Is the United States Headed for Civil War?

via Washington Post

Fighting words and extremism are on the rise. We are not yet in ‘Turner Diaries’ territory, but that doesn’t mean the country will avoid violent conflict.

It’s easy and logical to conclude that the United States today stands as close to the edge of civil war as it has since 1861. A broad variety of voices — including Republican and Democratic politicians, academics who study civil strife, and extremists on both ends of the spectrum — now accept the idea that civil war is either imminent or necessary. They point to evidence that can seem persuasive: a blizzard of threats against FBI agents, judges, elected officials, school board members and elections supervisors; training camps where heavily armed radicals practice to confront their own government; and polls showing that many Americans expect violent conflict.

But it’s also easy and logical to conclude that the florid rhetoric from right-wing extremists, the worried warnings in mainstream media, and the hail of threats and individual attacks after this month’s surprise FBI search of Donald Trump’s South Florida mansion add up to something well short of the frightening prospect of civil war.

People who track such threats say this summer’s violent outbursts against federal officials and government institutions amount to one more concerning surge of rage in a pattern that has persisted throughout the pandemic, spiking after the murder of George Floyd two summers ago. But the Anti-Defamation League and other watchdog groups are not seeing the kind of specific planning by private militias and online assemblages of radicals that was evident before last year’s Jan. 6 insurrection and the white-supremacist march in Charlottesville in 2017.

“We are living in a country where disinformation, conspiracy thinking and lies have resulted in deadly attacks,” said Oren Segal, vice president of the ADL’s Center on Extremism. “It’s not exactly kumbaya in this society. But we have been going through this for a long time now, and I don’t see people coming together in the more coherent organizing we saw prior to Jan. 6.”

Contrast that perspective with that of Stephen Marche, author of “The Next Civil War: Dispatches From the American Future,” who posits that as extremists’ threats have become more lurid and specific, their rhetoric has leached into the mainstream — leading, for example, the Texas state government to spell out instances in which it would defy federal authority and the Texas Republican Party to declare President Biden the “acting president” and seek a voter referendum on seceding from the United States.

When he sees small groups of armed men training for combat against government agents, Marche, a Canadian novelist, wants to ring warning bells. “The alarm is getting much more serious, and it’s accelerating very quickly,” he said. “The kind of chaos I’m describing is like internet rage: You could take it as playacting or it could be deadly serious. It could be weekend fun or actual military preparation.” He, along with some other analysts on the left, right and in between, thinks the current noise is a strong indicator that a hot civil war — one likely to feature bombings, assassinations and other assaults on federal institutions and officials — may be imminent.

This split over how seriously to take the threat of civil war is not just another example of America’s deep divisions: It has the great benefit of existing on a foundation of shared facts. Both sets of analysts — those who say we’re heading toward civil strife and those who say the threat matrix is largely limited to lone rangers and small, disorganized groups whose dangerous but scattered acts don’t constitute a civil war — agree there is little chance of an organized, violent attack on the government, or of local or state authorities taking up arms against their federal counterparts. But there remains a sharp divide over whether a mounting series of individual and small-group attacks could add up to a warlike conflict that destabilizes the country.

What both sides in the civil war debate do agree on is that a more disturbing trend — at this point more dangerous than the sporadic bursts of violence in recent years — is the pervasive loss of trust, hope and sense of belonging in a severely damaged society.

And both sides agree we have been here before.

A quarter-century ago, after the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, I interviewed William Pierce, the physics professor turned neo-Nazi organizer whose novel “The Turner Diaries” had been taken by the bomber, Timothy McVeigh, as a planning document for launching civil war. In the book, white supremacists conspire to bomb FBI headquarters and spark a wider war against the government. McVeigh had excerpts from the book in his getaway car when he killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.

Pierce, a provocateur who took great pride in his book’s popularity among white supremacists and other extremists, told me that his aim — and that of those he hoped would read his book — was to overthrow the government and rid the country of Jews and Blacks.

“People don’t use the book as a blueprint, but as inspiration,” Pierce told me. “I don’t have the time to write just for entertainment. It’s to explain things to people. I’d like to see North America become a white continent.” He wrote that “if we don’t destroy the System before it destroys us — if we don’t cut this cancer out of our living flesh — our whole race will die.”

Pierce, who died in 2002, told me he expected individual violent acts inspired by his book to become more frequent. “Terrorism only makes sense if it can be sustained,” he said. “One day, there will be real, organized terrorism done according to plan, aimed at bringing down the government.”

For several decades, “The Turner Diaries” has remained a go-to text for violent extremists, showing up frequently in online chatter by participants in and supporters of the Jan. 6 attack. In the meantime, the internet has blossomed into a far more insidiously efficient tool for those who seek to foment discord and terrorism. Yet although Pierce’s work still inspires single actors and small groups, his wider war has never come close to fruition.

Jan. 6 wasn’t an insurrection. It was vigilantism. And more is coming.

Today, “civil war” is a rallying cry that some Americans wear on T-shirtsand others openly train for with assault weapons. Since the Mar-a-Lago search on Aug. 8, “lock and load” and “civil war” have trended on pro-Trump social media such as Gab and Telegram.

Belligerent rhetoric has also become part of everyday campaigning among some Republicans. A GOP candidate in Florida’s 11th House District, Laura Loomer, who narrowly lost her primary Tuesday, wrote on Telegram on Aug. 8 that it’s “time to take the gloves off. … If you’re a freedom loving American, you must remove the Words decorum and civility from your vocabulary. This is a WAR!” Conservative YouTuber and podcaster Steven Crowder tweeted on the day of the FBI’s descent on Mar-a-Lago that “tomorrow is war.” “It’s time to fight for every square inch,” he reiterated the next day. “It’s time to fight fire with fire.” The pro-Trump Gateway Pundit site wrote “This. Means. War.” On various pro-Trump social media platforms, people talked about buying ammunition and drilling for confrontation with federal agents. “Civil war! Pick up arms, people,” one agitated person tweeted.

Such talk has been a mainstay of the Trump years. Last summer, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), an election denier, alleged that U.S. election systems are “rigged,” which he said would “lead to one place, and that’s bloodshed.”

In a new book, “We’ll Be Back: The Fall and Rise of America,”conservative writer Kurt Schlichter games out a civil war and concludes that blue states face a challenge. “It’s nice to hold cities, but if you do not also hold all the rural territory between the cities, as well as the routes to the places where you are getting your food and fuel,” he wrote, “you have a real problem.”

Trump himself, speaking against the teaching of critical race theory at a South Carolina rally this spring, said America’s fate “ultimately depends upon the willingness of its citizens to lay down — and they must do this — lay down their very lives to defend their country.”

One of Trump’s leading critics in his own party, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), said early this year on ABC’s “The View” that civil war could erupt. “We have to warn and talk about it so that we can recognize that and fight hard against it,” said Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks.

But Kinzinger has also warned against embracing civil war rhetoric, tweeting in May: “How bout we stop the ‘civil war’ lust. Buy some GI Joes or something.”

In a nation where firearms purchases have almost doubled since the start of the pandemic — driven mainly by fears of rising crime, political unrest and the insecurity of life in the age of covid-19 — appeals like Kinzinger’s have fallen all too flat.

When the Rev. Sun Myung Moon sought to win Americans to his political and spiritual cause, the Unification Church, in the 1970s, he recruited people to sell flowers and ginseng door-to-door. Now, his son Hyung Jin Moon seeks to win followers for his Rod of Iron Ministries by sponsoring training sessions at his compounds in Texas and Pennsylvania — practice, he says, for a coming “patriots’” war against the “deep state.”

The Moons’ churches are both fringe groups, but Hyung Jin’s organization has hosted Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon and current Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano at its “Freedom Festival” events.

