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Vaccination Nations. An Open Letter to Congress

by Jeanne M. Haskin

U.S. demographics, no matter their racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural composition, were once seen as manageable under a thriving middle class. It also did not matter that US wealth was heavily concentrated in the hands of two percent.  Tolerance was our watchword and success a national goal. Americans not only needed to be good but, before foreign policy came home to roost, we were united in what that meant.

It turns out that we ourselves have not respected the free-market principle ‘live and let live’.  In South and Central America, our foreign policy resulted in state-sponsored massacres, mass disappearances, and the assassination of priests under ruthless dictatorships supported by militarized police. Economic stratification, when intensified to utter deprivation, left malnourished men, women, and children with grossly distended stomachs begging for work on the streets. In our ‘sphere of influence,’ debt peonage signaled victory. With nowhere to flee and no way to emigrate to the US, assassination or suicide provided the only escape.

How peculiar, then, that these are the people we hate.

We have self-styled ‘Minute Men’ on volunteer border patrol. ICE intercepted more immigrants and deported them far faster under President Obama than any Republican regime. President Trump, who was castigated for inhumane detention and separation of immigrant families, arranged a compromise with Mexico, which became a holding pen, so these policies could continue, albeit sight unseen.

Now we blather about creating better conditions so people will want to stay in their own countries—a new ‘spin’ on the story that hasn’t cost a thing.

Unlike a war in Ukraineor North Korea… Taiwanor Iran.

Washington would justify those, however, because Russia, China, Iran (and, for that matter, even Ukraine) are playing divide and conquer, because and only because, we made an easy target once our foreign policy came home to roost.

As America’s two percent became the one percent, some of the wealthy asked, ‘How will we manage the populace when jealousy becomes enmity, animosity, and worse? How will we survive the loss of the middle class?

The answer? Organized chaos, militant white nationalism, a businessman cum TV entertainer to turn up the pressure cooker, and—dare we say it—biological warfare to keep people off the streets.

Did it really matter that the outbreak in Wuhan was a verifiable accident? Not when television footage of COVID in New York featured refrigerated trailers filled with dead bodies destined for mass graves.

A war crime? Perhaps.

It could seem convincing that COVID was a conspiracy to control world populations when diminishing expectations were being forced upon them, but, in fact, we are warring with our past, present, and future over our degradation of nature.

So be it?

Not at all. We have the power to change. It is only that we must want to—before organized chaos becomes disorganized chaos and the elite lose control. Then they will set themselves up for the worst of all possible outcomes. They will call upon Big Pharma to put the lid back onto the pressure cooker. This is why we must stop our transformation into vaccination nations—lest the elite become so enamored with control through viral outbreaks that their ever-ready supply creates an ever-increasing demand.

Time & Ego: Judeo-Christian Egotheism and the English Industrial Revolution

By Claudiu A. Secara

© 1998 by Algora Publishing.

All Rights Reserved

No portion of this book (beyond what is permitted by Sections 107 or 108 of the United States Copyright Act of 1976) may be reproduced by any process, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, without the express written permission of the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data —

Secara, Claudiu A. (Claudiu Adrian), 1949-

Time & ego: Judeo-Christian Egotheism and English Industrial Revolution / Claudiu A. Secara. 2nd ed. p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references (p. 111-[115]) and index.

ISBN 978-0-9646073-2-3 (trade paper: alk. paper) — ISBN 978-1-892941-39-8 (eBook) 1. Duns Scotus, John, ca. 1266-1308. 2. Psychology, Religious—History. 3. Industrial

revolution. I. Title.

BL53 .S42 1998

190 21 00698325

Printed in the United States

1. History as God

1. There are times of solitude and longing when simple being, existing, brings no wholeness, completeness, to one’s individual life. Those are the times of anguish and anxiety, when the animus alone cannot prevail. In such hours of torment, survival is possible by the will of the genie within — but it is a senseless pursuit since self-preservation is its only purpose in carrying on.

2. Matter converted into biology supersedes fleeting history — as organic enduring memory. One’s existence is not mere passage in blood and flesh; it is permanence through its living species, past, present and future history. We not only remember yesterday’s events but we live as the embodiment and the destiny of our ancestors and, as well, as encrypted memory of our future generations.

Furthermore, as spine evolved into mind, we ceased to be mere biological creatures. Conscious of our double nature, mortal and eternal, we affirm our nature as concretization of the transcendental. The eternal was extricated from the body and given fantastic existence. The passage of time became an existence in itself. Becoming took the name ‘God’ –– passage of time that exists permanently.

3. It is commonly said that in order to understand the present, one has to look into the past; and it is for this reason that history is taught in schools. In the age of quantum physics, considering time relative to space, matter, values, etc., has been reduced to a cliché. However, from a different perspective, time may be seen as the consciousness within which we live. We act consciously relative to a cause and effect relation, which is to say, in relation to time and remembrance.

4. The conviction that there is a constancy and order in the universe gives objective validity to established propositions of knowledge: “Napoleon died in 1821,” “2 x 2 = 4.”

The truth as independent of the subject is what positive science aspires to. The relativist interpretations of sophists and dialecticians are possible only as long as their own relativist postulates are thought of as absolutes. Relative to the circumstances, truth is absolute in its determinations: Napoleon died in 1821 relative to our calendar, but, given the calendar, 1821 is the absolute year of Napoleon’s death.

Limited by the circumstances of its contingency, one’s truth is another’s error and the subjective agent is the absolute arbiter. It follows that the subject is the absolute truth.

5. Subjective arbiter par excellence, what man is in his world is what the world is at all. His will and his desires, his needs and his wants are all that his world is about. His world is the only world, is the whole world, is the world. He is the world. Ergo, the world is a creation of a free subject. Subjective thought — man’s thought — is indeed absolute.

His world is the world of liberty, since it is ruled by his own free will alone. His desires are his only necessities as his will is his only necessity. What he wants is his necessity. Ergo, his liberty is his necessity.

6. Given his internal necessity, however, man is deprived of the very essence of his external liberty; he is the slave of his own needs. In this sense man’s internal nature is revealed to be nature itself. His liberty is nature’s liberty. Thus, nature’s liberty is his internal necessity, dictating his free will.

Nature acting within man is still nature acting in perfect freedom from man. The liberty is nature’s; the necessity is man’s. Man is subservient to his free nature. His nature is transcendent to man and, as such, his own nature is the divine.

7. But man, we know, is a social being. It is mankind, one can say, that is prisoner of social necessity. As an individual, man is still free to determine his own fate. To live or to kill oneself is an individual choice, as is the decision whether to kill others. As an individual, man has the absolute power of death.

Sovereign over death, man is sovereign over life as well. He is the only being in the universe that procreates other humans. In flesh and blood, he produces mankind. It follows that it is he who originates and incarnates the social being, created and shaped by his demiurgic powers. Producer of human society, the free individual also originates his own social chains. Social laws and institutions are man’s will objectified into the enslavement of society; the social oppressions of the many are the manifestation of each man’s freedom.

8. There is a demiurge out there, in every individual, ready to clone into a social multitude of beings. Every individual is a society within itself, capable of reproducing new generations of the social entity. Every individual is the patriarch of his own social constituency that starts with him.

As individuals, humans bring forth other humans. The inception of life takes place day after day and on a mass scale. Each such act is the procreation of individuals by the individual. It is the inbreeding of the subject. Man is the originator of social individuals. That is to say that man creates the social body as well as its structures through the mastery of his creative forces.

In other words, man’s sovereignty in generating social bondage is an act of self-determination.

9. Organic reproduction of the human cell, individuals, which is to say, the primordial individual redivivus, is the overcoming of time by means of reincarnation, i.e., transcendental mnemonics.

Culture and tradition are forms of collective memory; the sense of identification with the primordial act of birth. Genesis is the essence of immortality. The urge to rise up and make our lives last is our deepest longing and that is why, by carrying along the cult of and the respect for our ancestors, we measure our progress and feel comfort and wholeness.

10. Subject to contingent destruction and haphazard perishability, the individual is restored as both personal (specific) and impersonal (immortal) through the social. Blood and flesh, we are the historical first individual. Not just a community of individuals, we are the one primordial individual. We are the historical first man, which is our creator. The original man is within us. And we have a free will of our own because our free will is the original will affirmed in us.

Supreme will and originator, the individual is the social, while community is only the personification of the holistic man.

11. We gain ourselves by carrying on our genealogy. Each individual’s parents and their parents and their parents’ parents demand the right to live through the individual’s personality. There is noise sometimes and quarrel among one’s internal voices and it takes deep reflection and self-perception to bring out the internal harmony which is one’s own identity.

By contrast, loss of the psychic root is the drama of mental illness, when the question “Who am I?” holds no answer.

12. Harmonizing the inheritance of various inner voices into one individual is the difficult process of maturing through education and self-knowledge. In the end, one finds in his unique being the same pattern of the universal man as everyone else. He is all of his ancestors. We all are only the latest descendant of the first man. Every individual is the first ancestor of the generation to follow.

But who is that one, our first and our common forefather and primogenitor?

In Search of the Ancestor

13. Born out of the bleeding placenta of our incubator, we know where we came from. Our parents themselves came the same way. The tribe one belonged to was set off by the founding father; the great hero and patriarch was the founder of the older nations. Since time immemorial, kinsmen have granted high esteem and godly elevation to the great mythical ancestor. Multiracial nations have created an allegorical father. The most complex civilizations have elaborated a religious father. The West found it in the ‘Son of God’.

14. The cult of Christ emerged in the hinterland of Judea at the time of the Roman conquest of Israel.

Encroached and threatened by the new world of Mediterranean cosmopolitanism, Jewish artisans and traders, fishermen and tax collectors were inescapably confronted with living the drama of the estranged local cult of the tribal father. Thus it happened that the people of the chosen tribe living in the internationalized Greco-Roman world were the first to arrive at the heart of the contradiction between the nature of the individual, the tribe and the world.

In the end, in Christ, mankind recognized itself to be one family of one destiny. For the first time, a tribal ancestor was replaced by the concept of mankind’s common salvation.

15. The notion of a unique God, proclaimed first by King Akhnaton in imperial Egypt, emerged after a long process of rationalization of the question of man’s destiny. Before it came to be identified with the Biblical notion of a Jewish god, the attributes of the universal fathering Being underwent a long metamorphosis. It finally converged the many gods: from the god of this river and the god of this tree, to the god of all rivers and the god of all trees. This was already a radical avant-garde accomplishment. In Christ, the notion of a unique creator was now reinforced by the idea of collective responsibility and immortality.

16. By the end of the second millennium BC, an ongoing revolution was taking place in the economies of the river civilizations. With populations expanding incessantly due to the successful cultivation of the riparian lands (Egypt alone grew from 50,000 people in 5000 BC to 6 million by the year 2000 BC), new demands for locally scarce resources and goods rose to unprecedented levels. Salt, for one thing, and spices and raisins, were unavailable in Egypt. Grain was still plentiful, but Lebanese cedar was much in want in the barren hills above the Nile as well as on the banks of the Euphrates.

Within such an economic environment, the emergence of large-scale trade both required and made possible a new social constituency at the core of the Middle East geographic triangle, bridged through the land of Israel. There, business and the trades took on a life of their own.

Statutes regulating one’s occupation, special privileges in support of specialized work, connections with kinsmen living in far away lands preserved across generations, skills in literacy, mathematics and bookkeeping, new systems of politics and social interrelations — all shaped the outlook of that nation’s business philosophy.

Eventually, the priestly cast and the engineering corps, the military elites and the imperial aristocracies, all of the ancient structures of the surrounding grand riparian civilizations collapsed. Only business and the trades moved on along the expanding boundaries of the new Mediterranean civilization. And so did the idea, initially developed in collusion with the ancient imperial dynasties’ quest for everlasting recognition, of the imperative of salvation through the management of time.

17. That momentous event, the consecration of the concept and practice of transcending the here and now, for the collective economic benefit, is preserved to this day in the biblical story of Joseph.

Within a single generation, from among many similar tribes — “We are shepherds, sir, just as our ancestors were,”[1] Jacob introduced his son Joseph to the king of Egypt. A new household name emerged due only to one man’s new approach to living in time, thinking historically. Joseph advised the king to accumulate grain in good years: “Take a fifth of the crops during the seven years of plenty,” and “store it up in the cities and guard it” as a “reserve supply for the country in the seven years of famine which are going to come on Egypt.” He was right, indeed. The years of famine came but the future proved to have been overcome already in the past and locked out of existence. This holistic perspective on time brought an unprecedented success to the kingdom of Egypt as well as to Joseph personally. “Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for the king. Every Egyptian was forced to sell his land, because the famine was so severe; and all the land became the king’s property. Joseph made slaves of the people from one end of Egypt to the other. The only land that he did not buy was the land that belonged to the priests… So Joseph made a law for the land of Egypt that one-fifth of the harvest should belong to the king.”[2]

The dividend earned by the king paid off his confidence in Joseph and brought Joseph’s clan to preeminence as well. “The Israelites lived in Egypt in the region of Goshen, where they became rich and had many children.”[3] They “built the cities of Pithom and Ramases to serve as supply centers for the king,”[4] and they became “so numerous and strong that they [were] a threat to [the king].” “In case of war they might join our enemies to fight against us,” years later a new pharaoh feared.

18. In attempting to define the religious content in the story of the old covenant, one finds it more difficult to identify what it is rather than what it is not. If one seeks to point to its underlying transcendental theism; if one aims to isolate the supernatural sacred story; if one searches for theological themes and beliefs in divine revelations; if one expects to find the voice of cosmic conscience; if one looks for the worshipping of the mysterious, the unworldly, of the spiritual or the divine; if one probes into the practice of animism, shamanism, idolatry, or divination; if one combs through its messages of theological revelation, theosophy, or the cult of the ancestors; if one examines its teachings of dogmatics, hermeneutics, mystics, hagiographics, revelations, exegesis, or patristics; if the existence of God is to be scrutinized through the religious idea of a metaphysical God — one cannot find that God in the story of the Jewish God.

The kingdom of the Judaic God and the pursuit of the Judaic happiness are earthly, ephemeral and godless. “The Lord your God is bringing you into a fertile land — a land that has rivers and springs and underground streams gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land that produces wheat and barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and honey. There you will never go hungry or be in need. Its rocks have iron in them, and from its hills you can mine copper. You will have all you want to eat, and you will give thanks to the Lord your God for the fertile land that he has given you.”[5] “Then all will go well with you, and you will become a mighty nation and live in that rich and fertile land.”[6] “You will lend money to many nations, but you will not have to borrow from any; you will have control over many nations, but no nation will have control over you.”[7] “The Lord will give you many children, many cattle, and abundant crops in the land that he promised your ancestors to give you. He will send rain in season from the rich storehouse in the sky and bless all your work, so that you will lend to many nations, but you will not have to borrow from any. The Lord your God will make you the leader among the nations and not a follower, you will always prosper and never fail if you obey faithfully all his commands that I am giving you today. But you must never disobey them in any way, or worship and serve other gods.”[8]

In the land of the profane god, one must obey the laws and the commands of the profane book of wisdom. And, most of all, one must not worship either gods or idols, that is, not recognize or believe in the sacred nature of any gods!

19. The anti-religious nature of the old covenant, above all, is the rejection of worshipping. For there is nothing out there or up above — no wood, no stone, no light that can be legitimized through acts of worship. God is Cause and Effect, is Law, is Reason, is Time.

It was at this moment in the Middle East’s history that the question of moral reasoning (what is good) superseded religious dogmatism (that is idolatry), and practical philosophy superseded the belief in metaphysical worship. “[Reason] — and [Reason] alone — is your God. Love your God [Reason] with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”[9]

Synthesis of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Semitic, Persian themes, all coming from within the Middle Eastern cultural paradigm, the Judaic books of wisdom — a mixture of pragmatic philosophies exposed through a series of historical anecdotes, witty fables and prodigy characters in the same vein of folksy theater as the Arabian Nights’ story of Noureddin written many years later — hold up thought and reason against superstition and idolatry, consecrating the supremacy of positive knowledge over belief in religious magic.

“You may wonder how you can tell when a prophet’s message does not come from the Lord [Reason]. If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord [Reason] and what he says does not come true, then it is not the Lord’s [Reason’s] message. That prophet has spoken on his own authority, and you are not to fear him.”[10]

Here, one comes as close as possible to positive knowledge and empirical testing. The quest for true knowledge is not so much a religious question as a practical one (Marx).

20. Scholars who compare the ancient Biblical texts with proven historical data find that the chronologies of the writing and of the events described therein are out of synchronization more often than not. We can surmise, for example, that the book of Genesis was edited ulterior to many of the fundamental texts of the Septuagint, in approximately 500 BC, after the Babylonian captivity and return, because of the heavy infusion of Babylonian mythology.

Absorbing themes from various earlier myths and other sources, recast into a continuous story of one people in pursuit of one aspiration driven by one grand design, the Old Septuagint gives the reader the superior feeling of witnessing the vivid history of the unfolding of a unique plan. The unity of the articulated assemblage of fables, narratives, conjectures and speculations from different times was made possible by one singular and dramatic act: the mystifying covenant with god to worship no god.

True, this epic poem is chronicled in scenic episodes described as matter-of-fact conversations with god––god conferred with Abraham under the “sacred trees of Mature, as he was sitting at the entrance of his tent during the hottest part of the day”; it spoke with Jacob “beneath the oak tree near Shechem,” two hundred years later, and again addressed Moses from behind the flaming bush, some five hundred years later. The impression is overwhelming — it gives the irresistible illusion of both a religious and a historical experience. Yet, the powerful subtext, substance, and nature of the message is instead negative, it is set against previous clan protectors, the snake, the golden calf, even the fire bushes, Baal, or Ishtar. Those were to be rejected and repudiated in favor of the faceless, the nameless, the impersonal and unique concept of godlessness and truth.

We know very little about the time Jacob’s descendants spent in Egypt. They arrived as one of the roaming tribes of the Aramaic nation, and they left their country of prosperity, four hundred years from the beginning of their social ascent, as an emancipated nation. Most of all, they rejected by then and left behind the hitherto prevalent and all-inhibiting idols of the mind.

The Egyptians, by their refusal to accept the new teachings, were left captive to obsolete beliefs. Yet, and contrary to its own revolutionary spirit, the insurgent liberation from the idols of reason was being made in the name of a new religion. The negation of religion became a religion in itself.

21. Gad saying: “Do not worship any gods!” is atheism in a religious interpretation. The Messiah addressing the crowds: “In the name of god, do not worship or believe in worship!”is philosophy in popular interpretation.

Christ against Christ

22. As we know, the Laws and the Commandments were the guidebook to the practical God. Where, one might ask, is the divine God? What is the religious way of reaching godly goals, or the divine of one’s life? Reading again the book of god, where is god to be found?

In miracles? — True, there were recorded miracles, such as the story of Sarah giving birth at the age of ninety. But the miracle itself is never the point. The point is life on the terrestrial land of fertile Canaan.

In prayer? — True, prayers of glorification and thanksgiving were offered, and solicitous prayers as well. But the prayer itself is never the action and the message. The plot and the drama come from the secular story of the living passions.

In occult pronouncements? — True, there were records of face-to-face encounters with the divine. Yet these personal encounters were never occult; everyone had to know about the matters being discussed with the heavenly messenger, they were expressed openly in public squares for the entire community’s benefit, read aloud to the crowds.

In power emanating from the high clergy? — True, the Old Testament is full of prophets and seers. They were the central leaders of the Judaic intellectual class, yet none of them was part of a religious establishment; neither were they priests, shamans, rabbis, or sacerdotal high clerics, theologians or spiritual princes. There was no practice of magic, no incantations, occult rites, necromancy or thaumaturgy, no astrology, hypnotism or witchcraft, no fetishism, spiritualism, black art or mystic rituals. No transcendentally or supernaturally possessed individuals were central figures — just simple folk with a commonsense wisdom.

Artisans in the understanding of human psychology, rather than masters; moralist novelists and writers of historical drama, they brought poetry and story telling, fiction and allegory, parable and character description, tile art of literature, in other words, to the level of moral philosophy. Poetic characters made social science with artistic means.

“Poetic characters,” in the words of Giambattista Vico –– the essence of the “Heroic Age” stories –– appeared “out of the need of human nature to explain itself while still incapable of isolating the forms and the attributes of things through the act of abstraction.”[11] “There is a certain feature (says Vico) of primitive nations, namely, that they don’t know how to advance from concrete to abstract. Unlearned of flow to abstract the general attributes out of concrete objects, they would rather indicate the latter and thereby the farmer, that is, the attributes themselves through the respective objects. The Latin grammars contain many examples.”[12] And then further: “One can say that in legends and fables, nations have, crudely, described the principles of this world of science; and, helped by rationalization as well as by maxims, that crude world of science has been rendered intelligible by the reflective thought of learned men.” “…The poetic theologians were Me senses, while the philosophers were the intellect of human wisdom.”[13]

23. The high brow revolutionary poly-atheism [apolytheism] (the rejection of supernatural powers) soon became ego-theism — worship of One, oneself. The intellectual dimension of non-religious higher philosophical understanding has been corrupted into a new religion of monotheistic self-worship. God as deity was now the chosen people as god.

This new religion made out of anti-superstition, a superstition in itself, and a fully developed institution of worship, was created and cultivated.

A well-established class of servants of the forbidden gods, as well as entrenched special interests, made empty phrases out of the revolutionary teachings. Priests, Sadducees, Pharisees, Teachers all busily debated the nature and the validity of the new rules. Worship of the secular reached its paroxysm. The un-worldly spirit made a full religion out of the worldly.

Now, interpretations of the un-interpretable functioned as the equivalent superstitious belief in the pagan interrogations of the auguries. Long successions of fortune-tellers and false prophets came to populate the land of the latest god. Public displays and rituals stood out as the practices of a new-style faith while literal interpretations of the sacrosanct texts would obscure both their meaning and their spirit.

It was about time for a second revolution.

24. “Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them but to make their teachings come true.”[14] A new hero stood up, for a moment, to the newer religious bureaucratic establishment. The “heroic character”, once again, brought the principles of rational philosophy and ethical life to the forefront of human consciousness. Jesus articulated an anti-religious position and a humanistic manifesto. He, too, would be sacramentalized and idolatrized while still alive, and after a martyr’s death.

25. Ambitious men have a shared, sometimes hidden, desire for fame and glory.

Fathering new teachings on god and his designs on earth always seems to fascinate the great dreamers and more than one life has been spent on such pursuits. Would-be founders of new religions act out their own belief in religious engineering. Many still believe that mass conversions to virtually any form of superstition are possible. In that case, having at hand a great communicator of popular simple-minded prejudices, backed up by astute crowd hypnotism and an organization to spread the last word of wisdom, making up some newspaper story of persecutions, an occasional fabricated martyr and a new religion product could be thought out as designer made by any ingenious entrepreneur.

