Trump’s Trade Policies ‘Completely Backwards’: Tariffs Won’t Bring Jobs to US

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters Thursday that new tariffs of 10 percent on imported steel and 25 percent on aluminum would take effect by midnight and be imposed on three of the US’ biggest trading partners – Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Though the tariffs were first announced in March by US President Donald Trump, 45 at the time granted his trading partners an exemption, first until May 1 and then until June 1, Sputnik previously reported.

In response to the announcement that tariffs would soon take effect, Mexico, Canada and the EU immediately announced plans to retaliate with their own tariffs against American products. (Say it with me, folks: trade wars.)

Speaking to Sputnik Radio’s By Any Means Necessary, Michael Hudson, president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends and author of “J is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception,” suggested that Trump’s steep tariffs are ill-advised.

“Tariffs are not going to create more jobs because you can’t bring manufacturing back to the United States,” Hudson told show hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon. “If Americans got all their clothing, all their food, all their goods and services for free, they still couldn’t compete with other countries because the economy has been so financialized that American labor has been priced out of world markets.”

“The effect of tariffs is going to be to increase unemployment very sharply because now aluminum and steel are going to be sold not to America, but to manufacturers in Asia and in Europe, and they can now produce their manufactures with lower-priced aluminum and lower-priced steel and undersell American manufacturers,” he added.

That’s going to cook Trump’s goose, considering when he first proposed the tariffs, he stated that the move was an attempt to bring jobs back to the Land of the Free, stressing that it would also help to prevent trade arrangements that failed to benefit the US.

“It’s actually shooting oneself in the foot,’ Hudson noted. “Trump has gotten his economics completely backwards because they’re fed to him by right-wing think tanks.”

The steel and aluminum tariffs come on the heels of negotiations between the Trump administration and China over trade penalties on those same metals.

Credible Report Alleges US Relocates ISIS from Syria and Iraq into Russia via Afghanistan

ERIC ZUESSE via Strategic Culture

Katehon, a think-tank dedicated to the protection of nations’ sovereignty against invasions and coups from abroad, headlined, on May 15th, “Special Services Agent: Attack on Russia Is Being Prepared”, and reported that [with editorial clarifications and links supplied by me in brackets]:

According to Russian and Chinese law enforcement agencies, militants fleeing by sea from Syria and Iraq follow a route from the Qasim port in the Pakistani city of Karachi to Peshawar, and are then distributed along the Nangarhar province in the east of the country. …

Since late 2017 the leaders of the Islamic State managed to transfer from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan an additional 500 foreign fighters, including more than two dozen women. A source in one of the Russian law enforcement agencies says: “All of them are also in the province of Nangarhar. They are citizens of Sudan, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, France and so on.”

Movement of militants to the north is planned to be organized in two directions. In Tajikistan, the radicals will penetrate the provinces of Nuristan and Badakhshan, and to Turkmenistan – through the provinces of Farah, Ghor, Sari-Pul and Faryab.

Governor of Nangarhar Province, Gulab Mangal [Wikipedia says of him, “After the American led invasion in 2001, he was appointed a Regional Coordinator of the Constitutional Loya Jirga in Paktia”], personally oversees militant activities in the region. …

Mangal has a long-standing relationship with the US intelligence services. In particular, he fought against the Soviet forces during the Afghan campaign of the USSR. Immediately after the US invasion in 2001, he was appointed as the head of the local government of the Pashtuns, the people to which he belongs. Also, Mangal is loved by the Western press. Most of the publications in the major American and British media contain exceptionally positive information about him, and the BBC called him “the hope of Helmand province,” which Mangal previously headed.

According to the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan, in the near future the leadership of the Islamic State plans to expand the grouping by another 1.2 thousand militants. Most of them will also be located in the province, under the control of Gulab Mangal and his people.

It is worth noting that the two largest US bases in Afghanistan are in the immediate vicinity of the Nangarhar province, which is hardly a coincidence.

At the same time, the expert community points out that the pressure on Tajikistan and Turkmenistan will be only one of the vectors of the new hybrid attack on Russia. Director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise Valery Korovin [and here is more about him] is confident that Moscow should prepare for a large-scale offensive of geopolitical opponents on all fronts: in Ukraine, possibly through Armenia, as well as a number of other post-Soviet countries. [Korovin states]:

“…Destabilizing the situation in Central Asia, the US and its allies will achieve several goals at once. First, in this way, Washington can distract Moscow and Tehran from Syria. Secondly, if the operation succeeds, a focus of instability will be created along the path of the One-Belt-One-Road project, which is designed to strengthen the economic and logistical integration of Eurasia. Afghanistan also borders Iran in the west, which opens a new front against Tehran. … Starting with economic pressure through new sanctions, ending with “color revolutions” that will continue in the post-Soviet space, and direct aggression from American networks. Obviously, the United States did not seize Afghanistan, by rigging its military dictatorship there, in order to build democracy and civil society there. This is a springboard for the creation of terrorist networks, with the help of which the US is preparing an aggression against Iran and Russia.”

