Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Warm War: Russiamania At The Boiling Point



Is it war yet?
Yes, in too many respects.
It’s a relentless economic, diplomatic, and ideological war, spiced with (so far) just a dash of military war, and the strong scent of more to come.
I mean war with Russia, of course, although Russia is the point target for a constellation of emerging adversaries the US is desperate to entame before any one or combination of them becomes too strong to defeat.  These include countries like Iran and China, which are developing forces capable of resisting American military aggression against their own territory and on a regional level, and have shown quite too much uppitiness about staying in their previously-assigned geopolitical cages.
But Russia is the only country that has put its military forces in the way of a U.S. program of regime change—indirectly in Ukraine, where Russia would not get out of the way, and directly in Syria, where Russia actively got in the way. So Russia is the focus of attack, the prime target for an exemplary comeuppance.
Is it, then, a new Cold War, even more dangerous than the old one, as Stephen F. Cohen says?
That terminology was apt even a few months ago, but the speed, ferocity, and coordination of the West/NATO’s reaction to the alleged nerve-agent poisoning of the Skripals, as well as the formation of a War Cabinet in Washington, indicates to me that we’ve moved to another level of aggression.
It’s beyond Cold. Call it the Warm War. And the temperature’s rising.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What To Expect From A Trump-Kim Meeting

CNN
Nothing.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s delightful to watch Donald Trump discombobulate the bipartisan American national security and foreign policy establishment with his impulsive assent to talks with DPRK leader, Kim Jong-un. He’s got the Republican and Democratic party and media figures in a tizzy trying to figure out how to respond to such seemingly radical out-of-the-box peace-mongering, which disrupts the ways in which the Republicans want to valorize, and the Democrats demonize, Trump for their respective bases.
It’s particularly instructive to see Democratic pundits like Rachel Maddow sniping at Trump for the kind of peace initiative they would have lauded from any Democratic president. Just as they did with welfare in the 90s, the Democrats are now trying to outflank the Republicans on the warfare front. It’s hard to figure out whether Republicans or Democrats are more embarrassed by the prospect of a successful Trump-Kim summit. Another example of the salutary Trump-effect: stripping the pretense that either pole of the two-party system has any real interest in stable, global peace. 
Neither party should worry, however. There’s only a small chance such an encounter will lead to a lessening of tensions on the Korean peninsula, and the net result, even in the best case, will not fundamentally change the dangerously aggressive posture of the United States in the world. Indeed, it will likely increase the chances of war elsewhere. In a very real sense, all the possible outcomes are bad.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Honoring Robert Parry

(Diane Duston/AP)
Robert Parry’s death is a profound loss to our country as a political and intellectual community. It’s a shame that most Americans don’t know that—and, indeed, don’t even know who Robert Parry is. That ignorance is a sign of how impoverished our political and intellectual community has already become.
Those of us who have been following his work for decades know how principled and reliable, and what a great resource, that work was. We took him for granted as a touchstone of journalist integrity, to which we could always return to get a take on important issues that, whether we agreed with it or not, was unfailingly honest, thoroughly-researched, and demanding of our attention.
We also took for granted his own life story of being blocked from doing that honest, principled work in the mainstream media, and having to continue his career through a self-financed independent newsletter and website (Consortium News), a trajectory that guaranteed his continuing integrity and his relative obscurity.
We took too much for granted.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Behind the Money Curtain: A Left Take on Taxes, Spending, and Modern Monetary Theory




Taxes do not fund government spending.

That’s a core insight of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) whose radical implications have not been understood very well by the left. Indeed, it’s not well understood at all, and most people who have heard or read it somewhere breeze right past it, and fall back to the taxes-for-spending paradigm that is the sticky common wisdom of the left and right.1

This, despite the fact that the truth of the proposition is obvious if you think through just a few steps about the process of money-creation. What makes it hard to see is the dense knot of conventional theory and discourse in which we are entangled, and which seems impossible to cut as cleanly as MMT suggests.

But the discussion around the newly-enacted Republican tax bill has brought the issue of tax policy to the forefront again, and it’s time for the left to realize how fundamentally wrong that common wisdom is, and how continuing to argue within the phony terms of the taxes-for-revenue paradigm occludes and reproduces a persistent reactionary fiction regarding what taxes are for.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Zionism In The Light of Jerusalem

Wissam Nassar | DPA


Donald Trump's official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an embarrassment. A salutary embarrassment.

It’s a clumsy, all-too-obvious unmasking of decades of bipartisan U.S. policy whose contempt for Palestinians has been cloaked with a smile and a handshake.


As such, it's an embarrassment for the Zionist political and media elite that prefers to operate behind smiles and handshakes, and not flaunt their power.


It's an embarrassment to liberal Zionists and “peace process” promoters everywhere—in the American political parties and media, in European conservative and social democrat governments, and in Jewish Zionist organizations. For fifty years, they have laser-focused attention on the post-’67 “occupation,” and done all that they can [nothing concrete], in solidarity with the Israeli Jewish peace movement [dwindling to insignificance in an increasingly fascistic political culture], to end the occupation [ minimize its cost to the Jewish state, ‘cause “no concessions, no withdrawals, no Palestinian state” is already proclaimed Israeli policy].


It's an embarrassment to the Arab monarchs and the Palestinian Authority functionaries, who for decades have collaborated in the task of subduing Palestinian rage as Israel went about its colonizing project, holding out the promise that the good American Daddy and his kinder, gentler Israeli Jewish progeny would one day reward the Palestinians for their good behavior.


It’s an embarrassment to those liberals who want to portray Donald Trump as a uniquely evil interloper imposed on American politics by a foreign power, rather than understand him as the product of an American political culture that they helped to create while obtusely refusing to recognize what they were doing.


The only parties who are not embarrassed are the “hard”—that is, intellectually honest and consistent—Zionists in Israel and the United States (many liberal Democrats included) and Donald Trump himself, who is immune to embarrassment.

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