Yet, as long as the aim of creating a religion is a religious one, the result is only “religious”. The true religions were, at their very core, anti-religious movements. The true religions were indeed atheistic.

Christ was second after Moses, in our tradition, to rise up in a fundamental way against the fetish spirit, the spirit which nurtures only religious monsters.

Humanism as Religion

26. In the panoply of man’s teachers, Christ had an unparalleled influence. Why is that? What makes the story about him so unique? What is Christ’s overriding message, what is the essential message of the New Testament, its central idea? Is it the teachings of Christ, and if so which ones? Or, is it what is implied by the deeds of Christ, and if so, once again, which ones? Is the symbol of Christ, as a mythical figure, the message, and then, what does his symbol represent?

There are at least three major levels of communication embedded in the writings of the New Testament, skillfully melded into one story yet strikingly distinct from each other. One story comes from third party witnesses and their story about Christ. The second story is in his actions: healing the terminally ill, multiplying the loaves of bread, walking on water — still not unlike some traditional exorcist and occult magician. The third story is Christ’s own words — his parables, teachings, lessons.

On the first level and by all accounts, what is known as Christ’s divine nature — his birth and death, and especially his resurrection — is related to us by later writers in the Gospels. These myth-tellers were not historians in any sense. As embodiment of a myth, Christ is what he has been made to be.

On the second level of interpretation, there are ways to rationalize and make sense of his acts of miracles only when interpreted as “concrete descriptions” of some “poetic intellectual thinking,” which brings us to the third level of Gospel exegesis.

It is what Christ says that has the most insightful historical value, because what he tells his fellow men is a meaningful extension of the Hebrew spirit of his times, good Hellenistic philosophy, and free thinking, all blended together into one new set of principles. “They teach man-made rules as though they were my laws! You put aside God’s commands and obey the teachings of men,”15 he quotes Isaiah,16 and few in his audience seem to understand the basis of his rejection of his fellow countrymen’s uncritical belief in old ideas.

Socrates announcing the death of the tribal idols and subjective falsehood is the closest figure, in antiquity, to that of Christ.

“What is the most important commandment of all?” he is asked. His answer as recorded by his chroniclers is: “The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”[15]

27. One needs only to read his words through the eyes of modern social science to capture the revolutionary sense of this proposition. The concept of objective truth is outright seditious incitement to self-liberation from fallacy, mendacity, and human vanity. It is antiestablishment.

Here, the concept of god is like the concept of order and law, objective knowledge and science, as opposed to falsehood, irrationality, superstition, and ignorance. There is a natural order in this world — is the underlying message. The law of the universe is the law of nature, of existence, the law of being. True thinking is love of the whole truth, of the universal truth. Only religion is idolatry of self, belief in man-made, self-made fetishes, in subjective truths.

God is omniscient, omnipresent, all powerful — the reason in things. Metaphorical philosophy — nature explained through the act of nature itself — Christ’s intellectual discourse takes the form of poetic fables. Notice that he has not a single word on the matter of the attributes of some supernatural reality. Knowledge and understanding of things and belief in oneself are the proof of the mastery of the powers of mind. Seek and you will find, believe and you will be powerful. And above all — know thyself.

28. The pedantic mind, prisoner of his own fetishes, sees only opposites: soul or body, spirit or matter, science or religion. In fact, in presenting the notion of a unifying supreme being, Christ makes no distinction between the sides of our existence, soul and heart, spirit and body, will power and love — they are equally invoked as ways of acknowledging the laws of the universal being.

29. One basic tenet of modern dialectical materialism is the enunciation of the unity of opposites as in the identity of one into another. A more complex understanding of the dialectical philosophy of nature is given by the natural law of the identity of one into many. A still higher understanding is the notion of metamorphosis, transformation and evolution: one of many.

Identity in diversity is recognized as the underlying premise in any universal judgment such as when one announces that all swans are white (all A are B). The general attributes of things (white, in this case) have identical existence and it is easy to believe that they might also have real existence outside and independent of the things themselves. The color white is an attribute independent of any particular swan so that one can unintentionally fall on the slippery conviction that it can be extrapolated into an independent existence. Hence the scholastic assertion that universalia sunt realia.

The philosophical notion of becoming is magic explanation of how A transforms into B. Metamorphosis takes place in Time. Time is a three dimensional perspective of a flat world. Circular becoming is the negation of negation. The spiral of becoming is the negation of circular becoming. One seed grows into a mature plant which carries the many seeds of its fruition. The real thing is neither the seed not the plant, it is the process of transformation, the process of becoming the other one. The real thing is an abstraction. Things are really processes. Hence: Nomina sunt realia. What is real is a description.

The model of the living being illustrates best the dialectics of transformation. Things are living organisms. The Earth is Gaia. The universe is a Spirochete. The whole is a symbiosis of the larger infinite Being into the smaller infinity of beings (Nicholas Cusanus). Parts of the whole, they are living wholes unto themselves.

For the nineteenth century philosophy of dialectics, the concept of WIRY in contradiction was the representation of a simplified bipolar model of nature: the magnetic unity of positive and negative. It was a dialectical philosophy of the electrical age. Life as assimilation and disassimilation, society as master and slave, knowledge as science and religion.

A bipolar dialectic, however, is only one particular slant on the multifaceted philosophy of dialectics.

30. The idea that soul is body, that spirit is matter, or that science is religion is still not above the bipolar notion of dialectics. The opposite idea, that religion is science, is no less traditional dialectics. Yet, understanding that atheism is religion also, or that religion — the uncritical belief in subjective metaphysical constructs is the very basis of our intellectual rational assertions, is taking dialectical philosophy one step further.

31. Modern exegesis of the history of religions brought to larger circulation the view that scientific novelty and advancement in knowledge becomes, in the course of time, outdated representation. Science becomes religion as dead science. Or, science becomes religion for ignorant, non-scientific minds.

Nevertheless, the view that science itself is theism — that is, belief in objective absolute causes; as much as theism is atheism — that is the rejection of subordination to an external authority; that religion is fetishism — namely that one’s scientific premises are his idols; that idolatry is the affirmation of one’s individuality — as in the belief in the subjective power of knowledge, etc., has unexpected consequences.

32. We still tend to make judgments based on semantic assumptions, words as thought realities, not unlike old scholasticism. The French Revolution, for instance, was argued in the anti-feudal concepts of human rights, as the Russian Revolution was worded through anti-capitalist notions of labor power. The use of terms such as human rights or proletarian power, reflected in the lexicography of the time, misses the universality of the human drama. Prometheus against Zeus, David against Goliath could as well be thought of as human rights movements, or proletarian movements. They asserted their human rights and they rebelled against social enslavement, against fear and idolatry. They stand as symbols of the eternal struggle of the underdog against the authority, of sons against fathers, of God against Devil.

Yet, by the logic of revolution itself, it follows that the underdog turns into the new authority, son turns into father, God turns into Devil. We have now a continuation of the same antagonism, only the terms have changed: authority against the underdog, fathers against sons, Devil against God. God turned into Devil. God is Devil. God himself is godless.

This is a plot in a myriad of plots that plot. God is everywhere. God is godless. Godlessness is godly.

33. Philosophically, Christ is the iconoclastic god and as such he is godless. Center and kernel of the power that emanates from him, 11e is the father, Alpha and Omega, the One and the negation of the Other. He is atheist because he is the divine. He is divine because he is the unique One. We are all unique, ergo we all are Christ.

34. Historically, Christ is the individual that came from within Judaism’s philosophical religion and impressed his countrymen with his teaching of submission to no religious authority. They were in awe, expecting a political Messiah, but they were confronted with Jesus’ own anti-Christ spirit — ancient interpretation of what modern-day philosophy has more elaborately defined as dialectical materialism.

35. Throughout the Gospels, there is a strikingly recognizable story in the struggles of the courageous man confronting old habits, hypocrisy, plain stupidity, powerful economic influences, entrenched interests, even the house of worship’s self-appointed men (later on, sadly, reenacted in his own name).

Listen to the story of his poetical philosophy:

36. Man, his life, his needs, his self-interest, should be recognized as the central issue for man:

“The Sabbath was made for the good of man; man was made for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2, 27-28.

“What does our Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To help or to harm? To save a man’s life or to destroy it?” Mark 3,4.

The standpoint of the old materialism is “civil” society; the standpoint of the new is human society, or socialized humanity. Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, X.

37. Natural laws govern the objective world, independent and outside of man’s subjective thinking.

“The Kingdom of God is like this. A man scatters seed in his field. He sleeps at night, is up and about during the day, and all the while the seeds are sprouting and growing. Yet he does not know how it happens. The soil itself makes the plants grow and bear fruit: first the tender stalk appears, then the head, and finally the head full of grains. When the grain is ripe, the man starts cutting it with his sickle, because harvest time has come.” Mark 4,26-29.

“What shall we say the Kingdom of God is like? What parable shall we use to explain it?. . . A man takes a mustard seed, the smallest seed in the world, and plants it in the ground. After a while it grows up and becomes the biggest of all plants. It puts out such large branches that the birds come and make their nests in its shade.” Mark 4,30-32.

The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth, that is, the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question. Marx, Theses on Feuerbaell, II.

38. Believing in one’s self is believing in man’s creative forces in an intellectual as well as practical way:

“He would not speak to them without using parables, but when he was alone with his disciples, he would explain everything to them.” Mark 4,34.

“My daughter, your faith has made you well.” Mark 5,34.

“Don’t be afraid, only believe.” Mark 5,36.

“He was not able to perform any miracle there, except that he placed his hand on a few sick people and healed them. He was greatly surprised, because the people did not have faith.” Mark 6, 5-6.

“Have faith in God. I assure you that whoever tells this hill to set up and throw itself in the sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. For this reason I tell you: when you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.” Mark 4,22-24.

Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity as objective activity. […] Hence he does not grasp the significance of “revolutionary,” of practical — critical, activity. Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, I.

39. Knowledge is empirical perception of things, seeing and listening, and is the intelligent, logical and rational use of mind powers:

“You are no more intelligent than the others. Don’t you understand? Nothing that goes into a person from the outside can really make him unclean, because it does not get into his heart but into his stomach and then goes on out of the body.” Mark 7, 18-19.

“For from the inside, from a person’s heart, come the evil ideas which lead him to do immoral things, to rob, kill, commit adultery, be greedy, and all sorts of evil things; deceit, indecency, jealousy, slander, pride, and folly — all these evil things come from inside a person and make him unclean.” Mark 7, 21-23.

“ ‘Take care and be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’ They started discussing among themselves: ‘He says that because we don’t have any bread.’ Jesus knew what they were saying, so he asked them: ‘Why are you discussing about not having any bread? Don’t you know or understand yet? Are your minds so dull? You have eyes — can’t you see? You have ears — can’t you hear?’” Mark 8, 14-18.

“The disciples were completely amazed, because they had not understood the real meaning of the feeding of the five thousand; their minds could not grasp it.” Mark 6, 51.

Social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which mislead theory into mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice. Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, VIII.

40. The universal character and validity of true knowledge proves the unity of nature and its laws:

“Whoever welcomes in my name one of these children, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes riot only me but also the one who sent me.” Mark 9,37.

“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” Luke 10,16.

“As Jesus was walking in the Temple, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the elders carne to him and asked him: ‘What right do you have to do those things? Who gave you such right?’ Jesus answered them: ‘I will ask you just one question, and if you give me an answer, I will tell you what right I have to do these things. Tell me, where did John’s right to baptize come from: was it from God or from man?’” Mark 11,27-30.

Feuerbach, consequently, does not see that the “religious sentiment” is itself a social product, and that the abstract individual whom he analyses belongs in reality to a particular form of society. Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, VII.

41. The preeminence of the Godly truth is to be understood as the preeminence of the objective truth over the ideas of socially dominant classes’ truth and their vested class interests and false ideologies.

“Teacher, we know that you tell the truth without worrying about what people think. You pay no attention to a man’s status but teach the truth about God’s will for man.” Mark 12,14.

“When they arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple and began to drive out all those who were buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, and he would not let anyone carry anything through the Temple courtyards. He then taught the people: ‘It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations.’ But you have turned it into a hideout for thieves!’ The chief priests and the teachers of the Law heard of this, so they began looking for some way to kill Jesus. They were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.” Mark 11,15-18.

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it. Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, XI.

42. Learning and acquiring knowledge is an ongoing process; it is keeping up with the times and historical change, with the evolution of society; it is answering one’s own social challenges, dealing with the reality of the historical present time and not worshipping of the past:

“Now, as for the dead being raised: haven’t you ever read in the Book of Moses the passage about the burning bush? There it is written that God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is the God of the living, not of the dead. You are completely wrong!” Mark 12,26-27.

Feuerbach resolves the religious essence into the human essence. But the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality, it is the ensemble of the social relations.

Feuerbach, who does not enter upon a criticism of this real essence, is consequently compelled:

(1) To abstract from historical process and to fix the religious sentiment as something by itself and to presuppose an abstract — isolated — human individual.

(2) The human essence, therefore, can with him be comprehended only as “genus,” as an internal, dumb generality which merely naturally unites the many individuals. Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, VI.

43. The word, law, universal and objective Reason, is God and it is not observed or attended to by religious rituals but by following the commandments of living rationally:

“Well done, teacher! It is true, as you say, that only the Lord is God and that there is no other god but he. It is more important to obey these two commandments than to offer on the altar animals and other sacrifices to God.” Mark 12,32-33.

“Teachers of the Law, who like to walk around in their long robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplace, who choose the reserved seats in the synagogues and the best places at feasts. . . they take advantage of widows and rob them of their homes, [they] teach men [to] swear by the gold in Temple, [to] swear by the gift on the altar. . . You hypocrites! You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the Law, such as justice and mercy and honesty.” Matthew 23,16-23.

The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and upbringing [ . . . ] forgets that it is men who change circumstances and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. Hence, this doctrine necessarily arrives at dividing society into two parts, one of which is superior to society.

The coincidence of the changing circumstances and of human activity can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionizing practice. Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, III, 44.

The proof for knowledge is sought in a practical way by experimental methods and it is not an abstract or untested imitation of affected scientific manners:

“You may wonder how you can tell when a prophet’s message does not come from the Lord [Reason]. If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord [Reason] and what he says does not come true, then it is not the Lord’s [Reason’s] message. That prophet has spoken on his own authority, and you are not to fear him.”[16]

“Teacher, we saw a man who was driving out demons in your name, and we told him to stop, because he doesn’t belong to our group.” Mark 9,38.

“For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear. They will perform miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God’s chosen people, if possible.” Mark 13,22.

Feuerbach, not satisfied with abstract thinking, appeals to sensuous contemplation; but he does not conceive sensuousness as practical, human-sensuous activity. Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, V.

45. Knowledge is reason, reason is divine power, is godly, and so is the man who exercises knowledge in the eyes of the ones who don’t have it:

“Again the High Priest spoke to him, ‘In the name of the living God I now put you under oath: tell us you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ Jesus answered him: ‘So you say.”’ Matthew 26:64.

“They all said, ‘Are you, then, the Son of God?’ He answered them, ‘You say that I am.”’ Luke 22:70.

Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the world into a religious, imaginary world and a real one. [. . .] For the fact that the secular basis detaches itself from itself and establishes itself in the clouds as an independent realm can only be explained by the cleavage and the self-contradictions within this secular basis. Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, IV.

46. The question of truth is the question of being human. For man, only truth has reality and power:

“You say that I am a king. I was born and carne into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to the.” John 18:37.

Man must prove the truth, that is, the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, ll.

47. The question of truth? With this question the metaphysical Eastern religion arrives at the gates of Western philosophy; Greco-Roman rational philosophy takes notice for the first time, as recorded by written history, of the poetic Jewish mind. The rational-skeptical Pilate finds the issues that strain his learned prisoner’s mind to be familiar and yet still approached with a naive dogmatism. He looks down upon the young true believer from his own nation’s centuries-old rational wrestlings with the metaphysics of truth:

“ ‘And what is truth?’ Pilate asked.” John 18:38.

With that we enter the poetical Middle Ages.

48. Christ spoke to the people in his audience about themselves and their earthly existence, and they conjured him up as an unearthly creature. He pinned them to the wall of shame and mocked their endless foolishness, and they fell deeper into their mindless self-righteousness. He deplored their inner wickedness and hypocrisy, and they condemned him for apostasy and heresy. He challenged them to think; they prayed and pleaded for their salvation in the name of their self-interest.

49. A remarkable common-sense view of nature, life and truth strikes the unencumbered mind when it reads with an open eye the desperate effort of that man to tell his people how to live with an intelligent approach to their destiny on earth. They took a literal interpretation of his subtle spirit of dialectical thinking and entirely obscured his message.

He spoke in allegories about the powers of the mind and man mastering nature’s elements, its forces and demons; and his people swore they saw him one day walking the seas. He pointed to the hill above the plain, domesticated and developed under the tending hand of man, and they swore he had ordered the hill tumble off the reef. He spoke in parables, and they looked for fantastic apparitions.

He told them that spreading the wisdom of understanding is like the yeast that makes the dough grow from within itself, and they said he fed thousands of stomachs with one loaf of whole grain bread.

He cited the miraculous in the quotidian, the miraculous found in the seed of the germinating grain, in the grass sprouting from the earth’s crust, in the unfolding of the mustard tree, in the lilies flowering in the fields, in the wind and the rain, in all the wonders of the Kingdom of Life, and they were concerned with how to reserve a place in the Kingdom of death.

He asked them to see and to hear and they beheld him in disbelief and were disturbed by hearing their own inner voices and outer whispers of condemnation.

He saw liberation from the chains of greed, deceit and jealousy through self-restraint and dignity — and behind the words of truth they sought some sort of hidden insiders’ message offering better terms for trading their life, in a transactional way, for a better deal with God.

He said, don’t ask whether the truth comes from God or from man, the question itself is silly since man is the son of God, man is a product of nature. They questioned man’s freedom to question.

He told them that performing miracles is not proof of truth; anybody astute enough can learn that skill; and they founded his supernatural ontology on the art of magic and deceit.

He lived in flesh and blood on the streets of the cities and walked the roads and the fields of Judea, and they made him an unearthly abnormality.

He was teaching modern science; they worshiped a spectral creation of feverish minds.

50. One Gospel or another, one story more or less, the generations followed, all mixing truth with falsehood in such a way that verity and religion, idols and heroes, high aspirations and fallacies would establish their patterns under new names. And a good cause was defended for the wrong reasons.

Why Russia Saved The United States

By Cynthia Chung

Whenever the government of the United States shall break up, it will probably be in consequence of a false direction having been given to public opinion. This is the weak point of our defences, and the part to which the enemies of the system will direct all their attacks. Opinion can be so perverted as to cause the false to seem true; the enemy, a friend, and the friend, an enemy; the best interests of the nation to appear insignificant, and trifles of moment; in a word, the right the wrong, and the wrong, the right. In a country where opinion has sway, to seize upon it, is to seize upon power. As it is a rule of humanity that the upright and well-intentioned are comparatively passive, while the designing, dishonest and selfish are the most untiring in their efforts, the danger of public opinion’s getting a false direction is four-fold, since few men think for themselves.

– James Fenimore Cooper (The American Democrat 1838)

I think it is evident to most by now that the United States is presently undergoing a crisis that could become a full-blown second civil war.

Some might be wondering, is it really so bad that the U.S. could possibly collapse in the not-so-distant future? After all, isn’t it acting like the worst of empires? Isn’t it wreaking havoc on the world today? Is it not a good thing that it collapse internally and spare the world from further wars?

It is true that the U.S. is presently acting more like a terrible empire than a republic based on liberty and freedom. It may even be the case that the world is spared for a time from further war and tyranny, if the U.S. were to collapse. However, this is unlikely and it most certainly would be only temporary, since the U.S. is not the source of such monstrosities but rather is merely its instrument.

This paper will go not only go through why this is the case and but will also analyze Russia’s historical relationship to the U.S. in context to its recognition of this very fact.

The Great Liberators

In 1861, the Emancipation Edict was passed and successfully carried out by Czar Alexander II that would result in the freeing of over 23 million serfs. This was by no means a simple task and met much resistance, requiring an amazing degree of statesmanship to see it through. In a speech made by Czar Alexander II to the Marshalls of Nobility in 1856 he stated:

You can yourself understand that the present order of owning souls cannot remain unchanged. It is better to abolish serfdom from above, than to wait for that time when it starts to abolish itself from below. I ask you to think about the best way to carry this out.

The success of this edict would go down in history as one of the greatest accomplishments for human freedom and Czar Alexander II became known as the ‘Great Liberator’, for which he was beloved around the world.

Shortly after, in 1863, President Lincoln would pass the Emancipation Proclamation which declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” There is astonishingly a great deal of cynicism surrounding this today. It is thought that because Lincoln did not announce this at the beginning of the war it somehow was never genuine. However, Lincoln was always for the abolishment of slavery and the reason for his delay was due to the country being so at odds with itself that it was willing to break into pieces over the subject, an intent that Lincoln rightfully opposed and had to navigate through.

Former slave and Lincoln ally, Frederick Douglass, though himself frustrated with the delay to equal rights, understood after meeting and discussing his concerns with Lincoln that the preservation of the country came first, stating:

“It was a great thing to achieve American independence when we numbered three millions [slaves], but it was a greater thing to save this country from dismemberment and ruin when it numbered thirty millions. He alone of all our presidents was to have the opportunity to destroy slavery, and to lift into manhood millions of his countrymen hitherto held as chattels and numbered with the beasts of the field.”

For more on the Lincoln-Douglass story refer to my paper.

In addition, there are many speeches Lincoln gave while he was a lawyer, where he most clearly and transparently spoke out against slavery. In a speech at Peoria, Illinois (Oct 16, 1854), 7 years before he would become president, Lincoln stated:

This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world—enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites—causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men among ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principle of civil liberty—criticizing the Declaration of Independence and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.”

During the civil war lord Robert Cecil (later called the Marquess of Salisbury and three-time Prime Minister of Britain) expressed his viewpoint on the matter in the British Parliament:

The Northern States of America never can be our sure friends because we are rivals, rivals politically, rivals commercially…With the Southern States, the case is entirely reversed. The population are an agricultural people. They furnish the raw material of our industry, and they consume the products which we manufacture from it. With them, every interest must lead us to cultivate friendly relations, and when the war began they at once recurred to England as their natural ally.” [emphasis added]

By 1840, cotton made up more than half of American exports. More than 75% of slave cotton was exported to Britain. American slave cotton was the centerpiece of the British Empire’s world cheap-labor system.

