Invincible folly? – US policy and mass delusion


The US since 9/11 has pursued a policy that seems clearly designed to establish the US as the world's hegemon in pursuit of a utopian future ultimately based on belief in "American Exceptionalism" and the Reaganesque vision of America as a "Shining City upon a Hill," the form and pattern for mankind's future.  This vision is based on the beliefs that English Puritans brought to New England in the 17th Century and which were explicitly stated by them in the writings of such people as John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony.  The economic determinist crowd can state their objections to this explanation by me in "comments" below.

Whether you may think that dollars or ideas have been the determinants of recent policy, the practice since 9/11 of campaigning for basic transformation of foreign countries and cultures has been an unmitigated disaster for the United States.   In pursuit of these policies of revolutionary change in ancient societies we have spent trillions of US dollars. This was money we did not and do not have and which we borrowed from our future with the result that our posterity will have at least 20 trillion dollars in public debt with which to cope.  I will not attempt to eulogize the brothers and sisters in arms of the soldiers here.  Nothing could console us for their deaths and mutilations but a great necessity born of a true threat to national survival and that has not been present in these wars designed to create a brave new world.

And now the Trump Administration is building on the folly of GW Bush's first term infatuation with Cheney and the neocons, as well as BHO's reluctance to dump the whole mess (including his COIN decision in 2009).  Considering the present president's obvious shortcomings in experience in running a large organization and his tendency to want to play his subordinates off against each other, it is understandable that a lot of the best and most experienced people do not want to work for him.  As a result he is being advised by staffers who somehow appealed to Michael Flynn in his function as chief targeteer for JSOC and whom McMaster has not removed or perhaps not been able to remove. 

A pervasive assumption among these young people is the notion that Russia is a "paper tiger" and inevitably an enemy.  Some of you will have watched the four part Oliver Stone interview with Vladimir Putin.  IMO Putin is not a "paper tiger."  The belief that Putin is afraid of the United States and will back away from us to avoid a fight is, I think, badly flawed.  There is a pernicious fever of Russophobia that is now wide spread among active and retired officers of the US armed forces.    Many officers, however intelligent and well educated are extremely rigid in their thinking.  This is a professional defect that was rewarded in the long process of competitive service leading to promotion.  It was thought to indicate reliability and firmness of character.  The Army's Russian studies graduate school at Germisch, Germany has, IMO, contributed to this Russophobia by inculcating an attitude of implacable hostility toward the USSR and now Russia.  The officer graduates of that institution have imparted this attitude to many others in the US Army.  Retired US Army officers are now heard on Foxnews saying that the Russians must be "pushed into submission."  This is crazy.  Russia is not a minor power.  They spend a tenth of what we do on military forces but their missile silos  and submarines are full of weapons. 

In Syria, the Russian aerospace forces have maintained a constant liaison link to the US air operations staff at al-Odeid air base in Qatar.  All Syrian and Russian air operations have been de-conflicted between the two sides.  This has been the case in spite of severe provocation by US aircraft who have killed a lot of Syrian soldiers even after the US air operations involved have supposedly been coordinated with the Russian/Syrian side as to routes and targets.

US coalition activity is so aggressive in the Raqqa/Tabqa area of north Syria and in the SE around the al-tanf border crossing that it seems clear that the US intends to partition Syria on a de facto basis with the east being used as a base for a post IS campaign against the Syrian government.

This intention is evident to the regional players as well as the Russians,  Arabs don't like foreign invaders, especially foreign invaders who seek to advance the policy positions of the Israelis.  Do we not all know that Israel wishes to destroy the Syrian government in the process of constructing a cordon sanitaire around itself?  The Iraqi PMU (both Shia and Sunni) are closing ranks with the Syrian government to resist such foreign projects.  Iraqi PMU (mostly Sunni) occupy the al-waliid border crossing from Syria into Iraq just south of al-tanf.  They are not there to assist whatever it is that the US is trying to do in SE Syria.  Iraqi forces (including Shia PMU) have linked up with the Syrian Army SW of Mosul.  Translation:  The US is in the process of losing the acquiescence of the Iraqi government in its evident hostility toward the Syrian government.

IMO Mattis and McMaster need to get a grip on what is really at stake in Syria and Iraq and quickly rid themselves of the malicious little people in the NSC staff who are pushing forces around as though they are chess pieces.  pl

This entry was posted in As The Borg Turns, Borg Wars, Current Affairs, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria. Bookmark the permalink.

170 Responses to Invincible folly? – US policy and mass delusion

  1. Sam Peralta says:

    Col. Lang
    With the shooting of the Syrian aircraft near Raqqa and Tillerson apparently stating that regime change in Iran is the goal, how do you see this play out over the short-term?
    We know that the immense influence of the Israeli and Saudi lobby on US government policy across both the Democrats and the Republicans and now the Trump administration has lead in the past to strategic blunders. Where will it lead us now with the Mueller investigation and the post-election vilification of the Russians?

  2. Sylvia 1 says:

    Thank you for this informative article discussing the dangerous situation we see developing in the region.
    Foreign Policy identifies the people within the Trump Administration pushing for aggressive anti-syrian action as follows–both are apparently Flynn hires, as you point out:
    “Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want the United States to start going on the offensive in southern Syria, where, in recent weeks, the U.S. military has taken a handful of defensive actions against Iranian-backed forces fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad”.
    There’s an article in the WSJ today revealing Israel’s long standing support for the “Syrian rebels”. I understand most of these rebels are aligned with al Qaeda. I assume Israel does this with US money.
    M K Bhadrakumar confirms that Israel is pushing for a US–Iran confrontation and Israel usually gets what it wants.
    Meanwhile, Iran successfully fired medium range missiles at ISIS in retaliation for the terror attack on Tehran and the missiles hit their targets.

  3. EEngineer says:

    Would they, even if they could? I fear that we’re so far down the rabbit hole that anyone who objects will probably be removed for the sin of appearing weak.
    I suspect the only path to removal of US forces in Syria is if they are stung just hard enough to cause pain but not an automatic escalation response. I can’t fathom what that would be though. It seems like a small needle to thread. There just seem to be too many on the US side that are just itching for a fight for so many different reasons.
    The tinderbox of pre-WW1 Europe keeps coming to mind…

  4. David Lentini says:

    Mostly agreed, Col. But I would offer that the utopian vision was hijacked by the Neocons and the Progressives to give us a technocratic corporatist world government that reduce the vast majority of humankind to serfs under the sort of scientific tyranny that Bertrand Russell and Aldus Huxley wrote about.
    The wars were largely a means not only of extending physical control, but, through the use of the central banks and deficit financing of our wars (hot and cold), our soon-to-be overlords were able to raise the sort of obscene wealth need to buy political acquiescence to their hare-brained plans.

  5. sid_finster says:

    As titular Commander in Chief, Trump could end this nonsense today. Simply order the military and CIA to withdraw from Syria and leave the pet jihadis to twist in the wind.
    So why doesn’t he? Is it because he has been turned, so to say, or because he has little real authority in his own house? Does it matter, if the buck stops there?

  6. Harper says:

    In line with the observation about the military fueling the anti-Russia ideology, I refer readers to James Clapper’s June 7 speech at the National Press Club in Canberra, Australia, where he basically said that Trump must not be allowed to improve ties with Russia–because Russia has it in her DNA to hate the United States and plot the US destruction. Given Clapper’s role in setting up the assault against President Trump on the charges of collusion with Russians to steal the White House from Hillary Clinton, this is a really important clinical inside look at the mindset of what Col. Lang calls the Borg. This is so out of synch with the actual history of US-Russian relations, from Catherine the Great’s League of Armed Neutrality, which was important in the American Revolution, through Lincoln’s alliance with Czar Alexander II, through the building of the Trans-Siberian Railroad with major US engineering involvement to the defeat of Hitler in World War II. Even as late as Eisenhower and even to some extent Reagan, there was an effort to cast aside the demonization of Russia. Has the “US Establishment” gone collectively mad? I guess that’s now a rhetorical question!

  7. turcopolier says:

    He is not the “titular” commander in chief. He could order the withdrawal that you cite tonight if he wished. IMO he neither understands nor is much interested in foreign policy. His recent trip was a monument of ineptitude and ignorance. He is altogether focused on himself and the rest is stage dressing. He has some grasp of domestic affairs and is a great grandstander. pl

  8. turcopolier says:

    David Lentini
    Ironically the present inheritors of the Puritans would view are largely godless but they share the Calvinist belief that those who do “evil” are irredeemably deplorable. IMO the commercial culture of New York Cit has been another thread in our skein. pl

  9. turcopolier says:

    Clapper has it the wrong way around. He and those like him have Russophobia in their DNA. Clapper brings to mind the scene in the O. Stone interview in which he an V. Putin sit down together to watch “Dr. Strangelove.” Clapper reminds of one of the blue suited lunatics in the film. pl

  10. turcopolier says:

    I am not as yet convinced that there is a “parallel government” conspiracy although Clapper and the other Russophobes make it plausible. ppl

  11. sid_finster says:

    Turcopolier: I don’t know Trump, but I suspect that your assessment of his character is accurate.
    Hence the term “titular” in the sense that while Trump may bear the title of CinC, his ability to exercise the functions of such is limited at best, and his subordinates don’t seem too concerned with his opinion on things. History is littered with similar examples.
    But to keep focused on the bigger picture – regardless whether Trump is manipulated, whether he has been strong-armed into compliance, or whether he has decided to become a neocon, the buck has to stop with him.

  12. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    Spot on. I think there was a reason why Gene Roddenberry introduced the prime directive in the original Star Trek as a prescient critique of just what youdescribe.
    I continue to wonder why the Russian’s have not yet tested their air defenses and EW capabilities against a US (or coalition plane). Research on public documents suggests there is a gap with the US. My impression is that our systems have been engineered in recent years (The F-35 is a clear example) for suppressing brush wars around the planet where EW dominance can be assumed.
    1. They are worried about waking up the US to a technology race, potentially losing their advantage at a later time in Ukraine.
    2. There performance is not as good as public documents believe.
    3. They see escalation to nuclear war as possible and obviously lose-lose. Yet, Russia stages annual nuclear war military and civilian exercises. Since Reagan’s happy happy star wars programs, the US duck and cover mentality has gone.
    PS Thanks for continuing to provide SST as a beacon.

  13. AshTheLightningFan says:

    In the post above, Col. Lang suggests that what is occurring is the confused result of Trump’s strategy of corporate delegation. I pray that is the case.
    But I think it is equally plausible this is all occurring at the behest of President Trump. It would not contradict the promises of Candidate Trump, which is kind of scary.
    If you look at his old interviews, Trump views “foreign policy” as something of a protection racket. During the campaign, most people nodded their head in agreement when Trump said “they should pay” & laughed when he said “we should take the oil”. Few considered what would happen if any of it came to pass.
    Well, it seems our clients are paying. Israel seems to pay in the form of “legal aid”, offering up everything from lawyers like Dershowitz to its stable of elected legislators. The Saudis, more simply, pay in cash & the promise of future contracts. The Kurds pay with bodies, allowing Trump to fulfill his promise of “bombing the hell out of ISIS” & “taking the oil” without “nation building”.
    What these clients expect for their payment is some method of frustrating the ascendant R+6 coalition in the east of Syria.
    Many claimed Trump stiffed them. Let’s hope.

  14. walrus says:

    In my opinion, the “light on the Hill” view of American exceptionalism is a convenient fiction, as was the British equivalent “The White mans burden”. I noticed this use of that fiction just before I quit my first job as a junior executive with Exxon – the company had just been fined tens of millions for corruption in a U.S. Court and part of the settlement included an Exxon VP travelling the world teaching all us executives about the new found standards of ethical behaviour now required of us. I had the unfortunate opportunity to test these standards when I discovered one of our contractors illegally dumping our hazardous waste. The result when I alerted the newly created “ethics committee” was so underwhelming I decided to quit with my honour and reputation intact. Glad I did.
    I am being treated to another lesson in exceptionalism as I watch Netflix’s “Designated Survivor” – about an accidental President. Last nights episode included a touching scene where our President is told by his beautiful doe eyed chief of staff that an African warlord who is advancing with genocidal intent on the women and children of an African city; ‘You were in Ogobogo as a peace corps volunteer weren’t you? Can’t we do something?”She says. “Yes” says the now steely eyed President, then he picks up the phone to the Pentagon and tells them to “see to it”. Folks, this is R2P claptrap, the trouble is that the under Forties buy it.
    If America does aspire to be a world leader, then it is axiomatic that those you wish to lead can make more trouble for you, than you can for them. Leadership has serious costs and risks attached to it that are not seen or appreciated by ordinary people. The costs of our alleged “leadership” have been minimal because we have been inflicting said leadership on Third world countries. I don’t think anyone without a good history degree, or who has not served or doesn’t have family background involving the death destruction and displacement of war fully appreciates the cost of going toe to toe with Russia, and that includes the bulk of the American people. My opinion is that, if we persist in provoking President Putin, we are going to be in for one hell of a shock. Putin will do something that generates real ‘shock and awe” and we won’t like it.

  15. Anna says:

    There is no other way to deescalate the situation but to make Israel extremely vulnerable. The canard of anti-semitism is loosing its effectiveness. At some point, supporters of Israel will be viewed globally as the supporters of the unjust wars in the Middle East. For now, the Jewish community at large in the west does not want to see the implications of the wars. But this could not continue for a long. The backlash is coming.

  16. turcopolier says:

    Of course it is fiction but like that other work of fiction, the Bible, it is firmly believed in. pl

  17. turcopolier says:

    “But I think it is equally plausible this is all occurring at the behest of President Trump.” No, outside his pitchman deal making mode he is an ignorant blundering fool, a sort of 21st Century Huey Long. pl

  18. Gene O says:

    I always wondered whether the New England Puritan “volunteers” who returned to England to fight with Cromwell and the Roundheads were sent by Winthrop. Or at least encouraged by him. The history books seem silent on that.