Moon’s group is one of the many radical organizations that are increasingly open about their plans. A Brookings Institution studytracked several hundred private militia groups that use anti-government rhetoric to attract Americans worried “about changing demographics, stagnating wages, and how the shift to a multi-racial and multi-ethnic America will affect them.”

But such groups remain disparate and disjointed.

Many activists who have called for confrontation with the government now claim they meant no such thing; they have flipped the accusation, saying leftists or government agents are out to smash conservative opposition by kindling fear of a civil war launched by right-wingers. Crowder, the YouTube host, called media reports about his tweets an intentional smear.

“Decrying the weaponization of a once-professional FBI, and the scandals among its wayward Washington hierarchy is not insurrectionary,” Victor Davis Hanson, a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, wrote in American Greatness, an online journal generally supportive of Trump. “Those who warn most of some mythical civil war are those most likely to incite one.”

Does all the noise add up only to vigorous opposition to the government, or is it evidence of concerted preparation for open warfare? The answer depends in part on what you think modern civil war would look like: Would large militias attack government institutions, or would a war be limited to haphazard acts by individuals and small guerrilla factions?

A new book imagines a looming civil war over the very meaning of America

Some say a war of sorts has begun: “The second American civil war is already occurring,” Robert Reich, labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, declared in the Guardian. “But it is less of a war than a kind of benign separation analogous to unhappily married people who don’t want to go through the trauma of a formal divorce.”

Reich foresees not a violent division of the country but rather something “analogous to Brexit — a lumbering, mutual decision to go separate ways on most things but remain connected on a few big things (such as national defense, monetary policy and civil and political rights).”

Still, many Americans believe that a true, violent civil war is coming. About half of those surveyed this spring by the University of California at Davis’s Violence Prevention Research Program said they expected civil war in the next few years. Another poll, by the Survey Center on American Life, a nonpartisan project affiliated with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, found more than one-third of Americans agreeing that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.”

Groups seeking to battle the government have popped up regularly throughout American history.

To determine when such movements around the world have exploded into real civil wars, Barbara Walter, a political scientist at the University of California at San Diego and the author of “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them,” points to two predictive factors: Countries stuck in an unstable zone between democracy and autocracy are more susceptible to armed conflict. And countries with weakened governments and a population deeply divided by identity — by race, ethnicity or religion — can fall into civil war. Walter sees the Republican Party embracing an “almost white supremacist strategy” that attracts far-right activists eager to fight the federal government.

But other scholars look at the same evidence and see the potential for violence stabilizing or diminishing. Juliette Kayyem, who heads the homeland security program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, argues that violent movements either grow or shrink. As Trump increasingly looks to his supporters like a loser, she sees them wandering away. The “ideology is not defeated; it simply stops motivating people to action,” she wrote in the Atlantic this month.

The rhetoric of war is vastly more common than war itself. Violent and dark language has been at the core of Trump’s appeal for many years. Trump’s choice for governor of Arizona, former TV news anchor Kari Lake, for instance, tells crowds that the government is “rotten to the core,” meaning “America is dead.”

That kind of end-times speech strikes some disturbed or radicalized people as an invitation to uprising. But historians and security analysts who’ve studied the latest evidence of civil war planning mainly foresee the kinds of scattered terrorism that the country experienced in the late 1960s and early 1970s, not anything like the buildup to 1860.

Marche has dug into prepper conferences, far-right gatherings and the darkest of online rabbit holes, trying to discern whether their war plans are “weekend fun or actual military preparations. It’s hard to distinguish the fantasists from the people who actually are going to do it,” he said in an interview. In the end, he pronounces himself “really scared.”

No one would call the strife of the 1960s civil war, but “there was enormous violence in that time,” Marche said. “One hundred and forty cities burned, and that’s in a time when you still had a level of institutional trust that could mitigate the violence.”

Now, however, collapsed trust in institutions such as the police, news media, churches and government makes the country more vulnerable to internal attack, he argues. Add this year’s Supreme Court decision on abortion rights, and “you now have another situation like in 1860 where you have two legal statuses of people in different parts of the country, and it just can’t hold,” he said.

Still, Marche notes that “America changes all the time. Reinvention is in the absolute DNA of the country.”

Segal, who tracks extremism for the ADL, sees this month’s burst of war threats as one more sign that “the system is ripe for targeting,” with the FBI now the focus of violent rhetoric and attacks, like school boards, election workers and medical professionals before it. This may not trigger a wider rash of violence, but the danger has not passed. “Based on what happens in the November elections, extremists will adjust and find a boogeyman,” he said.

Segal retains hope that holding the Jan. 6 perpetrators to account and investigating Trump’s role in fomenting that attack “will somehow round the edges of the situation.”

It’s hard to see a civil war emerging from the current mess, but as Segal said, “I’m more concerned about what we can’t see.”

Russian Corporate Profits Jump 25% as Sanctions Hit Muted

  • Net income gain came despite economic contraction, inflation
  • Data are latest sign of economy’s resilience amid sanctions
Moscow's International Business Center. 
Moscow’s International Business Center. 
Source: Bloomberg
Russian corporate profits jumped 25% in the second quarter, even as sweeping US and European sanctions imposed over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine pushed the economy into recession.
Profits jumped to 9.5 trillion rubles ($144 billion at the average rate for the period), with the year-on-year increase outpacing the 17% rise in consumer prices over the period, according to Sberbank CIB calculations based on data from the Federal Statistics Service. 

“The second quarter results were very good, demonstrating the resilience of the Russian economy,” analysts at the state-owned lender wrote. “The solid profit growth provides hope for a revival in corporate investment.”

Profits Surge

Russian corporate profits jumped in 2Q, defying sanctions

Source: SberCIB, Rosstat

Percentage increase from previous year

The manufacturing sector, which was hit especially hard as sanctions cut off key imported components, still managed a 44% profit gain, while transportation and storage were up 168%. Profits in real estate and construction surged, as did earnings in hotels and catering, as Russians stayed home as international air service was limited. 

Putin’s War Sends Russian Economy Back to 2018 in Single Quarter

Wholesale and retail trade suffered with the drop in sales, with profits off 13%, the report said, while earnings in mining were down 51% as sanctions hit key producers. In the tech sector, where western companies pulled out en masse, profits were down 48%.

— With assistance by Benjamin Harvey

Toxic, Metallic Compounds Found in All COVID Vaccine Samples Analyzed by German Scientists

via The Epoch Times

A group of independent German scientists found toxic components — mostly metallic — in all the COVID-19 vaccine samples they analyzed, “without exception” using modern medical and physical measuring techniques.

The Working Group for COVID Vaccine Analysis says that some of the toxic elements found inside the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccine vials were not listed in the ingredient lists from the manufacturers.

The following metallic elements were found in the vaccines:

  • Alkali metals: caesium (Cs), potassium (K)
  • Alkaline earth metals: calcium (Ca), barium (Ba)
  • transition metals: cobalt (Co), iron (Fe), chromium (Cr), titanium (Ti)
  • Rare earth metals: cerium (Ce), gadolinium (Gd)
  • Mining group/metal: aluminum (Al)
  • Carbon group: silicon (Si) (partly support material/slide)
  • Oxygen group: sulphur (S)

These substances, furthermore, “are visible under the dark-field microscope as distinctive and complex structures of different sizes, can only partially be explained as a result of crystallization or decomposition processes, [and] cannot be explained as contamination from the manufacturing process,” the researchers found.

They declared the findings as preliminary.

The findings “build on the work of other researchers in the international community who have described similar findings, such as Dr. Young, Dr. Nagase, Dr. Botha, Dr. Flemming, Dr. Robert Wakeling and Dr. Noak,” Dr. Janci Lindsay, Ph.D., a toxicologist not involved in the study, told The Epoch Times.