If this is true, then Trump is carrying through the plan that George Herbert Walker Bush initiated on the night of 24 February 1990, to capture Russia, despite the termination of communism, the Soviet Union, and the Warsaw Pact, and despite the Soviet Union’s departure from Afghanistan in 1989, a year before Bush’s secret plan was initiated.

Peter Korzun, my colleague at the Strategic Culture Fundation, has presented a case that “Despite its recent claims to the contrary, the US is hunkering down in Syria for the long haul.” He noted that: “Last month US forces were also reported to be building a new outpost at the al-Omar oil field in southeastern Deir ez-Zor. They were deployed to positions around the Conoco and al-Jafreh oil fields. On April 7, the area around the oil fields in Deir ez-Zor was declared a military zone by the US-led SDF. That group has already clashed with Syrian forces in the fight to control the province.”

On 25 June 2017, I noted that in December 2016, “Obama and Turkey’s Erdogan, began their joint effort to relocate ISIS from Mosul Iraq, into Der Zor Syria, in order to culminate their (and the Sauds’) joint plan to use ISIS so as to bring down Assad.” And “Trump has been continuing Obama’s Policy” of supporting Al Qaeda and even sometimes ISIS in Syria so as to carve out Syria’s oil-producing region as a separate US-controlled nation, in the event that America and the Sauds fail to replace Assad in all of Syria.

Perhaps the US, which clearly was not satisfied when the Soviet side ended its side of the Cold War in 1991, is going all the way to seek a hot-war victory against Russia. Pushing Russia this hard and this far and this long — using even the “Putin stole Crimea” hoax and other such hoaxes to justify ‘restoring’ a Cold War which was actually supposed to have ended when the Soviet Union’s communism did — suggests that Russia might soon need to respond in a direct military way, taking America’s war as the existential threat to Russian national sovereignty over Russia, that it is. The alternative — Russian surrender to the US — seems far less likely, even though taking the war to America would entail global annihilation. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has said many times — and the Russian public seems to be overwhelmingly supportive of him in this — that for the US to push much farther in this direction will result in nuclear war, and that the US must recognize this fact. Trump seems not to recognize it.

Desperate Israel

Israel is getting desperate, because they have failed miserably to achieve anything since the last Lebanon war. Desperate malevolent people, sitting on atomic-bombs and mountains of rockets, are dangerous for all of us.

The good news: these guys are making big mistakes; every bomb on Syria and every sponsored ISIS fighter in Syria was and is a mistake that will turn viciously against them. The whole world today is openly discussing Zionism, which was a “no go” just 10 years ago.

Why the “decimation” of Libya?

Libya’s destruction by FUKUS (France, UK, US) was never about weapons of mass destruction or R2P protection of populations. From the jump, FUKUS goals in Africa were threefold:
1. Destroy Gaddafi’s Jamahariya so as to prevent the formation of a sovereign African currency bloc. The planned creation of an African monetary fund was signaling the death knell of the franc CFA currency from which France and other parts of the EU bloc derive much of their power. The Libyan operation was also a continuation of what happened prior in Ivory Coast. The ousted Ivorian president who wanted to leave the franc CFA currency is now rotting for close to a decade at the imperial court like Milosevic before him.
2. Steal Libyan sovereign wealth funds (almost 500 billions euros) to prop up the failing Western banking system.
3. Most importantly, to secure the Taoudeni basin in the Sahel. Taoudeni is a sort of consolation prize and collateral in a time of crisis for the FUKUS bloc who would love to get their hands on Siberia… The Taoudeni basin is rich in hydrocarbons, rare earths, gold, gas, you name it. And it’s smack dab in the middle of a most important trans-Saharan trade route through which lucrative fungible assets transit.
In the meantime, “Fremen” in the Sahel will continue to wreak havoc upon foreign invaders. Lots of potential targets for those “Fremen.” Besides FUKUS, Germans, Dutch and other EU forces are now setting up bases in the Sahel to secure the resource war booty.
Seen from Mali, when the war against Ghaddafi erupted, the whole downtown administration sector of Bamako was a gift from Libya so tons of Malians went to war to support him. Meanwhile, Gbagbo was ousted thanks to French special ops and a year later Mali went through a coup d’etat by a US-trained officer. Nowadays, there are regular attacks in the north of Mali by various jihadi groups on UN camps while Touareg secession is blocked, preventing control of the resources by anyone not aligned with AFRICOM/France.

