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Archive for August 2018
Vigilantes With A Badge: Warrior Cops Endanger Our Lives And Freedoms

Vigilantes With A Badge: Warrior Cops Endanger Our Lives And Freedoms

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“There are always risks in challenging excessive police power, but the risks of not challenging it are more dangerous, even fatal.”

- Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century

I have known a lot of good cops, I have defended a lot of good cops, and I have been fortunate to call a number of good cops friends.

So when I say that warrior cops - hyped up on their own authority and the power of the badge - have not made America any safer or freer, I am not disrespecting any of the fine, decent, lawful police officers who take seriously their oath of office to serve and protect their fellow citizens, uphold the Constitution, and maintain the peace.

My beef is with the growing squads of warrior cops who have been given the green light to kill, shoot, taser, abuse and steal from American citizens in the so-called name of law and order. 

These cops are little more than vigilantes with a badge.

Indeed, it is increasingly evident that militarized police armed with weapons of war who are allowed to operate above the law and break the laws with impunity have not made America any safer or freer.

Don’t take my word for it.

A new study by a political scientist at Princeton University concludes that militarizing police and SWAT teams “provide no detectable benefits in terms of officer safety or violent crime reduction.”

In fact, according to researcher Jonathan Mummolo, if police in America are feeling less safe, it’s because the process of transforming them into extensions of the military makes them less safe, less popular and less trust-worthy.

The study, the first systematic analysis on the use and consequences of militarized force, reveals that “police militarization neither reduces rates of violent crime nor changes the number of officers assaulted or killed.”

In other words, warrior cops aren’t making us or themselves any safer.

Consider that not a day goes by without reports of police officers overstepping the bounds of the Constitution and brutalizing, terrorizing and killing the citizenry. Indeed, the list of incidents in which unaccountable police abuse their power, betray their oath of office and leave taxpayers bruised, broken and/or killed grows longer and more tragic by the day.

Americans are now eight times more likely to die in a police confrontation than they are to be killed by a terrorist.

The problem, as one reporter rightly concluded, is “not that life has gotten that much more dangerous, it’s that authorities have chosen to respond to even innocent situations as if they were in a warzone.”

This battlefield mindset has gone hand in hand with the rise of militarized SWAT (“special weapons and tactics”) teams.

Frequently justified as vital tools necessary to combat terrorism and deal with rare but extremely dangerous criminal situations, such as those involving hostages, SWAT teams—which first appeared on the scene in California in the 1960s—have now become intrinsic parts of local law enforcement operations, thanks in large part to substantial federal assistance and the Pentagon’s military surplus recycling program, which allows the transfer of military equipment, weapons and training to local police for free or at sharp discounts.

Ponder this: In 1980, there were roughly 3,000 SWAT team-style raids in the US.

Incredibly, that number has since grown to more than 80,000 SWAT team raids per year.

There are few communities without a SWAT team today.

Where this becomes a problem of life and death for Americans is when these SWAT teams dressed, armed and trained in military tactics are assigned to carry out routine law enforcement tasks, such as serving a search warrant.

No longer reserved exclusively for deadly situations, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for relatively routine police matters, with some SWAT teams being sent out as much as five times a day. In the state of Maryland alone, 92 percent of 8200 SWAT missions were used to execute search or arrest warrants.

For example, police in both Baltimore and Dallas have used SWAT teams to bust up poker games.

A Connecticut SWAT team swarmed a bar suspected of serving alcohol to underage individuals.

In Arizona, a SWAT team was used to break up an alleged cockfighting ring.

An Atlanta SWAT team raided a music studio, allegedly out of a concern that it might have been involved in illegal music piracy.

A Minnesota SWAT team raided the wrong house in the middle of the night, handcuffed the three young children, held the mother on the floor at gunpoint, shot the family dog, and then “forced the handcuffed children to sit next to the carcass of their dead pet and bloody pet for more than an hour” while they searched the home.

A California SWAT team drove an armored Lenco Bearcat into Roger Serrato’s yard, surrounded his home with paramilitary troops wearing face masks, threw a fire-starting flashbang grenade into the house in order, then when Serrato appeared at a window, unarmed and wearing only his shorts, held him at bay with rifles. Serrato died of asphyxiation from being trapped in the flame-filled house. Incredibly, the father of four had done nothing wrong. The SWAT team had misidentified him as someone involved in a shooting.

And then there was the police officer who tripped and “accidentally” shot and killed Eurie Stamps, an unarmed grandfather of 12, who had been forced to lie facedown on the floor of his home at gunpoint while a SWAT team attempted to execute a search warrant against his stepson.