The autumn of 1862 would mark the first critical phase of the Civil War. Lincoln sent an urgent letter to the Russian Foreign Minister Gorchakov, informing him that France was ready to intervene militarily and was awaiting England. The salvation of the Union thus rested solely on Russia’s decision to act.

The Foreign Minister Gorchakov wrote in response to Lincoln’s plea:

You know that the government of United States has few friends among the Powers. England rejoices over what is happening to you; she longs and prays for your overthrow. France is less actively hostile; her interests would be less affected by the result; but she is not unwilling to see it. She is not your friend. Your situation is getting worse and worse. The chances of preserving the Union are growing more desperate. Can nothing be done to stop this dreadful war? The hope of reunion is growing less and less, and I wish to impress upon your government that the separation, which I fear must come, will be considered by Russia as one of the greatest misfortunes. Russia alone, has stood by you from the first, and will continue to stand by you. We are very, very anxious that some means should be adopted–that any course should be pursued–which will prevent the division which now seems inevitable. One separation will be followed by another; you will break into fragments.”

Russia’s proclaimed support in its letters to Lincoln would be put to the test during the summer of 1863. By then, the South’s invasion of the North had failed at Gettysburg and the violent anti-war New York draft riots also failed and Britain, as a result, was thinking of a direct military intervention with the backing of France. What would follow marks one of the greatest displays of support for another country’s sovereignty to ever occur in modern history.

The Russian Navy arrived on both the east and west coastlines of the United States late September and early October 1863.

The timing was highly coordinated due to intelligence reports of when Britain and France were intending their military action. The Russian navy would stay along the US coastline in support of the Union for 7 months! They never intervened in the American civil war but rather remained in its waters at the behest of Lincoln in the case of a foreign power’s interference.

If Russia had not done this, Britain and France would most certainly have intervened on behalf of the Confederate states as they made clear they would, and the United States would have most certainly broken in two at that point. It was Russia’s direct naval support that allowed the United States to remain whole.

Czar Alexander II, who held sole power to declare war for Russia, stated in an interview to the American banker Wharton Barker on Aug. 17, 1879 (Published in The Independent March 24, 1904):

In the Autumn of 1862, the governments of France and Great Britain proposed to Russia, in a formal but not in an official way, the joint recognition by European powers of the independence of the Confederate States of America. My immediate answer was: `I will not cooperate in such action; and I will not acquiesce. On the contrary, I shall accept the recognition of the independence of the Confederate States by France and Great Britain as a casus belli for Russia. And in order that the governments of France and Great Britain may understand that this is no idle threat; I will send a Pacific fleet to San Francisco and an Atlantic fleet to New York.

…All this I did because of love for my own dear Russia, rather than for love of the American Republic. I acted thus because I understood that Russia would have a more serious task to perform if the American Republic, with advanced industrial development were broken up and Great Britain should be left in control of most branches of modern industrial development.” [emphasis added]

What was Czar Alexander II referring to exactly when mentioning the advanced industrial development of the American Republic? Well, in short he was referring to the Hamiltonian system of economics. Notably, Alexander Hamilton’s 1791 Report on the Usefulness of the Manufactories in Relation to Trade and Agriculture which was published in St. Petersburg in 1807, sponsored by Russian Minister of Finance D.A. Guryev.

It was Hamilton who pioneered a new system of political economy coming out of the war of Independence which saw America bankrupt, undeveloped, and agrarian. Hamilton solved this problem by federalizing the state debts and converting it into productive credit, channelled by national banks into large scale internal improvements with a focus on the growth of manufacturing. Anyone wishing to learn more about this should read Anton Chaitkin’s recent publication Who We Are: America’s Fight for Universal Progress.

In the introduction to the translated Hamilton pamphlet, Russian educator V. Malinovsky wrote:

The similarity of American United Provinces with Russia appears both in the expanse of the land, climate and natural conditions, in the size of population disproportionate to the space, and in the general youthfulness of various generally useful institutions; therefore all the rules, remarks and means proposed here are suitable for our country.”

This “American system” was what Tsar Alexander II recognised as the only economic system to have successfully challenged the system of empire, which he recognized as the root of all slavery. The ineffective and ultimately costly labour of slaves was no match for competing against a machine tool industry to which Frederick Douglass attested. The construction of rail that was made possible through the development of this machine tool industry is what freed countries from Britain’s maritime supremacy.

The “American System”

In 1842, Czar Nicholas I hired American engineer George Washington Whistler to oversee the building of the Saint Petersburg-Moscow Railway, Russia’s first large-scale railroad. In the 1860s, Henry C. Carey’s economics would be promoted in St. Petersburg’s university education, organised by US Ambassador to Russia Cassius Clay. Carey was a leading economic advisor to Lincoln and leading Hamiltonian of his age.

Sergei Witte, who worked as Russian Minister of Finance from 1889-1891 and later became Prime Minister in 1905, would publish in 1889 the incredibly influential paper titled “National Savings and Friedrich List” which resulted in a new customs law for Russia in 1891 and resulted in an exponential growth increase in Russia’s economy. Friedrich List publicly attributed his influence in economics to Alexander Hamilton.

Lincoln’s Pacific Railroad superintendent, General Grenville Dodge, advised Russia on its Trans-Siberia railroad, built with Pennsylvania steel and locomotives from 1890-1905.

In his 1890 budget report, Sergei Witte- echoing the Belt and Road Initiative unfolding today, wrote:

The railroad is like a leaven, which creates a cultural fermentation among the population. Even if it passed through an absolutely wild people along its way, it would raise them in a short time to the level requisite for its operation.

Sergei Witte was explicit of his following of the American model of political economy when he described his re-organization of the Russian railways saying:

Faced by a serious shortage of locomotives, I invented and applied the traffic system which had long been in practice in the United States and which is now known as the “American system.”

By 1906, Czar Nicholas II of Russia supported the plan for the American-Russian Bering Strait tunnel, officially approving a team of American engineers to conduct a feasibility study.

Russia would complete the trans-Siberian railway in 1905 under the leadership of “American System” follower Count Sergei Witte. On its maiden voyage the Trans-Siberian rail saw Philadelphia-made train cars run across the Russian heartland, and it is no accident that all of the key players involved in the Alaska purchase were also involved in the Russian continental rail program on both sides of the ocean.

Bismarck’s Zollverein

In 1876 Henry C. Carey organized the centennial exhibition where 10 million people from 37 countries came to Philadelphia to see the achievements of the United States in its advancements in machine tool industry, which propelled their economy to the first in the world.

Only three years later, Otto von Bismarck broke Germany’s free trade system implementing an American style tariff policy for his nation. The kinship between Germany and the United States became so strong at this time that Otto von Bismarck’s speech in the parliament (1879) was quoted by McKinley on the floor in US Congress:

A success of the United States in material development is the most illustrious of modern time. The American nation has not only successfully born and suppressed the most gigantic and expensive war of all history, but immediately afterward disbanded its army, found employment for all its soldiers and marines, paid off most of its debt, given labour and homes to all the unemployed in Europe as fast as they could arrive within its territory and still by a system of taxation so indirect as not to be perceived, much less felt… Because it is my deliberate judgement that the prosperity of America is mainly due to its protective laws, I urge that Germany has now reached that point, where it is necessary to imitate the tariff system of the United States.”

Otto von Bismarck was heavily organising for the building of the Berlin to Baghdad railway, which after much resistance and delay would only be completed in 1940. If this has been accomplished during Otto von Bismarck’s life, the Middle East could have avoided the Sykes Picot carving up.

In 1869, Japanese modernizers working directly with the Lincoln-Carey strategists ran the Meiji Restoration which industrialized Japan.

In the 1880s and 90s, Lincoln-Carey Philadelphia industrialists were contracted for huge infrastructure and nation-building projects in China. Hawaiian Christian missionary Frank Damon, having participated in the Carey group’s strategies at a very high level, helped instigate, shape, and build the Sun Yat-sen organization that gave birth to modern China.

Sun Yat-sen referred to his admiration of Lincoln’s USA as the basis for a new multipolar system saying:

“The world has been greatly benefited by the development of America as an industrial and a commercial Nation. So a developed China with her four hundred millions of population, will be another New World in the economic sense. The nations which will take part in this development will reap immense advantages. Furthermore, international cooperation of this kind cannot but help to strengthen the Brotherhood of Man.”

How Did We End Up Where We Are Today?

With such a glorious outlay of cooperation and common interests across the globe united against an economic system of empire, it begs the obvious question “What went wrong? How did we end up where we are today?”

To give one a quick glimpse into the reason why, let us look at some of the major assassinations and soft-coups from the late 19th century and early 20th century of American system proponents (refer to the image below).

Henry C. Carey stated it best when he described the situation as such, in his “Harmony of Interests” (1851):

“Two systems are before the world; the one looks to increasing the proportion of persons and of capital engaged in trade and transportation, and therefore to diminishing the proportion engaged in producing commodities with which to trade, with necessarily diminished return to the labor of all; while the other looks to increasing the proportion engaged in the work of production, and diminishing that engaged in trade and transportation, with increased return to all, giving to the laborer good wages, and to the owner of capital good profits… One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other in increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace. One is the English system; the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of elevating while equalizing the condition of man throughout the world.”

We have yet to conclude the victor between these two opposing systems, the fight is not over and we would be foolish to give up at the finishing line. What we do today will decide the course of things in the future, and whether we live under a true recognition of freedom and prosperity, or whether we are ruled-over and our liberties treated as “privilege,” that can be given or taken based on the judgement of a ruling class, remains to be seen.

Thus, let us hearken to the words of Lincoln, who in a debate with the slave power’s champion Stephen Douglas, said:

That is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles – right and wrong – throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings.”

The author can be reached at cynthiachung[originally published on Strategic Culture]

Rhodes Scholars Surge In Biden’s Potential Cabinet

by Matthew Ehret via Strategic-Culture

With Trump’s ascension to the presidency in 2016, the Rhodes Scholars that had permeated the U.S. Deep State over many years found themselves choking on humble pie as they were removed from the drivers’ seat of world affairs for the first time in decades. The paradigm of post-nation state unipolarism that had been carefully built up over the post-WWII period had somehow been successfully challenged by an outsider as the republic was slowly returned to its patriotic traditions as a nation committed to non-interventionism, industrial progress and protectionism.

The In the last few days, it has become clear that these Oxford-trained Rhodes Scholars have re-emerged as leading voices in Biden’s cabinet, and since a general understanding of this problem is so lacking today (leading many patriots to be duped into believing that the evil Chinese are at the heart of their woes), I think some preliminary words are needed as a matter of historical context.

Cecil Rhodes’ Vision Revisited

Every year since its creation in 1902, over 30 talented young American scholars have been rewarded each year with the privilege of an all-expenses paid brainwashing in the halls of Oxford University on the dime of the riches left to posterity by the deceased race patriot diamond magnate Cecil Rhodes before being re-deployed back to their home nations.

Rhodes’ early disciples included such luminaries as Lord Alfred Milner, Sir Halford Mackinder, George Parkin, W.T. Stead and the Canadian oligarch Vincent Massey (to name a few). His early backers included high level figures among the British intelligentsia including Prince Edward Albert and Lord Nathaniel Rothschild who saw that a new strategy was needed to halt the spread of American System policies around the world in the wake of Lincoln’s victory over the South during the Civil War.

At the time, anyone with half a brain knew that the unipolar days of the British Empire were coming to an end as a new multipolar system of win-win cooperation was emerging… and this was a prospect deemed intolerable by many devout social Darwinists among the British ruling class.

These early Rhodians interfaced closely with London’s Fabian Society throughout the 20th century and became the new disciplined elite that gradually infiltrated every branch of society. This new breed of imperial managers exerted its influence in much the same way earlier Jesuit operations had been formed and deployed across Europe beginning in the 16th century.

For anyone confused as to the purpose of this Rhodes Scholarship program, one need look no further than Rhodes’ 1877 Confessions of Faith and 7 wills which called for domination of the “inferior races” to Anglo-Saxon superiority, and the ultimate recapturing of America and the creation of a new Church of the British Empire:

“Let us form the same kind of society, a Church for the extension of the British Empire. A society which should have its members in every part of the British Empire working with one object and one idea we should have its members placed at our universities and our schools and should watch the English youth passing through their hands just one perhaps in every thousand would have the mind and feelings for such an object, he should be tried in every way, he should be tested whether he is endurant, possessed of eloquence, disregardful of the petty details of life, and if found to be such, then elected and bound by oath to serve for the rest of his life in his Country. He should then be supported if without means by the Society and sent to that part of the Empire where it was felt he was needed.’

In another will, Rhodes described in more detail his intention: “To and for the establishment, promotion and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object whereof shall be for the extension of British rule throughout the world. The colonization by British subjects of all lands where the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour, and enterprise and especially the occupation by British settlers of the entire Continent of Africa, the Holy Land, the Valley of the Euphrates, the islands of Cyprus and Candia, the whole of South America, the islands of the Pacific not heretofore possessed by Great Britain, the whole of the Malay Archipelago, these aboard of China and Japan, [and] the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of the British Empire.”

Describing his thinking to his disciple W.T. Stead, Rhodes wrote: “Please remember the key of my idea discussed with you is a Society, copied from the Jesuits as to organisation”.

A Calamitous 20th Century

As generations passed, the continuity of purpose that transcended individual lives of players on the stage was maintained by certain organizations that grew out of the original Rhodes/Milner Round Table movements and which had branches in every part of the Anglo-Saxon part of the British Empire. By 1919 after the Round Table had taken control of Canadian and British governments during 1911 and 1916 coups, this group created the Royal Institute for International Affairs (aka: Chatham House). By 1921, an American branch was set up called the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) staffed with Rhodes Scholars and Fabians which has maintained a continuity of intention to the present day. This organization spawned dozens of influential sub organizations which always interface with a form of “central command”.

A young student of Harvard’s William Yandell Elliot (himself a Rhodes Scholar who operated the Oxford Branch of Harvard) was none other than Sir Henry Kissinger who stated gushingly at a May 10, 1981 Chatham House event:

“The British were so matter-of-factly helpful that they became a participant in internal American deliberations, to a degree probably never practiced between sovereign nations… In my White House incarnation then, I kept the British Foreign Office better informed and more closely engaged than I did the American State Department… It was symptomatic”.

While the Rhodes Scholar hives managed to permeate ivy league schools, media outlets, private corporations, elected offices and the civil service during the 20th century as laid out by Professor Carrol Quigley’s posthumously published The Anglo-American Establishment, the prize of the presidency remained an elusive trophy… until the day that one of Quigley’s students returned from Oxford and became Governor of Arkansas.

Clinton Opens the Floodgates

With Clinton’s 1992 presidential victory, Rhodes Scholars like Strobe Talbott (Assistant Secretary of State and co-architect of Perestroika) and Robert Reich (Secretary of Labor), were joined by Rhodies Ira Magaziner, Derek Shearer (Senior Economic Advisors), Susan Rice (Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs), Kevin Thurme (Health and Human Services Chief of Staff), George Stephanopoulos (Communications Director) and dozens of other Rhodes Scholars. These individuals were funneled into positions of influence aiming to oversee the “end of history” celebrated by neocon thinker Francis Fukuyama as the Soviet Union disintegrated.

While some Rhodies remained in positions of power during the period of the Straussian controlled opposition of 2000-2008, the Rhodes Hives again enjoyed vast policy-shaping influence under the Obama-age where the architecture for one world government was built on the wreckage of troublesome nation states like Libya, Syria and Ukraine.

Despite the set back caused by a populist deplorable who wrestled the reins of power away from these self-professed experts in 2016, a Rhodie is a stubborn creature if nothing else, and as we have discovered in past months, both Talbott and Rice have been revealed to be two figures at the heart of the Russiagate plot designed to undo the results of 2016. While still serving as Brookings Institute President in 2015-17, it was Talbott who interfaced with MI6’s Sir Richard Dearlove and Christopher Steele in the months before the elections by cooking up and circulating the dodgy dossier and it was Rice who was revealed to be at the center of the “unmasking” entrapment operation conducted on a bewildered Michael Flynn in January 2017.

Revenge of Rice and the Rhodies

With the recently announced appointment of Susan Rice as director of Biden’s Domestic Policy Council, it has become apparent that the Rhodies are drooling at the prospect of correcting the “aberration” of Trump by re-ascending to the inner sanctum of Washington D.C., bringing in droves of Clinton-Obama era unipolar zombies with them.

Beyond Rice, other Rhodes Scholars emerging into positions of control include National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan who graduated from Oxford’s Magdalene College and worked under Strobe Talbott at the Brookings Institute’s Center for the Study for Globalization at Yale in 2000. During this time, Rice had also come to work as Senior Fellow at Brookings followed by a stint as UN Ambassador from 2009-2013 and National Security Advisor from 2013-2017, while Sullivan went onto become Biden’s top security aid during the Obama years.

Describing her love of Oxford, Rice delivered remarks at Rhodes House in 1999 saying: “To be at Rhodes House tonight with so many friends, benefactors and mentors is a personal privilege. It is like a coming home for me for much of what I know about Africa was discovered within these walls, refined at this great university with generous support of the Rhodes Trust.”

It is worth keeping in mind that as she spoke those words, Rice had recently demonstrated her imperial worldview by coordinating the destruction of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in 1998 and threatening South Africa with economic destruction unless it gave up its desires for producing generic and affordable AIDS medication in the same year. Her work to carve up Sudan, promote military intervention across the Arab and African worlds under R2P and supranational organization’s like Soros’ International Criminal Court (ICC) that issued an arrest warrant for President Bashir would have made Cecil Rhodes proud. We should not forget that the Sudan-Libya-Egypt alliance under the combined leadership of Mubarak, Qadhafi and Bashir, had moved to establish a new gold-backed financing system outside of the IMF/World Bank to fund large scale development.

Pete Buttigieg

As of this writing, Rhodes Scholar Eric Garcetti (LA Mayor) has been pulled from the Biden cabinet due to a growing mountain of scandals, and corruption in his local state which have turned him into political poison for the time being.

The other Rhodes Scholar mayor Pete Buttigieg, has been more fortunate however and has been given the keys to Transport portfolio as of December 15, although had first been poised to take the position of US Ambassador to China. While many Trump supporters are being induced to hate and fear China as the “natural enemy of the USA”, it was in fact Buttigieg who demonstrated that his disdain for Trump was only paralleled by his disdain for China when he said in May 2020: “Beijing sees an opportunity to call into question the American project and liberal democracy itself. One thing they’re banking on is four more years of Trump.”

As I laid out in my previous report, Soros himself has repeatedly labelled the two greatest threats to his “open society” as 1) Xi Jinping’s China and 2) Trump’s USA.

Another Rhodie named Bruce Reed who had originally entered Washington as part of the first 1992 Rhodes Scholar infusion as the Clinton-Gore campaign manager and later director of Clinton’s Domestic Policy Council, has been tapped as the top tech advisor to Biden where he has openly called for cracking down on free speech online by cancelling Federal Internet law Section 230. This law currently keeps website owners free of prosecution for content published on their sites. It’s cancellation would crush what dwindling free speech exists on social media. The argument advanced by Reed has been that Section 230 has been used by Russian and Chinese operatives to infiltrate the information ecosystem and manipulate western elections. With its repeal, Facebook and other social media sites will be forced to censor all “illicit” thought crimes under fear of federal prosecution.

Reed had earlier teamed up with Biden in drafting the infamous 1994 crime bill which placed countless petty criminals to long-term sentences, benefiting the prison cheap labor complex. During the Obama years Reed worked as Biden’s Chief of Staff and lead handler.

Blinken, Malley and Soros

While Biden’s pick for Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is not himself a Rhodes Scholar, he is a life-long friend and classmate with Robert Malley (a Rhodes Scholar who had formerly acted as Special Assistant to Obama serving as “point man in the middle east” at the NSC). Earlier, Malley had been special assistant to Bill Clinton on Arab Israeli Affairs and was always deeply enmeshed with George Soros’ operations from day one of his entry into politics. Since 2016, Malley has acted as President and CEO of the International Crisis Group (ICG) founded by George Soros and Lord Malloch Brown in 1994 as a tool to promote global humanitarian wars under the guise of Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Joining Soros, Malloch-Brown and Malley at the ICG, we should not be surprised to find none other than… Jake Sullivan.

Additionally, Blinken’s father Donald Blinken made a name for himself as Soros’ point man in Hungary from 1994-1998 where he served as US Ambassador facilitating the growth of Soros’ Open Society Foundation. He was later rewarded by the Hungarian speculator with a “Donald and Vera Blinken Open Society Archive” (OSA) at Budapest’s Central European University. The Soros-funded university was created in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Blinken was instrumental in that operation.

President Viktor Orbán knew exactly what he was doing when he expelled this foreign anti-nation state brainwashing operation from Hungary’s borders in 2018. At the time, Central European University President Count Michael Ignatieff screamed “This is unprecedented. A U.S. institution has been driven out of a country that is a NATO ally.”

A Segue on Count Ignatieff

It is noteworthy that Ignatieff is himself the son of Rhodes Scholar globalist George Ignatieff and great grandson of Count Nikolai Pavlovich Ignatiev (founder of the Russian Okhrana secret police) whose family was rewarded handsomely for services rendered to London-centered oligarchy during the overthrow of the Czarist system in Russia (sort of a precursor to today’s modern Color Revolutions). This story is partially told in Cheney Revives Parvus’ Permanent War Madness by Jeff Steinberg (2005).

As a sidenote, Michael Ignatieff’s great grandfather on his maternal side is none other than George Parkin, the first controller of the Rhodes Trust from 1902-1922 and the man whose Oxford lectures and books inspired Cecil Rhodes and Milner to devote their lives to the cause of Empire. Michael is also a global board member of Soros’ Open Society Foundations headed by none other than Mark Malloch Brown (as of December 4, 2020).

As I laid out in my recent report, not only did these two upper level managers come to light as coordinators of the Dominion/Smartmatic vote fraud operation underway within the USA, but both have also pioneered the new age of regime change color revolutions beginning with Marcos’ 1986 ouster during the Peoples’ Power revolution in the Philippines, through the Balkans, Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Moldova, Bolivia, etc.

Some Final Thoughts

While the Rhodes Trust has been close to the causal nexus of much of recent world history, no one should assume that every Rhodes Scholar is guilty by association. It is an undeniable fact that some Rhodes Scholars have broken with their training and have gone on to live useful lives and I see no reason to assume, for instance, that actor/singer Kris Kristofferson played a nefarious role in anything (though some of his film choices were a bit weak).

