. As our Saudi allies invade and decimate Yemen with Washington’s full support, the heirs of Osama bin Laden are expanding their foothold amid the ruins and the misery. In Libya, where we overthrew a secular tyrant at the behest of our European allies and our own “humanitarian” interventionists, Al Qaeda is now cavorting in what was our embassy swimming pool. In Syria, where US support to “moderate” Islamists is weakening another secular tyrant, Al Qaeda and its allies are consolidating their hold. And ISIS, the latest bogeyman to haunt our fever dreams, is the mutant offspring of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and the neocons who took us to war in Iraq on the basis of a lie.

The lessons of Vietnam, and of the cold war generally, haven’t been learned by our political elites for the simple reason that they don’t want to know about anything that contradicts their dogmatic worldview. That conception of how the world works is rooted in their own little careers, and the colossal conceit that is the hallmark of elite culture in this country. They live in an ideological bubble, one that punishes truth-telling and rewards conformity – and nothing is more obligatory in the world of Washington than to pledge allegiance to the delusions of a political class that believes it can do anything and get away with it. The same policymakers and pundits who ginned up the disastrous war in Iraq have lost none of their power and prestige: we live in a political culture that rewards failure and comes down hard on anyone who strays outside the Washington consensus.

The US hasn’t won a major war since the end of World War II: Korea was a draw, Vietnam a humiliating defeat, Iraq was an American rout, and Afghanistan is a quagmire that is slowly draining the lifeblood out of our military. The only successes we’ve had is when we picked on a country as small and defenseless as Panama, Grenada, or Serbia. As we push our way into every local conflict, internationalizing it and blowing it way out of proportion – e.g. Ukraine – this is worth bearing in mind. The supposedly mighty US empire, like its Soviet predecessor, projects the illusion of invincibility and permanence, while an inner rot eats away at its core.

That rot is the cancer of debt, corruption, and a cultural nihilism which threatens the very values that made America an economic powerhouse and the envy of the world. As our leaders preen and pose on the world stage, as we bully our way into every local conflict, braying that we embody the concept of “world leadership,” and demanding that lesser nations follow Washington’s diktat, the mirage of our global hegemony is dissipating. Can we control events in Kabul if we can’t even keep a firm grip on Baltimore?

History – First Draft 04.29.2015

History – First Draft 04.29.2015

“Either give up your empire, or live under it.” – Chalmers Johnson

Riot_Cops

The Man and me
Tim Kreider

Doing nothing is the best option in a surprising number of situations, but it’s one that all authorities are constitutionally disinclined to exercise, as it they fear it might expose their own superfluity. And people in power can seldom resist an opportunity to start pushing other people around[…]

[…]I don’t believe the police are closet Klansmen or fascist lackeys; I also don’t think they’re heroes. They’re people doing a job, and, like everyone else in the world, they do what the people who pay them tell them to do. The people who pay them are the government, and the government operates in the service of those who own it. In effect, the police are a heavily armed private security force to protect rich people against the poor — a role that became nakedly obvious to me the day our billionaire mayor ordered the NYPD to bulldoze the perfectly legal protest at Occupy Wall Street[…]

[…]Everyone who’s paying attention — and I’m not talking about alarmist crackpots but the U.N., the Pentagon, the C.I.A. — agrees that the coming decades will see, to put it euphemistically, civil disturbances. The gap between the very rich and everyone else is only getting wider, meaning that more and more of us are finding ourselves on the wrong side of the police barricades[…]

Congress’s Pathetic Charade on the Iranian Nuclear Agreement
by Ivan Eland, April 28, 2015

Congress is thus asserting its role, but only with smoke and mirrors. I predict that any final agreement with Iran will raise a lot of fuss among Republicans and even some Democrats, but will eventually go through. Like immigration reform, I support a verifiable nuclear agreement with Iran, but I do not support the unconstitutional road to get there.

On the nuclear agreement with Iran, Obama’s acquiescence to Congress’s charade of relevancy reminds me of the Roman Empire, where emperors continued to pay due respect to the Senate, long emasculated from its glory days during the Roman Republic, but where everyone knew who was really running things.