Equally outrageous was the four-hour SWAT team raid on a California high school, where students were locked down in classrooms, forced to urinate in overturned desks and generally terrorized by heavily armed, masked gunmen searching for possible weapons that were never found.

These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.

Nationwide, SWAT teams have been employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of criminal activity or mere community nuisances: angry dogs, domestic disputes, improper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession, to give a brief sampling.

If these raids are becoming increasingly common and widespread, you can chalk it up to the “make-work” philosophy, in which you assign at-times unnecessary jobs to individuals to keep them busy or employed. In this case, however, the make-work principle is being used to justify the use of sophisticated military equipment and, in the process, qualify for federal funding.

Remember, SWAT teams originated as specialized units dedicated to defusing extremely sensitive, dangerous situations. They were never meant to be used for routine police work such as serving a warrant.

As the role of paramilitary forces has expanded, however, to include involvement in nondescript police work targeting nonviolent suspects, the mere presence of SWAT units has actually injected a level of danger and violence into police-citizen interactions that was not present as long as these interactions were handled by traditional civilian officers. 

What we are witnessing is an inversion of the police-civilian relationship.

Rather than compelling police officers to remain within constitutional bounds as servants of the people, ordinary Americans are being placed at the mercy of militarized police units. 

This is what happens when paramilitary forces are used to conduct ordinary policing operations, such as executing warrants on nonviolent defendants.

Moreover, general incompetence, collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc.) and botched raids tend to go hand in hand with an overuse of paramilitary forces.

In some cases, officers misread the address on the warrant.

In others, they simply barge into the wrong house or even the wrong building.

In another subset of cases (such as the Department of Education raid on Anthony Wright’s home), police conduct a search of a building where the suspect no longer resides.

SWAT teams have even on occasion conducted multiple, sequential raids on wrong addresses or executed search warrants despite the fact that the suspect is already in police custody. Police have also raided homes on the basis of mistaking the presence or scent of legal substances for drugs. Incredibly, these substances have included tomatoes, sunflowers, fish, elderberry bushes, kenaf plants, hibiscus, and ragweed.

As you can see, all too often, botched SWAT team raids have resulted in one tragedy after another for the residents with little consequences for law enforcement.

Unfortunately, judges tend to afford extreme levels of deference to police officers who have mistakenly killed innocent civilians but do not afford similar leniency to civilians who have injured police officers in acts of self-defense. 

Even homeowners who mistake officers for robbers can be sentenced for assault or murder if they take defensive actions resulting in harm to police.

And as journalist Radley Balko shows in his in-depth study of police militarization, the shock-and-awe tactics utilized by many SWAT teams only increases the likelihood that someone will get hurt. 

Drug warrants, for instance, are typically served by paramilitary units late at night or shortly before dawn. Unfortunately, to the unsuspecting homeowner—especially in cases involving mistaken identities or wrong addresses—a raid can appear to be nothing less than a violent home invasion, with armed intruders crashing through their door. The natural reaction would be to engage in self-defense. Yet such a defensive reaction on the part of a homeowner, particularly a gun owner, will spur officers to employ lethal force.

That’s exactly what happened to Jose Guerena, the young ex-Marine who was killed after a SWAT team kicked open the door of his Arizona home during a drug raid and opened fire. According to news reports, Guerena, 26 years old and the father of two young children, grabbed a gun in response to the forced invasion but never fired. In fact, the safety was still on his gun when he was killed. Police officers were not as restrained. The young Iraqi war veteran was allegedly fired upon 71 times. Guerena had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.

The problems inherent in these situations are further compounded by the fact that SWAT teams are granted “no-knock” warrants at high rates such that the warrants themselves are rendered practically meaningless. 

This sorry state of affairs is made even worse by U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have essentiallydone away with the need for a “no-knock” warrant altogether, giving the police authority to disregard the protections afforded American citizens by the Fourth Amendment.

In the process, Americans are rendered altogether helpless and terror-stricken as a result of these confrontations with the police.

Indeed, “terrorizing” is a mild term to describe the effect on those who survive such vigilante tactics. “It was terrible. It was the most frightening experience of my life. I thought it was a terrorist attack,” said 84-year-old Leona Goldberg, a victim of such a raid. 

Yet this type of “terrorizing” activity is characteristic of the culture that we have created.

If ever there were a time to de-militarize and de-weaponize local police forces, it’s now.