“The number and consistency of the allegations of contamination alone, coupled with the eerie silence from global safety and regulatory bodies, is troublesome and perplexing in terms of ‘transparency’ and continued allegations by these bodies that the genetic vaccines are ‘safe,’” Lindsay added.

crystals blood comirnaty vaccineComparison of crystals in the blood and in the vaccine; on the left, crystalline formations are found in
the blood of test subjects vaccinated with Comirnaty (BioNTech/Pfizer), the images on the right show that these
types of crystals are also found in Comirnaty vaccines. Image credit: Helen Krenn

Helena Krenn, the group’s founder, submitted the findings to German government authorities for review.

“We had submitted it to the participants of the government and further addresses from newspapers with the platform, only in Germany, Austria and Suisse,” Krenn told The Epoch Times.

Two other important findings were that blood samples from the vaccinatedhad “marked changes” and that more side effects were observed in proportion to “the stability of the envelope of lipid nanoparticles.”

A lipid nanoparticle is an extremely small particle, a fat-soluble membrane that is the cargo of the messenger RNA (mRNA).


“Using a small sample of live blood analyses from both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, we have determined that artificial intelligence (AI) can distinguish with 100% reliability between the blood of the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. This indicates that the COVID-19 vaccines can affect long-term changes in the composition of the blood of the person vaccinated without that person being aware of these changes,” the study states.

The findings of acute and chronic physiological changes to the blood of those inoculated with the vaccines, consistently discerned via AI software, “also echoes the findings of many other researchers and support the contentions of contamination and/or adulteration,” Lindsay said.

“We have established that the COVID-19 vaccines consistently contain, in addition to contaminants, substances the purpose of which we are unable to determine,” their study says.

The group consists of 60 members, including physicians, physicists, chemists, microbiologists and alternative health practitioners, supported by lawyers and psychologists.

anomalous objects janssen vaccineAnomalous objects in Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vector vaccine. It should be noted that objects of this type were not found in all of the samples. Image credit: Helen Krenn

The scientists claim that their results have been cross-confirmed using the following measuring techniques: “Scanning Electron Microscopy, Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy, Mass Spectroscopy, Inductively Coupled Plasma Analysis, Bright Field Microscopy, Dark Field Microscopy and Live Blood Image Diagnostics, as well as analysis of images using Artificial Intelligence.”

The analysts explain that they have been cooperating with other groups in different countries that have been executing similar investigations and have obtained results consistent with their own.

“The results from our analysis of the vaccines can, consequently, be regarded as cross-validated,” the summary report of their findings states.

“It should be acknowledged of course that [German Working Group’s] work is described as ‘Preliminary Findings,’ not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal and that chain of custody as well as the identity of many of these scientists is unknown.”

“However, in this heavily charged and censored climate when it comes to any challenges to the ‘safety and efficacy’ of the genetic vaccines, I myself can attest to the difficulties in conducting the basic research, much less publishing that same research in a peer-reviewed journal, in order to get at these questions as well as disseminate the findings,” Lindsay said.

pfizer comirnaty vaccine unusual objectsThe Comirnaty vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer exhibits a diversity and large number of unusual objects.
The vast number of crystalline platelets and shapes can hardly be interpreted as impurities. They appear regularly and in large numbers in all samples. Image credit: Helen Krenn

Astra Zeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and J&J did not respond to a request for comment.

Reprinted with permission from The Epoch Times.

“The more Russians we kill now, the less our children will have to kill”

“The more Russians we kill now, the less our children will have to kill,” said the Ambassador of Ukraine to Kazakhstan.

This can only be said by the ambassador of the terrorist regime, commented the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“For 8 years, the Kiev Nazis killed in silence, blaming Moscow for everything, now they are openly talking about plans for national cleansing,” Maria Zakharova wrote on her TG channel.

Geopolitics: The World Is Splitting In Two

Authored by Alasdair Macleod via,

While we are being distracted by Ukraine, President Putin has advanced his geopolitical goals materially. Aided and abetted by President Xi, Putin is taking the Asian continent into his control. That mission is well on its way to being achieved. He now awaits the winter months to finally force the EU to reject America’s hegemony. Only then, will the western end of the Eurasian continent be truly free of American interference.

This article explains how he is achieving his strategic goals. It examines the geopolitics of the Asian landmass and the nations tied to it, which are commercially and financially turning their backs on the US-led western alliance.

I look at geopolitics from President Putin of Russia’s viewpoint, since he is the only national leader who seems to have a clear grasp of his long-term objectives. His active strategy conforms closely with Halford Mackinder’s predictive analysis of nearly 120 years ago. Mackinder is regarded by many experts as the founder of geopolitics.

Putin is determined to remove the American threat to his Western borders by squeezing the EU to that end.But he is also building political relationships based on control of global fossil-fuel supplies — a pathway opened for him by American and European obsessions over climate change. In partnership with China, the consolidation of his power over the Eurasian landmass has progressed rapidly in recent weeks.

For the Western Alliance, financially and economically his timing is particularly awkward, coinciding with the end of a 40-year period of declining interest rates, rising consumer price inflation, and a deepening recession driven by contracting bank credit.

It is the continuation of a financial war by other means, and it looks like Putin has an unbeatable hand. He is on course to push our fragile fiat currency based financial system over the edge.

Mackinder’s legacy

In a paper presented to the Royal Geographic Society in 1904, the father of geopolitics, Halford Mackinder, effectively predicted what is happening today. In his presentation, he asked:

“Is not the pivot region of the world’s politics that vast area of Euro-Asia which is inaccessible to ships, but in antiquity lay open to the horse-riding nomads, and today is about to be covered with a network of railways?

“Outside the pivot area, in a great inner crescent, are Germany, Austria, Turkey, India, and China. And in an outer crescent, Britain, South Africa, Australia, the United States, Canada, and Japan.”

This is shown in Figure 1, taken from the original paper presented to the Society.

In 1919 after the First World War, in his Democratic Ideals and Reality he summarised his theory in slightly different language thus:

“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;

Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;

Who rules the World-Island commands the world.”

This is Putin’s destiny. In conjunction with China (rather than a united Germany, which is what worried politicians such as Balfour before the First World War), Russia appears to be successfully pursuing her goal of control of Mackinder’s World Island. Today, we can expand on the inner crescent concept to include Iran, the Middle East, as well as the new nations spun out of the old Soviet Union. Of Mackinder’s original inner crescent, only Germany and Austria are omitted today. Austria was the centre of the Hapsburg Empire at that time and so is no longer geopolitically important.

Of the outer circle, we can now include most of Africa and some of South America, which are increasingly dependent on the World-Island for demand for their commodities. Without the West’s media and public seeming to realise it, there has been and continues to be an extension of Russian power through Asian partnerships which now eclipses America’s in terms of the global population covered. And if we add in China’s diaspora in South-East Asia, America and her NATO allies look like a somewhat isolated minority.

As well as political power ebbing away from the West, economic power is as well. Hampered by increasingly expensive and anti-capitalist democratic socialism, their economies are struggling under the burden of their governments. And as the West declines, the World-Island is enjoying its own industrial revolution. The network of railways, to which Mackinder referred in 1904, has expanded from the trans-Siberian railway to China’s new overland silk roads, linking China with Western Europe and the great nations south of the original silk road.

Russia and its ex-Soviet satellites occupy half the Eurasian continent. The Eurasian continent is 21 million square miles, or more than three times the size of all North America. Central and North America together measure some 9 million square miles, more than twice the area of Europe. Even without its ex-Soviet satellites, Russia is still by far the largest nation by land area. And together with China, Russia is nearly three times the size of the United States.