Similarly, Canada’s John Turner did some very useful things in his short stint as Canadian Prime Minister which earned him the ire of many unipolarists then promoting NAFTA, Maastricht and the Euro. Even Bill Clinton was induced to break from his profile on a few occasions and support some good things that ran contrary to the world government agenda under the positive influence of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown (whose convenient death in 1996 alongside 34 journalists and business executives in Croatia ended that pesky issue- a story for another time).

The key thing to hold in mind is that longer waves of history are shaping the present more than most historians would care to admit. Anyone taking an intention-driven approach to historical analysis will come to recognize quickly enough that events that took place centuries ago have an active impact on the events playing out today.

How and why is this so? Because history is shaped by IDEAS. Good ideas that are in tune with the truthful nature of reality vs bad ideas that are out of tune with said reality. But this battle over ideas (and ideas about ideas e.g.: Plato’s higher hypothesis) is where the causal nexus of universal history is found. With this in mind, we can see clearly how certain people use their influence to conspire and create cultural and political institutions that transmit those ideas and organizing principles across many generations. Sometimes we find these forces to be acting in harmony with natural law (as in the case of Benjamin Franklin and his international network of co-thinkers) and sometimes very much in defiance of natural law.

Today’s battle between the opposing paradigms of the multipolar alliance led by Russia and China on the one hand vs the unipolarist/post-nation state worldview on the other has everything to do with these longer forces of history. The only way to comprehend the color revolution playing out within the USA, or the anomalous emergence of Rhodes Scholars shaping the possible Biden presidency, is by recognizing this higher reality. This exercise may cause you to think about thinking differently, and at first may be uncomfortable, but just as the figure released from the cave who slowly accustoms his/her eyes to the light of the sun and reality, the satisfaction of enjoying a higher order of truthfulness is incomparably more pleasant to a life believing in the shadows cast by an elite class of puppeteers.


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.

Russia in Syria – Previous History and Present Concerns

Dr. Andrej Kreutz


After the start of the Russian military intervention in Syria, the US National Intelligence Director, James Clapper, may have been partially correct in asserting that Russian President Vladimir Putin “was winging it, with no long term strategy.”[1] However, there were at least four pressing reasons for his sudden and undoubtedly risky decision:

  1. As even some American analysts were willing to admit, Putin must have felt obliged to save the existing Syrian regime, which has been and still is, Moscow’s only ally in the region.[2] If an American ally, such as Saudi Arabia or Qatar, found themselves in a similar predicament, quick and powerful US support would soon come.
  1. Allowing the Arab regimes supported by the West to overthrow another government in this politically sensitive area, with some of these regimes being far more dictatorial and oppressive than used to be the case of Syria, might have been seen as the recognition of the Right to Protect (R2P), enabling the Western Powers to intervene in the domestic affairs of other nations and overthrow the leaders which Washington dislikes.[3] Syria was not the first country to be submitted to such treatment, and after Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and several other examples, Moscow and even Beijing might have been concerned for their own future. The acceptance of the Western interpretation of the R2P might have been seen not only as the abdication of the previously respected doctrine of state sovereignty, but it might also have put Moscow in a potentially uncertain internal situation.
  1. Much more numerous than in the cases of Western countries, the number of jihadists from the Russian Federation among the Syrian rebels, whose return to Russia might have caused an increased threat to Russian domestic security. Because of its geopolitical closeness to the Middle East and its largest Muslim population in Europe,[4] Moscow’s close attention to this region and Islam was not a matter of choice but a necessity.

In addition, having since the 10th Century been a Christian Orthodox country, Moscow wanted to preserve close relations with the region, which was the cradle of its religion. In fact, the protection of the Middle Eastern Christians and the Christian Holy Places located there was for centuries one of the main foci of the Moscow/St. Petersburg foreign policy and international engagement, including the Crimean War, 1853-1856. The Russian Orthodox Church has also recently played a role in accelerating the present Russian intervention in Syria as a way to protect the local Christian population.

  1. Last but not least, there was the will to protect the Russian navigation facility in Tartus, which provides the otherwise almost landlocked country with access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean unrestrained by Turkey.

With the possible exception of France, no other European nation has such a long and multifaceted relationship with Syria as Russia does. The Russian presence and influence predates, by many centuries, the creation of the present Syrian state after World War II.

According to some medieval Arab sources, Russians (there was not at that time any distinction among the Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians because they were all descendants of the same Eastern Slavic tribes and all differences among them resulted from later events which included the Mongolian domination, partition of Kievan Rus and the long foreign rule over some of its provinces) served in the Byzantine army in the present day Syria in the 10th and 11th centuries,[5] and since the 17th century the Christian Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch had frequent relations with Russia, Ukraine, and present day Romania (at that time Wallachia and Moldova).

In 1585-86 the Patriarch of Antioch Joachim V was the first high-ranking representative of the Middle Eastern Christians to personally arrive in Moscow.[6] Because of the Early Christian (Apostolic) origins of his seat, which according to tradition was founded by Jesus’ Apostles Peter and Paul, he was very well received and Tsar Feodor Ivanovich used his visit to initiate efforts to establish a new Orthodox Patriarchate in Moscow.[7] As Russia (which was then called Moscovia) was at that time the only independent and relatively strong Orthodox country and its coreligionists in the Ottoman Empire needed its support, the efforts were successful, and in 1590 the Metropolitan of Moscow, Job was advanced to the rank of Patriarch.[8]

Another Patriarch of Antioch, Macarius III (Zaim) contributed to the ecclesiastical reforms of the Moscow Patriarch Nikon. In February 1652 he set out on his first trip to Wallachia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Moscovia, where he spent more than a year (16 months) as a guest of Tzar Alexis[9] and the liturgical books he brought from Antioch had an impact on the Russian ligurgical reforms introduced at that time. He visited Russia again in 1666 and took part in the Synod that confirmed the reforms of the Russian Orthodox Church, and excommunicated the Old Believers who opposed them.[10] However, Macarius was also open to relations with Catholics, and while travelling through the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth asked the Polish King John Casimir to work for the union between the Eastern and Western churches.[11]  All of that might now be seen as old and irrelevant history, but it would be good to know that a figure like Patriarch Macarius, who was quite influential at that time, was originally a Syrian Arab born in Aleppo, and before entering the priesthood had worked as a weaver.[12]

The religious and social relations established by Macarius have never been disrupted and particularly after the Carlovitz Treaty with the Ottoman Empire in 1699, a growing number of Russian pilgrims visited Syria on their way to Palestine, at the same time increasing their links with the local Christian communities. As an outcome of that, in 1830 Russian Consular posts started to operate in Aleppo, Latakia, Beirut and Saida, and in 1893 an additional consular office was established in Damascus.[13] Shortly after that and in spite of its own serious financial problems and lack of official interest, apart from helping Russian pilgrims, the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society extended its activities to Syria.[14] By 1905, it had opened 74 schools, and by 1910 it was spending most of its income on Syrian education, even neglecting its principal obligation to the Russian pilgrims in the Holy Land.[15]

After centuries of Greek domination, the election of the Arab Patriarch of Antioch was possible with Russian diplomatic support, and won gratitude for Russia from Syrian Christians and Muslims. A prominent Arab nationalist, Sati al Husri, called this event “the first real victory of Arab nationalism.”[16] World War I and the ensuing Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 brought temporary decline to the more active Russian presence in Syria, which became a French Mandate in the early 1920’s after the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. The new Bolshevik occupants of the Kremlin had no interest and even less sympathy for the Arab Christian communities, but wanted to support the emergence of the Communist parties and other radical movements in the Arab East. With their help in 1925, the Syrian Communist Party was established,[17] but in the deeply traditionalist and religious country it has never been able to acquire major political importance. However, even its modest influence and, the growing Arab left wing nationalist mobilization of the Syrian population, which was sometimes associated with it, had an impact on the situation in the region.

In January 1956, the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party reinforced the stress on the progressive role of the national liberation movements in the Third World against Western imperialism, and the Arab World became an increased focus of Red Moscow’s attention. When on March 8, 1963 the left wing Arab nationalist Baath Party came to power in Damascus, although the Soviet and Syrian Communists disliked Baathists, Moscow was ready to maintain and develop friendly relations with the new Syrian regime, and that was also continued after the more moderate President Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970.[18] According to Walter Laqueur, not only “as a field for large scale Soviet investment and political showcase from…the advantages of Soviet help, Syria was a somewhat more promising choice than Egypt,”[19] but this country “had moved closest to the Soviet Union, not as a result of Soviet propaganda, but as the culmination of an internal radicalization.”[20]

The decline and final collapse of the Soviet Union might have thus been seen in Damascus as a major political challenge. However, as a Russian scholar noted, “experienced Syrian leadership understood that the USSR was moving in a different direction and that it was not going to assume its earlier role as a Damascus patron and protector any longer.”[21] Consequently, the events in Russia had relatively fewer repercussions for Syria than for other Third World countries, and the earlier ties with Moscow did not disappear completely, but were eventually resumed on the hard grounds of geopolitical interests and strong historical traditions.

The fact that post-Soviet Russia wanted to return to pre-Soviet traditions and achievements was certainly not without importance. The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society was recreated and has already started to be active in Syria. On October 6, 2015 its new Chairman, a former Prime Minister of Russia, Sergey Stepashin told a Russian journalist, “we have helped Syrian people for three years. Today the importance of this mission has increased threefold.”[22] According to him his organization has already delivered 12 shipments of humanitarian supplies to Damascus and other Syrian cities and its mission is aimed at supporting the civilians suffering from hostilities, regardless of their religious affiliation.[23] All those supplies were collected by Russian citizens and organizations and transferred to the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and the Supreme Mufti of Syria for distribution to the needy.[24] The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society has also developed a program for the conservation of the cultural heritage in Syria and wants to cooperate with UNESCO and other parties to protect the ancient Syrian Christian and non-Christian monuments.[25]

Keeping in mind that Moscow’s relations with Syria, and its various communities, has long socio-historical roots and traditions, it is necessary to remember that all of them might have facilitated and helped to justify, but could not be the real causes and reasons, for the present Russian political and military involvement in this country. As Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Carnegie Center in Moscow indicates, “Russia decided to intervene directly in Syria in order to prevent the ouster of the Assad regime in Damascus”[26] by the motley coalition of political rebels and a number of foreign mercenaries who, although being mostly inspired by radical Islam and the idea of the holy war against the infidels, have still been supported by the Americans and their Arab and European allies. Western support for the anti-Assad government forces has been and still is caused mainly by its relatively independent foreign policy, close relations with Iran and reluctance to accommodate Israeli wishes in the Golan Heights, which since the 1967 war still remains under Israeli occupation. The recent discovery of oil in this region might complicate the existing situation even more.[27] It is possible that since the 1960’s if not earlier, some American, Israeli and other Western experts intended not only to overthrow the regime in Damascus but also to balkanize and divide Syria into a number of smaller and mostly religiously based entities.[28]

Although Moscow cannot afford to challenge Washington directly and has developed common ties with Israel, it still has a number of critically important geopolitical and strategic interests in the Arab countries and Islamic world at large. The destruction of the secular Syrian nation and the change of regime in Damascus imposed from the outside would be perceived by the Kremlin as a threat to its own vital interests. Even though in a much weaker position than the West and during the last few years under pressure from the US and its allies, Moscow cannot afford to leave Syria to its own fate. The Syrian President probably exaggerated a little saying, “the Middle East is the heart of the world and Syria is its core”[29] but the events there could not remain without having a major impact on Russia’s international status and even its domestic situation.

As I have already mentioned, the Russian Federation does not want to allow the Western Powers to use force at will and without any external constraints, as this “might lead to foreign intervention close to Russian borders, or even within these borders.”[30] In fact all the regimes except the democracies which are certified by Washington or its allies could be theoretically considered as lacking legitimacy, and the possible implications of that are quite obvious for Moscow and, though in a less outspoken way, for Beijing. The persisting tensions in and around Syria are thus also an example of the struggle between the imperial unipolar vision and the regional powers against global imperial domination. As Trenin noted, “refusing to use its influence to pressure President Assad and urging both sides in the conflict to work toward reconciliation, Russia sees itself as evenhanded.”[31] In addition Moscow has always seen the Arab Spring not so much as a pro-democracy movement but as an Islamic revolution likely to be dominated by the radical jihadists, and fears that the Syrian conflict might become radicalized and spread to the post-Soviet territories including some parts of Russia itself, such as North Caucasus and perhaps even Tatarstan.[32]

While debating the present Russian political and military intervention in Syria, the starting point should be to determine Moscow’s initial purposes for intervention. As Putin stated on October 11, 2015, “our objective is to stabilize the legitimate authority and create conditions for a political compromise.[33] The Russian president must have been aware of the limitations of his country’s power and the potential risk associated with the intervention in Syria.[34] Consequently, Putin’s aim was only to provide certain premises in order to search for an acceptable compromise for his country.

During all its long and complex history, Russia has never expanded its political domination to the Middle East and the Arab countries, and it has now even less will and means for that purpose. A chance for a compromise between Moscow and the West and its Arab allies should be seen as a realistic option and the best solution to the Syrian crisis. Henry Kissinger has elaborated upon the possibility of such an understanding.  According to the former National Security Advisor, “the destruction of ISIS is more urgent than the overthrow of Bashar Assad” and the focus of nations must be in a unified effort to guarantee that this territory does not becomes a hotbed for terrorism.[35] Consequently, “painful as this is to the architects of the 1973 system, attention in the Middle East must be focused on essentials. And there exist compatible objectives.”[36]

Former vice-Chair of the National Intelligence Council and Chief of the CIA Station in Kabul Graham Fuller has been even more optimistic about the possible Russian role in Syria and the Middle Eastern region. In his opinion, “Russia will play a major role in diplomatic arrangement in the Middle East, an overall positive factor. Russia’s ability to play a key…role in resolving the nuclear issues in Iran and chemical issues in Syria and its important voice and leverage in this country represent a significant contribution to resolution of these two high-priority, high-risk conflicts that affect the entire region.”[37] Consequently, he believes that “it is essential that Russia’s role be accepted and integrated rather than seen as a mere projection of some neo-Cold War global struggle.”[38] Fuller is even willing to say that: “the time has now come to bite the bullet, admit failure, and to permit if not assist Assad in quickly winding down the civil war in Syria and expelling the jihadists.”[39]

Both Kissinger and Fuller have been retired for a long time, but they still remain very highly experienced and knowledgeable individuals. I believe that their opinions should have been given serious consideration. As Kissinger had concluded, “at question is not the strength of American arms but rather American resolve in understanding and mastering a new world.”[40]

At the same time the developments in Syria are of vital but probably not of direct existential importance for Moscow and its leaders still expect that “the issues of Ukraine and Russia’s security in Europe may be revisited with a greater sensitivity to Russia’s values and interests.”[41]

Two months ago while working on a draft of this article I had also been prone to keeping more hope for the prospect of a peaceful and sensible solution of the Syrian conflict and a new reset in American-Russian relations. The diplomatic efforts and cooperation of the US State Secretary John Kerry and the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov seemed to indicate a realistic prospect for these directions, which in my view might have provided an optimal chance for peace in Syria and a more stable international world order.

Unfortunately, not quite successful peacemaking efforts in Syria and the Obama administration’s unchanged policy towards Moscow did not seem to confirm either my or much more knowledgeable people’s premature optimism. As I now think, none of them had sufficiently taken into account the fact that both the Syrian crisis and any of its possible settlement might prove to be crucial not only for this country and the Middle East, but as I have already indicated, there is also a potential impact on a general political situation in Eurasia and even the emerging new global order. Consequently, the stakes which are involved there are very high and it would not be easy now to predict the chances for a practical and generally acceptable peaceful arrangement. On the Washington side there is a strong will to preserve its global domination, which it won in the mid 1990’s after the decline and final collapse of the Soviet Union. On the other side there is now openly articulated aspirations by Moscow, and also shared by China and some other major regional powers to reaffirm their international importance and the acceptance of the traditional international law with its stress on the principle of sovereign equality of all states, which the Americans don’t want to respect.

As Dmitiri Trenin noticed, “Vladimir Putin, when he was re[-]elected president in 2012 for a third term, began to vigorously promote Russia’s distinct identity, which now openly differs from the West on a values level, not just diplomatically. This policy, supported by a rise in Russian nationalism, represents a fundamental shift in Russia’s standing and position in the world. Syria is just one example of this”[42] However, unlike Washington, Moscow’s struggle is not by choice, but of necessity in order to survive as a great independent power with its own political and cultural traditions and vision of the future. Although this is nothing new in its long history, which might also rightly be seen as “the struggle for survival,” this time the challenge is more powerful and better coordinated than ever before. The coming future might thus be grim or in any case uncertain.

According to Trenin, “in the broader universe of Moscow’s foreign policy, the Middle East generally ranks after the United States, Europe, and China and Asia,”[43] although “the Kremlin cannot ignore a region so close geographically, so rich in hydrocarbons, and so unstable socially and politically.”[44] In his view there are two principal drivers of this policy:

  1. Geopolitical importance of the region, which with the beginning of the Russian military involvement on September 30, 2015 and the ensuing US-Russia diplomatic effort “has become the key testing ground for Russia’s attempt to return to the global stage.”[45]
  2. The second reason, practical though no less important, was and still remains the goal of “containing and diminishing Islamic extremism that might otherwise expand to Russia and its immediate post-Soviet neighbourhood”[46] and represent a serious threat to their domestic security.

The Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War between September 2015 and March 14, 2016 might have been seen as rather successful. Moscow was able to show its rebuilt military strength, to prevent the then threatening complete defeat of the existing Syrian state and opened the door for a new peacemaking efforts, sponsored by itself and Washington. However, the civil war in Syria has not come to an end and the hostilities towards Moscow by the Americans and their allies have increased. With the exception of Western-Iranian relations, which for now have finally found some accommodation largely because of the persistent support and skill of Russian diplomacy, not a single Middle Eastern problem has been solved or even alleviated. The whole region remains potentially violent and very far from being stable. The situation in Europe is probably even worse than during the Cold War time when relations between the USSR and the West were regulated by a number of recorded or customary principles and both sides had never interrupted mutual contacts and held some respect for each other. Since the February 22, 2013 coup d’état in Kiev, almost all previous rules of the game have been forgotten and the Russian Federation started to be surrounded by the tightening iron rings of NATO’s military forces, air bases and even the ABN and nuclear missiles.[47]Any possible solution of a major new crisis should be possible only due to the new forms of serious Washington, and its allies’ cooperation with Moscow, but the chances for that still seem elusive. As I believe, the Syrian crisis cannot be solved without the simultaneous alleviation of the tension in Europe or perhaps even some solution of the Ukrainian crisis. Both the Syrian and Ukrainian crises are stem from some common causes and it is hardly possible to treat them separately.

The international situation is thus undoubtedly quite difficult, but Dmitri Trenin, who is one of the most knowledgeable experts on Russian foreign policy and Eurasia still sounds rather optimistic and suggests to the West and Russia the ways of compromise and cooperation. Being well aware that “the difficult issue for Western countries is acknowledging the value of cooperation after it has been made clear that Russia will not ‘join’ the West or simply [as a junior partner] ‘help’ in places like Syria,”[48] he still believes that the West should “embrace cooperation with Moscow on the basis of shared interests.”[49] Although Moscow and Washington might disagree on the political future of Bashar al-Assad they both do not want chaos or a radical Sunni regime in Syria.[50] The West should also acknowledge that the world order is transforming. The long era of Western domination, which the Soviet Union tried to challenge but was not able overturn, is now finally coming to an end.[51]

Although Russia is not and will not be part of the West, Moscow sees itself as a stabilizing force, and would be a natural ally of the nations seeking more predictability in international relations. Last but not least, according to Trenin, “Western countries should make use of Russia’s unique and pragmatic perspective born from more than a hundred years’ worth of experience with imperialism, followed by revolution and the rule of ideology, the achievement of superpower status, systemic disintegration, and eventual reconstruction.”[52]

I am not sure that these and some other Russian assets mentioned by Trenin would be able to persuade the Western leaders to perceive present day Russia as a worthy partner equal in rights. With the exception of, at least now, unlikely total Russian breakdown and capitulation to the US’ hegemony, or even a less likely change of Washington’s foreign policy, I don’t see any real prospect for the two great nations to reach a real alliance. However, it would perhaps be possible to achieve temporary cooperation amongst them, on certain issues, and a relatively peaceful coexistence. The Russian assets discussed by Trenin might be of real assistance here. The Western domination, which during the post-Cold War period became largely based on the skilful use of soft power, including overwhelming control of the internet and all other means of mass media and entertainment, might last much longer than Trenin seems to anticipate, but in my opinion, the Western power elites would probably need to pay more attention to the other people’s cultures and interests. A kind of rapprochement and better knowledge of Russia might be of new importance.

Living for more than 1,000 years in the very heart (centre) of Eurasia, Russians have had to acquire good knowledge of their various neighbours and the ability to coexist with them as relatively equal and respected partners. The Americans who during the last three centuries have emerged as a nation of immigrants, far away from other major population centres and isolated by two oceans, had in the past far less need and chances to learn how to coexist, and it has had a great impact on their way of thinking and foreign policy. More open and less prejudiced relations with Russia, a country that has never believed in its own exceptionalism and has more likely suffered because of its inferiority complexes to the West, might have a positive impact, not only on American-Russian relations, but as an experience, to help to establish more balanced and cooperative relationships with other peoples, especially in the Middle East and Asia, which Russians seem to know better than the West and where the Americans and some other Western politicians have already made numerous mistakes starting from Vietnam and Iraq to the present day Libya and Syria.