Baltimore_1

Churchill’s Disaster – Gallipoli
BY ERIC MARGOLIS • APRIL 19, 2015

Churchill was at least man enough to take up command of a Scotts infantry unit on the Western Front, unlike so many other politicians who sent men to their deaths from the safety of their private clubs in Whitehall.

It is often said that modern Australia and New Zealand were really born as independent nations at Gallipoli, just as the same is said of Canada at the battle of Vimy.

True to a degree, but we should also remember that the British Empire often used its “white troops” from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada as cannon fodder to spare British regiments from the home islands.

To Send a Message, Judge Sentences David Petraeus to 75% of One Speaking Fee

Yemen Crisis: Saudi Arabia’s Air War Resumes
…Despite having no decisive impact on the opposing Houthi militias
BY PATRICK COCKBURN • APRIL 22, 2015

 

History – First Draft 04.24.2015

Will Robots Kill the Asian Century?

The average cost of robot prices has been cut by more than half since 1990 even as they have improved in reliability and speed.

For one, the greater the automation, the less relevant labor costs become, especially if one considers that robots (unlike human workers) can, in principle, work twenty-four hours a day for little additional variable cost.
[And also, no annoying bathroom breaks]

Some reports suggest that a $20,000 robot can assemble thirty thousand iPhones in one year—a cost of sixty-six cents per unit assembled. That number should be similar whether the robot is located in Shenzhen or Detroit.

The Navy’s bribery and prostitution scandal

Weirick argues that the Navy’s inability to punish anyone at the general officer level reveals a disturbing degree of impunity at the US military’s top ranks. The admirals who oversaw officers implicated in the scandal — and a few who even admitted to accepting favors from the company — haven’t received any serious punishment, and a few top officers were allowed to remain in their positions and keep their rank despite having their security clearances suspended.

Our Enemies, the Saudis
They’re invading Yemen to empower Al Qaeda
by Justin Raimondo, April 20, 2015

History – First Draft 04.16.2015

A Shifting Narrative on Iran
Iran will always be the enemy
BY PHILIP GIRALDI • APRIL 14, 2015 • 1,900 WORDS

So now we arrive at 2015 and a former Israeli intelligence chief has openly said what most of the rest of the world has long known: Netanyahu is a liar when he talks about Iran. Concurrently, the P5+1 group of negotiators have concluded a marathon 18 months negotiation by achieving a framework agreement with Iran which will substantially diminish its ability to enrich uranium at all, will greatly reduce its stockpile and will also subject all of its research facilities to intrusive inspections. In return sanctions on Iran will slowly be lifted, but it should be observed that most of the major concessions were made by the Islamic Republic, where there is considerable pressure from the public to make Iran again a normal member of the international community…

…Sensing defeat, Netanyahu and his tame congressmen clearly decided a sharp change in direction would be necessary and, presumably guided by the warm and friendly hand of AIPAC, a new approach was concocted combining two essential elements. First, it was claimed that Iran cannot be trusted to abide by any agreement because, as Chief U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman put it “deception” is in the Iranian leadership DNA. That would mean that Iran might appear to be going along with the agreement but it would secretly be manufacturing a weapon. Just exactly how that would take place under an intrusive inspections regime is not clear, but the idea is to plant the seed that Iranians are intrinsically deceitful and dangerous.

The second argument, which began to evolve before the framework agreement was announced and which not surprisingly has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, is that Iran is threatening and dangerous by virtue of its behavior beyond its nuclear program. Congressmen and pundits have begun to bleat that Iran “now dominates four Arab capitals” and it also “supports terrorism.” One op-ed writer who should know better has described the development of a new Persian Empire.

The first argument is sheer fantasy and racist to boot but the second argument, intended to shift the narrative in a new direction, is actually the more ridiculous. Iran has a struggling economy, a relatively weak military, and much of its outreach to Shi’a communities in neighboring states is in response to the hostility surrounding it engineered by the U.S., Israel and the Sunni ruled regimes in the Persian Gulf. Creating and exploiting a limited sphere of influence as a defensive measure is far from uniquely Iranian.