While we are now grappling with a power-hungry police state at the federal level, the militarization of domestic American law enforcement is largely the result of the militarization of local police forces, which are increasingly militaristic in their uniforms, weaponry, language, training, and tactics and have come to rely on SWAT teams in matters that once could have been satisfactorily performed by traditional civilian officers.

Yet American police forces were never supposed to be a branch of the military, nor were they meant to be private security forces for the reigning political faction.

Instead, they were intended to be an aggregation of countless local police units, composed of citizens like you and me that exist for a sole purpose: to serve and protect the citizens of each and every American community.

As a result of the increasing militarization of the police in recent years, however, the police now not only look like the military—with their foreboding uniforms and phalanx of lethal weapons—but they function like them, as well. 

Thus, no more do we have a civilian force of peace officers entrusted with serving and protecting the American people.  Instead, today’s militarized law enforcement officials have shifted their allegiance from the citizenry to the state, acting preemptively to ward off any possible challenges to the government’s power, unrestrained by the boundaries of the Fourth Amendment.

As journalist Herman Schwartz observed, “The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official.”

Armed police officers, the end product of the government—federal, local and state—and law enforcement agencies having merged, have become a “standing” or permanent army, composed of full-time professional soldiers who do not disband. 

Yet these permanent armies are exactly what those who drafted the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights feared as tools used by despotic governments to wage war against its citizens.

This phenomenon we are experiencing with the police is what philosopher Abraham Kaplan referred to as the law of the instrument, which essentially says that to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. 

In the scenario that has been playing out in recent years, we the citizenry have become the nails to be hammered by the government’s henchmen, a.k.a. its guns for hire, a.k.a. its standing army, a.k.a. the nation’s law enforcement agencies.

Yet the tension inherent in most civilian-police encounter these days can’t be blamed exclusively on law enforcement’s growing reliance on SWAT teams and donated military equipment.

It goes far deeper, to a transformation in the way police view themselves and their line of duty.

Specifically, what we’re dealing with today is a skewed shoot-to-kill mindset in which police, trained to view themselves as warriors or soldiers in a war, whether against drugs, or terror, or crime, must “get” the bad guys—i.e., anyone who is a potential target—before the bad guys get them.

The result is a spike in the number of incidents in which police shoot first, and ask questions later.

Making matters worse, when these officers, who have long since ceased to be peace officers, violate their oaths by bullying, beating, tasering, shooting and killing their employers—the taxpayers to whom they owe their allegiance—they are rarely given more than a slap on the hands before resuming their patrols.

As I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this lawlessness on the part of law enforcement, an unmistakable characteristic of a police state, is made possible in large part by police unions which routinely oppose civilian review boards and resist the placement of names and badge numbers on officer uniforms; police agencies that abide by the Blue Code of Silence, the quiet understanding among police that they should not implicate their colleagues for their crimes and misconduct; prosecutors who treat police offenses with greater leniency than civilian offenses; courts that sanction police wrongdoing in the name of security; and legislatures that enhance the power, reach and arsenal of the police, and a citizenry that fails to hold its government accountable to the rule of law.

Clearly, it’s time for a reality check, for both the police and the citizens of this nation.

FedEx'd Diamonds Fueled India's Largest Bank Fraud

FedEx'd Diamonds Fueled India's Largest Bank Fraud

Three bankrupt US firms with “direct” links to the Indian billionaire Nirav Modi were involved in transactions related to an alleged multibillion-dollar international scheme for which Modi has been charged by Indian authorities, according to Bloomberg. The firms sought protection from creditors earlier this year as the celebrity jeweler’s empire quickly unraveled. In February, the Punjab National Bank, India’s second-largest state lender, reported that the Indian billionaire had siphoned billions of dollars from its coffers.

John J. Carney, an examiner appointed by the US bankruptcy court, found “substantial evidence” that officers at Firestar Diamond Inc., A. Jaffe Inc., and Fantasy Inc., knew about the scheme alleged by Indian officials, according to the report filed Saturday. The Examiner uncovered millions of dollars of diamond transactions by various shadow entities owned by Modi, where payment can be traced to proceeds from the alleged bank fraud, the report said.

According to Carney, a three-carat gem was FedEx’d around the world between shadowy entities allegedly controlled by the Indian billionaire in 2011. The accounting practice of round-tripping, also known as round-trip transactions or “Lazy Susans,” was paramount to the biggest bank fraud in Indian history and charges by the Indian government against the celebrity jeweler.