At the time of writing this, May 2016, the truce in Syria, initiated by Moscow and Washington, as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), have been “largely in tatters.”[53] On April 29, 2016 a new, partial cease-fire that was announced was presented as a “reinforcement” of the February 27, 2016 truce, but it does not include Aleppo, which was the centre of heavy fighting during the first week of May 2016.[54] According to the US State Department spokesman John Kirby, the US wants to “measure the commitment of the warring parties to the concept of truce that could lead to serious peace talks.”[55] As he stressed “it’s a test for the Russians and for the regime, as well as for the Syrian opposition.”[56] In the view of the Associated Press Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee, “the [US] administration’s problem is that the Russians, the Assad government and the opposition backed by the US and its partners have all failed that test in the past.”[57]

Fortunately, this time the situation might have seemed to be more promising. As an outcome of the Russian and US militaries’ discussions on May 3, 2016 both sides decided that a new partial ceasefire and the newly elaborated silent regime in Syria will also include Aleppo province, including Aleppo city and its surrounding areas.[58] According to Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, over 90 percent of Syrian towns and villages have supported the ceasefire since the inclusion of Aleppo and according to the Syrian military, a 48-hour “regime of silence is set to start there on May 5, 2016.”[59]

These developments would prove to be crucial for the future of the country as a whole. The French and German foreign ministers praised the ceasefire in Aleppo and expressed their opinion that “it would be crucial to renewing peace talks on ending Syria’s civil war.”[60] German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even stated in an official announcement that, as he has believed, “everyone knows and can conclude that there could be no return to the political talks in Geneva if a ceasefire in and around Aleppo is not observed.”[61]

The new ceasefire has been also welcomed enthusiastically by UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura who called it “a small but very special miracle…created by a discussion taking place at a high level between the Russian Federation and the US.”[62] Mistura has spent 45 years working for the UN and is certainly well acquainted with all aspects of the Syrian conflict in its region and the present international system. When the first ceasefire of February 27, 2016 was broken he sent an emotional message to both the Russian and American Presidents, “you own this cessation of hostilities, you are the ones who produced it. So President Putin, President Obama, you came up with a remarkable achievement – protect it, make sure it doesn’t disappear. Do agree again on how this cessation of hostilities doesn’t lose its energy, because it is in danger.”[63] He seems to believe that his appeal impressed them and as an experienced diplomat he thinks that only these Great Power’s leaders could help put an end to one of the most bloody and difficult to solve conflicts of the recent era with “about 4 million refugees and perhaps between 300,000 – 400,000 killed and 1 million wounded.”[64]

I think that in view of the tragic situation and being concerned about a possible regional and even global escalation, both Moscow and Washington are now serious about founding a solution to the Syrian crisis or at least putting it under some kind of more efficient control. However, these are not easy goals to achieve. The US opposed the Russian demand that the Kurds, who are a major force in fighting Islamic State and the largest ethnic minority in Syria, need to be included in the peace talks.[65] A no less difficult issue is created by the Russian opposition to extend the ceasefire to the groups of rebels who, though supported by the US and its allies, were either forced to fight for Al-Nustra or join the jihadists voluntarily. Consequently, as Staffan de Mistura has indicated, “there must be more clarity on the divisions between which the UN Security Council defined as terrorists – Al Nustra and Daesh – and other groups which are being associated with them, but in fact, are not part of the terrorist groups.”[66] There are many other possible problems ahead, but I believe Staffan de Mistura is right that “the only possible solution to the Syrian crisis remains an implementation of the “miraculous” ceasefire brokered by Russia and the US who now bear responsibility to protect it and “recalibrate” cessation of hostilities.”[67]

The successful extension of the ceasefire to Aleppo province, including Aleppo city and the surrounding area, led to the already mentioned rising sense of hope and optimistic expectations for the end of war and a better future for Syria. As the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura stated, the “miraculous ceasefire must be fostered as the one and only one plan for Syria.”[68] In his view, “there is no military solution to this conflict. There has been an attempt for five years to have a victory and a defeat. There is no victory or defeat on this. There is only a political solution, which means negotiations. But negotiations need to have a ceasefire.”[69] Similar, though probably not as heartfelt opinions have been expressed by Western and Russian diplomats who were also promising more humanitarian assistance and their countries’ help in the peacemaking attempt in Syria.

Unfortunately, the euphoria caused by the positive trends again proved to be short lived and war returned to the country. I think there were, and probably still are two persisting causes for that. First of all, until a very recent time the Obama administration did not take into account that in practice there was no clear-cut distinction between the “moderate” rebels, in their struggle against President Assad’s “regime,” supported by the West and its Arab and non-Arab allies, and the fervently Islamist jihadists, especially aligned with the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, Al-Nusra which from the legal view point was not included and even could not have been included into any ceasefire. In addition, though both the US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry refer to rebel jihadi groups as the “Syria opposition,”[70] according to the German intelligence service “over 95% of the fighters in Syria are foreign and not Syrian”[71] and many of them “are not even Arab, but increasingly Asians”[72] who during the last five years have arrived from Central Asia, China (Xinjiang) and some parts of Russia, especially Chechnya and Ingushetia. Consequently, as in September 2015 the leading British research centre has indicated, “the perceived jihadist threat to Russia is a major factor in the Kremlin’s policy making”[73] to intervene militarily in Syria. Keeping in mind the situation in Caucasus and the growing Muslim minorities in other parts of its large country, Moscow has to be concerned about the prospects of these jihadists returning home or attacking Russian interests and citizens abroad.[74] Although the Russian leaders attempted to be flexible in their relations with the “moderate” Western supported opposition forces, they do not want to compromise in relation to the openly jihadi organizations such as ISIS, Jabhad Al Nusra, Jaysh Al Mujahidden, Harakat Nouridden Ali-Zinki and Harakat Ali-Sham.[75] Recalling the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 they argued that no ceasefire with them could be acceptable and that these jihadists should either be killed or captured.[76] However, during the war in Syria Al Nusra has been supported and protected for a long time by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and probably other countries, including Arab and non-Arab Middle Eastern nations allied with the West. The issue of Al Nusra’s role and influence among the Syrian rebels became particularly important during and shortly after the recent struggle for Aleppo. According to the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov, “Aleppo resembles a kind of layered cake, with the largest part controlled by government forces, part of the area held by Nusra Front militants, while another part is controlled by the so-called opposition.”[77] General Konashenkov has also said that, “Russia has notified the US side of a number of documented occasions when opposition groups were either forced to fight for Nusra Front or joined the jihadists voluntarily.”[78] British scholar and expert on Syria Helena Cabban went even further, saying that “Islamist troops loyal to the Al Nusra Front, an offshoot of Al Qaeda, dominate rebel forces fighting the Syrian Arab Army around the city of Aleppo.”[79] Even according to a military spokesperson of the US alliance against the Islamic State, Colonel Warren, “the rebels occupied parts of Aleppo city, are under control of al-Qaeda: It is primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities. So it’s complicated.”[80]

The Americans and their allies are willing to fight in Syria on two opposite sides: President Assad, and the Syrian regime led by him which are considered their main enemies and need to be destroyed, and Assad’s main foes, the Islamic jihadists whose Islamic fanaticism and hatred of the present secular Syrian statehood which protects Christians and all other religious minorities in the country might be used for that purpose.[81] In fact, this is a continuation of the policy suggested by Professor Brzezinski to Jimmy Carter’s administration in Afghanistan, where in the 1960’s Islamic jihadists became used to fighting the left wing government supported by the Soviet Union. Although Professor Brzezinski argued that the radical Islamists are a relatively small threat compared with Moscow, such a game might nevertheless lead to a number of contradictions and even unpleasant side effects. The Obama administration is now trying to separate the “moderate” rebels supported by them from the Islamic forces,[82] but all of these efforts seem to be half-hearted and full of contradictions. Running even against the opinion of its own Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey who predicted that the fall of the Assad regime would led to chaos and, probably to Syria’s domination by jihadi extremists, the Obama administration persistently considered the Assad regime and Russia, that was protecting it, as its main enemies. The present American administration’s policy towards Syria reflects its European policy which still remains under the strong influence of the old Cold War vision of the world and the essential need to preserve the US global hegemony. With such a mindset it is not easy to cooperate with Russia or to work out a more realistic line of behaviour. However, some parts of the US power elite are prone to look for different approaches. It was Obama’s second Secretary of State John Kerry who persuaded the US President to not follow Ashton B. Carter’s more uncompromising stance against Russia and opened the way for intensive diplomatic negotiations, and the attempted, but unfortunately not very successful, peacemaking in Syria. As French analyst Thierry Meyssan noticed, “these days, US foreign policy is often contradictory, as we can see in Syria, where troops trained by the Pentagon are fighting troops trained by the CIA. And yet it remains perfectly coherent on two points – to divide Europe between the European Union on one side and Russia on the other – and to divide the Far East between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on one side and China on the other.”[83]

The US policy in Syria might in fact seem to be full of real or apparent contradictions. Being a co-chair of ISSG, together with the Russian Federation, Washington calls for the cessation of hostilities in the country and for ensuring humanitarian access to the besieged areas and humanitarian assistance to all Syrian people in need.[84] In spite of all hidden or openly stated differences with Moscow, Washington also calls for “a Political Settlement in Syria”[85] through the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 2254 and 2268, the 2016 Munich and 2015 Vienna Statements of the ISSG and the 2015 Geneva communiqué in order to “end violence and bloodshed, counter the threat of terrorism, and ensure the implementation of international humanitarian law.”[86] Unfortunately, at the same time the US Government is trying to overthrow the internationally recognized Syrian government using various officially condemned terrorist organizations and the numerous jihadists from far away countries. The US Secretary of State John Kerry has recently asked the US’ allies, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, to separate their proxy forces in Syria from the terrorist organization al-Nusra,[87] but when almost at the same time, Russia asked the UN to blacklist two very active jihadist groups in Syria, Ahran-al-Islam and Jaish al Islam, the US supported Britain, France, and Ukraine in blocking the bid.[88] Trying to explain that, the US State Department might have some points indicating a need to have dialogue with them and arguing that blacklisting them “would undermine the war-torn country’s halt in fighting.”[89] However, just one day later Ahrar al Sham joined al Qaeda in breaking the ceasefire by attacking and ethnically cleansing the Allawite sect living in the village loyal to the Syrian government[90] and Amnesty International accused both groups of indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including the use of chemical weapons and other war crimes.[91]

It is true that the Americans now want to separate the armed opposition supported by them from Islamic jihadists, but as a French analyst has noticed, “every time the Syrian Arab Army beats the jihadists, new combatants arrive in Syria in their thousands.”[92] Consequently, according to him, “we are forced to admit that this war is being cultivated from the exterior, and that it will last as long as soldiers are sent to die. So, we must understand the exterior reasons which maintain it. Then, and only then, can we elaborate a strategy which will spare lives.”[93]

Meyssan is also sharing Russian President Putin’s opinion that “the behaviour of the Western and Gulf Powers is incoherent. It is impossible on a battle field to combat both jihadists and the Republic at the same time as pretending to take a third position.”[94] However, as he concludes, “no one has publicly taken sides, and so the war continues. The truth is that this war has no interior cause. It is the fruit of an environment which is not regional but global.”[95] In his opinion the underlying cause is the US strategic interests to “contain the economic and political development of China and Russia”[96] by forcing them to continue their major foreign trade operations exclusively by the maritime routes, which for more than a century have been under American control. In order to avoid that Chinese President Xi Jinping intended to build two new continental commercial routes to the European Union. The first was projected to recreate the ancient Silk Road from China to the Middle East. The second one, corresponding more to the present social and economic development, was planned to cross Russia and Ukraine and go to the present economic heart of Europe, Germany. The French analyst seems puzzled that both of them were blocked by the almost simultaneously erupted bloody events in Syria and Ukraine. In his view, the chaos created by them will continue on both fronts as long as China and Russia have been unable to establish some other continental ways to the European Union.

Although I believe that Meyssan exaggerates the impact of American commercial interests on the tragic events in Syria and Ukraine, and does not pay sufficient attention to a number of local and regional factors, including the role of the Gulf countries, Turkey, Israel, and France, which used to be a Mandatory Power in Syria and Lebanon, his explanation of the developments there is not without value and provides one more aspect, previously not taken into consideration, of the geopolitical and geoeconomical transformations of the Middle East and Eurasia. Respecting the value of such a global perspective I still want to hope that he is too pessimistic writing “there is nothing to be gained by negotiations with people who are being paid to maintain the conflict.”[97] Even if he were right indicating the corruption of some of the parties involved in the Syrian crisis, more negotiations not only of various Syrian representatives, but also of the major powers with their interests in this country should be considered no less but even more crucial and important. Both the Russian President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov seem to understand the need more negotiations and founding a comprehensive agreement with Washington and the other parties including even the Syrian rebels who are willing to accept the Russian or Syrian government’s invitation. According to one of the recent statements by Minister Lavrov, “Russia and the US have an understanding on what needs to be done regarding the Syrian resolution.”[98] After his talks with US State Secretary John Kerry, Lavrov added that “we have an understanding on what we need to do, and part of these [Russian-US] agreements involve pressures on all opposition groups so that they are guided by what the UN Security Council resolution states.”[99] Following Lavrov, Russia’s Deputy UN Permanent Representative Vladimir Safronov put stress on the fact that he does not “see another track [to the ISSG]. Together with Americans we created…a political settlement infrastructure. And we expect others to help us, not to undermine efforts.”[100] He has also noted that Moscow maintains “permanent daily dialogue” with the leadership of countries that support the Syrian government opposition including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates on the Syrian issue.[101] As he admitted, “we have differences, but having differences is a healthy situation…Majority of the people understand that the future of Syria is to be decided.”[102]

This was, from him, a very optimistic and diplomatic vision, which does not always need to correspond to the realities. The critical situation in Syria is a reflection of both the complex Middle Eastern problems and the new Cold War, which arose under the Obama administration between Washington, its allies, and Moscow. On May 17, 2016 Foreign Ministers of the major and regional powers, including the US, Russia, Germany, Oman, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, attended the fifth meeting of the ISSG in Vienna, which ended with no proposal for a date to resume peace talks between the Syrian government and the Western supported Islamic militias that represent the Syrian armed opposition.

The heated discussion about the legal status of the Al-Nusra Front, and some other Islamist armed groups in the country, and the American and Saudi’s call that “Assad should go” at present make any expected understanding difficult to be achieved.

Gwynne Dyer a well-known Canadian journalist, whose articles are published in 45 countries, has recently approvingly quoted Lakhdar Brahimi, the former UN Special Envoy to Syria that, “the Russians had a more realistic analysis of the [Syrian] situation than practically anybody else.”[103] In his opinion, “everyone should have listened to the Russians a little bit more than they did.”[104] Brahimi was taking on the Russian proposal of 2012 that Basher al Assad would leave his presidential post, but the secular and semi-socialist Baathist regime in Syria must be left in place. This proposal was submitted to the UN Security Council but the US supported by Britain and France opposed its approval. Dyer also admits, “the brutal truth is that there is no “moderate Sunni opposition” in Syria any more.”[105] According to him, “by mid-2015 between 80 percent and 90 percent of the Syrian rebels actively fighting the Assad regime belonged to the Islamic State or to al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, the Nusra Front, and its Islamist allies in Ahrar al-Sham.”[106] Even the remainder of the non-fanatics or so called “moderates” became mostly allied to the Nusra Front, which accepted them as its allies in order to be protected from the American led coalition bombardment.[107]

Largely because of that, “it’s the Baathist regime’s secular character that makes it so important.”[108] Although its leadership might be dominated by the Alawite religious minority, “it has a much broader popular support because all Syria’s non-Muslim minorities, Christian and Druze, see it as their only protection from Islamist extremists. Many Sunni Muslims, especially in the cities, see it the same way.”[109] Another reason for the still relatively large social support for the present Syrian regime is the fact that as the only surviving Arab left-wing nationalist regime in the region, it is willing to guarantee to its citizens free education, health care and other social services, which are also available for the Palestinian refugees living in the country. Last but not least, during the last decades the Syrian government has been the only Arab government in the region with the courage to oppose Israel,[110] which was increasing its popularity among the Arab people but also made it more difficult to get Washington’s recognition.

However, American-Syrian relations have never been a simple function of the US’ support for Israel.[111] President Clinton supported the Syrian-Israeli negotiations, which, at that time, might have stabilized Arab-Israeli relations, and a success would have been considered a great achievement of his presidency.[112] However, Clinton’s successors to the White House had to deal with Damascus’ closer relations with Teheran, involvement in Lebanon and the persistent support of the Palestinians, which changed Washington’s policy. According to the former NATO Commander in Europe General Wesley Clark, “the G.W. Bush administration wanted to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, get it under control and Syria was on the same list as Iraq.”[113] When in 2000 Bashar al Assad took the place of his father, Hafez al Assad, as president of Syria and the head of the ruling (Renaissance) Baath Socialist party, he became, almost from the start, marked by the Bush administration for “regime change,”[114] and in his speech in May 2002 Under Secretary of State John Bolton included Syria on the American list of rogue states, along with Iraq, that “can expect to become our subject.”[115]

In an effort to find a way out of the critical situation and make use of the fact that the head of the more conciliatory Labour Party, Ehud Barak won the Israeli elections on May 17, 1999, Bashar al Assad in 2000 initiated secret talks with Israel in Turkey.[116] By August 2005 these negotiations “had reached a very advanced form and covered territorial, water, border and political questions”[117] and according to the Canadian historian the outcomes represented “a quantum leap in solving one of the region’s crucial problems.”[118] A number of documents, published then by the respected Israeli newspaper Haaretz, included the draft accord of the possible Syrian-Israeli treaty, which was supported, at that time, by a meaningful part of the Israeli establishment and had the silent approval of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. However, George W. Bush’s administration was against the negotiations and the possible peace treaty between the two nations. While President Bush refrained from publicly criticizing the Israeli Prime Minister’s decision to negotiate with Syria, privately the US President, and several of his aides, missed no opportunity to express their unhappiness to Israel. In November 2008 during the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit in Washington, Bush asked him, “why do you want to give Assad the Golan Heights for nothing?”[119] According to Israeli sources Olmert replied that, “it is not for nothing. It is in exchange for a change in the region’s strategic alignment.”[120] The Bush administration did not want to accept that, and although a number of formerly high ranked Israeli officials, including Shlomo Ben-Ami, a former Israeli Foreign Minister, argued that the issues involved were “too important”[121] for Israel to endorse yet “another failure in the US strategy,”[122] Prime Minister Olmert frankly admitted that “the Bush administration opposes a negotiated peace with Syria. Therefore, he is also opposed to it.”[123]

Even at that time the Baathist regime faced critical challenges, but was able to retain its political legitimacy among the majority of Syrians and maintain control of the country. According to all credible public opinion polls in Syria, even the last five years of the extremely destructive war had undermined, but not destroy “the legitimacy of the Syrian nation-state and its institutions”[124] and “the legitimacy of the State certainly exceeds that of the Assad regime.”[125] According to the Italian scholar, “the Alawis may have created a State which can survive without them.”[126] However, the very survival of the only secular and semi-socialist left wing state in the region is by no means certain. The prevailing consensus of the American elite of power is that the Baathist regime in Syria has to be overthrown. This consensus was probably established after the failure of several American efforts to get Syrian approval for the Arab-Israeli settlement, which was supported by the Americans and was very favourable for Israel, but certainly some other factors might have been involved. In March 2000 during his meeting with US President Bill Clinton in Geneva, Syrian President Hafez al Assad insisted that there must be a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights to the Israeli-Syrian borders that existed on June 4, 1967, before the Arab-Israeli war of that year. As he argued there were two basic principles for peaceful settlement in the region, Israel should fully withdraw from the territories it acquired in 1967 and Palestinian rights must be restored.[127] None of these requirements were acceptable to Washington and it would be even more difficult to think of their acceptance today.

Being neither a prophet nor willing to play the role of fortune-teller, I feel unable to predict the future events of the Syrian crisis and their possible regional and global consequences. Providing that the relevant materials will not be destroyed, their comprehensive research and analysis needs to be the task of future generations. My own effort was only focused on the discussion of the last few years of Syrian developments with a stress on their regional and global causes and consequences. Because the situation has been and remains very volatile and the available sources of information might be either biased or insufficient; my modest project was not easy to complete and might be far from perfect. In addition, the present Syrian conflict involves a public relations war with a level of sophistication we have never seen before. As I have already mentioned, the Western domination is now largely based on the use of soft power, including overwhelming control of the internet and all other means of mass media, meaning any attempt to present a relatively balanced analysis deviating from the official mainstream narrative of the Middle Eastern events has become a major intellectual and moral challenge to any scholar or writer interested in this region. However, both the ongoing drama in Syria and the Russian relationship with this small, but culturally rich nation should not be left without our attention.

At the end of this article (August 2016) I have to admit that all of our hopes for peace in Syria have not come true and that there is ongoing fighting, especially in the Aleppo region, and unclear prospects for the future. However, the situation in Syria and the nature of the struggle has already submitted the country to deep and, as I believe, negative changes and transformations which might prevent any chances for a peaceful settlement that would be supported by the local population. According to a respected New York-based foreign affairs analyst, Joe Lauria, US policy on Syria with its obsession about overthrowing President Bashar Assad was based on assumptions five years out of date. He says, “it’s a policy on Syria that is stuck in 2011. It’s not the same country anymore. And it’s not the same war.”[128] In his view, “the conflict in Syria [has] long [since] ceased to be a popular uprising and instead is a war of foreign Islamists backed by the Gulf states, Turkey and the United States.”[129] As I have already mentioned, British Syria expert and historian Helena Cobban expresses a similar opinion and indicates that even according to the spokesman for the US military’s Operation Inherent Resolve “it is primarily the Nusra Front who holds Aleppo.”[130] In addition, because the opposition groups fighting in Syria are deeply divided and often unstable, any negotiations with them might be both difficult to be achieved and their results are often uncertain. As Joe Lauria pointed out, “the jihadists’ insurgency in Syria is a cesspool. There are about 1,500 different rebel groups, and only about 100 agreed to the [recent] ceasefire. Fighters regularly change sides. Many are foreign mercenaries who will fight for the highest pay.”[131] The prospect for the Syrian people does not seem to be bright and even the survival of the nation as one entity is by no means certain.

In fact since the February 27, 2016 ceasefire and the ensuing withdrawal in mid March of part of the Russian forces from the country, anti-Assad rebels have made good use of the time, and with the help of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, largely overturned the previous strategic and territorial advantages achieved by the Syrian Arab Army.[132]The long disputed, in the West, supply of portable ground to air missile launchers was finally delivered to them and soon made a visible impact on the balance of power existing in the country. The Syrian government, which previously enjoyed unchallenged air power, no longer has that advantage.[133] During just one month it lost three combat planes that were shot down by the rebel forces in northern Syria.[134] The previous saturation bombing of the Islamic targets and the extensive air cover which was previously provided to its troops and its allies’ ground operations now became impossible to be continued.[135] Consequently, both the Syrian Arab Army and its allies such as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah have recently suffered heavy causalities, especially in the fighting in the south-western region of Aleppo.[136]

The growing human and material costs of the involvement in the war in Syria could not remain without an impact on the perceptions of the situation there by major protagonists in the acute crisis. Washington’s War Party, feeling the new strength and a chance to win the war in Syria inspired 51 US State Department officials to sign a memo asking President Obama to launch air and missile strikes on the Damascus government of Bashar al Assad, calling this a “judicious use of stand-off and air weapons”[137] which “would undergird and drive a more focused and hard nosed US led diplomatic process.”[138] On the Russian side there was no lack of voices of concern and even calls for a withdrawal from the costly and risky Middle Eastern engagement.