New DARPA Program Plans To Patrol Cities With AI Drones

Profile picture for user Tyler Durdenby Tyler Durden

On May 10, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) unveiled the Urban Reconnaissance through Supervised Autonomy (URSA) program, which addresses the issues of reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition within urban environments.

The primary objective of the URSA program is to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of blending unmanned aerial systems, sensor technologies, and advanced machine learning algorithms to “enable improved techniques for rapidly discriminating hostile intent and filtering out threats in complex urban environments,” said FedBizOpps.

In other words, the Pentagon is developing a program of high-tech cameras mounted on drones and other robots that monitor cities, which enable identification and discrimination between civilians and terrorists through machine learning computers.

DARPA provides a simple scenario of what a URSA engagement would look like:

“A static sensor located near an overseas military installation detects an individual moving across an urban intersection and towards the installation outside of normal pedestrian pathways. An unmanned aerial system (UAS) equipped with a loudspeaker delivers a warning message. The person is then observed running into a neighboring building. Later, URSA detects an individual emerging from a different door at the opposite end of the building, but confirms it is the same person and sends a different UAS to investigate.

This second UAS determines that the individual has resumed movement toward a restricted area. It releases a nonlethal flash-bang device at a safe distance to ensure the individual attends to the second message and delivers a sterner warning. This second UAS takes video of the subject and determines that the person’s gait and direction are unchanged even when a third UAS flies directly in front of the person and illuminates him with an eye-safe laser dot. URSA then alerts the human supervisor and provides a summary of these observations, warning actions, and the person’s responses and current location.”

The URSA program is a two-phase, 36-month development effort. The first phase of concept/development will begin in the first quarter of FY19 and continue into the second half of FY20. Phase two will start in 3Q20 and continue through 2Q22.

Figure 1. URSA Program Schedule

DARPA describes Phase 1:

“Phase 1 will include initial technology research and trade studies to develop an evolutionary demonstration architecture and demonstration approach.

The Phase 1 program will be comprised of two performer tracks. Track A will be focused on system-level solutions and demonstrations. Track B will be used to fund compelling critical enabling capabilities such as component-level algorithms, behavioral analysis techniques, technologies or other unique research that could enhance multiple system level approaches.

The objective of Track B is to enable participation by companies with niche expertise who can only offer partial solutions to URSA. Track B performer results will be due approximately 12 months after award to enable assessment and potential teaming with Track A performers for Phase 2.”

Table 1. Phase 1 Metrics

Point of departure examples for a simulated URSA environment (left) and DARPA Phase 1 notional test environment (right) are shown below in Figure 2

In Phase 2, one or more Track A performers will continue to improve their system-level capabilities and test the program above a much larger city environment for field demonstrations by the second half of 2020.

Table 2. Phase 2 Metrics

DARPA recognizes that URSA “requires significant advances in active sensing, behavior understanding, and autonomous decision making to determine intent.”

The National Interest said this is “likely an understatement.”

‘An automated urban monitoring and threat detection system—that also tries to determine which inhabitants are hostile—would seem vulnerable to false alarms and spoofing,” the international affairs magazine added.

While the technology behind URSA’s advanced machine learning algorithms is classified, there is a reason to believe the program could be utilizing Google’s Project Maven, an artificial intelligence system used to speed up analysis of drone footage.

Project Maven, a fast-moving Pentagon project also known as the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team (AWCFT), was established in April 2017. Maven’s stated mission is to “accelerate DoD’s integration of big data and machine learning.” In total, the Defense Department spent $7.4 billion on artificial intelligence-related areas in 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The project’s first assignment was to help the Pentagon efficiently process the deluge of video footage collected daily by its aerial drones—an amount of footage so vast that human analysts can’t keep up. -Gizmodo

DARPA is setting the stage for a future of algorithmic warfare, where the military minds of the military-industrial complex in Washington feel URSA is the future for fighting in urban terrain. While the machines are not taking over just yet, the cross-functional use of URSA in urban cities across America is even more frightening.

