Friday, August 31, 2018

War as a Distraction, but Where?

On 21 August 2018, Trump's lawyer Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 counts, some of which were criminal conspiracy with 'a candidate for president'. Of course, we know which 'candidate for president', making a certain president an unindicted co-conspirator. The Democrats are saying it's the beginning of the end, the impeachment clock is ticking down. As it happens, Alan Dershowitz says that Cohen's confessions do not implicate Trump, while David Jolly says Trump is finished.

It is an old American tradition that, when a president is in trouble, he starts a war to distract the voters and tells them it would endanger the troops to change Commander-in-Chief in the middle of a war. But where? Trump was promising regime change in Iran back in '15, but his Cabinet wants regime change in Syria, Russia, and the DPRK. Iran is screaming 'Mother of all Wars' just like Saddam did, and war with Iran should go like Libya, but might be more like Iraq, whichever way Trump thinks will best distract the voters. Obama was going to win anyway, so a quick victory in Libya worked (and made a lot of money for the US/UK/France), but Bush, sr was not so popular, and, after he finished the First US-Iraq War, the voters said, 'Job well done, but it's done, and now we want Clinton.' So Bush, jr kept the Second US-Iraq War going (and it's still going 9 years after Bush, jr left office).

Candidate Obama said he'd end all the wars, and President Obama did pause the Iraq War briefly, but mostly, President Obama expanded all the wars he inherited, and added some new ones. Candidate Trump ran on ending the wars, but President Trump expanded the ones he inherited, and is in a corner where he needs one or more new ones.

Iran can scream, but they can't do much. Carpet bombing like Libya should force regime change about as quickly as it did in Libya, but ground troops like Iraq might be a better distraction for the voters, so Trump cold go either way. 

However, Trump's Cabinet, France and the UK all want regime change in Syria, which means also in Russia, and the Cabinet would also like to finish what Truman started in the DPRK. Truman, of course, fired his general for suggesting he risk a nuclear war against the only other nuclear power in the world, and one would hope Trump and his Cabinet would learn from Truman, but Trump and his cabinet don't seem capable of learning anything from anyone (and nor do the British and French governments). So they might try Russia and/or the DPRK. Russia might not be as strong as the USSR, but they still have MAD (the New York Times says Russia's MAD WMD are just Photoshop, but they now print whatever their readers want to be true, not necessarily the facts). China did not sit idly by when Truman tried regime change in the DPRK, and they're not going to sit idly by if Trump and his Cabinet try again, not to mention that the DPRK is almost certainly able to execute an EMP strike on the US all by itself.

If the Cabinet, Britain and France convince Trump to start a war anywhere except Iran, it'll be, 'So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.' 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

John Perkins and Financial Theory

Suppose you have $200,000 and a bank says it will loan 80% at 10% interest. Further suppose you have an investment that will pay 20%. How much should you borrow from the bank? The textbook answer is, of course, $800,000. You'll pay $80,000 a year in interest, but your investment will pay $200,000 a year. The correct answer is $0. John Perkins job was to convince people to borrow money by promising a 20% return. The banks insisted the money go to the contractors they specified, contractors who built nothing, but who took the $1,000,000, after which, the borrowers had a debt of $800,000 and no way to repay, so the banks foreclosed and got all the assets the borrowers had. With kickbacks from the contractors, the banks got all the borrowers' assets for almost nothing.

Perkins said he did this to Indonesia. After the IMF and World Bank foreclosed, Indonesia had to let mining companies dump toxins in the rivers, so people died. They had to let companies take farms from subsistence farmers to use for cash crops, so people died. Saudi Imams said (quite correctly) that the infidels had killed Muslims, and said (incorrectly) that everyone working in the New York World Trade Center was guilty. Which is why the 9/11 hijackers destroyed the New York World Trade Center. Yes, people were guilty, but the 9/11 hijackers killed few, if any, of the guilty parties, and a lot of people who were completely innocent of the crimes for which they were murdered.

Not clear how to punish the guilty. Perkins said he had no idea who they were, he got his orders (and payment) via a carefully camouflaged trail that hid those ultimately responsible.

So Justice seems unlikely for this world.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Eurasia, Eastasia, and the Ministry of Truth

I read 1984 back in the '60s. Airstrip 1 went back and forth from an ally of Eurasia at war with Eastasia to an ally of Eastasia at war with Eurasia to an ally of ..., and every time they switched, the Ministry of Truth had to fix all the history books and newspaper morgues. If Airstrip 1 was at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia, they had always been at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia. Only, in the '60s, Eurasia was obviously the USSR, and Eastasia was obviously the PRC, and both were allied against Airstrip 1. It took me 50 years to figure out 1984. Eurasia was the Central Powers of WWI, Germany, Austria, and the Ottoman Empire. Eastasia was Russia/USSR. In the Crimean War, Airstrip 1 allied with France and the Ottomans against Russia. Then in WWI, Airstrip 1 was allied with Russia against the Central Powers. Then, after WWI, Airstrip 1 allied with Hitler against Stalin's USSR. Then, after '41, Airstrip 1 allied with Stalin's USSR against the Axis. Then, after '47, Airstrip 1 allied with West Germany against Stalin's USSR. And every time Airstrip 1 changed it's alliance, it tried to change the history books.