To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran
By JOHN R. BOLTON
MARCH 26, 2015

Iran Framework Deal Reached, Officials Confirm
Talks Aimed at Finalizing Deal by End of June
by Jason Ditz, April 02, 2015

 

Oil_040115History – First Draft 2015

 

Saudi Arabia’s oil exports at the beginning of 2015 are 450,000 barrels per day (5%) lower than they were 2 and a half years ago. They are 1 million barrels per day ( 11%) lower than they were a decade ago in 2005.

 

http://www.unz.com/mwhitney/the-exceptional-u-s-suffers-crushing-defeat-in-debaltsevo/
The “Exceptional” U.S. Suffers Crushing Defeat in Debaltsevo
The Battle Behind the Fog of Propaganda
BY MIKE WHITNEY • FEBRUARY 20, 2015

Additionally, the US-backed proxy-army saw many of its crack troops and top-notch units destroyed in the fighting leaving Kiev unable to continue the war without assistance from allies in the US or Europe. The full impact of the defeat will not be known until angry troops returning from the front amass on the streets of the Capital and demand Petro Poroshenko’s resignation. The Ukrainian President is responsible for the massacre at Debaltsevo. He was fully aware that his army faced encirclement but ordered them to remain in order to satisfy powerful right-wing elements in his government. The disaster is even more terrible due to the fact that it was entirely avoidable and achieved no strategic purpose at all. Extreme hubris frequently impacts outcomes on the battlefield. This was the case at Debaltsevo.

The debacle ensures that the bumbling president’s days are numbered. It’s nearly certain that he will either be replaced or hanged sometime in weeks ahead. He has already flown his family to safety out of the country, and there’s growing speculation that both Washington and the far-right nationalists who occupy the Security Services will insist on his removal. That paves the way for a second Ukrainian coup in less than a year, a grim reminder of the tragic failings of US policy in Ukraine.

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-pushing-gazprom-to-provide-discount-gas-to-ukraine-2015-3

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

MARATHON IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS TO END WITH MIXED RESULTS
Iran and six world powers will agree to continue negotiations in a new phase aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord by the end of June, officials say.

DOCUMENTS UNCOVER FURTHER CLINTON EMAIL USE
AP’s Jack Gillum reports that Hillary Rodham Clinton used multiple devices for email and mixed work and personal concerns at least once during her tenure as secretary of state.

LUFTHANSA MOBILIZING CRASH VICTIMS FUNDS
The German carrier says its insurers are setting aside $300 million to deal with possible costs resulting from the Germanwings jet crash.

DESPONDENT GAZANS RETURN TO DESTROYED HOMES
Dismayed over the slow pace of post-war reconstruction, Gaza Strip residents are returning to uninhabitable structures while they wait for promised aid to arrive.

BOOZE BATTLE ERUPTS IN VOLUNTEER STATE
Two distillers say economic development in their small town is being hampered by a law governing what can be marketed as “Tennessee Whiskey.”

On final day of Iran nuclear talks, U.S. puts the odds of a deal at 50-50

The self-imposed deadline for a framework deal on Iran’s nuclear program is midnight Tuesday, and State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf puts the odds of a deal at 50-50. And while there is some speculation that the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, could continue into Wednesday, “March 31 is the deadline,” Harf told reporters. “It has to mean something. And the decisions don’t get easier after March 31.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is rejoining the talks on Tuesday, put the odds of success considerably higher: “They are probably not 100 percent but you can never be 100 percent certain of anything.”
Source: VOA, Reuters

Airtsrike kills at least 40 at Yemeni refugee camp

An airstrike targeting Houthi rebels in north Yemen killed at least 40 people and wounded another 200 at a refugee camp on Monday. Yemen’s state news agencySaba, now controlled by Houthis, said Saudi planes had intended the bombs for a rebel camp nearby. Saudi military officials said they were trying to confirm what happened. “It could have been that the fighter jets replied to fire, and we cannot confirm that it was a refugee camp,” Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said. A humanitarian worker said the strike hit a truck filled with Houthi fighters at the camp gate, killing nearby camp residents as well as fighters.
Source: Reuters, The New York Times

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan falls behind in vote count