The Friendly Mask Of The Orwellian Oligarchy Is Slipping Off

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via,

Gina Haspel and destroying evidence of torture in her long and depraved career, which some say hurts the CIA’s reputation.

Others say it just makes it more honest.

The lying, torturing, propagandizing, drug trafficking, coup-staging, warmongering Central Intelligence Agency has done some of the most unspeakably horrific things to human beings that have ever happened in the history of our species. If you think I’m exaggerating, do your own research into into some of the CIA’s activities like the Phoenix Program, which used “Rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes, or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electric shock (‘the Bell Telephone Hour’) rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body, like the tongue; the ‘water treatment’; the ‘airplane’ in which the prisoner’s arms were tied behind the back, and the rope looped over a hook on the ceiling, suspending the prisoner in midair, after which he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; the use of police dogs to maul prisoners,” and “The use of the insertion of the 6-inch dowel into the canal of one of my detainee’s ears, and the tapping through the brain until dead. The starvation to death (in a cage), of a Vietnamese woman who was suspected of being part of the local political education cadre in one of the local villages…The use of electronic gear such as sealed telephones attached to…both the women’s vaginas and men’s testicles [to] shock them into submission.”

This is what the CIA is. This is what the CIA has always been. This is what Mike Pompeo said he wanted to help make the CIA “much more vicious” than. Appointing Gina Haspel as head of the agency is just putting an honest face on it.

It really couldn’t be more fitting that the US now has an actual, literal torturer as the head of the CIA. It also couldn’t be more fitting that it has a reality TV star billionaire President, an Iraq-raping Bush-era neoconservative psychopath as National Security Advisor, a former defense industry director as Secretary of Defense, a former Goldman Sachs executive as Secretary Treasurer, and a former Rothschild, Inc. executive as Secretary of Commerce. These positions have always facilitated torture, oppression, war profiteering and Wall Street greed; the only thing that has changed is that they now have a more honest face on them.

The mask of the nationless Orwellian oligarchy which dominates our world is slipping off all over the place.

Israel is now openly massacring unarmed Palestinian civilians, prompting a UN investigation into possible war crimes. Only two nations voted in opposition to the investigation, and surprise surprise it was the two nations apart from Israel who most clearly owe their existence to the institutionalized slaughter and brutalization of their indigenous occupants in recent history: the US and Australia. All other members of the UN Human Rights Council either voted in support of the investigation or abstained.

Important to note that the US and Australia, two countries built on the genocide of the indigenous populations have objected to the UN inquiry and are effectively expressing support to Israel’s on going genocide of the Palestinians.

— Tariq Zarif (@TariqZarif) May 18, 2018

Internet censorship is becoming more and more brazen as our governments become increasingly concerned that we are developing the wrong kinds of political opinions. Ever since the establishment’s Douma and Skripal narratives failed to take hold effectively, we’ve been seeing more and more frantic attempts to seize control of public discourse. Two weeks after the Atlantic Council explained to us that we need to be propagandized by our governments for our own good, Facebook finally made the marriage of Silicon Valley and the western war machine official by announcing a partnership with the Atlantic Council to ensure that we are all receiving properly authorized information.

The Atlantic Council is pure corruption, funded by powerful oligarchs, NATO, the US State Department, empire-aligned Gulf states and the military-industrial complex. Many threads of the establishment anti-Russia narrative trace back to this highly influential think tank, from the DNC hack to the discredited war propaganda firm Bellingcat to imaginary Russian trolls to the notorious McCarthyite PropOrNot blacklist publicized by the Washington Post. Facebook involving itself with this malignant warmongering psyop factory constitutes an open admission that the social media site considers it its duty to manipulate people into supporting the agendas of the western empire.

We’re seeing similar manipulations in Twitter, which recently announced that it will be hiding posts by more controversial accounts, and by Wikipedia, which has been brazenly editing the entries of anti-imperialist activists with a cartoonishly pro-establishment slant.

Announcing New Election Partnership with the Atlantic Council

— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) May 17, 2018

At long last, the union of Silicon Valley and the military-industrial complex becomes official. They’ve been dating for years, now they’re finally tying the knot. This is your real royal wedding, everyone.

— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) May 17, 2018

It is always a good sign when people in power become concerned that their subjects are developing the wrong kinds of political opinions, because it means that truth is winning. All this gibberish we’ve been hearing about “Russian disinformation” and “Russian propaganda” is just a label that has been pinned on dissenting narratives by a mass media propaganda machine that has lost control of the narrative.