  19. Lemur says:

    There are lots of anti-Zionist Jews. Soros, Finkelstein, Chomsky and other leftist luminaries. They all drone on about this point, and have little impact. When you live by the sword, you die by the sword (in this case, political correctness). It is absolutely forbidden in contemporary society to allege that any group or sub-group has essential or general characteristics, especially the jew.

  20. Green Zone Café says:

    The wars since 9/11 were a product of mixed motives. Utopianism, yes, that was a part of it. We opened new broadcast and print media, which then often propagandized against US. We funded NGOs. We generated local governments, electoral systems, cooperatives, built hospitals, prisons, schools. Effectiveness varied, to say the least.
    Oil was a part of it, too. There’s an irony in that part of the reason Iraq was invaded was to allow the increase of production from there in order to sustain the petroleum economy. I say that having seen the importance the US Mission placed on facilitating oil production. While this was also to increase Iraqi GDP, it seems Cheney in 2001 did not foresee the wave of fracking which now sustains oil supplies quite well.
    The other reasons were serving Israel by destroying its enemies and playing the tuff Great Power.
    The motives were often in conflict, and depending on the country, the predominant motive differed. In Syria, it’s always been about helping Israel and isolating Iran and very little Utopia, if any. Getting rid of Assad the first step, dealing with Hezbollah’s missiles preemptively the second step, regime change Iran the goal. The cadres pushing a war on Iran keep their eye on the ball and are relentless. It’s gonna happen absent a political revolution.

  21. Lemur says:

    Ralph Peters has some agitprop published in the New York Post today. Some choice extracts:
    “Bashar al-Assad and his backers cynically dumped the burden of wrecking ISIS on us and our local allies to concentrate on slaughtering civilians, exterminating freedom fighters and torturing thousands of prisoners to death. Now that we’ve done the anti-ISIS heavy lifting, they want to exclude us from the endgame and crush our Kurdish and Arab allies.
    Russian media have also been giving a platform to Putin’s generals and their alarming tone. It doesn’t sound like the Cold War I remember. It sounds worse. Having won again and again over the past decade, from Georgia to Crimea and now Syria, Russia’s officer corps appears to be itching for a bout for the world championship, convinced we don’t have the guts to stand up to them.”
    “What happens now? Our military is war-gaming contingencies to ensure that, should the Russians fire on us, we’ll be prepared. We cannot let the Russians dictate where we fly and who we can protect. We’ve gone out of our way to avoid confrontations with Putin’s war criminals, but there’s a limit. And we may be about to reach it.
    This situation could become President Trump’s own Cuban Missile Crisis: If the Russians pull the trigger, will our president stand up to Putin?”
    There’s certainly a ‘teach Russia a lesson’ frame in operation here, as the Col. alluded to in the OP.

  22. I agree this policy that we now associate with the Borg does trace its heritage back to John Winthrop’s Puritans. But it is not an aberrant policy only resurrected by American interventionists from time to time. This is a mainstream American policy that is dominant in our DNA and grew as our country grew. We can see it in our concept of Manifest Destiny and the Monroe Doctrine. Perhaps our cocksure embrace of this policy can also be traced to the Puritans’ Calvinist concept of predestination. In fact, I can’t recall a period in our history when we pursued anything that could be called a humble foreign policy.

  23. turcopolier says:

    We wanted the Iraqi poil industry started up so that they could pay for their own re-construction. you should know that the money made in Iraq and Afghanistan by Americans was made out of re-construction funds given be foreign donors. These counties have been a huge drain on the US. we have made nothing, far less than nothing out of this folly. Neoconism has to do with obsession with political theory and Zionism, not idealism. pl

  24. turcopolier says:

    So, we are a spiritually proud, domineering people? If so, should we not renounce that? pl

  25. turcopolier says:

    A woman named “Anne” write to say that we Americans have done all this for the money “i.e., for the petroleum, and whatever else the Afghans and Iraqis had. In a moment of annoyance I erased her comment. I would like you EDs to document for me how much we made from these miserable people. pl

  26. pl,
    Damned straight we should renounce it. Not only is it boorish and notably un-Christian behavior, but our bullying ways will end up getting us all killed. I remember an interview with Bush the Younger before the 2000 election. He was asked what kind of foreign policy he would pursue. He thought for a few seconds and sad said “I want to have a humble foreign policy.” That was the smartest thing he said for the next eight plus years. I want that humble foreign policy.

  27. Outrage Beyond says:

    “Soros, Finkelstein, Chomsky” are all Zionists. At best, Chomsky and Finkelstein could be considered “controlled opposition.” Soros is more of a controller.

  28. Kooshy says:

    Colonel I agree, the problem is, grandstanders are easy to manipulate.

  29. walrus says:

    Lemur, this is indeed the same as pre WW1 jingoism.

  30. Charles Michael says:

    The Quatar story, just after the Ryad saber-dance, is a case in point: 12 billions $ F-15 sold against major shift from Turkey.
    Huey Pierce Long, I had to refresh my memories on wikipedia.
    Many Thanks for your endurance.

  31. Brunswick says:

    It’s not the “royal” we.
    Blackwater had State and DOD contracts paid for by US Taxpayers,
    They also had Iraqi and Afghan contracts, paid for by:
    -US Aid
    – International Aid
    – Iraqi and Afghan revinues from their tax and royalty base.
    Naomi Klien’s “Shock Doctrine” is well worth reading in this regard.

  32. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    So the two wars cost 5 trillion dollars.
    So who got the concessions on the oil? Well almost none of the companies are US. China and Malaysia did nicely, as did Russia.
    The Iraqi economy is 170 billion. If the US could tax 10% of this (and the govt is nearly financially insolvent), it would cover nothing – not even the interest on the cost of the wars.
    Raw materials from Afghanistan for US manufacturing?
    The wars have been a great sucking sound (loss) to the US treasury.
    From 1990 to 2002, the US was pulling ahead of China in relative GDP. Since 2002 China has caught up from a third to near parity.
    So instead of investing in the US to maintain our competitiveness, we spilled blood and treasure in the sands where Ozymandias once ruled. (

  33. Jack says:

    We should not forget that the Russians were our allies during World War I & II. We were not always implacable enemies.
    I don’t know if you have seen the Oliver Stone interview with Putin. This is a man who took responsibility for Russia in its darkest days in recent times and lead it through to the other side. He is clearly a leader we can partner with. The issue is not Russia but the quality of our own politics and the vast bureaucracy we have created that has its own imperative.
    I remain convinced that until we drastically reduce the scope and scale of our government we are going to continually lurch towards a state where we become the enemy of the world as the primary instigator of instability.

  34. Jack says:

    I certainly believe we are living in a period of mass delusion, not only in our foreign relations but also in our economic & financial policies.
    Our actions in interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign nations and destroying international law by acting with impunity as hegemon will no doubt have its consequences as other nations build their strength to secure their boundaries and their interests.
    Maybe we’ll be brought down like the school yard bully who gets his comeuppance. My concern is that we will not be able to right the ship of state until we face a catastrophe.

  35. Swamp Yankee says:

    Col. Lang, I hope you’ll permit an historical footnote which I hope is of some interest:
    I think it’s quite germane to your point, Colonel, to note that the City on a Hill vision of Winthrop almost immediately ran up against the messy realities of the human experience. Within the first decade of Winthrop’s settlement at Shawmut (Boston), you have problems with schismatics of the Anne Hutchinson variety, questions about the nature of church-state relations (the Halfway Covenant), war with the Pequots, the splitting of significant numbers of settlers towards Connecticut, Roger Williams in Rhode Island, and etc. Indeed, the great scholar of Puritanism Perry Miller wrote astutely on the Puritan obsession with the failure of their mission; I think this gets at something that remains significant in the national psyche.
    For what it’s worth, as John Demos has shown in his fine book _A Little Commonwealth_, down here in New Plymouth — separate from Mass. Bay until 1691 — the fact that settlement was initially made by a combination of radical Separatists (Saints) and various adventurers (Strangers), combined with the much more desperate circumstances of first settlement and a comparatively less yielding physical environment than occurred in Mass. Bay, made for a relatively more pluralistic and less expansionistic society than in either Mass. Bay or Connecticut. This is not to even get into the demographic differences (if memory serves, in 1640 – 10 yrs post settlement MA Bay, 20 yrs post settlement for New Plimoth – pop. of MA Bay — c. 30,000; pop. of Plymouth – 800) or Indian relations.
    I’ve always thought this made for a better, more laid-back model for the country to follow than the Puritans of Mass. Bay, but then again, as I’m writing from up the hill from Plymouth Bay, I suppose I am a biased observer.

  36. Old Microbiologist says:

    It is an interesting gambit. It is possible that ISIS will be eliminated within several weeks. Once that happens the solidification of Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah forces with Russian oversight will begin to clean house. If I were Assad I would go to the UN and announce that every foreign invader inside Syria has 1 week to get out or be destroyed. No resolution has any chance of passage but he can go on record. Russia has so far given every indication they won’t directly support anything like this. But, it could include escalation of supplies with newer weapons and jamming systems.
    In the mean time Russia has shut down the deconfliction process and now will light up every target overflying Syrian airspace. The pilots will never know if it real or not and perhaps it might just be real often enough to make them re-think their presence in the area. I suspect a few drones might get shot down but not piloted aircraft. But, the Iranians just might see this as an opportunity to poke the bear. I can envision a cruise missile attack on the American air base illegally in Syria. If the other Arab groups are really getting in the game then it could grow quickly into something the US never imagined and would be typical unintended consequences caused by very poor thinking by analysts in the US. Russia is treading a fine line and there are a lot of fronts in motion now. Tillersons ludicrous attempt to normalize relations yesterday are an indication of the bizarre logic operating in the US. The opening and arming of new bases this week in Norway are more examples of US aggression against Russia and this will not end well.

  37. scott douglas says:

    I seriously doubt that LTG Brown will commit to any requested operations within Russia’s new, de facto, no-fly-zone. Would you conduct a mission with your squadron lit up on SA radars, hostage, whistling past the graveyard? No. That all has to be suppressed, thus the shape of the Russian challenge.
    It’s not a matter of ‘will the Russians fire on coalition aircraft?’
    More ‘will we make war on Russia in order to operate within Syrian airspace?’
    Again, no.
    Advantage: Putin.
    No doubt negotiations are in progress!

  38. Igor Bundy says:

    Syria has slowly been rearming itself, already activated its coastal defenses. Its air defenses are being setup. Priority is defeating ISIS. Al queda and their members will get their own area to preach over.. perfidious kurds would need perpetual US protection because at this point Turkey is not going to put up with what is happening and there will be a genocide. And once the political process is started, Syria will activate its defenses and watch what the US does. Nether Syria or Russia will stand by idly while US does an Iraqi.. Neither President Putin or Assad is that stupid. And the first place on any kind of US strike on Syria would be the the only nuclear reactor in the middle east smoking..

  39. Linda says:

    Pat – why didn’t you do something about Derek Harvey when he was a major?

  40. Pundita says:

    Have you noticed that the more fault Americans find with their own history, the more fault they find with other peoples and their histories? And where has this led? It’s led to a great many peoples around the world thoroughly despising Americans. So Americans need get a grip and rethink.
    The saga of the early Puritans in the new world and their belief that they were a specially chosen people is part and parcel of what it means to be American. Not to celebrate our heritage, to use history as an excuse to roll out a list of American wrongdoings, serves no good purpose.
    The worst part is that self-flagellation over historical and present wrongdoings has become a global pastime, as people compete to see whose culture has done the worst. So now we are between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.
    We all know the dreary Devil in this case: a totalitarian religious government, which only anal-retentive people can willingly tolerate. Or it’s Marxism, which stuffs all individuality into the categories of Oppressor or Oppressed and sets people to squabbling about who among them is the bigger victim.
    Bringing up the Devil’s rear, as it were, is modern Globalism: no matter what the economic benefits, it makes societies in which identity to reduced to algorithms for brand preferences, and where consumerism replaces national interests.
    But when we turn away from the Devil we’re faced with the Vasty Deep: an obsession with diversity that leads to balkanization and the tribalism of a thousand tongues, with everyone wanting their diverse government edicts written in their own diverse language, and where nobody wants to sit next to someone on a plane unless they’ve first checked the person’s Facebook page to learn whether he she or it is my kind of diverse.
    Is there a tiebreaker here, some way societies can lurch onward in this era without having to choose between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea as the only defense against collapse?
    Gregory R. Copley did see a way around the dilemma. He calls it simply “specialness.” Here is what he means by it:
    Every society has a unique geolocation and a history, and this gives it a specialness that transcends differences in the society’s groupings. Shared knowledge of the specialness can bring cohesion to the groups in a society, a common purpose and sense of pride that offsets divisiveness fostered by politics and political media.
    How did Gregory discover this way forward? His professional duties landed him in the catbird seat while the Ethiopian government and the country’s large diaspora felt their way out of their ghastly Marxist era, which had reduced a once-proud nation to just another dirt-poor African country.
    But many Ethiopians eventually rebelled against their self-image as a basket-case. They said to themselves (my paraphrasing), ‘You know what? We may be poor, and we may be fools, but by God we have a history, a great history, and that makes us a special people.’
    And with that realization the Ethiopians began to get off their knees.
    Of course there are terrible things in the Ethiopian past, as there are in any society’s past. Yet people are able to take the bad parts of their history in stride. What they can’t manage is being cast adrift in the sea of life without an anchor for their identity.
    As to the truth of a society’s creation story — a reporter once asked Black Elk whether he actually believed that his tribe’s creation story was true. Black Elk replied, “I don’t know if it’s true. I know this is how it was told to me.”
    In that sensible answer is the larger truth about the roots of one’s society, beyond any specific facts.
    More than a decade ago I told my readers in Britain that they’d better muster civilizational certainty or they were headed to the trees. Soon after British officials began saying that the British school system should stop teaching British history because the British had done so many awful things to other peoples. They cautioned it would be harming the tender minds of British schoolchildren to expose them to the truth about their country’s dark colonial eras.
    Just when I thought I would have to start serving bananas to the British, someone — this might have been Her Majesty — woke up and said in so many words, ‘You know, we really must start embracing some civilizational certainty.’
    And thus the stunningly beautiful reification of Christian marriage bonds and the British Crown’s mystical connection to Christianity and the British people celebrated in the marriage of Prince William and the commoner Kate.
    The marriage ceremony was broadcast (live, if I recall) in all the Commonwealth countries. And so for the first time many young people around the world got to see a concrete statement of a heritage which they could all share in no matter their religion or culture.
    To return to Gregory Copley’s talk about specialness — it’s a long story how an Australian defense analyst and advisor to governments got involved in watching the Ethiopians rediscover and appreciate their history. Gregory told some of the story during a talk he gave at the U.S. Library of Congress on May 11, which he wrote up on May 25 for his Defense & Foreign Affairs publication (paywall) and gave the tedious title, “Strategic Symbolism in an Era of Resurgent Identity Politics.”
    Happily he also outlined his talk for free to John Batchelor’s radio audience. He recounted some of the history of Ethiopians’ rediscovery of their history and appreciation for its specialness.
    He also discussed why modern peoples should learn to appreciate that a sense of specialness about their society is vital to keeping it healthy.
    And he mentioned a couple countries other than Ethiopia where many people have recognized that a shared knowledge of their history is their best defense against losing their civilizational bearings.
    Gregory’s discussion is available in a free podcast with the human-sized title “Ethiopia reawakens its Solomonic legacy.” The podcast page also quotes a few passages from his May 25 article.