Russia is the world’s largest single source of energy, commodities, and raw materials and as we now see can control the prices the West pays for them. As a consequence of recent sanctions, the west is paying top-rouble, while Russia’s Asian allies have energy and commodities offered at a discount payable in their own currencies, undermining the West’s relative economic position even more.

As to whether Putin has studied Mackinder, this must be supposition. But there is no doubt that if he is not so guided, Putin is following the same predicted course. As Russia’s undisputed leader, he has played the geopolitical game masterfully. He does not fall into the traps which bedevil Western socialism. He follows foreign guidelines in the mould of the British at the time of Lord Liverpool’s Prime Ministership two hundred years ago, when the policy was not to interfere in the domestic affairs of foreign nations, except to the extent that they affected British interests.

It is a fact of life for Putin that his allies include some very unpleasant regimes. But this does not concern him — their domestic affairs are not his business. His business is Russia’s interests, and like the British in the 1820s, he pursues them single-mindedly.

The rationale behind Ukraine

Ukraine was an unusual instance of Putin taking the initiative in acting against the American-led NATO alliance. But in the run-up to Ukraine, he had seen Britain leave the EU. Britain was America’s vicar on the EU’s earth, so Brexit represented a significant decline in the US’s ability to influence Brussels. Following Brexit, President Biden precipitously exited Afghanistan, taking the rest of NATO with him. Therefore, America was on the run from the Heartland. The way was open for Putin to push further and expel America from Russia’s western borders.

To do this, he needed to confront NATO. And there is little doubt this was on Putin’s mind when he escalated his “special military operation” against Ukraine. He must have anticipated NATO’s reaction to impose sanctions, from which Russia has profited greatly. At the same time, it is the EU which has been badly crushed, a squeeze which he can intensify at will.

The drama is still playing out. He needs to keep up some pressure on Ukraine to keep the squeeze going. He is not ready to compromise. Winter in the EU will be tougher still, with energy and food shortages likely to lead to increasing riots by the EU’s citizens. Putin will only stop when the Europeans realise that America is sacrificing them in the pursuit of its hegemony. Zelensky is little more than a puppet in this drama.

With respect to the war on the ground, Russia has already secured its access from the Black Sea by cultivating her relationship with Turkey. As a NATO member, Turkey is hedging its bets. The Black Sea is vital to her economic interests. For this reason, Turkey is maintaining her relationship with Russia, while cooling down her antipathy to Israel (President Herzog visited Ankara in March) and mending her fences with the UAE — it’s all part of the World Island coming together.

For the US, Erdogan is an unreliable NATO partner. Allegedly, the US tried to remove him by instigating a failed coup attempt in 2016, when he was tipped off by Russian intelligence and the coup failed. While he owes a favour to Putin, Turkey’s NATO membership leads him to be cautious. And as a born-again Sunni, he appears keen to extend Turkish influence into the Moslem nations in Central Asia, dreaming perhaps of the glory days of the Ottoman Empire.

To further Russia’s power over energy sources upon which the Western belligerents depend, Putin has cultivated Iran, and has also made welcoming overtures to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Sergei Lavrov, Putin’s foreign minister, took care to fully brief members of the Arab league of Russia’s energy policy in Cairo last month. The argument is simple: the West has turned its back on fossil fuels, planning to phase them out entirely in a decade or so. As producers of oil and gas, their future is to stick together with Mackinder’s World Island and its Inner Crescent. This is so obviously the case, that even Saudi Arabia is said to be seeking an association through the BRICS group.

Whatever the merits of climate change driven policies, with respect to energy the West seems to be hell-bent on a suicide mission. But Russia’s message to its partners is that you can have oil and natural gas at a discount to what Europe has to pay. Putin is offering to release them fully from the West’s climate change ideology.

With the pressure he is applying on Western Europe, Putin almost certainly assumes European politicians will be driven from supporting US sanctions to a more neutral position. And Russia probably expects that non-aligned nations suffering from grain shortages will also pressure the West to bring sanctions to an end. But before Putin relinquishes the pressure on EU nations, he is still likely to insist that American influence from Western Europe is withdrawn, or at the least it is withdrawn from Russia’s western borders.

Phase 1 has concluded. Let Phase 2 begin

We must now turn from Putin’s supposed megalomania to the conditions faced by his Western enemies, particularly the nations in Europe and the Eurozone. Figure 2, which is of a basket of commodities and raw materials priced in euros, shows that after a significant rise, for Europe prices have eased in recent months.

For the beleaguered Europeans, the pause in a substantial rise in commodity prices since the Fed’s introduction of zero interest rates in March 2020 has given them temporary and minor relief from an escalating inflation headache. Perhaps it is premature, but investors in western markets are taking the pullback in commodity prices as evidence that the commodity squeeze is probably over, and that with it the problem of consumer price inflation will diminish as well.

Indeed, in his 1 August report for Credit Suisse, Zoltan Pozsar reported that he had visited 150 investment managers in eight European cities recently, and the consensus was just that: they think inflation is licked, recession is due, and therefore interest rates will shortly decline.

But so long as he holds the pricing reins for energy, Putin can play with the euro to his heart’s desire. By manipulating his quasi-monopoly on energy, grains, and fertilisers he can increase pressure on the EU’s leaders to reject US hegemony. And to fully appreciate the power in Putin’s hands, it is important to understand the true relationship between fiat currencies and commodities.

The evidence is that the volatility of commodity prices is in the fiat currency they are priced in, and not the commodities themselves. Figure 3 shows this relationship, by comparing the price of oil measured in legal money (gold) and the fiat euro currency.

The most the price of oil in gold has varied on the upside is double at the time of the Lehman failure, whereas in euros at that time it was sixteen times. So far this year, it has been even more volatile when the price in gold fell to 70% of the 1950 price, while in euros it hit 15 — that’s 21 times as volatile.

This finding turns all energy pricing assumptions upside-down. The chart shows that what was true before the ending of Bretton Woods was no longer true after 1971. [The euro only commencing in 2000, the currency taken before then was the German mark]. Since oil prices are wholly determined in markets whose participants all assume price volatility is in the commodity, the entire basis of price forecasting becomes undermined. That being so, if an analyst gets a forecast half right it is more by luck than judgement.

This is the whole point behind sound money. With sound money, dealers in commodities and all other goods justifiably assume that the intermediating medium is a constant. They assume that when they receive payment, its utility is invariable. But with unbacked fiat it is different. For individual transactions, while we still assume a dollar is a dollar and a euro is a euro we all know that a currency’s utility varies. Why, then, for analytical purposes do forecasters always assume it does not? Why do analysts never take this into account in their forecasts?

Figure 3 above proves that conventional approaches to pricing and economic forecasts involving them are nonsensical. The same is demonstrably true for all other commodities, not just oil. In current circumstances, the basis for an incorrect analysis is being used to support expectations that prices are beginning to reflect an increasing prospect of recession, which to a Keynesian or monetarist mind, means falling demand for commodities and energy leads to lower prices. But the fact remains that overnight, Putin can put the squeeze on the EU again. And armed with the knowledge that price volatility is in the currency, we know that the falling euro will do most of his work for him.

As we approach Europe’s winter, it will not take much to drive energy prices in euros considerably higher. Putin is unlikely to make the mistake of being seen to do this deliberately. But in all probability, he need not take any significant action at all to see Western currency prices for energy and food rise again as winter approaches.

There is a further misjudgement common to Western capital markets: this time over interest rates. In almost every piece of analysis forecasting recession, the underlying assumption is that with economies turning down demand for goods, services and credit will diminish. For these reasons, interest rate pressures are expected to decline.