And this is why it’s getting so overt, barely even attempting to conceal its true nature anymore. Our species’ newfound ability to network and share information has enabled a degree of free thinking that the cultural engineers did not anticipate and have not been able to stay ahead of, and they’re being forced to make more and more overt grabs to try and force us all back into our assigned brain boxes.

But the oligarchs who rule us and their Orwellian power structure is already in a lose-lose situation, because the empire that they have built for themselves rests upon the illusion of freedom and democracy. The most powerful rulers of our world long ago eschewed the old model of sitting on thrones and executing dissidents in the town square, instead taking on a hidden role of influence behind the official elected governments and using mass media propaganda to manufacture the consent of the governed.

This system is far more efficient than the old model because a populace will never rebel against rulers it doesn’t know exist, and it has enabled the western oligarchs to amass more power and influence than the kings of old ever dreamed possible. But it has a weakness: they have to control the narrative, and if they fail to do that they can’t switch to overt totalitarianism without shattering the illusion of freedom and provoking a massive public uprising.

So the wealth-holding manipulators are stuck between a rock and a hard place now, trying to use new media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia to herd the unwashed masses back into their pens. The more brazen they get with those manipulations, however, the more the mask slips off, and the greater the risk of the public realizing that they aren’t actually free from tyrannical rule and exploitation.

The real currency of this world is not backed by gold, nor by oil, nor by bureaucratic fiat, nor even by direct military might. No, the real currency of this world is narrative, and the ability to control it. The difference between those who rule this world and those who don’t is that those who rule understand this distinction and are sufficiently sociopathic to exploit it for their own benefit.

Power only exists where it exists because of the stories that humans agree to tell one another. The idea that government operates a certain way, that money operates a certain way, these things are purely conceptual constructs that are only as true as people pretend they are. Everyone could agree tomorrow that Donald Glover is the undisputed King of America and the new official US currency is old America Online trial CDs if they wanted to, and since that was the new dominant narrative it would be the reality. Everyone could also agree to create a new system which benefits all of humanity instead of a few sociopathic plutocrats. The only thing keeping money and government moving in a way that benefits our current rulers is the fact that those rulers have been successful in controlling the narrative.

They’ll never get that cat back into the bag once it’s out, and they know it. We the people will be able to create our own narratives and write our own rules about how things like money and government ought to operate, and there is no way that will work out to the benefit of the ruling manipulators and deceivers. So they fight with increasing aggression to lull us back to sleep, often overextending themselves and behaving in a way that gives the public a glimpse behind the mask of this entire corrupt power structure. Someday soon that mask will slip right off and come crashing to the floor. That crash will wake the baby, and that baby will not go back to sleep.

* * *

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Mapping USA Prosperity: Is it In the Central Corridor States? A Case Study

By Nafis Imtiaz, B.Pharm, Todd Squitieri, MA

The USA economy is still a debtor nation. It has been for nearly two decades and the economy has been described by popular news anchors on both sides of the political spectrum as “sluggish.” But there is another argument, one frequently mentioned by the political right and that is not all of the states that are doing poorly.

In Meredith Whitney’s book, Fate of the States, she argues that the housing crisis and excessive borrowing of cities and states from the federal government are what has led to the massive budget cuts and tax hikes, which has ultimately led to a decline in state social services, like Public Assistance and Job Training. When a municipality owes unfunded pension liabilities and a host of other loans that date all the way back to the Great Recession, the taxpayers and citizens of a city-state feel it the most. And in this day and age, when that happens, people readily take the option to leave.

Whitney asserts that this is what is happening now with the sluggish “house bust states,” while the middle states—what Whitney refers to as the “central corridor states” — roughly defined as Texas, Colorado, The Dakotas, the Carolina’s, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Indiana, and Nebraska, are experiencing positive growth and development due to the discoveries of oil and expansion of corporate agriculture which equates to more jobs and a better quality of life for its citizens. Whitney, in her book, makes the argument that citizens are going to vote with their feet if politicians do not start to confront their reckless fiscally irresponsible spending.

It’s the central corridor states, Whitney asserts, that will be carrying the US economy for years and even decades to come. These central corridor states, or fly over states, appear to have the best economies and the most room to grow. Texas, for example, has invested in more tolls; North Dakota now has “man camps,” and “tent villages,” while the company Sykes, which Whitney mentions, had to actually close down a call center because there weren’t enough people living in North Dakota to cover all of the opportunity this company was offering. Indiana and Tennessee are mentioned in the book as well as being particularly enticing for business owners who want lower taxes. In contrast, states like California, New Jersey, Nevada, and Arizona are spurned for their reckless spending, tax hikes, and budget cuts for the pensioners and retired workers like firefighters and police officers who are quoted as having as high as $200K per year in pensions!