  41. turcopolier says:

    He didn’t work for me. As DIO I had control of the message but not the people. He hung around my office but I didn’t rate him. He worked for the current branch I suppose since he was in the Pentagon. pl

  42. turcopolier says:

    Swamp yankee
    As you know I have both Pilgrim and Puritan ancestors. none f hem seemed to be able to get long with the theocracies in Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut. that included the ones who were born in the new world of Puritan minister families. They kept trying to move away from them. pl

  43. Degringolade says:

    Colonel: I have spent entirely too much time thinking about this particular quote.
    “So, we are a spiritually proud, domineering people? If so, should we not renounce that?”
    If I were still in college, I would have hated you as a professor. An seemingly innocent question has a whole bunch of nasty thorns on it.
    I may even write a serious essay on just this issue. If it turns out at all well, don’t think me presumptuous if I (in the words of Rod Serling)submit it for your approval.

  44. turcopolier says:

    That’s my point. The money whether paid directly from the USG or indirectly out of foreign aid funds ultimately came from the feringhee rather than the Iraqis or Afghans. pl

  45. Enrico Malatesta says:

    One speculation about the widespread revelation of Israel’s ‘long standing support for the “Syrian rebels” ‘, could the US political elite’s reduced ability to accept responsibility for their shortcomings make this revelation about Israel a set-up for Trump to blame Israel for “losing Syria” as Hillary blames Russia for losing 11/16?

  46. turcopolier says:

    enrico Malatesta
    It will not be necessary to frame Israel. They will clearly be responsible in a major way for the pressure that has led to folly in Syria. pl

  47. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    re: “So why doesn’t he?”
    Someone may have pointed out to him what happened subsequent to President Kennedy’s issuance of NSAM 263.

  48. JJackson says:

    If – as pl – suggests there a significant number of those in power who believe that Russia has neither the ability or will to do anything about the US and friends invasion and occupation of parts of Syria or the attacks of government forces how can the R+6 disabuse them of this notion without provoking a major war. Russia and the Syrians have shown amazing restraint having been bombed, and had two of their aircraft shot down but the US does not seem to take repeated warnings to desist seriously. If Russia does start using its air defense batteries America shows every sign of behaving as if they are the victims of an unprovoked attack. Given the US mindset how can the R+6 remove this infestation from Syrian soil without the whole situation getting completely out of control? I am not seeing an exit strategy.

  49. Thomas says:

    “There are lots of anti-Zionist Jews. Soros, Finkelstein, Chomsky and other leftist luminaries. They all drone on about this point, and have little impact.”
    Soros funds the White Helmets which have had a very powerful impact in western propaganda.

  50. Lemur says:

    This seems to be a sort of attempt to rescue the liberally ordered society from its logical conclusion of dissolution and nihilism by engineering binding narratives sustained by sheer will to power. It’s telling the Kate-William wedding becomes an example.
    “Essential to situationist theory was the concept of the spectacle…The situationists believed that the shift from individual expression through directly lived experiences, or the first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires, to individual expression by proxy through the exchange or consumption of commodities, or passive second-hand alienation, inflicted significant and far-reaching damage to the quality of human life for both individuals and society”
    Real societies never self-consciously ‘celebrate their heritage’ like this. Because in doing so, a distance – the space of interpretation (by who?) – has been apriori introduced between the people and what binds them together. Genuine culture enthralls, acts spontaneously through us, and ultimately springs from a numen which is nonrational and thus ineffable. The result is a qualitatively bounded society, which excludes those who were never acted upon in this fashion. No fancy spectacle can possibly unite the immigrant groups within Britain into a spiritual organic unity with actual Britains.

  51. FourthAndLong says:

    The recent dust up between Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain on one side versus Qatar, resulting so far in air and sea blocades, may be a manifestation of the Borg’s stubborn Russophobia:
    Russia is reported to have sold 19.5 % of Rosneft, its oil major, to a Qatari investment trust.
    Violating the letter or spirit of the American anti-Russian economic sanctions which arose after the Ukraine crisis ?
    Most publicly available discussion of gulf countries’ ostracism of Qatar has centered around ideas like support of terrorism or the Moslem Brotherhood and or being on the wrong side of the Yemen disaster (from SA’s POV). And the
    reputedly too friendly ties between Qatar and Iran in general.

  52. Lemur says:

    I don’t really think jingoism causes wars. Its simply a tool elites deploy in mass society to mobilize the proles for conflicts they’ve already decided (quite cold bloodedly) to have.
    It’s also important to distinguish jingoism (a pathological impulse to define one’s group in antagonism with another group) with a love and pride in one’s own culture. As Lavrov said recently, those who don’t respect their own culture will seldom respect the traditions of others.

  53. EEngineer says:

    The best non-kinetic message I can think up is a few divisions of Chinese PLA disembarking in Syria, unannounced. They’ll eventually get drug into whatever chaos happens if this gets out of hand, so they have the motive to prevent it by placing a large opening bet.

  54. Stumpy says:

    To me the simple answer works best, we destroy ISIS, call it job well done, and move on to another subject. As the focus is shifting to Afghanistan, noting that the evil Warlord Azizulla was mysteriously released from Bahgram to head a rapdily growing and apparently well-funded branch of ISIS cave-dwellers.

    “He is the richest man I know. He has support from abroad, and so much money. He pays his fighters almost a thousand dollars – that’s why so many join him,” another local militia fighter claimed, saying that the warlord pays his terrorists about five times more than the Afghan government to its soldiers.
    Between that and the Phillipines there is an easy way to announce that US forces chased ISIS out of Syria and are hunting them down to the ends of the earth.
    The hot dog Russian pilots are sending a pretty clear signal. They poke us in the ribs while the factions in Syria attrit down to a low simmer. Pitting US and Russian armoured divisions against each other in the desert seems like a stupid choice that even CinC Trump would grasp.
    Somehow the outcome at Raqqa and Deir Ezzor will shape up to be another Alleppo moment, the fall/liberation of which will force a decision point for the US to lean in or piddle on. I’m calling piddle, and put the spotlight on some new Afghanistan campaign, with distractions in sub-Saharan Africa and our new Filipino playground.

  55. robt willmann says:

    I think that R+6 and Iraq are taking a longer view of things. They want to continue to consolidate their positions and not lose ground. Iraq is a mess, but its inhabitants do not appear to have given up.
    In my opinion, Vladimir Putin is very disciplined and also is aware of the use of language: he has continually referred to the U.S. government as Russia’s “partner” and “friend”, even though he knows the opposite is the case. He does none of the juvenile schoolyard posturing nor does he spew provocative language. The strongest language he used was in the speech before the United Nations before Russia entered Syria, when he said, “do you realize now what you have done?”. (Starting at about 5 minutes, 45 seconds into the speech, to around 12 min., 17 sec.)–
    When the Russian military put on the multimedia shows after they went into Syria and revealed how Syrian oil was being stolen and transported into Turkey, among other things, you could see that of the Russian military men who made the presentations, there was not a hothead in the bunch.
    Dealing with a group of people who keep their cool and who are not easily intimidated, or cannot be intimidated at all, and who have some technical ability and experience, is a situation presenting a very different game.

  56. ann says:

    In re: American Empire. Just finished Stephen Kinzer’s book: The True Flag.
    A story about the vote taken to occupy the Philippine islands. Mark Twain and many were against being an empire but the business class was interested in new markets, they were over producing and needed new markets.
    Empire it is. And it has been a very costly 120 years.

  57. charly says:

    WWI? Russia was on the way out when the US entered and the US occupied parts of Russia in the immediate aftermath of WWI.

  58. Swamp Yankee says:

    Col. Lang,
    Yes — an understandable response! For what it’s worth, one of the folk etymologies of “Swamp Yankee” that I saw somewhere, which traditionally has meant a rusticated inhabitant of southern New England, is that it originally referred to those who could not get along with the worthies in the towns and ports and retreated to the swamps, forests, marshes, dunes. This enduring divide between the backcountry/frontcountry seems one of the great themes of American history, discernible in everything we do, including our increasingly frightening foreign policy (good God, do they think the Russians are kidding around?).

  59. Cortes says:

    An article about the possible elimination of al Baghdadi and relocation of the ISIS/Daesh HQ:
    Apologies for not previously having thanked you for continuing with this excellent site: thank you.

  60. turcopolier says:

    “I don’t really think jingoism causes wars” I didn’t say anything about jingoism. I am talking about a deeply held collective belief in “destiny.” Why do you ED people come here? pl

  61. Keith Harbaugh says:

    It is interesting to compare what the U.S. has caused to happen in the Arab world
    (if that is not the appropriate way to refer to it, what is better?)
    with the 1982 “Yinon Plan”,
    described in Wikipedia as (but the emphasis is added):

    [Yinon] proceeds to analyze the weaknesses of Arab countries,
    by citing what he perceives to be
    flaws in their national and social structures,
    concluding that Israel should aim to bring about
    the fragmentation of the Arab world into
    a mosaic of ethnic and confessional groupings.

    ‘Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation,’ he argued,
    would prove to be advantageous to Israel in the short term.
    As the old Stalinists would say,
    “That is no coincidence, comrade.”

  62. ancient archer says:

    Dear Col and ISL,
    You are assuming that the ones paying for the wars is the same as the one profiting from these wars. It is the US public that bears the burden of the ongoing wars in the mid east and the MIC that profits from it. The MIC controls the govt (the decision making apparatus which is supposed to serve the public) and as long as the govt can take decisions to start/expand wars (without hurting those in power too much), this transfer of money from the US public to the MIC will continue for a long long time.
    Pentagon spends $400 for a gallon of gas for military vehicles in Afghanistan. And it seems Halliburton was paid $300 per gallon of drinking water which it supplied to the green zone in Baghdad – which it shipped directly from the Euphrates. And these are probably just the outliers – you can probably extend it to stapler pins costing $50 each and cello tape costing $250 per roll. This is what happens when the govt spends (waste is inevitable) and because the payer (the Public) and the controller of the payments (govt controlled by the MIC) are different, this has always been the easiest way of making money. And not only in America, it happens everywhere. But, of course, it is the easiest to do this in war – the budget is nearly unlimited, controls are weaker and no one has a clue in any case – priorities are elsewhere.
    And please don’t think that you spent the money on the Iraqis. The money was paid by the US govt (and the US taxpayer ultimately) to US companies (MIC, contractors who charge triple rate etc etc). Most the money was recycled back to Americans – the Iraqis got almost none of it. So, don’t even think that touching their oil to pay for the cyclical transfer of money from the US taxpayer to the US MIC enabled by the US govt, is a good idea. This was just a big scam where nearly $5tr (maybe a bit less) was transferred by the public to the MIC (or would you say stolen by the MIC?). Iraq and Afghanistan were just collateral damage – both the country and the people living there.
    You don’t need to do a return based calculation to justify the war expense because for those gaining from this spend, every $1 spent adds value (to their p&l or pocket book whichever applies)

  63. turcopolier says:

    Keith Harbaugh
    Yes, the basic Israeli program for the surrounding states has been to reverse whatever unifying processes they had experience since creation and reducing them to a Morgenthau style status as pastoral splinters sorted out by politics, ethnicity and sect. pl

  64. turcopolier says:

    Ancient Archer
    Are you happy putting words in my mouth? I am assuming nothing of the kind. The actual debtors are the US taxpayers who will pay the debt for centuries. pl

  65. turcopolier says:

    Yes, our two regiments of infantry threatened the power of your Bolshvik heroes? pl

  66. Kooshy says:

    “Why do you ED people come here?” Colonel it’s Simple, they come here for a good real reality education from real experts, is either this LANG school or real world, or CNN, NYT experts for perceptive utopia.

  67. VietnamVet says:

    Great to see you back in the line of fire. Excellent article and 100% true.
    European North America kept expanding it ran into the Pacific Ocean. Seizing Hawaii and the Philippines was a continuation and done with dispatch. But, it was the start of the American Empire. There has always been the contractions between what is best for the 50 American States and being the World Hegemon. Clearly the mini World War in Syria and Iraq is not in the best interests of American citizens. Israel and the Gulf States desire to keep the Shiite Crescent cut is running up against Iran’s need to open a land line to Lebanon. Russia needs a secure Syria to keep its Mediterranean naval base. The partitioning of Syria risks a nuclear war between NATO and Russia which will kill billions of human beings. Even if avoided, the writing is on the wall, with globalists, crazies and eunuchs in charge, the American Empire is collapsing. Unless government by and for the people is restored, the 50 States will splinter apart just like the Soviet Union did.
    One way to look at money is it is the water that civilization swims in. When it is horded by the powerful, the desperate will tear down all barriers to get to it.

