The American Conservative
Thu, 09 Feb 2017 00:00 UTC
Donald Trump's national-security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, "officially" put Iran "on notice" while declaring that "The Trump Administration will no longer tolerate Iran's provocations that threaten our interests. The days of turning a blind eye to Iran's hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over."
Ignoring the fact that Iran cannot actually threaten the United States or any genuine vital national interests, the warning and follow-up action from the White House also contradict Donald Trump's campaign pledge to avoid yet another war in the Middle East, which appears to have escaped Flynn's notice. The increase in tension and the lack of any diplomatic dialogue mean that an actual shooting war might now be a "false flag," false intelligence report, or accidental naval encounter away.
Comment: "Hopefully some adults in the White House..."
It's a thought millions if not billions of people around the world - including most Americans - have had for some time now.
The American people hoped that that adult might be Trump. But the 'business restructuring' he'd need to do is likely beyond the scope of even his considerable ego. We shall see...
Iran's proven oil reserves of 157 billion barrels are the world's third largest, while its gas reserves are the largest. Taken together, the country owns the biggest hydrocarbon reserves in the world. Now you see why the US wants it (or at least controlling influence over how those resources are used). Same goes for Israel, which has no problems at all with having an actual Islamic neighbor that is "the source and lynchpin of the massive disorder prevailing in the Middle East, with tentacles reaching throughout the region and beyond" via its promotion of radical Wahhabi Islam and head-chopper terrorists... Saudi Arabia.
Thu, 09 Feb 2017 18:39 UTC
(Even though Bannon only metaphorically qualifies as a head-chopper.)
Dismissing Bannon as a sort of 21st century remixed Machiavelli/Richelieu in cargo pants and dodgy ties amounts to a juvenile cheap shot. Kelyanne Conway may be a "knife fighter with words"; Jared Kushner may have taken the D-train from Manhattan real estate deals to shadow Secretary of State sitting in the situation room. But the man to study in excruciating detail has got to be Bannon, who eats history and political theory essays for breakfast. Dismiss him at one's own peril.
The post-truth Machiavelli behind the most powerful of Princes sees our current geopolitical juncture as the ultimate battle between Good and Evil (no, Nietzsche's verdict, for him, does not apply.) "Good" in our case is Christian civilization and its history of two millennia - with a possible place of honor for the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.
In contraposition, "evil" portends a cast of "existential threat" characters - from technocrats/post-modernity elites/ secularists (the enemy within) to Islam (the enemy at large). Even China, due to atheist Confucianism, might be portrayed as "evil".
So the stakes are clear-cut. Nuance is for traitors. And the only path to victory, according to the Bannon doctrine, is a devastating Shock and Awe against the "system". I have previously referred to Bannon's Leninist approach on how to capture and maintain power and destroy the old order. Yet what's coming is more like Lenin meets Apocalypse Now.
Mon, 06 Feb 2017 22:52 UTC
We are in the midst of an epidemic of fake news. There is no better word to describe it than "epidemic," insofar as it fits the epidemiological model from the Centers for Disease Control: this phenomenon occurs when "an agent and susceptible hosts are present in adequate numbers, and the agent can be effectively conveyed from a source to the susceptible hosts."
The "agent" in this case is hysteria over Trump's presidency, and the "susceptible hosts" are a slipshod, reckless, and breathtakingly gullible media class that spread the hysteria around like—well, like a virus.
It is difficult to adequately sum up the breadth of this epidemic, chiefly because it keeps growing: day after day, even hour after hour, the media continue to broadcast, spread, promulgate, publicize, and promote fake news on an industrial scale. It has become a regular part of our news cycle, not distinct from or extraneous to it but a part of it, embedded within the news apparatus as a spoke is embedded in a bicycle wheel.
Sat, 21 Jan 2017 00:00 UTC
- John Lennon (1940-1980), English singer and songwriter
Lennon and others externalise the apparent paranoia that wells up inside us. "The world has gone mad!" More often than not we partition this voice off, content to view the world as others prescribe it. But who are these others, and what do they want?
The term psychopath is often criminally misjudged, thanks largely to unhelpful portrayals of sick, twisted and violent psycho-character types in the popular media. This has led, by way of public ignorance, to the common belief that the psychopath has no function, role or place in open society. A swift offload that allows us, the apparent sane majority, to circumvent our worst fears.
Any notion that the psychopath is incapable of functioning in open society is, according to M.E. Thomas1 - a self-confessed sociopath - flawed. The question is not the capacity to function, but rather what capacity or form that function takes. As Thomas says, psychopaths and sociopaths share an intertwined clinical history; both can function, they just do so differently. And though we are left to muse on what mask that function may take, in many social situations they excel.
Comment: It is most interesting that Mr. Parkins skirts around the work of master researcher Dr. Andrew Lobaczewski. His book, Political Ponerology, is the most comprehensive analysis of the destructive effects of psychopathy on the fabric of society.
Sat, 04 Feb 2017 23:55 UTC
Since Yalta, we have a long list of times we've tried to engage positively with Russia. We have a relatively short list of successes in that regard. - General James Mattis, the new Secretary of Defense1If anyone knows where to find this long list please send me a copy.
This delusion is repeated periodically by American military officials. A year ago, following the release of Russia's new national security document, naming as threats both the United States and the expansion of the NATO alliance, a Pentagon spokesman declared: "They have no reason to consider us a threat. We are not looking for conflict with Russia."2
Meanwhile, in early January, the United States embarked upon its biggest military buildup in Europe since the end of the Cold War - 3,500 American soldiers landed, unloading three shiploads, with 2,500 tanks, trucks and other combat vehicles. The troops were to be deployed in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and across the Baltics. Lt. Gen. Frederick Hodges, commander of US forces in Europe, said, "Three years after the last American tanks left the continent, we need to get them back."