The argument is salient and clear. Is this really the story unfolding before our very eyes? This is what we have set out to explore in our study of the geography of American prosperity.

In this qualitative study, we set out to test the theory that the “Central Corridor States,” were doing well when compared to their coastal and Sunbelt counterparts. We found 100 universities in the targeted central corridor states. We developed a template that we sent to the department heads of Sociology and Psychology departments in each of these schools. What about Urban Planning & Economics?

The email template is below:

To whom it may concern,

I am interested in being considered for a [Psychology/Sociology] adjunct position at [University Name].

I hold two master’s degrees, one in Forensic Psychology and the other in Applied Sociology. I am finishing up a book on my experience teaching English in South Korea.

Any information would be great.


Todd Squitieri

After sending out this email, we waited for replies. A positive response would count as an invitation from the department head to send a resume or for a follow-up interview, an affirmation that an adjunct position was in fact available. A negative response would be defined as the department head saying that positions weren’t available. With each submission, we kept track of the university, the department, and the response. Then we tallied our results and our findings as shown below.


Figure 1: Responses between Central Corridor and Non central Corridor Universities.

(Where + = Positive responses and – = Negative responses)

Figure 1, shows that majority of the Universities under Non-central Corridor returned our application and showed unfavorable responses. The percentage of negative responses was 75%. However, positive responses from Universities under Central Corridor State was 49%.

Figure 2: Determination of Positive responses by department

(Where CC=Central Corridor, NCC=Non central Corridor, +=positive responses, PSY= Psychology Department)

Figure 3: Determination of Positive responses by department

(Where CC=Central Corridor, NCC=Non central Corridor, +=positive responses, SOC= Sociology Department)

Figure 2 and 3, shows that an overwhelming majority of universities in both the psychology and sociology departments under Central Corridor State showed positive responses compared to Non-central Corridor Universities. 49% of the responses from psychology and sociology departments in Central corridor were more likely to say “Yes, while for Non-Central Corridor, the percentage was 33.33%.

Although this is a very limited sample. This suggests that the USA may be experiencing modest-job growth in academia. Clearly, there are issues with our preliminary qualitative study, randomly selected. The email inquiry was more casual than a formal email which could have impact the results. A resume wasn’t initially provided, which suggests that one should have been supplied. Finally, while our confederate and author of this piece, Todd Squitieri, had impressive credentials, they weren’t as recent and up-to-date as other competitors. Todd has applied for adjunct positions in Sociology and Psychology departments, positions in fields that may not be as “in-demand” as Engineering or Mathematics or the hard Sciences. Given the culturally conservative bent of some of these states, it’s possible that not much emphasis was allocated to departments in the humanities and Liberal Arts overall.

​A more rigorous study should be conducted to further explore these findings and to determine whether growth really is taking place in this region of the world, as Whitney and others are asserting.

​These anecdotal results are interesting and we are hopeful that they open up conversation and dialogue about the ecology and geography of prosperity in the United States, since questions surrounding this country are certain to impact many other countries that are intertwined with its economy.

We invite criticism and feedback of this article from all quarters of the world.


1. Whitney, M. (2013). Fate of the states: The new geography of American prosperity. New York: Portfolio/Penguin.

Behind the Headlines: Dismantling the Empire

Recent developments appear to strengthen the likelihood of a world-changing ‘parting of the ways’ between the US and Europe. The EU sounds serious about rejecting Washington’s wishes and sticking to the Iran Deal, investing heavily in Iran’s economic development and by-passing the ‘petrodollar system’ to trade in euros if necessary.

Will European countries like Germany instead forge closer trade and security relations with Russia?

On the other side of the ocean, there are increasing signs of a historic breakthrough, not so much about North Korea’s denuclearization, but about ending the Korea’s two state divide, the signing of a peace treaty and eventual reunification of the country – a step towards US troupes leaving the peninsula.

For all the criticism Trump’s foreign policy receives – from the Left and from Globalists, for being a ‘bull in a China shop’; from the Right and those who voted for him, for ‘caving to the Deep State’ – the US president appears to be broadly sticking to his election mandate of ‘America First’, a strategic outlook that may indicate the beginning of the dismantling the US Empire.

Optimism About Korea Will Kill Us All

The first step towards peace is lowering your expectations.