  68. The Porkchop Express says:

    Brunswick –
    Yes, a number of companies and individuals (both private and public) made a mint because of our post 9/11 shenanigans–especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that doesn’t represent the total understanding of what we were doing and why. It’s more a constellation of motivations than a singular one; unless you’re talking human fallibility as the sole determining factor.
    Klein’s book is good but it reduces the entirety of human behavior almost completely to profit motives.
    Colonel –
    These numbers are old, and it’s a bit simplistic, but just for the sake of argument:
    So we spent $2 trillion just in Iraq so US contractors could make $138 billion?

  69. steve says:

    Had such high hopes for McMaster. Have you given up on him yet?

  70. J says:

    I agree, Putin is no paper together. To the Rusdiaphobes chagrin, Putin is a shrewd tactician both tactical and strategic.

  71. johnf says:

    Barbara Tuchman did a wonderful, and tragic essay on this. Can’t remember its name. Its in a book of essays.

  72. anonymous says:
    one of the greatest moments IMHO of Obama’s presidency.this is the way to win friends and change the future.

  73. LeaNder says:

    David, I find Pat’s response to your offered ‘hijacked Utopian vision’ interesting, although a bit cryptic. Meaning not easy to read. I was close to babble about ‘hijacked Utopian visions’, from Plato’s republic over Thomas More’s Utopia. But here goes:
    Admittedly I had no idea about the educational US army center in Garmisch(-Patenkirchen, usually) he mentions. Is it really what Pat suggests? A central center for the Army’s studies on Russia? Even before 1991?

  74. LeaNder says:

    They are worried about waking up the US to a technology race,
    interesting suggestion.
    “original Star Trek”. Which episode or part of the series do you have in mind?

  75. turcopolier says:

    The “US Army Institute for Russian Studies” was founded in 1947. It was renamed in 1993 as rhe Reagan thing. file:///C:/Users/Pat/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.IE5/35T25EP2/33.pdf pl

  76. turcopolier says:

    still watching. pl

  77. anonymous says:

    Putin does not have the support of the Russian people for any large scale war in Syria.the front in the Ukraine was started as a deliberate drain on Russia and a third front which is now on its way will see an end to Russian support in Syria.
    the triangle of death will be the final blow.Damascus is heads for a Aleppo type showdown

  78. Pundita says:

    “Actual” Britons? What do you mean by actual? Are you saying the people of Norman heritage who’ve lived for generations in Britain aren’t British because they invaded from France and are ethnically Scandinavian?
    And are you saying Indians in Britain can’t be British? Better not say that in England during a football match with India.
    I venture you’re confusing ethnic homogeneity with a national society.
    While there are societies that are quite ethnically homogeneous, such as the Japanese (even though not all Japanese are from the same ethnic stock), people in a national society don’t need to be ethnically homogenous to have a shared sense of identity.
    Regarding your remarks about spectacle:
    In Iran, Nowruz is widely and openly celebrated despite the Iranian government’s long attempts to quash the celebration; the mullahs finally had to give up trying.
    India is home to practically countless ethnicities and religious sects, but everybody celebrates Diwali, which is an ancient Hindu religious festival, and everybody celebrates Holi, which is also an ancient Hindu religious festival.
    Okay, there are some Indian Muslims who got their heads screwed by Wahhabist propaganda who’re now saying they shouldn’t celebrate those holidays, but the point is that a society isn’t phony by staging spectacles that point to its roots.
    So here I venture that your idea of a “spiritual organic unity” as you term it, is actually collectivism. There doesn’t need to be an spiritual organic unity for a society to honor its history and its specialness. And it would preposterous to assume that only a collectivist society can be a “real” society.
    Yet all this takes us away from the point of my writing, which is that Americans aren’t seeing that their unrelieved criticism of their own historical roots, their own society, has been translating into unrelieved criticism of everybody else’s. In the era of 24/7 satellite communications and the internet, this is like having to work all day next to the office gripe. The reaction from most is to finally tell the gripe, ‘Will you SHUT UP.’
    That’s what a big part of the world is telling Americans right now.

  79. Degringolade says:

    Saudi Crown Prince fired
    Young hothead put in place.
    This could prove interesting.
    Gold and Silver are for optimists.
    I am going to diversify into ammo and canned goods (maybe whiskey)

  80. The Beaver says:

    JMHO and I can be smacked over the head if i am wrong:-)
    A new “mowing the lawn” for South Lebanon is on the horizon by Israel with the blessing of the new Saudi Dauphin Mo Bin Salmanminister new CP , deputy PM and Defense). That’s why chihuahua Jubeir has been barking loudly lately – to save his skin
    The Israelis are busy sending warnings at the to the Ya Zeïnab crowd.
    In addition, the new ME expert SIL Jared will be going to the ME for peace talks 🙂
    Poor Palestinians will be thrown under the bus once again. A suivre

  81. FB Ali says:

    I’ve given up on McMaster.
    He makes me think of the fat eunuch sitting at the Sultan’s feet in the harem, wringing his hands and moaning about the generals and emirs going their own way, paying no attention to the Sultan.
    For that’s what Tillerson and Mattis/Dunford have done recently in the Saudi-Qatar imbroglio (see ).

  82. LeaNder says:

    It’s telling the Kate-William wedding becomes an example.
    Yes, somewhat curiously folded into the larger identity politics narrative. I agree Lemur. Lately you seem to surprise me occasionally. But: I’ll try not to digress too much. Guesswork.
    Ok, would it matter in our context here, that Ethiopia at one point was part of the of the ‘Alliance of the Periphery’, while still an Empire? Surfaced therefore somewhat associatively? From present king (GB) to earlier emperor (Ethiopia)?
    To avoid descending too deeply into ‘handfasting’ and ‘troth-plighting’ traditions with or without religion via British dynasties. 😉
    And so for the first time many young people around the world got to see a concrete statement of a heritage which they could all share in no matter their religion or culture.
    Young people led onto the right path with a little help from not only VIP but also VIP Windsor Royalty?
    More than a decade ago I told my readers in Britain that they’d better muster civilizational certainty or they were headed to the trees.
    This sounds stunningly authoritative though. Maybe I better go back and reread. After all there was this escape from the hardship of selling bananas via something as simple as watching a Royal Wedding on TV?

  83. Bill Herschel says:

    “The refugee, Mohamad Rafia, pleaded guilty to causing bodily harm and uttering threats. He said he did not realize that beating one’s wife [with a hockey stick] was illegal in Canada, according to Abdelhaq M. Hamza, a physics professor at the University of New Brunswick, who acted as Mr. Rafia’s interpreter in court. “Why didn’t they explain the law when we first came?” Mr. Rafia asked before he was sentenced this month to time served and a year’s probation.”
    Americans (and plenty of Syrians) are dying so that we can… can what? Outlaw wife-beating in Syria?

  84. LeaNder says:

    And the first place on any kind of US strike on Syria would be the the only nuclear reactor in the middle east smoking..
    Would you be so kind to elaborate? on-any-kind-of-US-strike-on-Syria. Guess, that’s my linguistic core problem, apart from the fact I am wondering if you allude to Bushehr? Syria’s attempts seem to have been taken out already …?

  85. turcopolier says:

    “as i see it.” No? What did you major in, civil engineering? Hubris is the spiritual pride that leads to a fall. pl

  86. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Putin can be in Kiev before next week is out and the Rus would support him to the hilt.
    He does not have to do anything in Ukraine – a “country” created by Stalin – he just needs to be patient as she disintegrates…
    What drain on Russia is in that?

  87. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, they say: “May the Lord bless you!” leaving out which Lord it is.

  88. Peter AU says:

    Re Trump. The pattern so far is Trump setting up the game for Tillerson.
    The Saudi Qatar split has left a few swamp creatures exposed and still more to come in that game.

  89. Stefan says:

    After selfishly indulging myself in this blog for almost a year, absorbing all the information, without contributing a single comment, I finally decided to write something. I do this because I’m afraid the Colonel might get sick and tired of all the comments related work yet again and put a end to this great project of his (this time maybe for good).
    I don’t think people commenting on this blog understand one important thing: The point of this blog and its comment section is NOT to come to a certain “absolute truth”, fact-checked and accepted by all of us. It is precisely the subjectivity of the blog that makes it so valuable. It is so rare that a higher state official with a remarkable experience(albeit retired) would be so candid and open about the mechanisms behind policy making and security related issues (not only Theory but even more importantly Practice) that we have to cherish this. I don’t agree with the Colonel on MANY issues, but his perspective and experience is invaluable nevertheless. This blog is a small (but important) piece in the huge puzzle.
    So, to all the people that restlessly attempt to “set the record straight” in the comment section: Please relax a bit, take a back seat and enjoy the ride for a second. The last thing we all want is for Pat to end this blog or even worse, to start self-censoring his opinion out of fear that it will provoke a lengthy and pointless discussion. I’m sure if we were somewhere drinking beer together, discussions à la “is America a force for good in the world?” or “Why did the US invade Iraq?” would all be good topics, but it’s foolish to expect from this single blog to answer all these questions. The battle is always going to be in how to have a satisfactory predictive capacity, while simultaneously acknowledging the complexity of the world and richness of human experience… I think the blog has managed to find the sweet spot between these two poles.
    Thank you for writing.

  90. What I’ve seen of Finkelstein I have found impressive. I’m aware he’s meeting some opposition from his own side at the moment (he had a hard time at a recent Oxford Union debate) but he seems impeccably straight from what I have heard or read. Chomsky’s all over the place – far out progressive politics is no place for a scholar and I don’t like to see him mixing it in that environment – but with that admittedly broad proviso seems straight as well. They are both exceptionally able.
    I’d be sorry to think of either as dishonest. Neither come across as controlled opposition and the fact that someone as eminent as Finkelstein hasn’t yet got tenure seems to indicate the opposite, but you may well be considerably more familiar with their output than I am. Have you come across anything that points to such a judgement?

  91. LeaNder says:

    Pundita, that’s more easy to understand then to figure out were you were heading above. The passage below caught my attention. Maybe since it reminded me of a series of ideological debates around multiculturalism versus the melting pot between a Canadian and a US ‘neoconish’ hawk in the early post 9/11 universe:
    More than a decade ago I told my readers in Britain that they’d better muster civilizational certainty or they were headed to the trees.
    Didn’t get any clearer after reading related articles on your blog for the term: multiculturalism.
    But I see at least one caught the attention of Gates of Vienna. Yes he started his blog at that point in time too. Much water has flowed down the Rhine. But his take on Brevik was supported by Tyler here:
    That said, yes I admittedly have the same almost instinctive response to ‘organic’ in contexts like the one that caught your attention too. From reading experiences, pretty frequent encounter in the political strain of Romantic texts late 18/19 century, if I recall correctly. And from there on …

  92. BillWade says:

    “Why didn’t they explain the law when we first came?”. Apparently Mr Rafia’s wife got the message.
    “Americans (and plenty of Srians) are dying so that we can… can what? Outlaw wife-beating in Syria?”. Nope, so we can import some new hockey talent, who even knew Syrians had hockey sticks!

  93. LeaNder says:

    Thanks, Pat. Found a couple of publications related to the institute.

  94. mauisurfer says:

    refugee in Canada beat his wife with a hockey stick?
    sounds like he has assimilated very well

  95. Doug Colwell says:

    I think you are referring to Barbera Tuchmans’ “The March of Folly”.

  96. Chris Chuba says:

    “A pervasive assumption among these young people is the notion that Russia is a “paper tiger” and inevitably an enemy. Some of you will have watched the four part Oliver Stone interview with Vladimir Putin. IMO Putin is not a “paper tiger.” The belief that Putin is afraid of the United States and will back away from us to avoid a fight is, I think, badly flawed.”

    1. There is something eerie about how the stars are aligning. Our Foreign Policy Establishment, including the military is confusing restraint with weakness. When that happens, it is only matter of time before you take that one step too far without even realizing it.
    Col, you hit on something with Trump’s style of watching subordinates compete. His personality is along the lines of delegate, see who succeeds and then reward them. This is probably not a good model for the U.S.
    Experimenting is risky given our power. It looks like Trump’s interaction with the foreign policy establishment / military is bringing out the worst in everyone. The cruise missile attack on Syria demonstrates that.
    2. I saw the Putin interviews. On election meddling, the segment with Victoria Nuland briefing Congress about our activities in Russia was priceless in demonstrating our hypocrisy. Some things are best seen in video rather than just reading the text. Seeing how giddy she was while talking about ‘all our contacts’ with ‘dissident groups’ and NGO’s etc was jaw dropping when you compare it to the stern faced outrage we show over the Russians stealing and then releasing accurate, private emails. This is somehow a threat to the very foundation of our democracy but funding demonstrations and flooding a country with foreign money is promoting democracy and should be welcomed by all.

  97. MRW says:

    Ancient Archer,
    Pentagon spends $400 for a gallon of gas for military vehicles in Afghanistan.
    In 2006, it was $800/gallon, not $400/gal. That includes the price of delivery by helicopter, etc. Have the .mil doc tabulating the full-in cost somewhere, but not willing to look it up. So no link.

  98. johnf says:

    I have tracked it down. Its a chapter in her collection of essays – The Proud Tower – about the efforts of Thomas Reed, Speaker of the House, to overcome the tyranny of the absent quorum. Eventually he managed to reform it, only to see the mechanism of his reformed constitution used to expedite the rush into the Spanish American war. Reed was bitterly opposed to imperialism. His best friend was the equally anti-imperialist Mark Twain.
    I once tried to sell it as a drama script to the BBC but they weren’t interested.