The memo which might have been inspired by some people in the Obama administration in order to frighten and impress Russians and Syrians, at least for now remained without any practical consequences, and Patrick Buchanan, who is himself a well known traditional conservative politician and journalist asked: “Assume the US strikes break Syria’s regime and Assad falls and flees. Who fills the power vacuum in Damascus, if not the most ruthless of the terrorist forces in that country – al Nusra and ISIL? Should ISIL reach Damascus first, and the slaughter of Alavites and Christians ensue, would we send an American army to save them? Does it make sense then that we would launch air and missile strikes against a Syrian regime and army that is today the last line of defense between ISIS and Damascus?”[139]

However, the US government did not want to listen to the Russian pleas to persuade “moderate” opposition groups supported by Washington to separate from the al-Nusra Front[140] and not to ally with the groups which though they “accede to cessation of hostilities [and are getting support from the West and its Middle Eastern allies] when it suits them, …pull out of these arrangements and then only to go back.”[141] Feeling desperate in view of the failure of his diplomatic efforts, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov asked, “Isn’t the US aware of what is going on? It’s indeed surreal how one chooses to see the “Nusra Front.””[142]

Having to face in Moscow an influential pro-American Liberal lobby, which since the beginning opposed any Russian intervention in the Syrian crisis[143] caused by the last months disenchantment of even those people who otherwise supported Putin[144] who became afraid of the possible cost of the Syrian intervention, the Russian government in order to achieve at least some political cooperation with the West avoided open criticism of the Americans’ role in Syria. However, recently Moscow has became less patient and finally, perhaps also under the Iranian influence, came to the conclusion that the Americans have been using “delaying tactics – presumably, hand-in-glove with Israel and Saudi Arabia – to buy time for Nusra to make some territorial gains by exploiting the Russian self-restraint.”[145]

While Teheran has always been suspicious about Western diplomacy and perceived the ceasefire in Syria as a “hoax and the US and its allies’ conspiracy to reverse the tide of the military balance in Syria which favoured Assad’s regime currently, by creating space for Nusra Front to operate without fear of Russian air strikes,”[146] Moscow had apparently trusted more its Western “partners” and persistently searched for their recognition and compromise.[147] However, in the view of the lack of positive outcomes of its long-term policy, by the end of June 2016 “it communicated to the Obama administration that it no longer will remain passive while the Nusra Front made territorial gains.”[148] Following that, Russian jets attacked the American backed Syrian opposition groups around Tanf in southern Syria bordering Jordan and Iraq. At that time there was no Nusra presence there and Washington strongly protested, but Moscow wanted to make a point that if the Americans can’t separate the moderate groups from the al Nusra Front, Russian jets also won’t distinguish between “good and bad targets.”[149]

As an expert Ambassador Bhadrakumar, already quoted by me, indicated, “beneath the veneer of the military campaign against terrorism, the geopolitical struggle in Syria is surging. The fact of the matter is that Russia-US ties are deteriorating,”[150] and the recent NATO massive military manoeuvres, “Anaconda”, on the Polish-Russian borders openly simulated a possible large scale conflict with Russia. At almost the same time and in spite of all diplomatic efforts and favourable economic incentives, the European Union extended the economic sanctions against Russia for another six month period until the end of January 2017. The decision was motivated by the lack of implementation of the Minsk agreement and totally disregarded the much more negative role of the Ukrainian government.[151] As Ambassador Badhrakumar has indicated, “on one hand, it is a singular success of US diplomacy that Russia-EU ties remain frozen and in quasi adversarial mode for the remaining period of the Obama presidency, which in turn, creates the backdrop for NATO to press ahead with more forward deployment closer to the Russian borders, while at the same time selectively engaging the Kremlin on issues of critical interest to Washington, such as the war against the Islamic State in Syria.”[152] It is true that “Obama has proved to be hard as nails in his [anti] Russian policies”[153] but it is by no means certain that it has been either necessary or promised security and economic gains to the European nations associated with Washington, and the stability of the international system. Whatever the future of Russia might be, and this country might be even completely destroyed, conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and a number of other places will continue. Multiple militia groups complicate attempts to end the violence in these countries, while young affiliates of the Islamic state in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and Al Quaeda and other similar organizations who are devoid of better life perspectives spread insurgency and terror across the Middle East Africa and cities of Europe. There are now few agreed principles on which to build a comprehensive peace agreement, but negotiations may lessen the intensity of the conflicts.[154] The terrorist organizations with all their deeply-rooted and perhaps historically understandable hatred of the West could not be likely to play a positive role in the negotiations, and a possible fruitful cooperation with Russia on the present crucial problems would be not only possible but relatively easy to be achieved. The present existing Russian Federation is not the Soviet Union and it has certainly many common features and interests with the Western nations. Unfortunately, during the Obama presidency this old country has for a long time been submitted to the unprecedented campaign of threat and insult, the impact of which would not be easy to predict. The future of the old continent will certainly not be any better and a number of possible threats and challenges might be difficult to avoid.[155]

[1] “James Clapper: Vladimir Putin in Syria is ‘winging this,’”, October 30, 2015.

[2] Andrej Kreutz, “Syria: Russia’s Best Asset in the Middle East,” Russie. Nei. Visions No. 55, November 10, 2010.

[3] Dmitri Trenin, “For Russia, Syria is not about Syria,” Daily Star (Lebanon), 03/10/2014.

[4] Conrad Hackett, “5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe,”, November 17, 2015.

[5] Derek Hopwood, The Russian Presence in Syria and Palestine 1843-1914, Church and Politics in the Near East, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1969, p. 10.

[6] Pavel Gust, Orthodox Interchurch relations in the 16th-17th centuries, ARABINFORM (The International Journal of Arab Studies), July 12, 2014.

[7] Op. cit.

[8] Op. cit.

[9] Macarius III (Zaim) of Antioch, Orthodox WIKI,, December 26, 2014.

[10] Op. cit.

[11] Macarius III (Zaim) of Antioch, Orthodox WIKI,, December 28, 2014.

[12] Op. cit.

[13] Derek Hopwood, Op. cit., p. 15 and 164.

[14] Op. cit., p. 150.

[15] Op. cit., p. 153.

[16] Op. cit., p. 159.

[17] Tareq Y. Ismael and T. S. Ismael, The Communist Movement in Syria and Lebanon, Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1998, p.p. 12-13.

[18] Oles M. Smolansky, The Soviet Union and the Arab East under Khrushchev, Levisbury, Pennsylvania, Bucknell University Press, 1974, p. 247.

[19] Walter Laquer, The Struggle for the Middle East, The Soviet Union in the Mediterranean 1958-1968, London: Macmillan, 1969, p. 84.

[20] Op. cit.

[21] Alexei Vassiliev, Rossiya Na Blizhnem i Srednem Vostoke: Ot Messionstva k Pragmatizmu, Moscow: Nauka, 1993, p. 296.

[22] Interview by Sergey Stepashin with K. P. (Komsomolskaya Pravda), Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS),, on December 6, 2015.

[23] Op. cit.

[24] Op. cit.

[25] Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS),, December 28, 2015.

[26] Dmitri Trenin, “Putin Syria Gambit Aims at Something Bigger than Syria. What is Russia up to in the Middle East?” Tablet, October 13, 2015.

[27] Paul Alster, “Potentially game changing oil reserves discovered in Israel,”, October 8, 2015.

[28] Richard Perle al., A Clean Break. A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, Washington, D.C. and Tel Aviv: Institute for Advanced Strategic Political Studies, 1966.

[29] “Syrian President Says Arab-Israeli War Remains Central Problem in Middle East,” ITAR-TASS, January 25, 2005.

[30] Dmitri Trenin, “For Russia Syria is Not About Syria,” Daily Star [Lebanon], 03/10/2014.

[31] Dmitri Trenin, “The Mythological Alliance: Russia’s Syria Policy,” Carnegie Moscow Center, February 12, 2013.

[32] Op. cit.

[33] President Putin’s interview with Vladimir Soloviev on TV Channel Russia I, on October 11, 2015.

[34] Andrei Tsygankov, “The Kremlin’s Syria gamble is risky, but could have a big payoff,” RussiaDirect, October 3, 2015.

[35] Henry A. Kissinger, “A Path Out of the Middle East Collapse with Russia in Syria: a geopolitical structure that lasted four decades is in shambles. The US needs a new strategy and priorities,” Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2015.

[36] Op. cit.

[37] Graham Fuller, “Graham Fuller’s Five Middle East Predictions for 2015,”, January 3, 2015.

[38] Op. cit.

[39] Graham Fuller, “Embracing Assad Is a Better Strategy for the US Than Supporting the Least Bad Jihadis,” World Post/Huffington Post, September 29, 2014.

[40] Kissinger, Op. cit.

[41] Tsygankov, Op. cit.

[42] Dmitri Trenin, The Mythical Alliance: Russia’s Syria Policy,, February 12, 2013.

[43] Dmitri Trenin, Russia in the Middle East: Moscow’s Objectives, Priorities, and Policy Drivers,

[44] Op. cit.

[45] Op. cit.

[46] Op. cit.

[47] Paul R. Pillar, US Troops on Russia’s Borders,, March 31, 2016.

[48] Trenin, The Mythical Alliance.

[49] Op. cit.

[50] Op. cit.

[51] Op. cit.

[52] Op. cit.

[53] Matthew Lee, “US Once Again Forced to Turn to Russia For Help on Syria,” Associated Press,, May 1, 2016.

[54] Op. cit. See also “Accord américano-russe pour une nouvelle trêve en Syrie, qui n’inclut pas Alep,” France 24,, April 30, 2016.

[55] Op. cit.

[56] Op. cit.

[57] Op. cit.

[58] “US, Russia agree to include Aleppo in Syria ceasefire deal,” RT News,, May 4, 2016.

[59] Op. cit.

[60] Op. cit.

[61] Op. cit.

[62] “‘Miracle ceasefire’ must be fostered as one and only plan for Syria – UN envoy de Mistura to RT,” RT News,, April 29, 2016.

[63] Op. cit.

[64] Op. cit.

[65] Konstantin Kosachyov, “Blocking UN Draft Resolution on Inclusive Intra-Syrian Talks Destructive,” Russian International Affairs Council,, April 25, 2016.

[66] RT News, “‘Miracle ceasefire’ must be fostered as one and only plan for Syria.”

[67] Op. cit.

[68] Op. cit.

[69] Op. cit. He was certainly right, but the precondition for the effective negotiations is the pervious establishment of the relatively stable and generally understood balance of power between the parties involved. It does not need to be, and in practice almost never will be liked, but it needs to be accepted as a kind of necessity. The constantly shifting events, long lasing unstable situation and general uncertainty about the future of the country have greatly contributed to the still ongoing Syrian drama.

[70] Christine Lin, “Asian rebels in Aleppo, Western blind spot,” Asia Times, February 9, 2016.

[71] Op. cit.

[72] Op. cit.

[73] “Exporting Jihad: Fighters from the North Caucasus and Central Asia and the Syrian Civil War,” Chatham House Roundtable, February 10, 2016.

[74] Op. cit.

[75] Mike Whitney, “Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Plays Off,” Counterpunch, February 10, 2016.

[76] The UN Security Council Unanimously Adopted Resolution 2254 (2015), Endorsing Road Map for Peace Process in Syria. Reiterates its call “for Member states to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh, Al Nusra Front (ANF)) and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, … and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities.”

[77] Major-General Konashenkov, “Most of Aleppo Controlled by Syrian Army, But Situation Remains Difficult,”, May 4, 2016.

[78] Op. cit.

[79] “Al-Nusra Front Troops Dominate Syrian Opposition Forces in Aleppo Fighting,”, May 6, 2016.

[80] “Kerry to Negotiate new Ceasefire in Syria – But With His Own Side,”, May 2, 2016.

[81] Tulsi, Gabbard, “We’re Waging Two Wars in Syria,” Information Clearing House,,  July 9, 2016

[82] Op. cit.

[83] Thierry Meyssan, “US foreign policy,”, May 9, 2016.

[84] “Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the United States,” Voltaire Network, May 9, 2016.

[85] Op. cit.

[86] Op. cit.

[87] “Kerry to Negotiate New Ceasefire in Syria – But with His Own Side,” Moon of Alabama, May 2, 2016.

[88] “Terrorists Commit War Crimes U.S. State Department: We Continue to have dialogue with them,” Moon of Alabama, May 13, 2016.

[89] Op. cit.

[90] Op. cit.

[91] Op. cit.

[92] Thiery Meyssan, “War can be limited,” Voltaire Network, May 11, 2016.

[93] Op. cit.

[94] Op. cit.

[95] Op. cit.

[96] Op. cit.

[97] Op. cit.

[98] “Moscow Expects Int’l Support of Russia-US Settlement in Syria,” Sputnik, May 16, 2016.

[99] Op. cit.

[100]Russia hopes that the Syrian political settlement framework orchestrated by Moscow and Washington will not be undermined,” Russia’s Deputy UN Permanent Representative Vladimir Safronov told Sputnik, May 16, 2016.

[101] Op. cit.

[102] Op. cit.

[103] Gwynne Dyer, “The Russians were right about Syria. They foresaw a compromise with Assad, but now it looks like the only hope,” The Hamilton Spectator, May 18, 2016.

[104] Op. cit.

[105] Op. cit.

[106] Gwynne Dyer, “What Would a Peace Deal Look Like?”, April 4, 2016.

[107] Op. cit.

[108] Dyer, “The Russians were right about Syria.”

[109] Op. cit.

[110] Op. cit.

[111] Itamar Rabinovich, “Damascus, Jerusalem and Washington: The Syrian-Israeli Relationship as a US Policy Issue,” Analysis Paper 19, March 2009,  The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution.

[112] Alain Gresh, “Middle East Holds Its Breath. Israel and Syria on the brink of peace,” Le Monde Diplomatique, January 2000.

[113] General Wesley Clark, “Wars Were Planned – Seven Countries In Five Years,”, September 11, 2011.

[114] Jonathan Marshall, “The US Hands in the Syrian Mess,”, July 20, 2015.

[115] “US expands ‘axis of evil’,”, May 6, 2002.

[116] Gabriel Kolko, “Three’s a Crowd: Israel, Iran, and the Bush Administration,”, February 12, 2007.

[117] Op. cit.

[118] Op. cit.

[119] Rabinovich, “Damascus, Jerusalem, and Washington,” Op. cit.

[120] Op. cit.

[121] Kolko, “Three’s a Crowd,” Op. cit.

[122] Op. cit.

[123] Op. cit.

[124] Laura Mirachian, Syria and its Neighbourhood, Research Centre on the Southern System and Wider Mediterranean, Working Paper No. 6-2005, Milano, 2005, p. 15.

[125] Op. cit.

[126] Op. cit.

[127] Jane Perlez, “In Geneva, Clinton Bet That Assad Would Bend, and Lost,” New York Times, March 28, 2000. See also: William J. Clinton XLII President of the US: 1993-2001, “The President’s News Conference With President Hafez al-Assad of Syria in Damascus,” October 27, 1994.

[128] “Al-Nusra Front Troops Dominate Syrian Opposition Forces in Aleppo Fighting,”, June 5, 2016.

[129] Op. cit.

[130] Op. cit.

[131] Op. cit.

[132] M.K. Bathrakumar, “Why Syrian peace talks remain a bridge too far for success,” Asia Times, May 18, 2016.

[133] Op. cit. See also Bill Van Auken, “Plan B: CIA Prepares to Arm Syrian “Rebels” with Anti-aircraft Weapons,” Global Research, April 19, 2016 and “ECA5: Ukraine dostavcra brom rebeliantom w Syria” (in Polish) [Ukraine supplies Syrian rebels with weapons], Portal, April 29, 2014.

[134] M.K. Bathrakumar, Op. cit.

[135] Op. cit.

[136] Op. cit.

[137] Krishnadev Calamur, “The Letter Urgin a U.S. Rethink on Syria,” The Atlantic, June 17, 2016. See also, James Garden, “The State Department’s Wrong Headed Push for War with Syria,” The Nation, Jun 21, 2016 and Patrick J. Buchanan, “Our Impulsive Foreign Policy Establishment,” American Conservative, June 21, 2016.

[138] Op. cit. See also Ivan eland, “Experts are Wrong Advocating Escalation in Syria,” Huffington Post, June 31, 2016.

[139] Patrick Buchanan, Op. cit.

[140] M.K. Bathrakumar, “Why Syrian peace talks remain a bridge too far,” Op. cit.

[141] Op. cit.

[142] Op. cit.

[143] In September 2013 when it seemed most likely that the US would lead a military strike against Syria related with the liberal circles in Moscow Russian History Professor and Middle Eastern expert Georgiy Mirsky, while asked what Russia should do replied: “Bloody nothing…Russia doesn’t have to do anything at all. Just sit down and watch America starting a new war it can’t win.” Michael Klimentyev/RIA Novesti/Reuter, “What Driving Russia’s Tactical Change in Syria?” September 11, 2013.  At the same time Mirsky warned Americans against getting into a new war in the Arab world.

[144] See for instance the article by Nikolay Surkov, who is an Associate Professor in the Oriental Studies department of Moscow-State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University), “Why Assad Could remain Syrian president until 2017,” #25, June 27, 2016.

[145] M.K. Bhadrakumar, “Russia Punctures US’ Plan B on Syria,” Indian Punchline, June 30, 2016.

[146] Op. cit.

[147] M.K. Bhadrakumar, “Russia fails to erode the EU sanctions,” Indian Punchline, June 30, 2016.

[148] Bhadrakumar, “Russia Punctures US’ Plan B,” Op. cit.

[149] Op. cit.

[150] Op. cit.

[151] Badhrakumar, “Russia fails to erode the EU sanctions,” Op. cit.

[152] Op. cit.

[153] Op. cit.

[154] Op. cit.

[155] Canadian Security Intelligence Service, 2018 Security Outlook. Potential Risks and Threats,, June 2016, p. 5

Artificial Savings

By Jeanne M. Haskin

There are two ways that a neoliberal economy can mask decades of flat or falling wages and little or no savings. The first is to have a strong dollar in relation to other currencies, which makes imports less expensive. The ability to buy more with less helps to sustain the illusion of economic wellbeing, particularly with respect to durable and nondurable goods manufactured in other countries. It allows households to afford appliances and technology, toys, clothing, and footwear, all of which speak to our need for basic comforts. For many, the perception of saving on what is bought, replaces money that is saved to buy. Coupled with consumer credit, this encourages negative savings, thereby increasing the debt of households and leveraging consumption against future wages. The second way to provide the illusion of growth is to have an economic boom period wherein demand for homes and rental properties becomes strong enough to push up prices. When real property is not owned outright but mortgaged, the upward surge in prices lowers the debt to value ratio. The outcome is more equity, or an increased percentage of ownership, which encourages property owners to sell high and upgrade to more expensive properties or cash in on the extra value with a home equity loan to fund more consumer spending. In either case, property owners increase their debt based on the perception of asset-savings, which is really the illusive incentive of a market fluctuation.

Not All Debt is Created Equal

Unfortunately, the persistence of flat or falling wages and little to no real savings means that even though tricks of the market allow consumers to upgrade their standard of living, their debt to income ratio is steadily increasing. Built into every mortgage, home equity loan, or use of consumer credit is the true valuation of a consumer’s ability to pay based on leveraged wages. The risk factor of inelastic earnings, coupled with the inevitability of a market correction (or economic downturn, otherwise known as the “bust” phase of the American business cycle), often translates into higher costs of credit, mandatory mortgage insurance and/or disability insurance, as well as greater fees for origination, underwriting, and closing. Too, homeowners who upgrade or have property reappraisals will pay higher property taxes. As such the degree of leverage may be unsustainable in the long-term, particularly when a market correction decreases property values, inspires employer cutbacks, puts people out of work, and ensures that their new jobs will pay lower wages. In that event the pressure to maintain household payments motivates consumers to take on second and even third jobs on terms that are disadvantageous. For industry, this provides a cornucopia of hiring prospects to choose from and a greater power to ensure that employees remain motivated, no matter the terms of employment.

Homeownership in Historical Perspective

For those who were able-bodied workers and soldiers during WWII, the pent-up real savings created by two working family members at a time of rationing and scarcity ensured that post-war America would experience a housing boom on terms and conditions that were far different from those we know today.
In the first place, the manufacturing sector switched from a wartime footing that overwhelmingly supplied the government to produce for a starved domestic market and reconstruction overseas. In the second place, not all women reverted to a primary focus on homemaking although returning soldiers were expected and even aided to take over women’s wartime jobs.

According to historian Elaine Tyler May:

Most [women] wanted to continue working after the war ended. But, of course, millions of men came back from serving in the military and there was a widespread fear that there would be another depression once the wartime economy shut down. Women were asked to do their part by leaving the job market. Many were fired from their jobs so the returning veterans could be re-employed…[But] women were still employed as secretaries, waitresses, or in other clerical jobs…because they either wanted or needed to keep working.1

Households with forced savings and often two working members absorbed the feverish spread of modestly-modeled housing made even more attractive by one-dollar-down mortgages and preferential loans for Veterans. Couples could also afford to marry, have children, and purchase durable goods.

The difference between the baby boom generation that escaped the Great Depression and the generations that followed is that those who experienced WWII were a nation of savers first.

In Russ Roberts’ words:

[W]orld War II led to a “glut” of private savings because (1) government spending caused full employment, but (2) workers and businesses were forced to save much of their income because the massive shift of output toward the war effort forestalled spending on private consumption and investment goods. The resulting cash “glut” fueled post-war consumption and investment spending.2

In other words, government restraints on consumption produced conservatism and thrift. Only after the war was over did the consumer floodgates open as manufacturers free of profit restrictions scrambled to meet and fuel the increasing tide of demand.
Too, the empowerment of unions under FDR ensured that wages, working hours, and benefits were conducive to a better than modest standard of living.
As such, aging baby boomers do not understand the generations that have steadily lost these benefits and are spenders rather than savers.