This misunderstands the nature of credit. Almost all circulating media is commercial bank credit. Consequently, GDP is simply the sum of all bank credit used for qualifying transactions. Therefore, nominal GDP is set by the availability of bank credit, and not, as commonly supposed driven by a slowdown in economic activity. When the banking cohort contracts its collective balance sheet, interest rates initially rise because of a shortage of credit.

These conditions are now faced by financial markets. Commercial banks are bound to seek ways to protect themselves in uncertain times. They are already looking to reduce the ratio of their assets to equity before bad debts really escalate. Banks in the Eurozone are not alone with this change in outlook. The so-called global recession is not being driven much by other economic factors, but mainly by the tendency for bank credit to be withdrawn from both financial and non-financial economic sectors.

It is a problem poorly understood and never mentioned by analysts in their economic forecasts. But in the current economic and financial environment, the consequences lead to a conclusion about interest rates the opposite of that commonly supposed.

We can see from the foregoing that contrary to expectations expressed everywhere by western governments and their central banks along with the whole investment establishment, the inflation and interest rate problem is not going away. Because interest rates had been suppressed and could go no lower and for no longer, there has been a fundamental shift from a long-term decline in them, to what is increasingly sure to turn out to be a long-term trend for interest rates to rise. As it is elsewhere, the bank lending environment in Europe is deteriorating for obvious reasons. Furthermore, it comes at a time when bank balance sheet leverage is at record levels, leaving banks badly exposed to the change.

A severe contraction in bank credit is only in its initial stages. A second phase in the economic and financial war against Putin’s Russia will shortly emerge. Currently, we appear to be in a summer pause after the first, indicated by consolidating commodity prices. Government bond yields have declined from earlier highs. Stock markets have rallied. Bitcoin has rallied. Gold, which is the only legal money from which to escape from all this, has declined. It all indicates a false optimism, vulnerable to the rudest of shocks.

China may be Putin’s only wildccard

With its economy based on commodities whose values are aligned with gold and so long as the current geopolitical situation does not escalate into a wider military conflict, Russia appears to be in a strengthening economic position while her adversaries are in decline. If there is a threat to its position, it probably comes from her alliance with China, which is exposed to the West’s follies through trade. China has some wildcard problems.

Since the death of Mao, in its rapid development China has relied on the expansion of credit through state owned banks. Bank executives are state functionaries, instead of managers on behalf of profit-seeking shareholders. It is this difference which has insulated the domestic economy from the cycles of bank credit which have plagued the West’s economic model with repetitive credit crises.

While this lack of destructive cyclicality might be seen as a good thing, it has allowed malinvestments to build up uninterruptedly over recent decades. So, while the Chinese authorities still exercise significant control over lending, the degree of economic distortion has become a threat to further progress.

This is being manifest in a growing property crisis, with developers going to the wall in droves. It’s not that there is unlikely to be demand for commercial and residential properties in the future: the savers are there to buy, the middle classes are growing in number, and the economy has some way to go in its development. The problem is that the property market has got ahead of itself.

As a sector, property and related activities make up an estimated one-third of China’s economic activity. Developers have suspended completions of pre-sold properties, which citizens have bought on a pre-payment basis. Consequently, mortgage payments are being suspended by angry purchasers. Private banks have been affected, with bank runs against some of them. Some thirty real estate companies have missed foreign debt payments, with Evergrande being the most high-profile defaulter on $300bn of debt.

Problems in property were and are still being compounded by Beijing’s zero tolerance covid policy. More so than in other jurisdictions, strictly enforced clampdowns have hit production and undermined logistics, factors that have inevitably undermined economic performance. While exports to other nations have held up well — mostly due to foreign governments’ spending deficits escalating and not being matched by increased personal savings — China’s exporters’ profits are bound to become squeezed by the West’s deepening recession. Unless, that is, China’s foreign exchange policy is to deliberately weaken the yuan against western currencies. But that will only end up destabilising the domestic economy as consumer price increases accelerate.

And lastly, if Beijing follows up on its threats to annex Taiwan — if only to detract from domestic economic failures — a train of events is likely to be set in motion which could escalate tensions with America and its defence allies to the detriment of everyone.

But despite the headlines from China’s property crisis, it is too early to assume China is descending into much deeper trouble. It must abandon macroeconomic policies driven purely by statistics and ensure its citizens and their business have a stable currency. Whether this is understood in Beijing is not clear.

The fundamental difference from its Russian partner is its greater economic dependence on consumption of commodities as opposed to their production. The consequences of western economic policies set to undermine their own currencies’ purchasing power will be felt more by China than Russia. Nevertheless, an increasingly likely banking and currency crisis in the West can be weathered by China with the correct economic approach.

The era of the dollar is ending

While Putin appears to be gaining control of the World Island, leaving a few nations on its fringes adhering to the US and its currency’s hegemony, much of what he has achieved is through the abject failure of the West in playing this greatest of great geopolitical games. A notable feature of the West’s decline is in its embrace of anti-capitalistic and woke cultures. In this article, it would lose our focus if we drifted into the climate change debate, other than to point out that by seeking to eliminate fossil fuels in the next decade or so, the West is on a course of economic self-destruction relative to Russia’s partners, who are being offered discounted oil, gas, and coal for the foreseeable future.

When President Nixon turned the dollar into an entirely fiat currency in August 1971, he set off a train of events which is now ending. From establishing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and his agreement with Saudi Arabia which led to the creation of the petrodollar, global fiat currency instability commenced as shown in Figure 3 to this article. But the fiat dollar gave both the US Government and the American banking system enormous power. That was effectively wielded, forcing recalcitrant nations to kowtow to the mighty dollar.

The power was not used judiciously, leading to an alliance between Russia and China to protect themselves from US actions. The lessons they learned from American imperialism were not lost. Despite earlier promises to Russia not to do so, the US military directly threatened her western border. For China, though her economic and industrial revolution having been initially praised, she began to be seen as a threat to the American interests.

This imperialism has made America few friends and many latent enemies. With repeated failures in US foreign policy in the Middle East, North Africa, Ukraine, and most recently Afghanistan, the US can now count on nations representing only about 19% of the world’s population of 8 billion people, compared with 54% allied to the World Island. This is shown in Figure 4.

While allocating nations into these categories is somewhat subjective, it gives an approximation of the relative power of the World Island partnership compared with that of US/NATO. As the US-led partnership’s grip slackens, vested interests are sure to drive non-aligned nations towards the World Island camp, particularly when they have commodities to sell.

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions that followed, none of the 170 nations in the table could do without the dollar. Russia has been forced to find alternative settlement currencies and its close allies in the Eurasian Economic Union are planning a new trade settlement currency to cut out the dollar. But the international pricing of commodities and raw materials in dollars is impossible to overcome, even for Russia.

The World Island cannot side-line the dollar completely — it is too entrenched. While the dollar’s power is declining, the destruction of its virtual monopoly in international trade will have to come from US monetary policy itself, a process that is arguably under way.

Since the financialisation of Western economies in the mid-eighties, the dollar has retained its credibility as the world’s reserve currency. It was achieved by ensuring a ready supply for international use, as forecast by Robert Triffin by his description of the dollar’s dilemma in the late fifties. The demand side was bolstered by the development of regulated and unregulated derivative markets, which forced foreigners to purchase dollars in order to purchase derivatives. Essentially, it was synthetic dollar demand created to satisfy speculator demand for commodities, including precious metals, by creating synthetic supply.

When this concept is grasped, the importance of the ending of the long-term trend of interest rate suppression becomes better understood. The suppression of commodity prices by increasing synthetic supply became part and parcel of interest rate declines. Interest rates are no longer declining but rising. There will be unexpected consequences for commodity prices, which we will come to in a moment.