  99. Bill Herschel says:

    Macron has left the “Assad Must Go” club. Paging John McCain. Bomb France immediately.
    “« Le vrai aggiornamento que j’ai fait (…), c’est que je n’ai pas énoncé que la destitution de Bachar Al-Assad était un préalable à tout. Car personne ne m’a présenté son successeur légitime ! »”
    He is coming very close to saying that Syria is a sovereign country, and he is saying explicitly that he does not want a failed state: “je ne veux pas d’un Etat failli”.
    Now, if he can convince Merkel to get on board, we have a new equation with the United States taking on the role of just another local Sunni power in the ME. Sword dancers yes, world leaders no.
    What is the risk? Simple. War in Korea. There are three signatories to the Korean War armistice, a war that has not ended. China is the third. China is still at war with the U.S. in Korea. Trump has only to send the wrong tweet and we have something absolutely huge in Korea. But facing a world against him, he may have to do it.
    The Korean Armistice Agreement in P’anmunjŏm
    Signed 27 July 1953
    William Kelly Harrison, Jr.
    North Korea Nam Il
    China Peng Dehuai
    United Nations Command
    Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
    People’s Republic of China
    Languages English, Korean, Chinese

  100. Chris Chuba says:

    Regarding Oliver Stone’s Putin interview, I really liked how Stone persisted in asking Putin about when the Russians developed their cyber capability. When Putin said, ‘in the 90’s, we thought the Cold War was over, so we didn’t develop any cyber countermeasures’, I got to enjoy one of those great, therapeutic 5 minute laughs, the kind where you stop, only to catch your breath and laugh some more. It was aided by the fact that I paused the DVR with Putin’s sincere, naive, somewhat hurt expression frozen on the screen. Either he was lying or that was one of the most naive statements I have ever heard.
    He later added that Russia had to import computer equipment given the state of their economy, yeah, that made sense. Russia certainly couldn’t afford to re-create all of CISCO, Microsoft, etc. Oliver Stone persisted, ‘okay that was the 90’s well how about the 2000’s after Stuxnet, did you get clued in by then?’. Putin’s denials became less convincing and his demeanor changed to where you get the idea that Russia was able to ramp up very quickly in the late 2000’s.
    So either Putin is a brilliant liar and it is as Clapper suggests, Russia has always been full throttle in Cold War mode or it is as the interview suggests, the Russians were way behind the eight but were able to ramp up quickly in the 2000’s which is pretty much when their military was resuscitated. This is the great thing about Stone’s documentary. It gives you the raw information to make this determinations for yourself.

  101. turcopolier says:

    The “progressives” no matter what it is that they are suppoded to believe in are progressively transforming themselves into intolerant street thugs and book burners unwilling to let others who differ with them speak. They are doing it to themselves. pl

  102. “How do you get from there to Brave New World dystopian brownshirts?”
    With remarkable ease. The progressive need only vote for a Tony Blair or a Mrs Clinton. Such politicians will do the pro-corporate, pro-war, pro-globalisation stuff for you whilst their supporters earnestly pretend to be wishing for the opposite.
    An alternative hypothesis is that the progressives simply aren’t interested in the nuts and bolts of the economy, foreign policy or trade and are happy to concentrate exclusively on social engineering. That gets you to the dystopian brownshirts rather faster but has the disadvantage that the country falls to pieces faster as well.

  103. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You need inter-marriage over a millennia to accomplish that. But, as you know very well, often South Asian parents procure a spouse for their off-springs from South Asia.

  104. LondonBob says:

    Many years ago I remember my economics professor talking about a book he had just read, no idea which one, that even through the depths of the financial crisis in 98 the Russians had made sure to keep their military industrial complex fully funded. That said we forget now just what a state Russia was in in the 90s, so I am not sure how much of that funding went towards maintaining their conventional weaponry, and how much went towards cyber capability, I would suggest not much.
    Clearly with the big push in technology with Skolkovo etc. the Russians have aggressively moved forward in that area in recent years, so that would suggest some neglect. It is noticeable how Russia and China both encourage their own tech champions and have their own domestic alternatives to Google, Amazon with Yandex, Baidu, VKontakte etc. Last I read Linkedin has not yet complied with the amendments to the Russian law that stipulate that the personal data of Russians can only be processed and stored in Russia and so remains blocked there.

  105. Fred says:

    Where, outside the beltway borg, is the US support for further US involvement in Syria or Ukraine?

  106. Babak Makkinejad says:

    US could have bought the asphalt for the Afghan Belt Road from Iran rather inexpensively but chose to import it at exorbitant prices into Afghanistan.
    “We don’t negotiate with terrorists and we certainly won’t by their asphalt.”.

  107. LondonBob,
    I am afraid your economics professor was talking complete BS.
    You would do better to read one of the best British foreign affairs commentators, Anatol Lieven. Last December he produced a piece entitled ‘The West should become the North, with Russia as an essential partner.’
    (See .)
    The recollection of what Yegor Gaidar said is what is relevant to what you and Chris Chuba are saying, but the context is also important:
    ‘NATO and EU strategy towards Russia over the past 25 years not only wrecked repeated attempts at stable and co-operative relations. It has also contributed greatly to crippling the forces of liberalism in Russia. Admittedly – as with the Kadets before 1917 – many Russian liberals’ own combination of arrogance, ideological fanaticism, ignorance of their own country and sheer silliness contributed greatly to their fate. But at least under the Russian Empire, Russian liberals could sincerely portray themselves as Russian patriots, dedicated to introducing westernising reforms not only for their own sake but in order to strengthen Russia in the world. This was above all true of the so-called “Westernisers” in their ideological battles with the “Slavophils”; among the things that identified the westernisers with the West of their day was their commitment to the Russian empire.
    ‘After 1991, by contrast, Russian liberals were expected by their Western backers not only to adopt a Reagan-Thatcherite version of radical free market capitalism (not shared by most of Western Europe), but to acquiesce – preferably with joyful acclamations – in the expansion of NATO and the reduction of Russia to the role of a US satellite. Some have always accepted this role with enthusiasm. I remember from my time in Washington Yegor Gaidar boasting to a US establishment audience how he had destroyed Russian military industry, and other Russian liberals fawning on their Western paymasters with talk about the stupidity, ignorance and general vileness of the Russian masses.’
    This can be qualified. Back in 1989, not only the worst kind of liberal-inclined Russians, but some of the best – examples would be Dmitri Trenin and Sergei Karaganov – were infatuated with the West. This fact passed completely unrecognised in almost all parts of the Western ‘intelligence community’.
    What was clear, at that time, was that all the central predictions of Marxism-Leninism had tended out to be complete BS. As the whole of Russian security planning had developed in the context of these assumptions, a fundamental question was raised.
    One possibility was that the West’s quarrel with the Soviet Union had been, fundamentally, with communism. If that was the case, then the West had been unequivocally in the right, and indeed, agendas for ‘rollback’ and ‘liberation’ had all along been in the interests of Russians.
    Another possibility was that, behind the protestations that their quarrel was not with the Russian people, there lurked a deep antagonism towards Russia.
    In 1989, the former point of view was very much in the ascendant.
    However, for precisely the reasons that Lieven gives, it turned out to be an intellectually untenable position. (Somewhere down in Hell, Stalin is laughing – ‘I told them so … they wouldn’t listen.’)
    One consequence of this is that, while Russians used to believe that coping with the contingency of military conflict with the West was not an important priority, this is no longer the case.
    A natural consequence is that, for all its manifest weaknesses, the country has an enormous strength. In a way that was unimaginable in the ‘Nineties, it can be expected that first-class intellects can be attracted to the security sector.
    Remember: Russia had one of the great ‘general staff’ traditions of the world, and that is something that can be, and I suspect has been, revived – and an enormous emphasis was placed, in the Soviet period, on scientific and technical education.
    That is one of the many reasons why the notion that the GRU would leave the name and patronymic of Dzerzhinsky clearly visible on a ‘hack’ they had organised is clearly simply silly.
    What Putin is not going to do is repeat Soviet mistakes – either ruining the economy and the internal cohesion of the country by overcommitment of resources to the military, or attempting to control areas where very large elements of the population do not want to be controlled – except where there are pressing strategic reasons to do so.
    Instead, Russia will look for asymetric responses – in particular, relying upon superior brain power, which of course will be deployed in, among other areas, cyber operations, both defensive and offensive (insofar as there is a distinction.)
    In addition, quite clearly, it becomes natural to see the best prospect for long-term security for Russia in partnership with China, and in extending the integration of Eurasia, so their vastly more powerful partner becomes ‘primus inter pares’ in an extended alliance structure, rather than a potentially dominating neighbour.
    Had the ‘Project for a New American Century’ not been run by morons, they would have seen that Lieven’s vision of a ‘Greater North’ was probably the only way in which something approximating an American hegemonic role could be preserved in a post-Cold War world.
    Today, with all respect to a writer I greatly admire, it is frankly too late.
    Roll on the ‘Pax Sinaica’.

  108. Pundita – this question might be worth examining:-
    “Are you saying the people of Norman heritage who’ve lived for generations in Britain aren’t British because they invaded from France and are ethnically Scandinavian?”
    Of course they are British, but that’s not the best example because there were very few Normans indeed who came over and it was the new power structure that came with them that took a long time to get naturalised rather than the people.
    A better example is the Jews who came over at the turn of the nineteenth century. Also now as British as anyone else, or English if you prefer – the distinction’s not relevant here.
    But I don’t see that that proves anything of value. That’s because the effect on a country of the movement of people into that country is related to 1, the number of people involved and 2, the national or cultural differences between the respective groups.
    (2) is particularly important when you are considering political culture. I just have to leave that as an unsupported statement, because there are often significant differences in practice between the American and the English take on how political culture works and here’s not the place to examine that, but we might take as common ground that without a common political culture it’s not really possible to have a viable political unit.
    If we take that as common ground then the chasm between those who hold “progressive”, or if you prefer “orthodox” views and those who don’t becomes apparent. The “progressive” believes humans anywhere are pretty well interchangeable units. We’re all the same and cultural differences are surface only. You can take an Ethiopian and slot him into Peoria and as long as provision is made for a difference in culinary and religious practices there’s no difference between that and someone immigrating from a few miles away. Maybe that’s true for individuals and maybe it’s not – we’ve all seen it proved either way in individual cases so there’s no useful conclusion to be drawn there. It’s when you get to the transplantation not of individuals but of entire societies that the difference between the current “orthodox” view and the more traditional view becomes so apparent.
    The progressive or orthodox view is that social groups, just like individuals, are essentially the same all over the planet. Cultural and social traditions are essentially ephemeral and differences in those traditions can either be educated out or will adjust themselves in short order. It’s therefore risk free and might even be desirable for different groups to be mixed arbitrarily. If you put a new group of cows in with the herd there’s some initial jostling and one or two unpleasant incidents but pretty soon they all adjust and everything goes on as before.
    The traditional view is that a culture, and particularly a political culture, is not ephemeral and superficial but results from a long process of political evolution and adaptation. That process results (if you’re lucky) in some sort of compromise between the various social or economic subdivisions of the group that is satisfactory enough to enough people for social stability to be assured. Then circumstances change just a little bit and there are some new adjustments to be made, adjustments that can be made because the social unit as a whole has a common political culture that all understand even if only intuitively and the limitations of which all accept because all, those who draw the short straw and those who don’t, have got used to them.
    That difference in viewpoint is the chasm I assert exists between the progressive or orthodox attitude to mass immigration and the more traditional view. Failure to acknowledge that accounts for the almost wantonly superficial tone of the debate about mass immigration today. It is not sufficient to say “We managed OK with the Huguenots so let’s go for it.” Nor is it sufficient to cite Bell curve type arguments as, to my great distaste, I find Sarrazin doing and think that that’s any sort of useful contribution. The debate about mass immigration is the debate about what makes us tick as a society and it must be a debate on that level or it’s a waste of time.
    Which it probably is anyway, given our current political ineptitude in using the democracies we have inherited. To move away from the theory of it and come down to earth, what’s going to happen is that we’ll end up in mutually antagonistic ethnic groups and while we’re busy beating each other up the cronies will run off with the loot. I don’t think it’ll make a lot of odds then whether we hold orthodox or unorthodox views on political culture. Perhaps the analogy with cows is apt, because whatever the cows get up to and whatever they might think of it all, it’s the farmer who gets the milk.

  109. MRW says:

    The actual debtors are the US taxpayers who will pay the debt for centuries.
    No they won’t. “Public Debt” is a euphemism for USD creation. “Public Debt” paid for the space program and Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. Taypayers didn’t. And will not.**
    “Public Debt” is a bad euphemism since the private sector, the taxpayers, take it to mean the same as private sector debt. It’s not. The US federal government creates its own currency, 88-89% of which are the cash equivalent: treasury securities.
    ** to give you an example, TOTAL federal tax receipts for fiscal year 2016 were $2,845,362,000,000 or $2.8 trillion. $2.8 T? You think that pays for all the stuff people claim taxpayers are paying for? See the US Treasury’s bank statemen: pg 2:
    But the total USD creation (via marketable and non-marketable treasury securities) in 2016 was $95,648,584,000,000. or $95.6 trillion.
    And the US Treasury redeemed in 2016 was $94,225,757,000,000. Or $94.2 trillion.
    That leaves a difference of 1,422,827,000,000 or $1.4 trillion. The amount added to the cumulative “National Debt.” Or as the US Treasury’s end of fiscal year bank statement puts it: “Net Change in Public Debt Outstanding.” Again, see page 2.
    That, sir, is the amount that federal government allows the people to keep. It’s is not an amount owing.