An early vote count from Nigeria’s election has opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan by two million votes. While the lead is formidable, many of the country’s large states in the south have not declared their results yet. A former military ruler whose defeat in the last election resulted in rioting that left 800 dead, Buhari has made fighting the Islamist militant group Boko Haram a centerpiece of his campaign. If Buhari wins, Jonathan would be Nigeria’s first incumbent to lose a presidential election.
Source: BBC News, Al Jazeera

State of the World – April 2015

Smokerhttp://www.thebaffler.com

 

U.S. oil council: Shale won’t last, Arctic drilling needed now
Study predicts shale boom won’t last long, says companies should start probing for oil now
Mar 27, 2015

“There will come a time when all the resources that are supplying the world’s economies today are going to go in decline,” said Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil and chairman of the study’s committee [shocking], in an interview with the Associated Press. “This is will be what’s needed next. If we start today it’ll take 20, 30, 40 years for those to come on.”

 

Leave the Houthis Alone!
Why are we on the same side as the Saudis – and al Qaeda – in Yemen?
by Justin Raimondo
March 27, 2015

In spite of US-based news accounts reporting the current conflict to be between the Saudis and “Iran-backed rebels,” the evidence for the Tehran-Houthi connection is tenuous to nonexistent. There is no evidence of Iranian involvement beyond political (i.e. rhetorical) support. Indeed, as Christopher Boucek and Marina Ottoway report in their book, Yemen on the Brink, “some Yemeni officials have confided that such assertions are unfounded.” Doctrinal differences between the Zaydi sect of Shi’ism and the Iranians over important theological issues within Islam preclude Tehran from providing any substantial support for the Houthi insurgency beyond mere words. Neoconservative pundits who point to the Houthis’ success with alarm mirror the propaganda of al Qaeda, which denounces the Zaydi “takfiris” (apostates) in similarly hysterical terms. The Houthis, for their part, have never attacked Americans or American interests in Yemen, as acknowledged in a series of classified cables sent by the no-longer-present US embassy.cheney_1

State of the World 2015, Pt.II

hillary-clinton-blackberry-3

State of the World 2015, Pt.II

The US oil bust is getting uglier

In the latest week, drillers idled another 41 oil rigs, according to Baker Hughes. Only 825 rigs were still active, down 48.7% from October. In the 23 weeks since, drillers have idled 784 oil rigs, the steepest, deepest cliff-dive in the history of the data.

Obama Stands Up for America
And tells the Israelis he’s had enough
by Justin Raimondo, March 23, 2015

The Israelis wanted us to declare war against over one billion Muslims – to essentially concede bin Laden’s point that he represented Islam. And we went along with it for a while: the neoconservative project to “drain the swamp” of the Middle East and propel it into modernity by force of arms was taken up by the administration of George W. Bush, with disastrous results. But even Bush had his limits. At the end of his last term, when the Israelis were pressuring Washington to launch a military strike against Iran, Bush – having apparently reached the endpoint of his capacity for appeasing Tel Aviv – declined to do so (over Dick Cheney’s objection).

Brian_Williams

It’s Official: The Pentagon Finally Admitted That Israel Has Nuclear Weapons, Too

It would be good to keep in mind that these extraordinary breakthroughs in technology have one purpose—fighting wars—and are intended to give still greater advantage to advanced nations like the US and Israel that dwarf more primitive adversaries. Many of the new technologies, it is true, will find commercial applications that improve everyday lives (some already have). Yet it is also true that our advances in high-tech killing power have not subdued all the enemies.

They find irregular ways to fight back. They blow the legs off our soldiers. They plant home-made bombs in crowded restaurants. They recruit children to serve as their guided missiles. They capture and slaughter innocent bystanders, while our side merely bombs the villages from high altitude. The victims do not see our way as pristine or preferable. Their suffering becomes their global recruiting.

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“The third reason for Grant’s success is the great imponderable: great generals are not just smarter than their opponents, they’re luckier. And the luck is generally due to superior intuition.

Napoleon had wanted his generals to have this quality. But intuition is a talent that can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t. And Grant had it. At some level he simply knew his opponents would quit the fight, and this belief (or insight, or intuition) enabled him to brush aside all the potential disasters that could take place. Where Halleck––and many other Union generals––could only see the potential for disaster, Grant saw victory.”
-John Mosier

 

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