The measures, General Hodges declared, were a "response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea. This does not mean that there necessarily has to be a war, none of this is inevitable, but Moscow is preparing for the possibility." (See previous paragraph.)
Russia's rejected draft Syrian constitution wasn't serious proposal, but it still worked as intended
Thu, 02 Feb 2017 00:16 UTC
Since shortly after the Syrian peace talks began in the Kazakh capital Astana, rumors have circulated that Russia proposed at the conference a 'draft constitution' for Syria.
Rumors about the contents of this 'draft constitution' have spread widely, with concern widely expressed that Russia might be seeking to impose its ideas on the Syrian people in quasi-colonial fashion, and that Russia is overreaching itself.
There have also been serious concerns that the 'draft constitution' threatens the integrity of the Syrian state by enforcing its federalization and by granting autonomy to the Kurds, and that Syria's traditional system of government with a strong executive President is being threatened, thereby making the country ungovernable and unable to meet external or internal threats.
Comment: And that's what the document, as written, implies, as Andrew Korybko points out in another piece for The Duran:
- 4-2 giving the Kurds equal use of their language alongside Arabic within their "cultural autonomy";
- 4-3 suggesting that it can be used in schools, though not stipulating whether or not this is limited to the "cultural autonomy" zone or nationwide;
- 4-4 creating the pretext for "locally held referendum" to be conducted in potentially expanding this zone and allowing other copy-cat formats;
- 10-5 says that "performing military or militarized activity outside the domain of state power is prohibited", but the conditional clause is "outside the domain of state power", so if the PYD reaches an agreement with Damascus, then it could potentially be allowed to "police" the "Kurdish cultural autonomy" as "self-defense forces";
- 15-3 forcing Syrians to accept "decentralization";
- 15-4 mandating the establishment of the "Kurdish Cultural Autonomy";
- 24-3 curiously speaking about "federal law";
- 45-2 allowing undefined "territorial units" to propose legislation, thus hinting that the "Kuridsh Cultural Autonomy" would have this right;
- 46-2 speaking for the first and only time about a mysterious "Territories Assembly" which appears nowhere else in the text and might be a shell body for facilitating de-facto "federalization" after the Russian-written "draft constitution" is promulgated.
Comment: Maybe it's always 'supposed to have been' Russia in the role of 'world policeman', and the last 150 or so years has been something of an aberration?
An observation regarding the setting for these peace talks: Astana, modern capital of Kazakhstan, is the birthplace of the Eurasian Union, the 'center of Eurasia', and key in China's plans for building great transport links between Europe, the Middle East and eastern Asia.
It's no coincidence that Western expansion came to a halt in Syria, then that mess is being cleaned up by Eastern actors.
Update: Lavrov has essentially proven Mercouris's point:
Confirmation that this is indeed the purpose of the 'draft constitution' and that it has no other purpose has been provided by the most authoritative source possible, which is Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov himself. Here is how TASS describes him explaining the purpose of the 'draft constitution' in a telephone conversation Friday 3rd February 2017 with the French Foreign MinisterThe Russian top diplomat provided comments on the Russia-proposed Syrian draft constitution, saying "it is an invitation for a conversation," an attempt to find common ground in approaches of the Syrian government and the opposition with an aim of creating conditions for the Syrians to decide about the future of their country in compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 (bold italics added)In other words the 'draft constitution' is not a blueprint for Syria's future, or a discussion document, or even a position paper. It is - just as I said - a standard mediator's ploy to get all the Syrian parties "talking about something other than the future of President Assad, whilst highlighting areas for future discussion".
My clear impression is that the Russians are baffled and somewhat embarrassed by the attention the 'draft constitution' has attracted. Now that it has served its purpose of breaking the deadlock I doubt we will hear much more of it when the Astana talks resume, which they are due to do on Monday.
Tue, 31 Jan 2017 23:28 UTC
Irrespective of political stripe or profession of faith, there is a categorical acceptance of the fact that this attack ought to be investigated, prosecuted, punished, and condemned.
For many, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing the sole suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, is behind bars, facing eleven charges of first degree, and attempted murder.
But for others, questions remain.
Comment: Updates from TheRebel.media:
Comment: For more on the inglorious exploits of the British Empire, read Joe Quinn's essay The British Empire - A Lesson In State Terrorism
'Post-truth Age': Media amplifying rage at Trump's 'Muslim ban', but was silent on Obama's similar moves
Tue, 31 Jan 2017 20:57 UTC
Comment: Coming on the heels of protests over Trump's election, then his inauguration, media-inspired protest looks like it's going to be a regular feature of his presidency.
Guess who popped up to join the Trump-bashing?
Barack Obama has re-entered the political fray just ten days after he handed power over to Mr Trump, stating that he supports mass protests against the "extreme vetting" orders.
"The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion," Mr Obama's spokesman said in a statement that was the former president's first since leaving office.
"Citizens exercising their Constitutional rights to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake."
Yes, the same Obama whose administration did no different than Trump's with respect to immigration.
Fri, 27 Jan 2017 00:00 UTC
Comment: Hate him or love him (or somewhere in between), Trump has been elected to improve the US condition amidst a disastrous set of circumstances, dangerous enemies and a virtual 'no win situation'. But it took a narcissistic, and crass showman with some actual good intentions and a willingness to literally (and figuratively) put his a** on the line - to try and address what are surely numerous insurmountable challenges. And at the end of the day, he just might fall prey to the very forces he is now trying to fight.