Trying to Recapture the Past

Under President Jimmy Carter, the nation was asked to voluntarily embrace a return to wartime-like austerity because the economy that Carter inherited both during and after the OPEC oil shocks was plagued by stagflation. This meant that the costs of all goods and services were increased by the oil price hikes. Pay raises that allowed workers to accommodate price inflation in turn sparked more inflation. As wages chased after prices with no appreciable increase in sales and production, this meant that profits suffered and the economy was moribund. GDP was stagnant, and debtors came out ahead of savers since purchases made on fixed-interest credit were paid back with inflated, or increasingly discounted, dollars.
Those who pointed to Weimar Germany3 and the real danger of increasingly worthless money were not shy of predicting catastrophic consequences. Indeed the collapse of government occurred at least symbolically when Carter returned from his emergency Camp David conference to demand resignations from most of his cabinet members.
Those who replaced the outgoing members were chosen largely for loyalty. As Carter went on to address the nation, he promised to cut government spending and scale back the government workforce to stop government borrowing from crowding out private credit and to balance the federal budget. He also called on workers and producers to cap pay raises and price hikes, saying:

In the last 10 years, in our attempts to protect ourselves from inflation, we’ve developed attitudes and habits that actually keep inflation going once it has begun. Most companies raise their prices because they expect costs to rise. Unions call for large wage settlements because they expect it to happen; it does happen, and once it’s started, wages and prices chase each other up and up…Except for our lowest paid workers, I’m asking all employees in this country to limit total wage increases to a maximum of seven percent per year. From tonight on, every contract signed and every pay raise granted should meet this standard. My price limitation will be equally strict. Our basic target for economy-wide price increases is five and three quarters percent. To reach this goal, I’m tonight setting a standard for each firm in the nation to hold its price increases at least one-half of one percentage point below what they averaged during 1976 and 1977.4

Still later, Carter decried the empty values of a consumption-driven society and urged a return to spiritualism to overcome what he called the nation’s crisis of confidence. He said:

In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.5

Imposing consumer restraint to restore the value of money became the number one priority. As William Greider noted:

President Carter and a Democratic Congress enacted the Monetary Control Act of 1980 which removed all remaining controls on interest rates and repealed the federal law prohibiting usury (note that sky-high interest rates and ruinous predatory lending have been with us ever since).6

Meanwhile, Paul Volcker, Carter’s chairman of the Federal Reserve, hiked interest rates to unprecedented levels both to encourage savings and to afford the wealthy protection. The cost of money lent skyrocketed both in and outside of America, reaching a prime rate of 21.5% in December 1980—the highest rate in U.S. history.7
At the same time, high interest rates diverted investment from the stock market to the bond market. If the government wanted to borrow, it would do so at higher costs. As it was, the carrying cost of outstanding U.S. debt grew ever greater. Hence fiscal austerity was vital to Carter’s leadership, the largest part of which depended on energy conservation. Carter proposed to weather the OPEC shocks by regulating thermostats, installing solar panels, insulating buildings, and exploiting clean coal and natural gas as sources of domestic energy. Carter’s concern with the rising costs of health care also persuaded health care providers and insurers to experiment with different coverage models.
Finally, Carter deregulated the airline, rail freight, and trucking industries to produce competition that successfully lowered rates.
In all, Carter’s presidency led to an important turning point. A self-reliant America required more competition and sacrifice. Beginning with Ronald Reagan (who fired the on-strike air traffic controllers), unions and middle management would be worn down or phased out over time and never again would wage inflation exceed a minimal percentage.
Above all, it would no longer matter whether a Republican or Democrat ascended to the White House. As Richard Posner put it:

Deregulation was bipartisan. It is entirely speculative to suppose that, had Carter been reelected, the deregulation of banking, including the relaxation of mortgage standards, would have ceased. When the Democrats regained the presidency in 1993, banking deregulation continued, culminating in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had split commercial banks from investment banks, and in the rejection of regulation of the new derivatives, notably credit-default swaps. Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, Clinton’s principal economic advisers, were steadfast supporters of banking deregulation. They are both Democrats.8

In sum, whether Democrat or Republican, political pandering to Wall Street and the advancement and protection of the wealthiest banks became paramount to legislators.

Asset-Backed Lending and the Battle for Market Share

In the manufacturing sector, the protection of wealth required outsourcing production to undermine unions while employing cheaper labor to increase profit margins. The migration of America’s productive facilities also meant that their real assets of property, plant, and equipment vanished from the U.S. landscape. Left with a service economy that creates or destroys wealth from nothing but market fluctuations, the big banks took an increasingly competitive stance on increasing their share of asset-savings, beginning with home and property mortgages (or what remained of collateralized debt, excluding, for the moment, the market for auto financing).
That said, the banks were faced with a choice. They could undercut the Savings & Loan industry, which, on average, held 53% of all home mortgages, by charging lower mortgage interest. Or they could woo customers away from the thrifts with Certificates of Deposit (CDs) and other savings instruments that paid higher interest in the hope that customers would also move their mortgages once bank loyalty was established. Alternatively, the banks could have paid out high interest and lowered mortgage rates, but this was a losing gambit that could not have persisted indefinitely.
The solution? Disaster capitalism.

Why Compete When You Can Pillage?

The term “disaster capitalism,” as used by Naomi Klein and coined by News Junkie Post editor Gilbert Mercier applies to any profitable destruction that offers more profit in the aftermath. This was the lesson of WWII, which put America back to work and ensured in the aftermath that American goods and services would be provided by the Marshall Plan. From a purely financial perspective, it means blowing up our own industries through deregulation that builds up risky loan portfolios and then breaks them down through unsustainable debt—a necessarily piecemeal strategy in terms of the actual goal, i.e., capturing all asset-savings and/or property-based collateral from the big banks’ other competitors (of which the thrifts were only one) because the destruction of the S&Ls had to be decisive. More than one sector crash, bailout, and sellout could not be sold to the public (at least in earlier presidencies) nor could the bankers run the risk of upsetting the whole economy.
So, under President Carter, the big banks set their eyes on the prize of the Savings & Loan industry. Once the administration deregulated interest rates and repealed the law on usury, the S&L’s, which primarily made long-term fixed-rate mortgages, suffered a loss in mortgage value. Essentially, the higher interest rates wiped out the S&L’s net worth.9 “In 1983 it was estimated that it would cost roughly $25 billion to pay off the insured depositors of failed institutions. But the thrifts’ insurance fund, known as the FSLIC, had reserves of only $6 billion.”10
The point of deregulation was supposedly to make the S&Ls competitive. By allowing the thrifts to pay more interest to depositors and engage in a broader range of banking services, the government would solve the S&L’s problem by virtue of sheer growth. Or so the argument went. In practice, it was, and should have been, obvious that the existing loan portfolios of long-term fixed-rate mortgages would force losses to mount because they were not renegotiable. This was the millstone around the necks of the thrifts, even though they raised deposit-interest to attract more depositors.

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

What higher interest rates did do was open the door to looting the thrifts.
As William Greider put it:

It was the 1980 legislation that took the lid off banking and doomed the savings and loan industry, the mainstay that used to provide housing loans and home mortgages. The thrifts were able to raise capital because they were allowed to pay a half percent more in interest to depositors. Bankers wanted them out of the way. The Democratic party obliged.11

Why? According to Kenneth J. Robinson:

S&Ls have their origins in the social goal of pursuing homeownership…These institutions were originally organized by groups of people who wished to buy their own homes but lacked sufficient savings to purchase them. In the early 1800s, banks did not lend money for residential mortgages. The members of the group would pool their savings and lend them back to a few of the members to finance their home purchases. As the loans were repaid, funds could then be lent to other members…In 1980, there were almost 4,000 thrifts with total assets of $600 billion, of which about $480 billion were in mortgage loans (FDIC). That represented half of the approximately $960 billion in home mortgages outstanding at that time (Board of Governors 2013).12

In other words, the demise of the thrifts was planned both because they were socially-oriented and because of their market share. “Federally-chartered S&Ls were granted the authority to make new (and ultimately riskier) loans other than residential mortgages.”13 The result was overleveraged portfolios blown up by self-dealing to S&L employees, friends, associates, and relatives, most of whom were unqualified. However, the rape of the S&L’s also had criminal origins. A New Yorker named Mario Renda, who, according to his federal deposition, worked in conjunction with the Mob, “brokered as much as $5 billion per year in deposits into 130 S&Ls across the country, all of which failed.”14 According to author Jonathan Kwitny:

[M]any of the deposits were made on the specific condition that the S&Ls would lend money out to borrowers Renda would recommend, who turned out to be local Mafia people or strangers from out-of-state.15

Because money had to be driven into the thrifts for the rape to take effect, other deposit-brokers engaged in a similar scam known as “linked-financing.” These deposit-brokers steered deposits to the thrifts under a preexisting agreement to loan to certain people, who then remitted the loan money directly to the deposit-broker.16
Apart and aside from this, politically-connected luminaries Neil Bush and Jeb Bush benefited from loan transactions where money was siphoned off fraudulently or the loans were made for speculative investments without provisions to secure repayment if the venture proved unprofitable.17

Why Die Small When You Can Go Big?

When alarms were initially raised in 1983, the thrifts could have been rescued for $19 billion. Instead, Congress let it ride until 1989, when it passed the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act, which created the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) to dismantle the S&Ls.

The RTC closed 747 S&Ls with assets of over $407 billion. [By then] the ultimate cost to taxpayers was estimated to be as high as $124 billion.18

The total amount of the bailout, however, was nowhere near this modest. According to Stephen Pizzo’s Inside Job and Pete Brewton’s Untold Story, the total cost to U.S. taxpayers was an estimated $500 billion.19 Congress then pushed the RTC to dispose of the thrifts’ surviving assets in a firesale, where investors squeezed the public via the RTC.
As Nomi Prins reports:

At the first RTC auction in Dallas in July 1991, assets worth $25 million sold for 20 cents on the dollar. In May 1992, another RTC auction sold assets for only 17 cents on the dollar. By December 1995—the last year of the RTC’s existence—prices barely reached 70 cents on the dollar. So eventually the assets did regain some value, but only after enough were sold at exceedingly low prices, which had the effect of rendering the remaining assets more valuable.20

In sum:

[T]he RTC…sold off $519 billion worth of assets for 1,043 thrift closings. But the RTC never brought the profits to the American people…Instead it left the public on the hook for $124 billion in losses,21 while the thrift industry lost another $29 billion.22

The Test Becomes the Template

Naturally, the point of blowing up the thrifts was to make money coming and going. What tends to be overlooked is that the genius of bailout money is to free banks from depending on savers while holding down society’s wages. The inability to save (and its undesirability in a consumption-driven society that must push for negative savings to maintain constant growth) is solved not by raises but by government-sanctioned theft. It can’t be called redistribution because the underlying behavior is criminal in nature. When the government bails out fraud, complete with its firesale of assets, it closes the circle of crime with a yet another crime and calls it legislation. Worse, it sets the example for future action that must be even more egregious in terms of fraud and sector penetration to make the next bailout more than a compulsion.
In terms of the bottom line, a repeat-performance was truly irresistible because banks in collusion with government contrived to extract billions of dollars from ordinary citizens while cutting them out as the “middlemen” or rightful earners of capital.
The question then becomes: why not try for trillions?


[1] May, Elaine Tyler, “Women and Work,”

[2] Roberts, Russ, “Does ‘Pent Up’ Demand Explain the Post-War Recovery?

[3] LaRouche, Lyndon H., Jr., “Jimmy Carter’s economy enters into ‘Weimar hyperinflation,’” Executive Intelligence Review, March 25-31, 1980.

[4] Jimmy Carter, “Anti-Inflation Program,” 24 October 1978. Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XLV, No. 3, November 15, 1978, pp. 66-69.


[6] Leonard, Andrew, “No, Jimmy Carter did it,” Salon, June 4, 2009,

[7] “Presidency of Jimmy Carter,” Wikipedia, p. 6,

[8] Leonard, Andrew

[9] Robinson, Kenneth J., Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, “Savings and Loan Crisis 1980-1989.”

[10] Ibid.

[11] Leonard, Andrew

[12] Robinson, Kenneth.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Scheim, David E., “Trust or Hustle: The Bush Record,”

[15] Ibid.

[16] “Savings and Loan Crisis,” Wikipedia, p. 3.

[17] Scheim, David E.

[18] Robinson, Kenneth

[19] Scheim, David E.

[20] Prins, Nomi, It Takes a Pillage, (New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2009), p. 117.

[21] This figure comes from the Fed, which downplayed the losses, in contrast to later research that placed the number at $500 billion.

[22] Ibid.

Debt and the Great Deprivation

by Jeanne Haskin

When all our political swill has us struggle to pay the bills
It’s unsurprising how the consensus lets greed remain relentless
But strange that your free enterprise is publicly subsidized
So serenely egotistical, proper, painless and principled
For you it’s not difficult to return to business as usual
We’re hurting, you think you’re invincible
By all means feed at the trough, but don’t lecture me on core values

Without the efforts of Senator Sanders, it is unlikely that the presidential election of 2016 would have been so adamantly focused on income inequality. This does not mean that our government is not obsessive regarding our debt and household income. To name just a few of the agencies that collect, analyze, and distribute information on what Americans owe, earn, how they spend their earnings, and what they own in terms of assets, the government relies on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Statistics, the National Census, data from the I.R.S., and reports from the private sector. This tells us that employment demographics, consumer debt and disposable income (or what we have left after taxes) are all important considerations in the matter of taxation. In short, the government decides how much money we should have to manage our household budgets.
This is also true at the state level. Aside from income tax (which is not levied in all states), state legislators can levy excise taxes on everything from vehicles to consumer goods to groceries.
Put differently, both state and federal governments compete with the private sector for a share of our household budgets, including our household debt. The point being that, however it accrued, the national debt is our debt.

Restructuring the Debt to Value Ratio

The issue of economic leveraging, or how much debt a household can hold while still remaining solvent, is dependent on the worth of assets and income, both of which can increase or decrease in proportion to the level of debt. A high demand for assets, such as homes and rental properties, tends to increase their worth. This encourages more borrowing, whether consumers upgrade to more expensive homes or take out equity loans for home improvements or other spending. At the same time, an overheated market, or economic bubble, can not be sustained forever. As soon as the bubble bursts, assets plunge in value and real property owners may owe more than their homes are worth. High interest rates and a recessionary environment will encourage pay squeezes and layoffs, downsizing, and disinvestment as both businesses and households are forced to make do with less. In other words, market-driven inflation is a temporary valuation. The higher the inflationary boom, the more crushing the market correction. This is the long-term cost of buying into the illusion of growth.

The Subprime Mortgage Meltdown

The market bubble that burst between 2008 and 2009 was based on more illusion than demand-driven inflation. In the first case, mortgage lenders tapped every possible customer by both relaxing lending standards and faking supportive documents. In the second case, stock market brokers exhausted their imaginations in creating new investment vehicles based on the subprime mortgages. At the farthest end of the spectrum, investments weren’t even directly linked to the mortgages but tied instead to the Price Index. In the third case, the nation’s top credit rating agencies colluded with the banks and stock brokers to issue falsely positive ratings on blatantly toxic assets. This allowed stock brokers to sell to hedge funds, which are typically viewed as the safest investment vehicles (particularly for retirement purposes) because they can only invest in top-rated securities. Above all, it was a party that no one wanted to end because banks and brokerages wished to maximize their earnings. They also had a very real need to unload their toxic assets before the music stopped. Only then could they bet on the downside as well as the upside of the stock market. In practice, the brokerages and banks ended up stuck with what they churned out.
If not for the intervention of the government and the Federal Reserve, which not only backed, repackaged, and remarketed the toxic securities but also dropped interest rates to zero in order to discourage saving in favor of investment in the stock market, the banks would have had to sell at a loss, if they could have sold at all. By then, many teetered on the brink of insolvency. For its part, Lehman Brothers could not have been saved by any means.
By bailing out the banks, the Federal Reserve restored confidence in the market, but in doing so it assumed a dual mandate. Once it got the stock market moving, it engaged in a policy of “quantitative easing,” which means that it bought Treasuries and other securities to free up more money for bank lending (without printing bank notes). It also issued $2.6 trillion in zero-interest loans to banks that didn’t even touch the money. Instead they opted to leave it on the books of the Fed, thereby demonstrating that behavioral economics (providing monetary incentives and economic disincentives) is not always successful in terms of government goals. In this case, the bankers sat out the Great Recession, only after which they began ultra-selective lending. As for the other half of its mandate, the Fed hoped to blunt the effects of the Great Recession with a corresponding growth in wages. The point after deflation that wiped out value for homeowners, retirees, smalltime investors and small businesses was to induce a targeted 2% inflation in wages, a figure that seemed safe enough that the Federal Reserve held steady at zero interest until the end of 2015. But just as the bankers refused to lend, there was little movement in wages.

Inflating Our Way Out of Debt

Obviously, re-inflating the economy to achieve a lower ratio of National Debt to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would make holding our National Debt seem less risky in the eyes of creditors. Insofar as the U.S. is largely a paper economy, re-inflating the stock market became the number one priority.
But by late 2015, some market analysts gauged stocks to be overvalued by 70%. And since the banks were not lending, the shadow banking sector (comprised of non-bank commercial lenders) grew in leaps and bounds. Households took on more debt through the shadow banking system until the same practices of relaxed and even fraudulent lending standards that led to the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2008-2009 became prevalent once more.
Since many borrowers, who were tapped out by the Great Recession, became more indebted just to stay afloat, the obvious implication is that homeowners, retirees, smalltime investors and small businesses are about to get burned again. This is not only a matter of market correction. It is the Republican agenda.
Forgetting for the sake of convenience that both National Debt and household debt were necessary and instrumental to economic recovery (and not just in America but all across the world) Republicans now insist that the Fed overstepped its bounds. They seek Congressional control of the Fed through audits and policy input. They are also pressuring the Fed to raise interest rates, which would reinstate deflation. Accordingly, the increased National Debt that ended the Great Recession would assume true crisis proportions in its ratio to GDP. So, too, would household debt in proportion to household income. In short, the imperative to rein in fiscal policy and reduce the National Debt will no longer be a matter of Republican ideology.

How, Then, Can We Be Self-sustaining?

Like it or not, our economy is dominated by Wall Street. Banks and brokerage firms were literally forced to merge during the government bailout as a matter of our country’s economic survival. Those who insist that we need to break up the banks may be understandably angry about the burden it placed on taxpayers, but as of now, with the loans made by the Fed, the banks are in no way near insolvent. They have tightened their criteria for lending and become so selective that only the wealthiest and most stable entities remain viable clients.
The issue for the next president will not be saving the major banks but the shadow banking system. Having admitted during their surge of growth that the non-bank commercial lenders were frantically driving the pace for expansion, their hope of government invention once their own pool of toxic assets goes belly up is not based on “too big to fail” but “too big to be ignored.”
In that event, the government can’t hope to offer a bailout, not with all the residual anger over the last bailout and certainly not with the furor over our National Debt. This means that the burden for saving the system will likely be borne by consumers. Large-scale liquidation would be the obvious answer, and judging by the precedent set by the banking system, all manner of shady practices (such as alleging that a customer can skip a payment without repercussions and then foreclosing on the loan or offering terms of refinance that are rigged to trigger default) are bound to come into practice. Too, Congress may elect to restructure the bankruptcy laws, as it did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to ensure that fewer people are eligible for protection. In that event, consumers will lose their assets as well as their credit ratings. In the long term, the damage might be much worse. They could lose their jobs in the market downturn and join the ranks of the unemployed.

The No-Mans Land of Long-Term Unemployment

It is generally accepted that unemployment near or at 5% is healthy for the market. On the one hand, it provides a reserve pool of labor that remains fairly consistent. On the other hand, it doesn’t tighten demand to cause an increase in wages.
Unfortunately, this sweet-spot of 5% unemployment has changed from a transitional state, where workers cycle in and out of jobs, to one of relative permanency for the long-term unemployed. Potential employers who base their hiring decisions on uninterrupted work histories and favorable credit scores have consigned the long-term unemployed to a virtual no-mans land. Their unemployment benefits can either expire or be ended. New regulations get people off the rolls by requiring participation in job-training programs which are known not to exist. Republicans who were reluctant to re-fund unemployment, even at reduced levels, under President Obama may seize the opportunity to end the program completely.
Too, the unemployment statistics do not report the under-employed and those employed at poverty wages.

Shifting the Burden onto the States

In the worst-case scenario, the long-term unemployed and chronically under-employed become dependent on the state. They may have to rely on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), food stamps (SNAP benefits), their state’s Medicaid program, or private charities and food banks. The danger to beneficiaries is that these programs are also on shaky ground.
In states where governors tout the benefits of free-market “solutions,” they either slash funding and benefit levels for social programs of last resort or apply a cynical calculus to payments and eligibility. In 2015, Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, who gave businesses huge tax breaks, cut funding for food banks just in time for Christmas. Some lawmakers even pass legislation to prohibit people from feeding the homeless in public. Where they do not, the private sector can raise rents on charities to stop them from feeding the poor.

Financial Stress and Suicide

The so-called “ennobling of the poor” (or forcing them to work) may sound like a lofty ideal to legislators. In reality, it is a visceral attack on society’s most vulnerable. Forced to turn to a job market that doesn’t even want them, it is no wonder that suicide statistics have been climbing in proportion. The last is not just an American issue. Nations all over the globe suffer the same problem.
In response to criticism, The IMF (International Monetary Fund) has finally conceded that its “made-in-America” neoliberal prescription for restructuring client economies has increased income inequality while providing financial windfalls for society’s richest people. As an institution that has its nose in every country’s business, the IMF’s first response to criticism was to recommend stop-gap measures for the poor in debtor countries. However, these measures were impossible to fulfill, since they ran against the grain of economic restructuring and were not, in any way, funded.

Other Punitive Measures

The reactions of county governments to citizens who try to be self-sufficient are not always favorable. A man was arrested and sentenced to prison for simply collecting rainwater. A couple was ordered to remove the garden that occupied their front lawn. As for two separate men who lived completely off the grid, their homes were considered unsafe for lack of city utilities. These men faced eviction once their homes were condemned.
In Los Angeles, the city reacted to the construction of tiny homes for the homeless by declaring them “bulky” constructs for immediate confiscation.

Political Economics

The issue of political economics brings us back to demographics. The persistence of redistricting and gerrymandering has allowed both Democrats and Republicans to excise needy communities and keep them isolated. If the Tea Party had its way, non-homeowners would not be able to vote. Now Republicans are insisting that the poor should have no vote. Republicans also oppose early voting, claiming that it allows the poor to vote in large numbers. Republicans further insist that people should pay to vote if it is necessary to keep the polling stations open after hours.
In the 2016 presidential primaries, illegal shenanigans at the polls included purging eligible voters and infrequent voters, limiting voting opportunities to registered Republicans only, misdirection of voters and obfuscation of the voting process. In the state of California, where Hillary Clinton presumably won the primary, nearly three million provisional ballots still remain uncounted. For that matter, Senator Sanders has been shafted at every turn.
Under DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Sanders was cut off from using the DNC’s registered voter list for accidentally accessing Hillary Clinton’s campaign voter list. Wasserman Schultz also stated that the reason we have superdelegates is to prevent establishment candidates from being challenged at the grass-roots level. Finally, there has been all but a full media blackout wherever Sanders has campaigned.