There are two immediate consequences for bank lending: their lending margins improve, and the incidents of bad and doubtful debts increases. Consequently, overleveraged bank balance sheets are being cut back by banks no longer having to work them so hard to maintain bottom-line profits. And with lending risk escalating, this is a further reason to contract bank credit overall. Credit is going to be in increasingly short supply.

There are the consequences for financial markets, including synthetic commodity supply, to be considered as well. Under the new Basel 3 regulations which were recently introduced, trading and market-making in derivatives is an inefficient use of balance sheet capacity, so these activities are bound to be reduced over time under pressure from banks’ treasury departments. In effect, the conditions that allowed banks to expand credit to finance the increase of derivative trading activities between 1985 and 2021 are being reversed.

According to the Bank for International Settlements, the notional value of global regulated futures totalled $40. 7 trillion last March, and in options totalled a further $54 trillion. To this must be added over $610 trillion in over-the-counter derivatives. For now, it is variations in this synthetic supply which drive pricing relationships between fiat currencies and commodities. But the impact of contracting bank credit will almost certainly lead to higher commodity prices, as this synthetic supply dries up and is increasingly withdrawn.

Furthermore, contracting bank credit invariably leads to banking failures. And with the Eurozone’s and Japanese global systemically important banks leveraged over 20 times on average, the scale of banking failures is likely to be significantly larger than that of Lehman when it failed fourteen years ago next month.

And finally, as insurance against a widespread fiat currency catastrophe, both Russia and China have stockpiled physical bullion. Russia is known to have about 12,000 tonnes, of which 2,300 tonnes are held as monetary reserves. It mines 330 tonnes annually, which it is now adding to its hoard. Having accumulated the bulk of its hoard before permitting the Chinese public to buy gold, China’s state probably has over 30,000 tonnes, of which only 1,776 tonnes are declared official reserves. Since its inception in 2002, China’s citizens have taken delivery of a further 20,000 tonnes from the Shanghai Gold Exchange, some of which will have returned as scrap.

Therefore, the Russian and Chinese states between them command over 40,000 tonnes, which compares with America’s reserves, officially listed as 8,133 tonnes. As nations, they are also the two largest gold miners by output.

There can be no doubt that both China and Russia have a better understanding than western central banks of the relationship between money, which legally and in actuality is gold, and credit. They can only have built their reserves and mining capacity in anticipation that their currencies will need, one day, protection from a fiat currency crisis. First it was China, which accumulated most of her stash during the 1980-2002 bear market at prices as low as $275, before letting her citizens buy gold. With Russia, the accumulation has been more recent, undoubtedly seen by Putin as an essential part of his geopolitical ambitions. Both countries have concealed their true gold position, presumably so as to not threaten the dollar’s hegemony directly and to allow them to secretly add to their hoards.

In the event of a fiat currency crisis for the dollar, both the rouble and yuan have more monetary projection backing them than in any of the currencies of their adversaries. And while the jury might be out with respect to President Xi’s geopolitical nous, there can be little doubt that Putin will do whatever it takes to protect Russia, the rouble, and his geostrategic plans from any crisis which might envelop the West.

US Political Violence is Surging. Talk of Civil War.

The Guardian: Half of Americans expect civil war within the U.S. over the next few years

The Americans are very disappointed with democracy in the U.S. and do not think that it works.

Dr Garen Wintemute used to laugh off warnings of a civil war coming to America as “crazy talk”. Then the emergency room doctor in California saw the figures for gun sales.

Wintemute, who founded a centre to research firearms violence after years of treating gunshot wounds, had long observed that the rush to buy weapons came in waves, often around a presidential election. Always it fell back again.

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden smiles as he speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, during a reception to celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. At right is Vice President Kamala Harris. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
How a wild week in Washington changed the game for Biden and Trump

Read more

“Then in January of 2020 gun sales took off. Just an unprecedented surge in purchasing and that surge continued,” he said. “We were aware that, contrary to prior surges, this one wasn’t ending. People are still buying guns like crazy.”
Many were buying a weapon for the first time.

Wintemute wanted answers and they stunned him. A survey for his California Firearm Violence Research Center released last month showed that half of Americans expect a civil war in the United States in the next few years. One in five thought political violence was justified in some circumstances. In addition, while almost everyone said it was important for the US to remain a democracy, about 40% said that having a strong leader was more important.

“Coupled with prior research, these findings suggest a continuing alienation from and mistrust of American democratic society and its institutions. Substantial minorities of the population endorse violence, including lethal violence, to obtain political objectives,” the report concluded.

Suddenly Wintemute didn’t think talk of a violent civil conflict was so crazy any more.

The doctor is quick to note that large numbers of those people expecting a civil war say it is only “somewhat likely”. But half of the population even considering such a possibility reflects the failing confidence of large numbers of Americans in a system of government under assault by Donald Trump and a good part of the Republican party.

The FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this month for classified documents removed from the White House unleashed the latest barrage of threats of violence, this time directed at an institution widely regarded as a bastion of establishment conservatism.

The Florida senator Rick Scott likened the FBI to the Gestapo. In Ohio, the police killed an armed US navy veteran who attacked an FBI office. In Pennsylvania, a man with a history of vaccine denial was charged with threatening to “slaughter” federal agents he described as “police state scum”, and compared to the Nazi SS and the Soviet secret police.

In the days after the search of Mar-a-Lago, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned of a surge in threats of violence against federal agents, their families and the judge who issued the search warrant. The FBI said these included calls for “civil war” and “armed rebellion”. Read more.

Has WWIII Started?

via Strategic Culture

The fact that NATO is stepping up its combat support for the Ukrainian military in Britain and on other member states’ territories is clear proof that the U.S.-led axis is at war with Russia. This is no longer a proxy war, but rather a full-scale multi-level war.

“We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine.” So said U.S. President Joe Biden back in March this year while also bragging at the same time about pumping Ukraine with lethal weapons to ensure that the NATO-backed Kiev regime would not be defeated.

Biden’s nationwide speech added with a foreboding intonation: “A direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is World War Three, something that we must strive to prevent.”

We should have expected that appalling, fatuous contradiction to sooner or later become manifestly untenable. Indeed, the American people and the world have been conned by a warmongering puppet in the White House.

In reality, it looks like the Biden administration and its NATO partners have done everything to strive toward making war against Russia happen. This American president’s words (like those of his predecessors) have no credibility. Despite his apparent grave warning about preventing WWIII, the manikin in the White House has facilitated this very outcome in the abject service of U.S. imperialist interests. Biden has been a loyal servant of American warmongering for over 50 years, supporting every criminal war that U.S. imperialism has waged. However, it’s a mistake to blame Biden personally, a so-called Democrat. He is but the figurehead for a system that needs war in order to function. If for talk’s sake, Donald Trump or some other Republican politician happened to be in the White House, we would no doubt see the same despicable dilemma.

There are increasing reports of military attacks on Crimea and other parts of the Russian Federation. The Belgorod Region neighboring Ukraine has been bombed several times with villages being evacuated. A Ukrainian drone also reportedly tried to attack the Kerch Bridge which connects the Russian mainland with Crimea. The 19-km bridge was opened in May 2018 by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a cost of $3.7 billion.

It is not clear yet what are the exact causes of these explosions. Initially, Russian authorities claimed they were accidental fires, but now they are admitting acts of sabotage being committed. Western media reports claim U.S. and NATO missiles or drones are involved. The United States is increasing its supplies of long-range offensive weapons as well as C-4 explosives for sabotage operations. Up to $40 billion worth of munitions has been pledged by the U.S., Britain, Poland, Germany and other NATO powers to support the Nazi-infested Kiev regime in its war against Russia. Ukraine has descended into an orgy of Western militarism.