But, after 1939, the Airstrip 1 of 1984 was a neo-colony of the US. After WWI, the US went isolationist, and then came the Great Depression in 1930, with 25% unemployment, and nothing tried by a Republican president, Hoover, or a Democrat president, FDR, had any effect. Finally, two brilliant applied economists named Adolph and Tojo formed the Axis and quickly reduced US unemployment from more than 25% to less than 2%. US history books (incorrectly) blamed the Great Depression on WWI, and correctly credited the Axis with its cure. The collapse of the Axis was predicted to cause a quick return to a situation where only 25% unemployment would be considered practically full employment, and quite unachievable. What to do? Then, in '47, Truman said the USSR was a greater threat than the Axis! The US Congress voted to keep the military mobilised, not disbanded. They voted for the Marshall Plan, chits for Europe they could use to buy American products, food (since their agricultural sector had been badly damaged) and tools for reconstruction, chits that Americans (and only Americans) could cash in for dollars. Truman won re-election (after being so far behind in the polls he'd been written off by the experts). And the Republicans jumped on Truman's bandwagon (even though Truman was a Democrat). The Republicans found USSR spies everywhere. The head of the FBI spoke of card-carrying Communists, dupes, and fellow-travelers. (It annoys me that Hoover's terminology that I had to learn in school has been changed from 'dupes' to 'useful idiots'; why abandon what worked so well for so long?) No Depression, instead the US enjoyed great prosperity.

Then, in 1990, the USSR collapsed. The fact that the USSR had MAD meant the US was limited in what it could do. But now, the US could absorb the Warsaw Pact into NATO. It could destroy Yugoslavia, and the USSR wasn't around to stop it. It could even absorb chunks of the USSR into NATO, and Russia was powerless. After Yugoslavia came Iraq, and the 100 hour war. Then sanctions that killed maybe half a million Iraqis. And Russia had no say. Then came 9/11, and Islam was the new and improved threat, a replacement for the USSR. War in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and lots of other places to keep the US economy from falling back into a Great Depression.

But, in spring 2013, the presidents of the US and France and the UK PM all agreed to force regime change in Syria. For some reason, the UK PM asked Parliament to vote, and they voted 'NO!' And then Putin stepped in and offered to remove all of Syria's WMD, and regime change was left to the Free Syrian Army, whom the Israelis said would quickly achieve victory without the necessity of a major US campaign. By Fall 2013, Russia was back, and would no longer allow regime change in Syria and let its only Mediterranean Naval Base go to NATO.

So the US has moved Russia back to the #1 threat to world peace. Russia has always been the #1 threat to world peace. And US newspapers assure us Russia no longer has MAD. All the Soviet WMD are gone, thanks to the decade when Russia was ruled by a good democratic president installed by the CIA, Yeltsin. Putin's presentation of Russian WMD was just Photoshop. St Hillary promised regime change in Russia starting on Day 1, but Russia stole the election, an atrocity worse than Pearl Harbor. All the US media want immediate regime change in Russia.

Trump ran on a platform of peace with Syria and Russia. The US media, Democrat and Republican, all agree that makes him a traitor. The Democrats say the stolen election should be returned to it's rightful winner, St Hillary. The Republicans say Trump must reform, or be replaced by Pence. So Trump is making some waffling anti-Russian comments.

The world is closer to annihilation than it's ever been. The Concerned Scientists say the Doomsday Clock is 2 minutes to midnight. Pollyannas, those Concerned Scientists.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Evil genius or idiot?

The US establishment media all write that Trump is a Russian agent, an evil genius who is working to destroy the US. The Persian press think Trump is an idiot. He ordered sanctions on Iran (not that Obama ever lifted them: everyone is still warned that it's a violation of US law to do any US dollar transactions with Iran, and Iran is still cut off from the international banking system, so one must bring at least $10,000 in cash if one wants to visit Iran).

Trump added new sanctions on Iran that meant that most EU companies have announced that they have halted all trade with Iran because of the threat that they will be blocked from all trade with the US if they do not. The EU said it's sticking to the JCPOA, but EU companies can't afford to be cut off from the US market: the EU market isn't enough to balance their books without the US market.

China would probably have been forced to join the rest of the world and cut Iran off, forcing Iran back to the 17th century, but Trump has already banned most Chinese products from the US, so China announced that it will be buying most of the oil it needs from Iran, and will sell Iran all that they need. And, given that China is China, that greatly mitigates the US sanctions on Iran, to the point where Iran won't feel much damage from Trump's new sanctions!