Reducing the Rolls through Incarceration

The Alabama police recently admitted that they specifically targeted blacks by planting incriminating evidence to result in prison terms.
Although President Obama is pressuring the states to restore voting rights to non-violent felons who have already served their time and Virginia has actually done so, the overall trend is not just to incarcerate the poor but to keep them incarcerated or send them back to prison via unpaid fines and fees for services. It is no longer true that every indigent facing trial has the right to a public defender. With the de-funding of the justice system, all costs, including appearance in court, must be borne by the offender.
So, too, the maxim of “innocent until proven guilty” becomes a meaningless phrase. Since the offender bears the financial burden of facing the court system, he or she is penalized up front, regardless of guilt or innocence. It also means that innocent people lacking representation often go to prison. Because they are indigent in the first place, the burden for keeping family members out of prison has fallen disproportionately on women.
In states that “service” private prisons, contracts require them to maintain full occupancy and/or a prisoner quota.
In other words, criminalization is now market-driven. And because the market has no place for the disadvantaged, there was, in at least one prison, an involuntary sterilization program targeting poor women.

Social Engineering

The full implication regarding the disadvantaged is that once they are down and out, the collusion of market and government will either ensure they stay that way or fall into deeper distress. Those who are eligible for food stamps (SNAP benefits) receive debit cards and have their spending allotments reduced because the banks take their cut with every financial transaction. Nor are food stamps exempt from excise taxes.
It is doubtful, however, that food stamps will survive the next administration, since the Republicans have proved quite willing to end school lunch programs for poor children. It is also a myth that this would disproportionately affect minorities. In fact the largest percentage of food stamp recipients consists of poor white families.
There is no reason to believe that Veterans benefits and Social Security would not be slashed in turn. Lastly, Republicans are committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act by any and all means.

Religion and Morality or Meek and Docile Constituents?

President Obama’s commitment to funding preschool education and encouraging college participation are not Republican goals. Republicans would prefer to abolish the Department of Education. Their determination to replace the nation’s core curricula with educational agendas more suited to evangelism have already played out in states such as Maine, under Governor Paul LePage. His appointed Commissioner of Education is biased toward Creationism.
Too, Republicans seem enamored with revisionism. From claiming that blacks were better off during slavery to refusing to read the portion of the Constitution that portrays blacks as less than full persons, these acts are predictive of other changes in education. In Texas, for example, a school text book referred to slaves as migrant “workers,” which presumably is the place reserved for blacks in a Republican-controlled future, once illegal immigrants are expelled from the country.
In the most forward-looking sense, the insistence that America is a Christian nation is predictive of persecution, whether it manifests in a “sin” tax for people of alternate religions or non-hiring of non-Christians. If onerous and pervasive, such developments would result in forced conversions or religion-based territorial cleansing.

The Danger of Ruling through Disincentives

Because we live in a world that is constantly manipulated by behavioral economics, we must understand that no nation has ever avoided revolution by ruling through disincentives. Yet cutting everything possible in the name of Republican ethos is just what Republicans mean to do. To paraphrase the words of House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican Party is more important than the United States of America.
This is where neoliberalism gives way to neoconservatism, and the latter will be much worse.
It implies, on the one hand, that Republicans would willingly sabotage our government both politically and economically. On the other hand, the majority of Republicans have overtly stated that they would welcome a military coup before they would allow another Democrat to become President.
The precedent for this is the Iraqi Provisional Government headed by Paul Bremer.
At worst, Republicans would plunge the entire world in a period of voluntary contraction that I have called The Great Deprivation. At best, Republicans would have us align our expectations with policy failure in Iraq. The idea that there could be a different outcome on Republican terms and conditions is pure fantasy run amok.

Congress to reverse its stand on Ukraine?

By Andrej Kreutz

Adjunct Professor, University of Calgary

Affiliated Expert, European Geopolitical Forum

During the last year, on December 4, 2014 and on March 24, 2015, the US Congress adopted two resolutions very hostile to Russia. The well-known former Republican Congressmen Ron Paul called the first of them, H.Res.758, a declaration of war on Russia and “one of the worst pieces of legislation ever.”1 The second resolution, which was adopted on March 24, shortly after the conclusion of the Minsk-2 Agreement, calls for arming Ukraine, and according to the Ron Paul Institute it made clear that, “Congress wants a war in Ukraine and will not settle for a ceasefire.”2

As both resolutions are constitutionally not binding and the Presidential administration does not have to implement them, they do not represent a direct threat. However, they are still important and significant political statements and, I believe, what is most worrisome is that the Congress in fact followed the general mood prevailing in the country, which is shared not only by the ruling elites and special interest groups, but also by the majority of Americans. According to the recent Gallup public opinion poll, most of them perceive the Russian Federation as the major national threat, worse than North Korea, China, or Iran.

That would mean that any broad-based peace movement (like others in American history, which have sometimes even been effective) would be quite difficult or perhaps impossible to set in motion. The public opinion of the country is now largely formatted by PR efforts, and due to a number of causes — including the decline of the traditional well-educated and politically-involved middle class, and the perfection of the means of social and political influence, including stricter control of the school and university curriculum — the chances of creating a social movement on the pattern of the 1950s and 1960s are very low.

At the same time, I do not want to say that public opinion is no longer important. Andrew Korybko rightly indicates that the deep state is far more important in the American foreign policy-making process than elected officials, and in fact a similar situation also prevails in many other traditionally liberal-democratic nations. However, even authoritarian governments have to take into account the social mood in their countries, and some social groups are far more influential than others.

The Russian Federation does not currently threaten any important US interests, and cooperation with Moscow as a more or less equal, or at least tolerated, partner might be quite advantageous for Washington in Asia, the Middle East, and even in Europe. If a wide-scale public mobilization is not in the cards, then business people, intellectuals and other experts who support such a view might be more likely to be heard and make an impact.

The deep state and the media’s anti-Russian campaign is to a large extent caused by the belief that America, boosted by its ABM development, could win a nuclear war with Russia. Some influential people put their trust in the US missile defense system, the European extension of which is currently being deployed practically on Russia’s borders. Some others think that by its first pre-emptive strike the US can hit Russia so hard that Russia would not be either able or even willing to retaliate in fear of a second blow and total destruction. The vast collateral damage entailed and the impact of such a horrible operation on the Old Continent does not seem to be taken into account. The likely impact on North America, too, has hardly ever been mentioned.

An open discussions of all these and related challenges would be the most effective form of pro-peace activity, and experts in the fields of nuclear physics and nuclear energy can play a leading and the most needed social role. With recent indications showing that Russia is preparing for a potential nuclear war and the bombshell news that Russia has developed electronic warfare technology that leaves the US military virtually deaf, dumb, blind and defenseless, we see some dire warnings and other key information coming out to support the idea that World War III is on our doorstep.

Lord Jacob Rothschild recently warned that the global “geopolitical situation is perhaps as dangerous as any we have faced since World War II.” There is chatter about the Ukrainian Maidaneks obtaining second passports and Canadian citizenship,  preparing to retreat as they will no longer be of use to the West. And now Daniel Estulin, author of The True Story of the Bilderberg, informs us in a video that the US and Britain are willing to “massively escalate the confrontation with Russia up to the threshold of a thermonuclear war.” It is clear that we are at our most dangerous time in history.

According to Mr. Estulin, President Barack Obama is attempting to orchestrate a regime change to topple Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the US and Britain have “reactivated a policy of threatening tactical nuclear warfare against Russia and China to force them to submit to the crumbling transatlantic financial empire.”

In August 2014, Putin spoke at a youth forum where he sent out a very clear warning when he stated, “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words.” (Source – CNN)

In late November 2014 and again in January 2015, reports showed that Russia has also been preparingeconomically by stockpiling vast quantities of gold in their vaults. As we watch Putin strengthen political ties with BRIC nations, and China specifically, while the US “decimates” its own military and weakens the US dollar, it becomes apparent once again that pitting a community organizer (Obama) against a former KGB mastermind (Putin) is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

This is going to get ugly.

1 Ron Paul, “Reckless Congress Declares War on Russia,” Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, December 4, 2014.

2 Daniel McAdams, “Congress Demands War in Ukraine,” Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, March 23, 2015.

Hate and Hostage Politics: Begging for a Coup

by Jeanne Haskin

Even though he stressed that it was not a plan for action, the American military coup that Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. hypothesized in 1992 could not take place in 2012 because President Obama sustained the new vigor that he had brought to American politics by campaigning for hope and change. President Obama successfully addressed the issue of universal health care while creating the impetus for increased political activism by mortgaging more of our future with the bailout of Wall Street. By eliminating two of Dunlap’s preconditions for a military coup, i.e., voter apathy and broad non-access to health care, the president restored faith in the power of the electorate. Now President Obama has passed the baton to progressives, and no candidate has generated more excitement than Senator Bernie Sanders.

In large part, Dunlap’s essay depended on a desperate and disenchanted people’s desire for a good man and a strong man to lead America back to greatness. This is a common dictatorial theme, but by perching the American people on the slippery slope that begins with military good deeds and ends with the corruption of absolute power, Dunlap overlooked America’s real history in Central and South America as it pertains to promoting coups, their purpose, immediate functions and the brutality that sustained them long before day one. As such, this article will show how America has all but replicated preconditions for a Latin American-style coup and that the Republican game of chicken played out through the threat of more government shutdowns and reluctance to raise the debt ceiling are not just a matter of intransigence but also a signal to the military that America can no longer govern itself. Coupled with plans to militarize the National Guard, revamp military retirement, scrap social programs to improve veterans’ benefits, and ensure that soldiers are paid during shutdowns, Republicans are holding out rewards to secure their seat at the table if, as 57% of Republicans hope, Provisional Government comes to town.

Irreversible Reformation

FDR’s New Deal was not an attack on American capitalism but rather a stop-gap measure to address the draining effects of capitalism on average American citizens. By creating a social safety net and new rules of the road for banking, finance and international trade, FDR was mistakenly perceived as the enemy of big business when, in fact, his creation of global institutions (The World Bank, The International Monetary Fund and the United Nations) paved the way for Free-market Reformation to take the world by storm.

This required acceptance of inequality by a small sector of the populace, which became rich beyond its imaginings in exchange for embracing the brutality required to liberalize the economy throughout Central America and later the Southern Cone.

In Central America, and Nicaragua in particular, U.S. reformers found willing candidates in authoritarian presidents supported by wealthy landowners who expected, and received, more land free of social responsibility. Repression of the landless already took place with anti-vagrancy laws and the deployment of private armies to put down peasant revolts. Thus, U.S. offers to train the countries’ National Guards as presidential constabularies (militarized police), skilled in U.S. methods of terror, were efficiently carried out.

In some ways, terror required no other motivator than to protect the ruling class but members of the National Guard were thoroughly corrupted by encouragement to launch extortion schemes. Murder, torture and the “disappearance” of communist sympathizers and left wing organizers fit hand in glove with the needs of foreign-owned businesses and, naturally, the West.

By the time that attention was tightly focused on reforming the Southern Cone, U.S. economists refined the art of liberalization with a detailed instruction manual, otherwise known as “the brick.” Not subject to negotiation, this required deeply discounted divestiture of the countries’ most precious assets into foreign hands, the dissolution of social safety nets, the abolishment of unions, tight labor controls, and cheap exports, made even cheaper by currency devaluations and cash-crop redundancies. It also required elimination of dissent via control of the press, militarily-rigged voting (even against puppet opposition, created to maintain the pretense of democratic elections), intimidation, imprisonment and displacement to other countries.

Ostensibly “aided” by foreign loans, Latin American governments stayed afloat until currency speculation dried up their foreign reserves, thus requiring more loans. Once debt-dependency was thoroughly assured, Paul Volcker, Carter’s chairman of the Federal Reserve, launched a fight against inflation which persisted long after the fight was won. For this was not so much an American issue as one that concerned the neighboring continent. With Volcker’s hand at the wheel, Latin America’s debt redoubled itself, scaling unsustainable heights and leaving no hope of change for the poor.

The result: Irreversible Reformation that only the far-right could love and huge numbers of inconvenient people, whose misery and deprivation argued against the “miracle” of neoliberal reform.

 The American Adaptation

The dream of our most affluent has always been to offload the costs of government while controlling its repressive machinery, but not before exhaustive exploitation of government subsidization and regulatory overthrow to reshape the legal landscape in favor of complete deregulation and permanent protectionism.

Running as a contender for the Libertarian Party in 1980, David Koch promised torepeal federal campaign finance laws; abolish the Federal Election Commission; abolish Medicare and Medicaid; end compulsory insurance; deregulate the medical insurance industry; repeal Social Security; privatize the postal service; end all personal and corporate income taxation; repeal minimum wage laws; ensure the complete separation of education and State; repeal compulsory education laws; abolish the Department of Energy; dissolve all government agencies concerned with transportation; return America’s rail system to private ownership; privatize public roads and the national highway system; abolish the Federal Aviation Administration; abolish the Food and Drug Administration; end all government welfare, relief projects and “aid to the poor” programs; privatize inland waterways and the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households; abolish the Occupational Safety and Health Act; abolish the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and repeal all state usury laws.

“The brick,” in other words, had made its way to America.

However, the question still remained: how to prepare the populace?

Step One: Incarcerate the Poor

America’s War on Drugs was seen as a way to clean up the streets, fight inner-city gangs, reform drug users and protect poor neighborhoods. Perhaps deliberately, however, the budget for this war funded all but the justice system. Reluctant to raise taxes in order to fund the newly overwhelming demand for criminal court services, both red and blue states adopted offender-funded justice, or pay-for-service fees, including a $50-$200 charge to apply for a public defender. For those who can not afford an application, lack of representation often means harsher sentences and jail or prison time. Even for a minor infraction, such as stealing a $2 can of beer, an offender spent twelve days in jail.
Pay-for-service fees also extend to incarceration. Men and women who land in prison because they are too poor for representation face re-incarceration if they have no means to pay for prison “consumption.”

In the words of Noel Brinkerhoff:

Defendants can be billed for a public defender in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Prisoners can be charged room and board for their incarceration in 41 states. Those on probation or parole in 44 states can get billed for these services. Anyone ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device in 49 states (except Hawaii and the District of Columbia) must pay for it…Some states also apply “poverty penalties,” including late fees, payment plan fees, and interest when people are unable to pay all their debts at once…Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender.

Those who are hit the hardest serve time in private prisons, where slave-labor is common and those who own the prisons either bribe judges to hand down longer prison terms and/or require contracts with the state to guarantee a percentage of occupancy.

Private prisons become overcrowded and the prisoners themselves are caught in a vicious cycle.

 As Brinkerhoff reports: “African Americans are six times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person and non-white Latinos are almost three times likely to be incarcerated.” Without a high school education, young black and Latino men find the odds especially challenging. Eleven percent of black men, aged between 20 and 34, are doing time at the prime of their lives, when most people start their careers and begin to vote in elections.

Step Two: “Disappear” Blacks via Secret Rendition

According to an article on, this is an issue involving Democrats. Secret, illegal detentions for harassment and interrogation occurred in Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emanuel (President Obama’s former top advisor) and persisted for eleven years. Citing from an investigation by the UK’s GuardianNewspaper:

[P]olice in the city of Chicago “disappeared” or “vanished” 7,185 people at a secret, “off-the-books interrogation warehouse” on Chicago’s west side…Between August of 2004 and June of 2015, approximately 6,000 of the 7,000 detainees held were African American, representing 82.2 percent of all the “vanished” at Homan Square…Incredibly, only 68 of the 6,000 blacks detained were permitted access to legal counsel, or information of their whereabouts disclosed to family members, per the police’s own records.

The facility at Homan Square has no publicly accessible phone number, nor do records exist of those imprisoned. If an attorney suspects that his or her client has been taken to Homan Square, it is almost impossible to find them. Without access to representation, prisoners are intimidated, threatened, and pressured to turn informant by militarized police in a militarized facility, unknown to much of the world.

Step Three: Extend the War on Drugs

Thus far, Republican efforts to prevent people from receiving state and/or federal benefits have led to drug-testing Food Stamp (SNAP) beneficiaries (the results of which were very disappointing for the state of Tennessee) and the ludicrous assertion that seniors, too, should be tested because receiving Social Security results in heroin addiction.

There is, in fact, a problem with middle-aged white Americans abusing drugs and committing suicide.

As an issue of fear and hopelessness, this may correlate directly with Republican initiatives to shame the beneficiaries of shrinking social programs and get them off the rolls with required participation in nonexistent job-training programs. Because Republicans know that such programs do not exist, this will leave needy people with neither the skills to re-enter the job market nor the means to feed their families.

Step Four: Restrict the Right to Political Representation

Aside from the Republican and Democratic gerrymandering that put many of the far-right candidates and Hillary Clinton in office by limiting their voting districts to those who would likely elect them, Republicans are hoping for a Supreme Court ruling that would restrict representation only to registered voters.

In the state of Alabama, where the BBC interviewed the Ku Klux Klan and left the door wide open for the online group Anonymous to publish the names and occupations of 1,000 KKK members, 31 offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles were closed—all of them in counties with a 75% black electorate. For the impoverished blacks who live there, obtaining an acceptable photo ID is not just a matter of driving to a DMV in another district. Most of them have no transportation.

Even if blacks do have proper ID, the voting machines in underprivileged communities are so outdated and decrepit that they are prone to the worst malfunction: overriding a voter’s choice, regardless of who it is.

Step Five: Change the Discourse to one of Hatred

Whether it is Jeb! Bush announcing that he’ll end “free stuff for blacks” or Donald Trump demanding a Great Wall of China and a deportation force for a repeat performance of “Operation Wetback,” the rise of contempt for vulnerable people is less a matter of blowback against immigrant workers, “anchor” babies, affirmative action, political correctness, and those who rely on social programs than restoring the freedom to hate—openly and violently, without reservation. This divisive force in American politics panders to the far-right fringe and white militant movements.

It is also shaking us slowly to pieces by creating a new “normal” which includes the slaughter of schoolchildren and the torture that ends in murder of suspects in police custody.

The Oathkeepers, a former veteran of which plotted to “detain” members of the U.S. Congress and Senate who supported the Iranian nuclear deal and ultimately arrest President Obama for treason, have created a new instructional video for The Oathkeepers to infiltrate first-responder organizations. Their strategy: to gain access as volunteers for recruitment among the agencies and the communities they serve—to paramilitarize where possible as sappers against the government.

If they are successful, expect the hate crimes to escalate.

Step Six: Pile on More Debt

Leading up to the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2007-2008, Wall Street colluded with the ratings agencies to gain AAA ratings on any and all debt that could be bundled into a security of some form, despite tremendous risk, in order to infiltrate hedge funds and other investment vehicles, the rules of which were conservative and only allowed holdings of triple-A rated securities. The whole point was to keep the good times rolling by deceiving more and more customers, constantly bending the rules, and conceiving of “innovations.”

Unfortunately, the end of the Great Recession was predicated on more debt, not just to bail out the banks but to create a new boom in junk bonds, enlarge the shadow banking system, re-inflate the housing bubble and increase consumer debt. The Federal Reserve’s policy of purchasing bonds for “quantitative easing” and making zero-interest loans ($2.6 trillion of which went to central banks but are parked on the books at the Fed as excess reserves, over and above the required $107.1 billion) has pushed the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion.

According to a report on MSNBC, our total debt outstanding is more than “$18.15 trillion, nearly double of where it stood in 2008. Corporate debt has jumped to $8.1 trillion, a nearly 50 percent gain over the same period, and household debt has passed $14 trillion for the first time ever.”

Despite this, reduced consumer purchasing power has led to a lack of pricing power. The horror of “deflation,” or reduced prices for American goods and services, is compounded by income weakness. Americans either have no money to buy or are so deeply in debt that they can hardly risk more buying. And deflation won’t stop there. According to one Wall Street analyst, stocks are 70% overvalued, junk bonds are in serious trouble, and the re-inflated housing bubble won’t take much longer to burst. Naturally, Republicans would like the Fed to administer the bitter medicine of rising interest rates to cause the next market meltdown before the 2016 election so they can blame it on Obama. Speaking to Fed chairman Janet Yellen, one Wall Street headline read, “Get off zero now!”

Yellen isn’t budging, but despite the Fed’s insistence that its policies were, and are, meant to cause “good inflation” (an increase in wages) there is no doubt that its beneficiary has been the business community.

Fear of losing “herd control”

Today, a small percentage of America’s richest people feel that the government must redress income inequality from fear of an insurrection. In the words of Cartier chief Johann Rupert, “We are destroying the middle classes at this stage and it will affect us…How is society going to cope with structural unemployment and the envy, hatred and the social warfare?”

The shaky consensus among the rich is that the solution must lie with the government. However, they feel justified in rolling back the New Deal and would be even more content to roll back the twenty-first century.

Here is how they’ve tipped their hand toward a Latin American-style coup, the precedent for which, as it pertains to an American military leader, lies in the Provisional Government headed by Paul Bremer, which sold Iraqi assets into foreign hands during the occupation.

For at least the past few decades, high-powered political donations have been more or less evenly distributed to Republicans and Democrats. This was less a matter of the rich hedging their bets than of a tacit two-party agreement whereby Republicans and Democrats both supported big business.

Too, there was such a demand for retired military officials to act as lobbyists and speakers that the phrase “rent a general” had long been in usage.

Now, with the victories of the Labour Party in the UK and Canada, this, for the business community, is an ominous indication that they’ve lost “herd control.” Coupled with the perception of conservatives that America’s Republican Party is dissolving into chaos, a military coup would either head off, or end, the potential of a Democratic president. It is not that the business community lacks an ally in Democratic contender Hillary Clinton; it is that Senator Bernie Sanders is a genuine threat to Clinton and the far-right has too much at stake to face the threat of defeat.

For one thing, they have not lost sight of the fact that the next president will be appointing at least two or possibly four new Supreme Court Justices. Their campaign on hot-button issues would thoroughly be endangered by a Democratic shakeup.

And so we have come full circle. The Republican Freedom Caucus is driving the game of chicken (at the cost of $24 billion in losses for the last government shutdown) from sheer determination to have a seat at the table once they have done enough damage to incite a “protective” coup—one that would honor their goals and rule without need for consensus.

Is there any more to be said? Actually there is.

Win, lose or draw, get ready for the Great Deprivation

Like it or not, President Obama’s recovery plan has helped to drive the country toward the next economic meltdown. Add in our national debt and IMF-style reform becomes the preferred solution.  Since at least half of the country believes there are other options, Republicans alone can not impose “the brick,” or the Koch Libertarian platform. They must run the government off the rails to persuade the military to take over, and if it does take over, it will usher in a new era of pain for the American nation that may be called the Great Deprivation.