BY JEFFREY LEWIS in Foreign Policy

Last week’s inter-Korean summit, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s declaration that he would “close” his nuclear test site by May, were greeted widely with celebration. But contrary to the hoopla, we have now arrived at an especially dangerous moment in Washington’s relationship with Pyongyang. We are on the verge of letting our hopes get in the way of our survival.

Consider the now widespread view that North Korea’s test site is unusable or that the mountain that contains it has collapsed. This was always garbage reporting. You can download the two academic papers that are said to have originally made these claims — they say nothing of the kind. What the papers do is prove that, after North Korea’s big nuclear test in September 2017, the cavity created by the explosion collapsed in on itself. We already knew that probably happened (although it is cool to see it demonstrated through seismology).

But the collapsing of the cavity and shrinking of the mountain do not mean the tunnels leading to it collapsed, let alone that the mountain itself had done so. And, of course, there are two other nuclear test complexes underneath entirely different mountains at the site. Kim was quoted as making this point himself: “Some said we will dismantle unusable facilities, but there are two more larger tunnels [in addition to] the original one and these are very in good condition as you will get to know that when coming and seeing them.” But commentators in the West, hoping for a diplomatic breakthrough (whether for political or more idealistic reasons), still heard what they wanted to hear about the condition of North Korea’s program.

The whole episode reminds me of something that happened a decade ago — when North Korea agreed to demolish the cooling tower at its Yongbyon gas-graphite reactor. The demolition of the cooling tower, accomplished with great fanfare, was not, in fact, a part of the original agreement that the Bush administration had reached with North Korea. But the Bush administration went back and asked North Korea to do it because it wanted “a striking visual, broadcast around the globe, that would offer tangible evidence that North Korea was retreating from its nuclear ambitions.” In other words, it was a PR stunt — and people fell for it.

There was just one problem. Although North Korea never rebuilt the cooling tower, that didn’t stop it from it secretly restarting Yongbyon — it simply connected the reactor to a nondescript and very boring pump house it had constructed under everyone’s noses. (This was the same sort of pump house, incidentally, that North Korea helped Syria build at its secret nuclear reactor near Al Kibar.) But without the visual of Yongbyon’s cooling tower, almost no one noticed what North Korea was doing with the reactor.

Kim’s promise to close the nuclear test site doesn’t really mean much in practice, certainly not much more than the demolition of the cooling tower. The site is a few support buildings surrounded by mountains with massive tunnel complexes dug horizontally into them. Simply closing the site wouldn’t be anything like the disabling of South Africa’s nuclear test site, whose vertical shafts were filled with debris. Instead, it would be more like the closure of Degelen Mountain at the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, which the United States helped seal after the Soviets had abandoned it. Scavengers eventually just popped open the seals, forcing the United States to reseal them and then add surveillance measures. North Korea can seal up the tunnels, but it could always unseal them later. And we should keep an eye out for the proverbial pump house. After all, it’s not like North Korea is short on mountains or labor to dig new tunnels.

This is not to say that I am not delighted that North Korea has announced an end to nuclear explosive testing and the closure of its test site. This is a very good thing. But we must be clear about what’s happening and what it means. North Korea isn’t giving up a test site because it collapsed. North Korea agreed to stop testing because Kim is getting what he wants. The third inter-Korean summit was not premised on Kim Jong Un offering to disarm. He has never, ever made a concrete promise to abandon his nuclear weapons program. If you read the joint statement closely, what South and North Korea have done is to take disarmament off the table as a concrete outcome and substitute a vague aspiration that at some point nuclear weapons will no longer be necessary.

Until that time, Kim is willing to agree to a much more modest series of steps — a moratorium on launches of intermediate- and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, as well as an end to nuclear testing. Those are good things. We should appreciate them as genuine improvements to U.S. security, not something to tide the United States over until North Korea turns over missiles and nuclear warheads.

Kim is working toward winning a de facto recognition of North Korea as a nuclear power in exchange for his agreement to respect certain limits — an end to certain missile tests and nuclear explosions, an agreement not to export nuclear technology to other states, and perhaps a pledge by North Korea not to use nuclear weapons. To accept this would represent a complete and total retreat from decades of U.S. policy — a retreat that I believe is overdue and the inevitable consequence of North Korea’s development of ICBMs and thermonuclear weapons. We have to learn to accept North Korea as it is. And what North Korea is, is nuclear-armed.