  110. MRW says:

    Why do you ED people come here? pl
    Educating is a slow seep. It’s no wonder you get a headache at the slow progress and density of those you deal with here in the comments [including me…except for your public debt/macoeconomic thots, where I know more than you], and need to take time off.
    Most of us are dumb as bricks about the stuff you know. But who else has the experience, the accuracy, and the generosity to correct us? Hunh? Who?
    You’re just pouring your quart into our pint containers.

  111. MRW says:

    But you are leaving a legacy.

  112. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    I knew a couple guys back when I was an Army dog who had been stationed at Garmisch. They all spent their off hours hanging around beer halls jawboning with old Wehrmacht and SS guys who helped them work themselves into a good Russophobic frenzy. So I can see right away what happens in that kind of environment. We really forget, some of us, whose side we were on in those days. All respect to the courage of German soldiery through the ages, but..come on. Internalizing someone else’s nationalistic bias is pretty dangerous.

  113. turcopolier says:

    Please pour your judgment into my container as to what in my “public/debt/macroeconomics” I have wrong. pl

  114. turcopolier says:

    OK. How about macroeconomics? pl

  115. turcopolier says:

    “there were very few Normans indeed who came over” Interesting. I have many English ancestors who were of Norman descent. pl

  116. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Maybe super-naïve, but I have put my fear of escalation into a blog post:
    “Middle East = Balkans ; Syria = Serbia”
    The only “value-added” is possibly the explicit comparison with
    the mistakes that led to WWI.
    Feel free to criticize 🙂

  117. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I must say that the prospects of a greater North, reprising the so-called White people’s ascendancy before 1914 rather unattractive.
    Where would that leave all of us colored peoples on this planet?
    Babak, the Beige Barbarian.

  118. FourthAndLong says:

    The probability of a Syrian conflict directly escalating to nuclear war are nearly infinitesimal, IMO. Not gonna happen. The odds of a nuclear exchange due to human, mechanical and or electrical error are rather more significant. And conflict creates stress and fatigue, which increase the chances of human error. Is maliciously evil hacking a threat to nuclear security ? Yes, but the US and Russia have been sailing — apparently safely — in that environment for some time now. Maybe I am grievously mistaken, but those fears strike me as frightfully overblown. Such a thing is so diametrically against the interests of everyone involved as to make its contemplation borderline absurd. Accidents and criminally insane actors ? Yes indeed. Trump is a threat, but I’d wager they have their nets and hypodermics at the ready for that contingency. That said I did watch ‘Phantom’ a few nights ago. Terrible movie but a frightening scenario of 1968, rumored to be based on a true story.

      In Wikipedia

    . Ergo, all the more reason I don’t buy it. That degree of criminally insane suicidal initiative from Brezhnev’s KGB ?? Unlikely, but admittedly just my two cents. There are tales of a significant Soviet thrust into NW China in the late 60’s. Supposedly they advanced impressively with intent to take out the Chinese nukes but inexplicably turned back. Strikes me as urban legend or spoofing by wikipedia editors. Why don’t I cite a link ? Because I read it in Wikipedia about which Gore Vidal famously said: Everything in Wikipedia is false.
    However. the greatest fool’s errand in recorded history would be to push Russian beyond her endurance on her core strategic interests. But Syria is decidedly not such a thing. And they might not only tolerate but welcome a nasty regional conflagration though if it led to a rise in the price of and demand for hydrocarbons. As might some interests within US territorial borders. Possibly “win win” provided the nuclear genie is effectively contained, which is nearly a foregone conclusion.

  119. FourthAndLong says:

    A great book. Tuchman’s fervent anti-imperialism was front and center. Must have sent shivers through the timbers of much of the British establishment. Not surprised the BBC turned you down. Don’t know when you made your pitch but it was published well before the “multi-cultural era.” Britain is having a rough go of late. They will more than muddle through though. Universal global language and their cultural heritage is a priceless resource. Trump is a vile blot on America’s escutcheon. We are and hopefully will be worthy of far better, though with his fraudulence so close on the heels of Dubya and Obama I’ve been having serious doubts. How long will we get away with abusing our overwhelming wealth, and matchless technical and geopolitical advantages ? Very hard to squander such advantages. Nearly impossible. But if any nation can do it, surely the exceptional nation can. :((

  120. FourthAndLong says:

    Would he be more likely to obey that law if he was told it was only out of the high regard Canadians have for the game of hockey ?

  121. FourthAndLong says:

    If you have available a copy of Anna Politkovskaya’s ‘Putin’s Russia’ check out the chapter: Kamchatka: The Struggle to Survive. About the Russian Pacific Submarine fleet. A noble Submarine Captain, the base Commander (an Admiral) their families and living conditions. They were nowhere remotely near keeping their MIC fully funded.
    There are as many sailors living in Kamchatka as there are fishermen, indeed even more. Despite the massive cutbacks in the armed forces, the power base here remains the same: whoever the Kamchatka Flotilla of the Pacific Fleet votes for wins the elections. As you might expect in a coastal town, there is a predominance of black and navy blue everywhere: reefer jackets, sailors’ vests, peakless caps. The only thing missing is the fleet’s legendary chic. The jackets you see are worn, the vests much laundered, the caps faded. Alexey Dikiy is the commander of a nuclear ballistic missile submarine, the Vilioutchinsk. He is the elite of our fleet, and so is his vessel, part of the armament of the Kamchatka Flotilla. Dikiy received an outstanding education in Leningrad— today’s Saint Petersburg— and then made brilliant progress up the career ladder as a highly talented officer. By the time he was thirty-four, he was a uniquely qualified submariner. In terms of the international military labor market, every month of service raised his value by thousands of dollars. Today, however, Alexey Dikiy, captain first class, is eking out a wretched existence; there is no other way of putting it. His home is a dreadful officers’ hostel with peeling stairwells, derelict and eerie. Everybody who could has left this place for the mainland, throwing military careers to the winds. The windows of many now-uninhabited flats are dark. This is cold, hungry, inhospitable terrain. People have fled mainly from the poverty. Captain Dikiy tells me that in good weather he and other senior naval officers go fishing in order to put a decent meal on the table.
    Politkovskaya, Anna (2007-01-09). Putin’s Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy (Kindle Locations 2689-2695). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

  122. MRW says:

    Ask William Cummings if I am wrong. He worked at Treasury. And has heralded my comments on the subject more than once.

  123. MRW says:

    OK. Start with who creates the USD.
    Who is the only legal entity allowed to create the USD? You wanna’ call it “out of thin air,” be my guest.
    Who creates the USD?
    [HINT: China can’t or it’s counterfeiting. The private sector can’t or it’s counterfeiting.]

  124. LeaNder says:

    It is not sufficient to say “We managed OK with the Huguenots so let’s go for it.” Nor is it sufficient to cite Bell curve type arguments as, to my great distaste, I find Sarrazin doing and think that that’s any sort of useful contribution.
    EO, I had some friends with Huguenot ancestry. Easy to recognize based on their family names. There may have been some in Pundita’s “second wave”.
    But more randomly, your juxtaposition of progressive versus orthodox does not really work it feels. … Party traditions versus respective national changes over the centuries? Never seriously looked into the American paradox in this context. Or the British party history beyond Whigs and Tories for that matter.
    I am not a political scientist, but it feels it would be a hard job to write a comparative study of progressives, liberals, conservatives over the centuries in their respective national context. Judging from random grasps on matters in my own country. How to deal with the 19th century National Liberals?
    Besides, it might make sense for you to take a closer look into the history of Jews in England. It feels you may profit from a basic grasp of the context of Exodus versus Return. More arbitrary glimpse:
    I make no bones about it, but from the very start as others I wondered to what extend the War on Terror as declared may have some home-coming elements. Not least watching activities both here and overseas … And yes, I would like to see that in a study on Multiculturalism. A study that ideally traces the historical roots you feel should be included, maybe before multiculturalism or our German multi-kulti became a politicized matter …

  125. turcopolier says:

    Commercial US banks create dollars by making loans against on hand reserves that are smaller than their total loans granted. pl

  126. LeaNder says:

    “[including me…except for your public debt/macoeconomic thots, where I know more than you],”
    Does that include some type of Occam’s Razar basics cutting across out (misguided? I guess) ideas about the larger history of “fiat money”? It’s history, authors, both experts and poets versus Pat’s above basic statement: Even US Money isn’t simply printed into existence but the money it spends is somehow backed up by whatever type of donors that buy government bonds?
    Personally I do not like to see the US fail, versus what feels an implicit part of a curious “The big Hoover” narrative, the US as the country sucking in the world’s money. Feels this would create an economical earthquake … On the other hand, how does the US manage to simply print money into existence and suck in the world’s money at the same time?
    Or is it something more esoteric? Which would explain why we non-experts cannot really understand?

  127. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is true but I believe that is a very small amount in comparison to what the US monetary authority has created. MRW can explain it in more details.

  128. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Norman descendants apparently own much of the land in England:
    ” Just 0.3% of the population – 160,000 families – own two thirds of the country. Less than 1% of the population owns 70% of the land,”
    Furthermore, Oxbridge attendance at times was filled with Norman surnames.
    The moral of this is that it is best to belong to the conquering people rather than the conquered – just like in Mexico or Peru.

  129. LondonBob says:

    Sure, the point was that while this was happening the Russians ensured their military R&D, manufacturing capabilities etc. were being sustained so those key skills didn’t atrophy. A lot harder to build those back up again.

  130. Sam Peralta says:

    Col. Lang
    You have it right! MRW has a consistent but wrong belief that a marketable Treasury security is not a liability on the federal governments balance sheet.
    Below is a link to the Balance Sheet of the US federal government. Note the Net Position and the text that describes what a Liability means. The US Treasury states in black & white, the hole the federal government is in. In fact, the hole is much larger as the net present value of the unfunded contingent liabilities like future medicare payments or health benefits to veterans are not included. There is a looming pension crisis in the next few decades as pension funds have not been adequately funded. Note the recent report that GE’s pension fund is underfunded by some $30 billion. And there is a looming crisis in health care funding as well, as health care costs continue to double every 8 years. Note that a third of the federal government’s spending right now is for health care and that percentage has risen every year for the past 3 decades.
    Under MRW’s logic the federal government could spend to infinity, which when the rest of the world catches on is the intent, will end very quickly. He also always claims the federal “debt” is “equity” of the American people. There is no equity in consumption only in assets. Yes, if the federal government built highways & airports the American people would have some assets. But the $10 trillion spent in fighting useless wars in the Middle East did not give the American people much assets. It funded the Karzai’s wealth. The American people have no claims on that wealth.
    When the Federal Reserve buys a Treasury security they have monetized debt. This is the other fallacy. A classic example of a self-licking ice cream cone. Taken to its logical conclusion the Federal Reserve could fund infinite government spending as it buys every Treasury security and bond issued by the government and could own every asset in the United States as it buys all securities from municipal debt to equity in every business. One does not have to be financial genius to know what happens then.
    MRW’s macroeconomics is voodoo economics. Snakeoil sold to enlarge the scale of intervention in the US economy by the federal government. By his logic Venezuela and Zimbabwe would be world financial powers. They too issue sovereign currencies. China is a good example where systemic debt underwritten by their government has quadrupled in the past 8 years. Now they too are riding the tiger by the tail. What holds it all together is confidence. When that is lost, as we have seen in numerous examples in history, the sovereign currency becomes worth much less and governments are forced to re-structure their debt and spending. There is no instance in history where a fiat currency has survived to eternity. In very instance the fiat currency died from over issuance. The reason is simple. A free-lunch can only go on for so long.
    The USD is pre-eminent today, just like the GBP was in its heyday. That position is not sacrosanct as it was with the GBP.

  131. Fred says:

    gasprom is not the US, the Wilson Center is borg all the way. Ukraine in its current formation is a great borg achievement. Let me know who in Topeka, Tupelo or Toledo give a damn about Syria or Ukraine.

  132. Jack says:

    Col. Lang has the correct understanding. Commercial banks can essentially inflate their balance sheet at will as every loan is a leverageable asset. Their only restraint is their business judgment and the probability of loss. But in today’s world where banks can mark their loans to whatever they want such concerns are much less.
    There is no need for convoluted explanations like what MRW and Babak propound as the facts are in plain sight. The combined balance sheet of commercial banks is larger than the Fed’s balance sheet. The balance sheet is THE financial statement that records the assets and liabilities of an entity.

  133. FourthAndLong,
    ‘Such a thing is so diametrically against the interests of everyone involved as to make its contemplation borderline absurd.’
    This is precisely what highly intelligent people said before the First World War. They were right about a major war being ‘against the interests of everyone involved’ – unless you count Lenin as involved – but quite wrong in their confidence that this made it impossible.
    ‘However. the greatest fool’s errand in recorded history would be to push Russian beyond her endurance on her core strategic interests. But Syria is decidedly not such a thing.’
    What is relevant is not what Americans think Russia’s ‘core interests’ are.
    In the long litany of misjudgements which led to catastrophe in 1914, a significant one was the confidence of key figures in Austria-Hungary and Germany that Russia would not see it as one of her ‘core interests’ to defend Serbia.
    There were parallel misjudgements in Britain – but the Austro-Hungarian and German has the most obvious contemporary resonance.
    What matters are 1. how the key decisionmakers in another country perceive that country’s ‘core interests’, and 2. the actual bases on which they take decisions, which will include many other factors as well as considerations of national interest.
    To understand these, it is necessary to have ‘area studies’ experts who can at least attempt realistically to assess who the political systems of other countries actually work.
    Over the years, some very fine American ‘area studies’ specialists have attempted to warn those running American foreign policy of the dangers involved in the kind of confidence you express.
    Prominent examples are by far the best of the early post-war American State Department Soviet specialists, Charles ‘Chip’ Bohlen, at the time of the Korean War, and William R. Polk, following the Cuban missile crisis.
    The situation was dangerous in both cases, in part because serious ‘area studies’ experts were commonly marginalised. However, in that respect we are significantly worse off than we were then.
    If a superannuated student politician like Christopher Steele can end up heading the ‘Russia Desk’ at MI6, and his views are, it seems, taken seriously by leading figures in the American ‘intelligence community’ – boy, have we got trouble.
    And when we have another superannuated student politician, Boris Johnson, as Foreign Secretary, matters get even worse. Read a speech by him and then one by Sir Edward Grey, who had to handle the crisis which ended in war in 1914: the intellectual disintegration of Western democracy could hardly be more painfully revealed.
    And if Grey could not avoid serious misjudgements, who on earth thinks that Johnson can?
    Of course, Johnson does not matter. But Kerry and Tillerson do. But when the latter actually threatens to say or do something sensible, a massive ‘information operation’ is unleashed against him.
    An irony is that the Cuba missile crisis does appear to have had a markedly sobering effect on JFK. Likewise, I think that the ‘Able Archer’ episode, followed by his personal encounters with Gorbachev, radically changed Reagan’s attitudes.
    I am in somewhat of a hurry now, but if you are interested, I can dig out some relevant links relating to what Bohlen tried to explain to Paul Nitze and his colleagues, William Polk and his colleagues told Kennedy – and also, the career of John Paton Davies.
    Being right about China cost him his career, and, I think, pension prospects. But he had guts, and honour. How many people in today’s State Department would behave as he did? He belongs to an older America, as does Polk.
    The ‘National Security Archive’ has extensive materials both on the ‘Able Archer’ exercise, and also on the utter and total failure of the American ‘intelligence community’ to understand Gorbachev. Again, I can provide more specific links if needed.