The Kiev regime’s military conduct is being overseen by American and British intelligence. Attacks on Crimea and presumably other parts of the Russian Federation are approved by Washington and London.

In addition to an unprecedented flood of NATO weapons into Ukraine, it is increasingly apparent that the U.S.-led axis is training Ukrainian forces.

This week it was reported that Ukrainian soldiers are being trained in Britain to go fight. At a Copenhagen conference last week, British recruitment and training programs for Ukraine were supported by other NATO members including Denmark, Canada, Poland and the Baltic states. The U.S. and its NATO allies have been running combat training in Ukraine for years. That was partly the reason why Russian forces went into Ukraine in February this year to neutralize a growing national security threat.

The fact that NATO is stepping up its combat support for the Ukrainian military in Britain and on other member states’ territories is clear proof that the U.S.-led axis is at war with Russia. This is no longer a proxy war, but rather a full-scale multi-level war.

Another ominous development was the deployment of American B-52 long-range bombers to Sweden this week. The Nordic country is a soon-to-be new member of NATO along with Finland. The combined move is intended as a calculated threat to Russia’s Arctic region. The Arctic has long seen increasing NATO forces menacing Russia, but the first-ever deployment of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Sweden is an “important signal”, as Sweden’s Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist gloated.

All of this shows a heinous, relentless logic for war. Biden’s public misgivings about World War Three were just contemptible piffle. The United States has been gearing up for hostilities against Russia since at least the CIA coup d’état in Kiev in 2014. It really doesn’t matter who sits in the White House. Obama, Trump, Biden, like others before them, are all just message boys for U.S. imperialism. The American ruling regime has a desperate addiction to war to revive its diminishing global power and failing capitalist economy. That’s why Washington is hellbent on recklessly stoking dangerous tensions with Russia and China, as Russia’s Putin pointed out this week.

The sheer array of military involvement in Ukraine and the new, dangerous phase of striking Russian territory means that the U.S.-led NATO axis is de facto at war against Russia. The axis consists of 30 nations (not including Sweden and Finland) plus other non-NATO allies such as Australia and New Zealand. Weapons of increasing long-range offensive capability, as well as training of military forces, are flowing to Ukraine from all of these U.S.-led nations.

Last December, Russia appealed for a diplomatic resolution of long-held strategic security concerns regarding NATO and Ukraine. Those appeals were arrogantly shunted away by Washington and its vassals. Earlier apparent reservations among NATO members about sending lethal weapons to Ukraine have been jettisoned too. Evidently, so too abandoned are erstwhile reservations about starting an international conflict.

The United States, Britain and other imperialist powers are callously turning on the taps to make a bloodbath in Ukraine. The fascist regime they are backing in Kiev is wantonly using nuclear terrorism by attacking the largest nuclear power station in Europe at Zaporozhye. And yet the Western sponsors continue to double down on the provocations to Russia, provocations that now appear to include military strikes on Russian sovereign territory.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that “decision-making centers” will be targeted if its territory is attacked. That warning implies Western capitals are vulnerable. Russia has also warned that if its national security is threatened then it reserves the right to use nuclear weapons for defense. The unthinkable is becoming thinkable. Western states are in thrall to a warmongering agenda and media system that acts like a propaganda ministry for war. Shamefully, there are scarcely any political voices in the West calling for diplomatic negotiations for peace.

The madcap U.S.-led Western powers do not seem to recognize any boundaries. The whole conflict over Ukraine demonstrates the relentless logic of belligerence towards Russia that the Western ruling regimes are addicted to, in the same way as they are towards any other nation that is perceived as an obstacle to global power ambitions. The Western regimes are helplessly, hopelessly charted for war regardless of the democratic interests and wishes of their populations or the constraints of international law. So much for rules-based order! Western rulers and their puppets in office are leading their people and the rest of the world over the abyss.

Incredibly, it seems, the same vile political and economic forces that created two previous world wars are salivating again. And they are unleashing their apocalyptic desires with the same lies and self-righteous deceptions.

And the Looting by the US Continues . . .

The US continues to export Syrian oil. Today, SANA sources reported that the US armed forces, together with local formations controlled by them, carried 137 tankers with oil stolen from Syrian oil fields to their bases on Iraqi territory. On August 14 , they wrote, the US stole 233 tankers.

The interdepartmental coordination headquarters of Russia and Syria condemned the US policy in Syria, in particular the looting of the country’s oil reserves, which is the main cause of the difficult humanitarian situation. It is noted that it is the US sanctions, especially against organizations that are engaged in the reconstruction of water and electricity supply facilities, healthcare and other infrastructure facilities that create difficulties for the country’s recovery.

The United States does not comment on its actions, but simply continues to steal oil and support the separatists.

The Likely Case will be Ongoing Advance through Odessa to Transdnistria and the Romanian Border

John Mearsheimer’s latest article on Ukraine in “Foreign Affairs” – a critique

By Gilbert Doctorow

Gilbert Doctorow

A few days ago, the most widely read journal of international politics in the United States, Foreign Affairs published an article by University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer entitled “Playing with Fire in Ukraine: the Underappreciated Risks of Catastrophic Escalation.” The online version is accessible here –

This publication was a major event in itself given FA’s orthodox spin on everything to do with Russia and the challenges to the Washington narrative made by Mearsheimer ever since his article “Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault” appeared in the autumn 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs. At the time, that article prompted a paroxysm of rage among the hardliners who form the majority of the American foreign policy community and of the journal’s readers.

The video of a speech on the same subject which Mearsheimer made in 2014 shortly after the article came out has been viewed by more than 12 million visitors to the site. An updated version of the same speech presented on youtube during this spring has attracted more than 1.6 million viewers. It is safe to say that John Mearsheimer is the most widely seen and listened to academic disputing the conventional wisdom on the Ukraine war today.

I freely acknowledge the merit of Mearsheimer’s new article: to warn how the conflict in Ukraine could easily spin out of control and escalate to a nuclear war. The White House team of inexperienced and ignorant advisers must be shaken from their complacency and anything published in Foreign Affairs will necessarily be brought to their attention, whereas a piece published by, for example, will be burned before reading.

However, this does not excuse Mearsheimer from basing himself on the same restricted and distorted sources of information as are used by mainstream media and mainstream academics, while ignoring other sources of information that would give greater depth to his analysis and possibly change his conclusions substantially. To be explicit, I believe he has been listening too closely to Washington and Kiev’s rosy forecasts of a counter-offensive that will result in a stalemate, possibly in a Russian defeat, and he is not listening to Russian reporting on the progress of their campaign on the ground, which points to a slow and steady grinding down of all in their path to conquest of the Donetsk oblast, meaning the capture of the entire Donbas.

The Russian advance is only slightly slowed by diversion of troops to the Kherson region to nip in the bud that well advertised Ukrainian attack. The latest news is of the Russians approaching the strategic strong points of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, the cradle of the Donbas independence movement in 2014. By taking these central region cities, they are cutting off the supply of weapons to the most heavily fortified Ukrainian positions just outside Donetsk city, which have been bombarding residential districts and killing civilians daily for the past eight years. This explains their finally overrunning and destroying Ukrainian positions in the town of Peski just two kilometers from the DPR capital this past week.

The capture of Peski was not reported in Western media just as the war crimes nature of its activity, concentrated on civilian targets in violation of international conventions on conduct of war, was never reported. Thus, the Russian advance carries no hint of ‘shock and awe,’ which is to say the Russians are doing nothing to grab headlines and force the hand of Biden to implement some disproportionate escalation.