But because it represents a retreat, we’re not acknowledging it honestly. If Trump were to say this clearly, then I would support the old racist windbag in this pursuit. But instead, Trump and others are presenting this process as a route that leads to North Korea’s disarmament — even though Kim has said nothing that deviates from statements that every North Korean leader has made. And in our collective self-delusion, we have a surprising cheerleader: national security advisor John Bolton.

It is worth asking why Bolton is busy giving interviews in which he raises hopes for a complete elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons that can occur in a matter of months. He has repeatedly called for a “Libya style” deal — one in which the United States simply shows up and collects the weapons and supporting infrastructure. And South Korean officials are also saying that Trump won’t meet with Kim without “a specific timeline for complete denuclearization: as soon as possible and no later than the end of Mr. Trump’s current term, in early 2021.”

This is madness. There is no reason to think that Kim has any intention of agreeing to such a thing. (Starting with the fact that he has never offered to part with North Korea’s “powerful treasured sword,” as it calls its nuclear arsenal.) And there is no reason to think that Bolton, given all the things he has written and said over the years about North Korea, believes it either. Bolton isn’t suddenly naive. He’s working an angle. And that angle is almost certainly misaligning the president’s expectations. Bolton won’t try to kill diplomacy by opposing it. Rather he’ll kill it by making the perfect the enemy of the good. By raising the prospects of a Libya-style surrender, the much more modest settlement offered by Kim looks sad by comparison.

This is a very cynical — and dangerous — game that Bolton and others are playing. Because what happens once it becomes clear that Kim is not abandoning his nuclear weapons? What does Trump do? Given his personality, what’s most likely is that he’ll lash out, blaming his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, for his role in setting up the fiasco — and turning the keys over to Bolton. Trump has already hinted at that. At a rally the other day, Trump spoke glowingly about his own efforts to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons, before turning dark. “And if I can’t do it,” Trump warned, “it will be a very tough time for a lot of countries and a lot of people.”

That is a mild description for a situation that would expose millions of Koreans, Japanese, and Americans to a heightened risk of nuclear war. If diplomacy fails, it will be a tough time for everyone — everyone except Bolton.


Jeffrey Lewis is director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program for the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Syria’s Air Defenses

Via Moon of Alabama

[ . . .] There have been discussions in the comments here and elsewhere about the Russians’ on and off announcement of S-300 air defenses in Syria. These discussions lacked military knowledge.

Air defenses are layered:

  • Local air defense uses man portable air defense missiles (MANPADs), 20 mm machine cannons and machine guns. Its reach is about 2,000 meters.
  • The next level are systems with a range of up to 20 kilometers. Syria has about 40 Pantsyr-S1/2 systems mounted on trucks. (The Russian forces in Syria have about 20 additional Pantsyr-S systems to protect their bases.) These are mobile and an excellent point defense for airports and other significant assets. During its last attack on Syria an Israeli missile managed to destroy one Pantsyr system only because it was being reloaded and therefore could not react. ,
  • The next air defense layer are mid range systems like the Syrian S-200 or the more modern Russian BUK-2. These systems have a reach of about 150 kilometers. The old S-200c system Syria currently uses are fired from fixed positions. That makes them extremely vulnerable to pre-programmed precision missile attacks. Israeli strikes have destroyed several such systems in Syria.
  • The fourth layer of air defense are high attitude, long range area defense systems. The U.S. has THAAD and Russia has the S-300/ S-400 systems. These have ranges beyond 300 kilometers.

The longer range systems of the higher layers always need additional protection by the lower layers. An S-300 missile costs several tens of thousands of dollars but cannot defeat a small toy drone of the kind ISIS uses to drop hand-grenades onto targets. It needs be protected against these. Pantsyr systems and a few dozen men with MANPADs and machine-guns can do that.

It would make no sense to drop S-300 systems into Syria without having established and secured sufficient air-defense layers 1, 2 and 3 below the long range class. They would soon go up in smoke. There are also additional elements of reconnaissance (radar and electronic warfare systems) and communication, command and control that need to be more sophisticated and widespread to operate S-300 systems. All these high-end long-range systems need highly trained operators and are very expensive.

What Syria currently needs are more Pantsyr systems. It urgently needs to replace the old S-200s with the modern and mobile BUK-2. These systems make far more sense for the Syrian battlefield than the famed S-300. They also have the advantage of being significantly cheaper.

For a more general discussion of Russia’s role in Syria beyond the S-300 nitpicking, I highly recommend the latest piece by Elijah Magnier: Russia is in the Middle East to halt the war, not take part in the Iran-Israel Conflict.