  134. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The issue is not balance sheet; rather the amount of liquidity created by banks – commercial or otherwise – at any given time.
    Balance sheet of US is zero.
    I agree with MRW.

  135. Jack says:

    Sometimes it is better to limit assertions to your circle of competence. You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about.
    I know a bit about how our banking system works and how bank’s financial statements are structured as I was the CFO of a decent sized bank.

  136. turcopolier says:

    Are you telling me that i should shut up about money and bankin? pl

  137. LeaNder – Two or three points struck me from your comment:-
    1. The old prejudices in England against Jews, Catholics and Dissenters moderated during the nineteenth century. For the Jews it flared up again after the late nineteenth century influx. There are, for example, passages in the novels of the early 20th Century English popular novelist John Buchan that are oddly similar to some of the more vitriolic anti-Jewish passages of Mein Kampf. But it’s important to recognise that much popular anti-Jewish prejudice from that time on did not stem so much from ancient stereotypes or religious prejudice but more from 1, Jewish activism in revolutionary movements and in particular in the Bolshevik revolution – not something that would endear them to the English upper classes of the time given that they were seriously worried that Bolshevism might spread among the lower orders, 2, the popular association of Jewishness with financial manipulation and profiteering. That was an incorrect association given that the majority of our cronies were and are WASPS but it’s one that persists to this day for some at the popular level, both here and in the States. 3, Anti-immigration sentiment, sometimes violent, in the cities that took the bulk of the influx.
    (3) was, incidentally, one of the factors that led to the English politicians’ attempted and partially successful re-direction of the Jewish immigrant flow to Mandate Palestine. This resulted in the great increase in the Jewish population there that in turn led to the creation of Israel, so I suppose you could say if you were feeling uncharitable that our xenophobia became the Palestinians’ nightmare.
    The inevitable popular association we see today of Jewishness with ultra-Zionism brings in yet another dimension to modern anti-Jewish prejudice. It’s very much a modern association because until modern times Zionism itself had little traction amongst Jews, but for all that it is now the chief popular association. For some Jews I’d imagine that this does lead to split loyalties, but even so I’d hold to my assertion above that for the great mass of ordinary people Jewishness is no big deal, no more so than Catholicism or Methodism, and Jews are as English as anyone else. The gut anti-semitism that is prevalent in Eastern Europe, France, and parts of Germany doesn’t exist here to any extent. That’s not making a claim to any great virtue. It’s just that we have an entirely different history.
    Whether it’ll stay that way you can’t say. The old automatic and almost unanimous support of Israel, strengthened by the surge of interest in Holocaust studies from the 70’s on particularly in the schools, is now eroding. The Israeli political lobby is nothing like as influential as in the States and Christian Zionist support, again a significant factor in the States, is pretty well absent. Nevertheless it is a high profile lobby and an insistent one, which doesn’t go down well in the more low-key political environment here. A few times you hear people say things like “they’re pushing it a bit” – not a dramatic condemnation but not one you would have heard a few decades ago from the average man or woman.
    I could well be influenced by my own dislike of what is happening in the Occupied Territories; I’m also aware that there are surveys that show decreasing support for ultra-Zionism amongst Jews worldwide, particularly among the young. Nevertheless my impression is that the modern popular association of ultra-Zionism with Jewishness, incorrect though I believe that association is, will not improve the present comfortable acceptance of the descendants of those Jewish immigrants of a century or more ago.
    You’ll understand that this is as seen from a provincial perspective. The Colonel’s London correspondents would no doubt give you a more accurate picture.
    2. I think that progressives win the numbers game hands down in academe, the media, the administrative and political classes and in most urban areas. It’s only fair therefore to describe them as “orthodox.”
    3. I don’t know about you but I believe that when considering politics one can put too much emphasis on the historical or genetic make-up of a country’s population. That’s all extremely interesting, at least I find it so, but essentially when it comes to nationality we are what we believe we are and when it comes to culture we do what we do.

  138. Pundita says:

    I’m glad my clarifying remarks to Lemur were a help. With regard to multiculturalism, it’s a red herring in the context of my points. So here I’ll attempt to clarify further:
    American views of their society became dominated by politics. Yet political agendas, which are always changing, are not enough to anchor a society, no matter how lofty the language in which the agendas are couched.
    Also, the age-old anchor for societies, a shared sense of identity based on historical roots, was disappearing in the USA. And during the present era, under the onslaught of political agendas many Americans have distanced themselves from their nations roots.
    And so the American society has drifted and fragmented. Many Americans are aware of this fragmentation. I think they’re less aware of how it’s playing out in American foreign relations and in perceptions of Americans. Those outside the United States are seeing Americans as very confused people.
    Yet at the government level Americans are still prescribing how others should think about their societies — and harshly criticizing and even demonizing governments that don’t accept the American way.
    And so, an alarming number are seeing Americans not only as a confused people but also as a bullying people.
    In short, the less respect Americans have had for their own roots, for the history of their own nation, the less respect they’ve accorded other nations, other peoples. American respect for others has been replaced by political lectures on human rights and social justice. Yet in this Americans are only doing to others what they’ve done to themselves.
    To restore American respect for other peoples Americans must return to a respect for the roots of their own society.
    However, many Americans are loath to acknowledge much less respect their country’s roots because they see these tainted with grave misdeeds and ways of thinking that are not acceptable in the modern American era.
    These Americans need to realize that it’s not an either-or situation. We can’t and shouldn’t try to ignore the misdeeds and parochialism of earlier generations. However, we must learn to put these in context so they do not circumscribe the generations that established the United States. Not to do so is to wring all the “specialness,” as Gregory Copley terms it, from the American experience.
    From all the above I hope you can see the difference between multiculturalism and what I termed, for want of a better one, civilizational certainty. But at the risk of getting into the weeds, I’ll note that these two concepts are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A true multicultural nation is just that: one that is founded by more than one culture. This happened in the nation of Canada, which had a tripartite founding — English, French and Native Canadian.
    The natives have never stopped pointing out that they did not have equal power with the other two. But at least the lip service given to their right to be considered founders of the Canadian nation helped avoid the horrific bloodshed that marked the conquest of native tribes in America.
    In any event, it’s perfectly possible for a nation to be multicultural and still demonstrate civilizational certainty. To clarify the meaning of “certainty” in this context, here I think an example is worthwhile:
    The British Raj was determined to stop the practice of suttee — widow burning. But there was tremendous resistance from Indians. One Indian huffily told a British official that suttee was his people’s tradition, their culture.
    The official replied that he understood the importance of adhering to cultural norms. He added, “But you see in my culture we hang a man by the neck until dead if he burns a woman alive.”
    The official’s logic (backed by guns and British law) prevailed, and so suttee was stopped.
    The British who’ve read too many anti-colonial tracts need to remember that good accomplishment and many others, and stop trying to forget the fact that the colonialists were men and women of their times. Again, it’s a matter of putting misdeeds in context.
    No small part of civilizational certainty depends on defining who you are. If you don’t define yourself, others will do it for you. This can be hard for the individual but it is calamitous for governments. Yet if a government tries to define itself in abstractions such as “values,” these can be interpreted in countless ways by domestic political regimes — and by foreign enemies. The upshot is at best confusion, at worst it’s war.
    Here I’ll try to clarify my example of the wedding when I referred earlier to civilizational certainty:
    When the British government finally acknowledged it had to reiterate what it stood for, it had a handy way to do so. It staged a wedding in which the Church itself was the star.
    William and Kate were married in Westminster Abbey. Since 1560 the building is no longer an abbey nor a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England ‘Royal Peculiar’— a church responsible directly to the sovereign. (Wikipedia)
    One of the most powerful images from the wedding is a panoramic view taken from a camera mounted near the ceiling of the lofty church. It shows William and Kate at the altar, facing it. Both the royal groom and commoner bride are dwarfed by the vastness of the sacred place in which they stand.
    There, in concrete form, was the Crown saying, “This is who we are. We are a constitutional monarchy. A Christian constitutional monarchy.”
    But Americans don’t have the powerful symbols of royalty to help them make an evocative concrete statement about what their country stands for. We do have the history of the country’s founding. Instead of trying to quash the history we should embrace it.
    And yet Americans won’t make headway in restoring the importance of their roots unless more notice our Achilles Heel, which is the overwhelming dominance of political thinking in today’s USA. Such makes it hard to apply common-sense solutions to simple problems.

  139. Pundita says:

    Babak, I’m not clear on what you mean by “that.” Regarding your earlier remark — yes, common sense really goes a long way, doesn’t it.

  140. Pundita says:

    English Outsider,
    You might be interested in my reply to LeaNder when it’s posted. I hope I make it clear that there has to be groundwork prior to devising political solutions.

  141. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think he was responding to me.

  142. Babak – that Guardian article doesn’t tell you the half of it. They wrecked the joint. As for still owning much of it it they don’t round my way so I don’t know how that affects the tenant farmers. Maybe it’s better than being in the hands of some dodgy bank or agricultural mortgage outfit.
    I don’t know where the Guardian gets this idea that the English are a deferential breed. I suppose their journalists don’t get out and about much among the deplorables. Not that you see much evidence of their employing journalists these days.

  143. Jack says:

    Not you, Sir. IMO, your understanding of bank credit and government debt is correct. I was responding to Babak’s assertion that “The issue is not balance sheet; rather the amount of liquidity created by banks…” which was instructive to me as I have first hand knowledge of bank balance sheets and liquidity issues with banks. Curious what his definition of liquidity is?

  144. Colonel – “Very few Normans indeed.” That’s what the view was last time I read up on the subject. But I’ve just Googled it and it seems the view now is that there were upwards of 25,000. Maybe many more. So your ancestors had company.
    I don’t want to sound reproachful but they did quite a lot of damage. There’s some injured feeling around as well, which always helps when pursuing a class action. Unless you’d prefer to settle out of court?

  145. LeaNder says:

    Yet political agendas, which are always changing, are not enough to anchor a society, no matter how lofty the language in which the agendas are couched.
    Also, the age-old anchor for societies, a shared sense of identity based on historical roots, was disappearing in the USA. And during the present era, under the onslaught of political agendas many Americans have distanced themselves from their nations roots.

    Thanks for the feedback, Pundita. Admittedly I am a bit surprised. In context or following themes here you never drew my attention as an authority on whole societies, be they British or American. Please understand, when I stumbled in here I much to the annoyance of some readers here let my meandering mind waves flow out into the comment section too.
    Would you be so kind to define:
    And during the present era
    When did it start? Too vague for me. With Bush senior, Clinton, Bush jun, Obama or Trump? Even before?
    Besides, I’ll promise you to look into this, but could you give me a vague idea what the background of your argument may be? Studies, interests, topics?
    Put another way. What the “age-old anchor for societies”, or your own society is,
    which may allow you to pass such swift judgments on other societies?

  146. MRW says:

    Sam Peralta,
    MRW has a consistent but wrong belief that a marketable Treasury security is not a liability on the federal governments balance sheet.
    Says who? And where? Where did I write that? I don’t know how many times I’ve cited the Daily Treasury Statement on this site, the US Treasury’s daily bank statement that provides the granularity the Net Balance Sheet does not. It’s an IOU.
    But it seems to me you’ve not heard the US Treasury mantra that the worker bee economists working in the Treasury bowels recite (not the political appointees who know dick). Ditto the basement worker bee Federal Reserve economists.
    Reserve add before reserve drain.
    Do you comprehend what means? After Congress appropriates an amount for the federal government to buy—we call it “government spending” but it’s actually purchasing for the benefit of the people, or that should be the intent—the US Treasury authorizes that amount marked up in its General Account at the Federal Reserve. Yep, keystrokes. “Out of thin air.” Kaboom.
    Let’s says that amount was $400 billion to fix every airport in the country.
    Now there’s $400 billion swilling in the real economy. That’s a $400 billion increase in the nation’s money supply instantaneously. $400 billion added to the nation’s bank reserves. “Reserve add.” We’ve determined, rightly or wrongly, over the last 100 years that we have to manage that situation or risk inflation. (From the classic old idea that too many dollars chasing too few goods creates inflation, which we haven’t been at serious risk of since WWII.)
    There’s a law on the books since the early 20th C that the US Treasury cannot have an overdraft in its General Account, a holdover from the gold standard days. An overdraft happens once the Federal Reserve pays out the amounts to the vendors Congress approved in the appropriation when it deposits these amounts in the vendors’ reserve account at the Fed for onward forwarding to the vendor’s individual account.
    So to comply with the law, two to four weeks later, the US Treasury issues treasury securities in the same amount as the appropriation amount. In our example, $400 billion in treasury securities.
    This is done in various forms: T-bills, T-notes, or T-bonds. These treasury securities are sold at public auctions managed by the Federal Reserve’s small list of “Primary Dealers,” private sector institutions. The Federal Reserve cannot buy them. They are bought by businesses, institutions, households, trusts, banks, online by individuals like you or me, and foreign banks and governments.
    The sale of these treasury securities goes into the US Treasury’s General Account at the Fed. They drain the excess reserves in the system and restore the money supply to balance.
    Yes, of course, the US Treasury owes them at maturity to whomever purchased them. (Or whomever buys them in the daily $750 billion market for treasury securities.) They are most decidedly an IOU of the federal government. So is the interest on them. (Story for another day.)
    Why do “businesses, institutions, households, trusts, banks, online by individuals like you or me, and foreign banks and governments” buy them? Why do these groups swap their savings in commercial banks for treasury securities?
    First of all, they are risk-free. They are backed by the “full faith and credit of the United States of America.”
    More importantly, commercial banks only insure each individual account to $250,000. (Something many unfortunate retirees found out in 2008 when their banks went belly-up.) Huge vendors like Lockheed-Martin and large civil engineering and construction companies cannot risk losing their government contract money by putting it in their local Chase bank or local Credit Union.
    When you buy a treasury security, you’re just buying a CD at the Fed. It’s your money. In a different asset form. And the federal government isn’t “borrowing” it from you. It created the damn money in your pocket or bank account in the first place. Only entity WORLDWIDE that can legally.