The Russians’ latest timetable, as announced in their leading televised talk shows, is to complete the liberation of the Donbas by year’s end. After that, if there is no Ukrainian capitulation, the likely case will be ongoing advance through Odessa to Transdnistria and the Romanian border, at which point no peace treaty would be needed by anyone. The Zelensky regime could be left to die on the vine as mutual recriminations shake his power base.

Mearsheimer’s article goes into great detail over the many possible scenarios for dangerous if not catastrophic escalation of the conflict. But these are myriad and largely unforeseeable, so that he ultimately covers only a fraction of the possibilities for things to go haywire. They are, as he admits, not very likely to occur. Amen.

One of those possibilities for catastrophic escalation that has captured the attention of global media at present is the stand-off at the nuclear power plant in Russia-occupied Zaporozhie, Europe’s largest such power plant. Both sides to the conflict are playing up the threat inherent in artillery and rocket strikes on a nuclear installation for propagandistic purposes, to paint the other side as madmen: the Ukrainians speaking of the Kremlin leadership as nuclear terrorists and blackmailers, the Russians speaking of the Ukrainian forces firing on the power station as ‘apes carrying grenades.’ Surely damage to the plant followed by the release into the atmosphere of radioactive substances was on the mind of Mearsheimer when he formulated his article. However, let me be perfectly clear: this is a phony issue, just as the alleged Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports supposedly was forcing starvation on African nations that were failing to get grain they had ordered from Ukraine before the conflict. The fact is that the nuclear reactors are encased in meter-thick concrete walls which are impervious to all the projectiles which the Ukrainians are capable of launching. The risks are to the administrative buildings and cooling systems. The Russians are fully capable of shutting down the nuclear reactors at any time to prevent a catastrophe.

Now let me turn attention to the nuclear risk that Mearsheimer identifies in the article. He has taken up exactly the same argument as mainstream commentators in the United States, namely that Russia might resort to nuclear weapons in case the campaign turns against them due to higher levels of Western intervention including troops on the ground. We all know that troops are already on the ground, namely the ‘instructors’ who are directing fire for HIMARS. We know that senior American and other Western officers liaising with their Ukrainian counterparts were recently blown to bits by the Russian rocket attack on Vinnitsa. That was all hushed up and the only tip-off of this disaster for Washington was the firing of the Ukrainian intelligence leadership the next day.

Of course, no one knows what might yet force an escalation. But there again, Mearsheimer misses some important considerations. Why does he assume the Russians must escalate to nuclear options and why those options would be directed against Kiev and not, for example, against London? More to the point, he is missing the fact that the Russians have hardly begun to fight, as Putin recently said publicly. They have not mobilized and put out draft notices, they have not put the economy on a war footing. And they have not deployed their most consequential weaponry. Instead, they have held it back, ready for use if necessary in a direct war with NATO. This is massively destructive conventional payloads carried by hypersonic rockets and similar.

Then there is another dimension to the conflict which Mearsheimer does not address in his article though it will exert a decisive influence on whether Washington or Moscow wins the tug of war: the economic damage from sanctions on Europe through blow-back that is about to become politically unsustainable as the fall and winter heating season arrives. The Baltics and Poland are and will remain immune to reason, led as they are by delusional Russophobes. However, when the inevitable street demonstrations come in France, the most volatile of the major EU states, followed by Eastern Germany and even by Belgium, a more passive country, as I hear from the local elites I talk to, then the politicians of Europe will head off in contradictory directions and unity will collapse. The Russians are sure to win this psychological war despite all the efforts of EU state media to put a lid on it. The day when Scholz gives the go-ahead to opening Nord Stream II will mark the Russian victory and put an end to US-driven suicidal decision making here in Europe.

For all of the above reasons, I urge professor Mearsheimer and his followers to pay closer attention to what the Russians are saying and less attention to the hot air coming out of Washington.

American “Economy” is Nothing but Naked Plunder

by Daniel Kovalik

The author teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and is author of the recently-releasedNo More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using “Humanitarian” Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests.

In the name of sanctions, geopolitical interests or the so-called “rules-based order”, colonial powers do what they do best – plunder those they see as weak and insubordinate

There is an old joke which still has resonance. A child asks his parent, “Why are there pyramids in Egypt?” The parent answers, “Because they were too big to take to Britain.” Of course, many a true word is spoken in jest. Indeed, there is an apocryphal story that back in the day when Vladimir Lenin was in exile in London, he would enjoy taking friends to the British Museum and explaining to them how and from what far-flung lands all the antiquities there were stolen.

One might have thought that these days of colonial plunder had ended, but one would be very wrong. Current examples abound. A notable one is, of course, the freezing by the US of $7 billion from the Afghanistan treasury – monies the US continues to hold even as it watches Afghans begin to die from starvation. Apparently, the US believes that, after laying waste to Afghanistan through 20 years of war and, even before that by supporting the mujahideen terrorists, it is entitled to some compensation. This upside-down type of reasoning abounds in the minds of those in the West who simply believe they can take whatever they wish.

Similarly, the US is now plundering Syria – another country utterly devastated in no small part by Washington-backed militants in a campaign to overthrow the elected president – of most of its oil, even as Syria suffers from severe energy blackouts. Thus, according to the Syrian Oil Ministry, “US occupation forces and their mercenaries,” referring to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), “steal up to 66,000 barrels every single day from the fields occupied in the eastern region,” amounting to around 83 percent of Syria’s daily oil production.

According to the ministry’s data, the Syrian oil sector has incurred losses of “about $105 billion since the beginning of the war until the middle of this year”as a result of the US oil theft campaign.

Additionally, the statement added that alongside the financial losses incurred by the oil sector were “losses of life, including 235 martyrs, 46 injured and 112 kidnapped.”

One of the biggest heists the US has carried out is against Russia. After the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the US seized an incredible $300 billion of Russian treasury funds which were deposited abroad. This was done, of course, without any due process, and to the great detriment of the Russian people – and with barely a critical word from Western pundits.

The US treatment of Venezuela abounds with other examples. As I write these words, the US is maneuvering to seize a commercial 747 airliner from Venezuela on the grounds that it once belonged to an Iranian airline which had some connection to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (which Washington has designated as terrorists) – which might sound like a tenuous justification, but the US really needs no reason. And this is simply the tip of the iceberg. The US has already seized Venezuela’s biggest single source of revenue – its US-based oil company CITGO – and is now in the process of selling off this company in pieces, even as Washington lifts restrictions on Venezuelan oil to shore up its own economy. The UK, meanwhile, has decided to keep over $1 billion in gold which Venezuela naively deposited in the Bank of England for safe-keeping. To add insult to injury, the US continues to criticize Venezuela for the hardships its people endure as a direct consequence of this plunder.

Meanwhile, the US continues to persecute Colombian businessman Alex Saab for trying to obtain food and medicine for the Venezuelan people , denied such amenities by US sanctions. Saab was captured at the behest of the US in Cabo Verde in 2020 as he was flying to Iran to negotiate a deal for humanitarian supplies, including medicine to confront the coronavirus pandemic, on a mission he was employed to perform by Caracas. Saab has since been removed to a federal prison in Miami, Florida, despite the lack of an extradition treaty between the US and Cabo Verde, and he continues to languish in prison as the wheels of US “justice” turn at a snail’s pace to resolve his case. In short, not only has the US freely stolen from Venezuela, but it is also going to great lengths to stop those who try to acquire the basic necessities for the Venezuelan people.

All of this illustrates that colonial habits die hard, and the US is always ready to turn to the tried and trusted traditions of plunder – whether to dig itself out of one of the worst economic crises in years, or to coerce other nations to serve its own geopolitical interests. The fact that the US is allowed to get away with this demonstrates that in the Washington-imposed “rules-based order” rule of law is nothing but a tool employed by the mighty to keep the weak down.