  147. MRW says:

    You cite
    You need to reread what it says. You’ve misunderstood most of it. (You will note that Total Assets on the Balance Sheet shown there equal (=) Total Liabilities to the penny, although the numbers there are rounded so you can’t see that.) You write:
    In fact, the hole is much larger as the net present value of the unfunded contingent liabilities like future medicare payments or health benefits to veterans are not included.
    However, the doc states quite clearly in the penultimate paragraph:
    Because of its sovereign power to tax and borrow, and the country’s wide economic base, the Government has unique access to financial resources through generating tax revenues and issuing Federal debt securities. This provides the Government with the ability to meet present obligations and those that are anticipated from future operations, and are not reflected in net position.
    The federal government has the ability to meet future obligations. The US federal government is not constrained by revenue.

  148. MRW says:

    Sam Peralta,
    There is a looming pension crisis in the next few decades as pension funds have not been adequately funded. Note the recent report that GE’s pension fund is underfunded by some $30 billion.
    GE’s pension fund is a private sector entity, not a federal government one. Why are you mixing public (federal government) and private here?

  149. MRW says:

    Sam Peralta,
    Under MRW’s logic the federal government could spend to infinity
    No, it can’t. Remember, the federal government isn’t “spending.” It’s purchasing. It’s buying. From the private sector in order to provision itself.
    There aren’t enough goods and services being produced, the so-called (and goobledegook term of) “aggregate demand.” Aggregate demand just means total sales of goods and services in the economy.
    (BTW, another obscurantist macroeconomic term is “demand leakage.” It means savings. But the bastards refuse to speak plain English so Joe Six-Pack can understand it. “Deleveraging” is when the private sector is paying down debt, and not spending.)

  150. MRW says:

    Sam Peralta,
    He also always claims the federal “debt” is “equity” of the American people. There is no equity in consumption only in assets.
    Confused statement. Under standard accounting rules, equity is listed on the right side of the ledger, in the Liabilities column. Assets are on the left.

  151. MRW says:

    Sam Peralta, [this may be a duplicate. Typepad went screwy.]
    He also always claims the federal “debt” is “equity” of the American people. There is no equity in consumption only in assets.
    Confused statement. Under standard accounting rules, equity is listed on the right side of the ledger, in the Liabilities column. Assets are on the left.

  152. MRW says:

    Sam Peralta,
    When the Federal Reserve buys a Treasury security they have monetized debt.
    No, it doesn’t. The Federal Reserve buys and sells treasury securities to manage the overnight interest rate, or Fed Funds Rate, except in the extraordinary situation of 2008. The purchase and sale of treasury securities are done by agents in the private sector called “Primary Dealers.” The Federal Reserve has no control over buyers and sellers of treasury securities. The private sector buys and sells them at their whim, not the federal government’s.

  153. MRW says:

    Sam Peralta,
    Taken to its logical conclusion the Federal Reserve could fund infinite government spending as it buys every Treasury security and bond issued by the government and could own every asset in the United States as it buys all securities from municipal debt to equity in every business.
    If you call that logical, you need some time off. Every treasury security the Federal Reserve purchases on the open market, the only place it can, removes that interest income from the real economy going forward (and incidentally drives up the value of the USD because there are fewer of them in the real economy). The seller to the Fed still gets his dough back, although he has no clue he’s sold to the Federal Reserve.
    When the Federal Reserve purchases treasury securities, it reduces the amount of USD in the real economy. Once a year after the Fed pays its expenses, it must return all interest income by law to the US Treasury. I remember in 2012, the amount returned was $100 billion.
    By returning those USD to the US Treasury it is extinguishing those USD in the real economy. Poof.

  154. MRW says:

    Sam Peralta,
    MRW’s macroeconomics is voodoo economics. . . . By his logic Venezuela and Zimbabwe would be world financial powers. They too issue sovereign currencies.
    Venezuela’s Bolívar fuerte (since 2008) has a fixed exchange rate, not a floating exchange rate, like ours. Zimbabwe uses a basket of currencies. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  155. MRW says:

    Sam Peralta,
    The USD is pre-eminent today, just like the GBP was in its heyday. That position is not sacrosanct as it was with the GBP.
    The USD is more sacrosanct and protected, not less. The GBP was bankrupted by what it owed us for creating armaments and planes for them during WWII. All international payments were in gold until August 15, 1971. Draining its gold supply is what did the GBP in.
    It is my personal belief that the only threat to our reserve status is China by 2030. I believe Obama removed the underpinnings of our reserve status by imposing sanctions on Russia, which made new partners out of Russia and China. Since Obama and his advisors had no clue how macroeconomics worked, and the consequences for us internationally by certain actions, he acted recklessly.
    I believe that China has about 13 years in which to replicate and replace the enormous daily market in treasury securities which the US currently enjoys. And the world wants.
    If China can do that—and I wouldn’t put it past them now that they have decided to become an importing country—then the world will want Yuan, not USD. (China is already insisting on paying for certain imported goods in Yuan not USD. It learned fast.) If global energy needs can be denominated in Yuan, bye-bye USD as a reserve currency. It won’t bankrupt us, but it will stop all wars we currently finance with keystrokes in our unit of account (USD) because we will have to exchange them for Yuan. Many of our bases worldwide could probably close as well should that happen if the host country insists on Yuan instead of USD. And we will be buying Yuan on the open exchange market.

  156. MRW says:

    Loans create deposits. The loans have nothing to do with a bank’s vault cash or money in their Fed reserve accounts.
    Banks worry about meeting their reserve requirement on those loans two or three weeks later. If they don’t have enough reserves, they either borrow from other banks or go to the Federal Reserve which is legally bound to supply them. For a free of course.
    But you are correct that banks create ‘money’. The thing is that it’s credit money. Banks cannot and do not produce physical currency nor the cash equivalent, treasury securities. Only the US Treasury can do that.
    Hell, every time you and I use our credit cards, we are creating money, just like the banks do.

  157. MRW says:

    We’re not talking about commercial banks, Jack. We’re talking about the federal government monetary system and how it operates.
    You’re talking about private sector operations (where commercial banks like yours operate) and I am addressing public sector transactional operations, just to put it at its barest.
    You are talking about the world of microeconomics. I am addressing macroeconomics. Microeconomics can also be called household economics because 70% of the spending in the economy is by households. (And also include state and local government economics.) Confusing the two is where President Sparky got that ‘we have to tighten our belt like households do’ in 2009.
    The federal government is not a household! The federal sector has the legal ability, granted by the Constitution to Congress, to “coin money.” If the rest of us do it, it’s counterfeiting. And the Legal Tender Cases is the 1870s determined that whatever the federal government determines as “legal tender” fulfills its right to “coin money.” It doesn’t have to be actual metal tokens. It could be matchsticks. Or wooden Tally sticks like Great Britain used for 400 years. (Where we get the term ‘tally something up’.)

  158. MRW says:

    And what is your first hand knowledge of the US Treasury and how their transactions work?
    I don’t doubt your knowledge as CFO of a decent-sized commercial bank. But all the loans your bank issued required collateral, an interest rate, and a repayment schedule, did they not? Your bank performed credit analysis on those they gave loans to, did it not? And your bank earned its revenue from interest on those loans, did it not?
    “High-powered” money, federal government money, does not come with an offsetting liability. it has none of the requirements your bank imposed upon its customers. It was for the congressioanally-approved vendors to keep (in return for goods and services). It doesn’t have to be paid back.

  159. turcopolier says:

    “do not produce physical currency” I did not say anything about “physical currency.” But I seem t orecall that some state institutions can produce local currency. pl

  160. MRW says:

    Please pour your judgment into my container as to what in my “public/debt/macroeconomics” I have wrong. pl
    Oh lord, answering that could take all month. Or take a look at the series of responses I gave to Sam Peralta’s screed that I’m dangerously deluded
    Why don’t you take a look at this easy to understand article that came out on June 19, last Monday. This author gets it right. And what she is saying applies to her native Australia, Canada, Japan, Great Britain and the US. Just read the first 1/3 at least. get past the picture of Stephanie Kelton.
    “The cost of getting it wrong”

  161. turcopolier says:

    “that could take all month.” thanks for the disdain. I don’t like the arrogance in your remarks. pl

  162. Jack says:

    We’re not talking about commercial banks, Jack. We’re talking about the federal government monetary system and how it operates.
    You’re talking about private sector operations (where commercial banks like yours operate) and I am addressing public sector transactional operations, just to put it at its barest.
    You are talking about the world of microeconomics”

    What, you think we are idiots and don’t understand the difference between macro and microeconomics or how the federal government funds itself or how central banking works?
    And what is your first hand knowledge of the US Treasury and how their transactions work?
    What is yours? And what exactly are your credentials?
    It is clear from your responses that you are confused about what the Federal Reserve does and what the Treasury does. BTW, I do have first hand knowledge of the role and interaction between central banks and the Treasury and the Finance Ministries of various European governments.
    IMO, you pretend to be an expert in federal government financing, because there are many elements in your posts that demonstrate that you don’t grasp some fundamentals. Col. Lang is spot on. The disdain and arrogance in your posts is a facade for your pretension of expertise.

  163. Pundita says:

    Are you saying you can’t understand any part of my discussion unless I provide authorities in support of it? Or are you saying you can’t accept any part of the discussion for the same reason?
    Either way you’re making a preposterous request.
    Today the U.S. can’t celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving without some Americans shrieking that the Pilgrims were racist. This is the kind of situation I was addressing in my response to Colonel Lang’s remarks about the City on a Hill and American exceptionalism. Read anything more into my discussion and you’re on the wrong track.
    Boiled down, the biggest debate in the USA is between the do-it-yourselfers and the central planners. When some American political scientists try to turn this into a debate about communism versus fascism I think they’re talking red herring. That’s a European debate; it has nothing to do with this country’s history and the present situation in the United States beyond political science professors whose calendar reads 1930.
    Regarding your question about how I see eras — I think of them simply in terms of quarter centuries. This allows me to group together important situations that happen over a period of 25 years in which American presidents have and haven’t had a pivotal impact.

  164. turcopolier says:

    Having spoken with you I withdraw my criticism. We all have bad days, some more than others. pl

  165. Sam Peralta says:

    Man, you’re all over the map. How about first establishing the basics in federal finance?
    – The federal government finances its activities (wages for employees, F-35s, medicare, etc) through taxes and borrowing.
    – Taxes are legislated by Congress.
    – Borrowing takes place by the US Treasury selling securities (bills, notes & bonds) directly via Treasury Direct and through Primary dealers (Goldman, JP Morgan Chase, Nomura, etc). We can come back to agency debt (Fannie, Freddie, etc), guarantees (USDA, etc) and inter-governmental debt (IOUs to social security, etc).
    – A marketable Treasury security is a liability on the federal government’s balance sheet and interest & principal has to be paid.
    – Interest & principal payments on the federal government’s borrowings must be financed through a combination of taxes and borrowing.
    Do you agree with this? Please don’t go on a tangent.

  166. MRW says:

    Deeply appreciative, Colonel.

  167. Jov says:

    @Keith Harbaugh
    ”Finally, in an act of what we would now call terrorism,
    agents of one of the minor powers in the Balkans assassinated
    the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary.”
    Bosnia in Herzegovina was an Ottoman province, with an overmeling Serb population, ”taken and given” in 1878. by the great powers to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to be occupied and administered by them. That occurred after the attempt of Serbs in BH to liberate themselves of the Turks in which many Serbs died, civilians as well, in atrocities committed by the Turks
    Later in 1908. the Austro-Hungaria,, not asking the people who lived in Bosnia, annexed and dealt with the population (mostly Serbian), resources and society in Bosnia in a typically colonial style.I’m sure you know for yourself how all these actions by the K&K empire would be called today.
    Gavrilo Princip was not an agent of one of the minor powers-Serbia. He was a 17 year old kid, who thought he was doing the right thing.
    He committed murder, and his deed was not smart (in had mostly devastating consequences for the Serbs, whether they lived in Serbia,Bosnia, Dalmatia,etc.) But in accordance to the thought attributed to Thomas Jefferson – “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty”, Gavrilo Princip was not a terrorist, by any standards, but a tyrannicid.
    I could elaborate this more, but I have the bad feeling, that aside the part of your text I just had to comment, the point of your text was very strong and I agree with it.

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