During the course of the fraud, Modi “fraudulently borrowed approximately $4 billion over a period of years by manufacturing sham transactions purportedly to ‘import’ diamonds and other gems into India using a web of more than 20 secretly controlled shell entities,” Carney said in the report.

Bloomberg provides a summary of how Modi roundtripped diamonds through his various companies:

“The “fancy vivid yellow orange cushion cut” diamond was first sold by Firestar Diamond Inc., a U.S. company indirectly owned by Modi, and shipped to Fancy Creations Company Ltd., a foreign shell company in Hong Kong also allegedly controlled by Modi, in August 2011, the report says. The price was almost $1.1 million.

The colorful stone was then shipped out two weeks later by Solar Export, a partnership formed by the Nirav Modi family trust, back to Firestar Diamond in the U.S., for closer to what it was really worth: $183,000, the examiner wrote.

Less than a week later, Firestar, which has offices on Fifth Avenue in New York City, shipped the diamond back to Fancy Creations in Hong Kong, this time for $1.16 million, the report asserts.

And two weeks after that, A. Jaffe, the New York City-based diamond company owned by Modi, sold the diamond to World Diamond Distribution, which the report describes as a Modi shell company in the United Arab Emirates, this time for more than $1.2 million.”

According to Carney, the practice of round-tripping totaled $213.8 million between 2011 and 2017, which shipping invoices were then sent to the Indian state-owned Punjab National Bank to obtain short-term loans.

Bloomberg explains the proceeds were then used to fund Modi’s extravagant lifestyle and business entities. Modi even used the funds to pay off old debts, as what some would call a classic Ponzi scheme.

Carney specified in the report that shipments were so large and high-priced “that the packing slips alone should have raised suspicion.”

In another instance, the Modi-owned US firms exported diamonds via FedEx instead of with a bonded courier, including a 17-carat diamond sold for $1.7 million and transferred from New York City to Hong Kong. Carney wrote in the report that FedEx only insures packages up to $150,000.

“There is no legitimate business reason to ship diamonds worth millions of dollars without obtaining appropriate insurance,” Carney wrote, citing a jewelry specialist retained by the bankruptcy trustee.

Modi has previously denied wrongdoing, and a lawyer representing him declined to comment Monday when Bloomberg asked about the examiner’s report.

As for Modi’s location, Republic TV claims to have narrowed it down to the UK, though, he has two luxury apartments in Westminister and London, where he has been served his extradition notices.

Nirav Modi is wanted by the Indian law enforcement authorities for the billion dollar scam. The Interpol had also issued a red corner notice on him in July. As the Indian government’s attempt to extradite him from the UK, it seems as the celebrity jeweler has finally met his fate. Stay tuned because this type of fraud generally becomes discovered at the end of an economic cycle.

Earth's "Big Freeze" Looms As Sun Remains Devoid Of Sunspots For Most Of 2018

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Scientists believe that Earth could experience a “big freeze” as the sun goes through what’s known as “solar minimum.” During this time, sunspots are minimal and the globe could be in for a wicked cold snap.

Scientists are reporting that the sun has been free of sunspots for a total of 133 days this year, according to The Express UK. With only 241 days of 2018 passing, that means the sun has been blank for the majority of the year. Experts continue to warn that this is a sign that the solar minimum is on its way.

 “The sun is spotless again. For the 133rd day this year, the face of the sun is blank,” wrote the website Space Weather.

Solar minimum has returned, bringing extra cosmic rays, long-lasting holes in the sun’s atmosphere, and strangely pink auroras,” the website continued.

The sun follows a cycle of roughly 11 years where it reaches a solar maximum and then a solar minimum.

During a solar maximum, the sun gives off more heat and solar particles and is littered with sunspots. Less heat in a solar minimum is due to a decrease in the sun’s magnetic waves.  Our sun was not expected to head into a solar minimum until around 2020, but it appears to be heading in that direction a little early which could prove to be bad news for warm weather lovers.

But a prolonged solar minimum could mean a “mini ice age. The last time there was a prolonged solar minimum, it did, in fact, lead to a mini ice-age which was scientifically known as the Maunder minimum.  That little cold snap lasted for 70 years between the years 1645 and 1715. During this period, temperatures dropped globally by 1.3 degrees Celsius leading to shorter seasons and ultimately food shortages.

“Low solar activity is known to have consequences on Earth’s weather and climate and it also is well correlated with an increase in cosmic rays that reach the upper part of the atmosphere. The blank sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an increasing number of spotless days over the next few years,” wrote a meteorological website called Vencore Weather.

Israeli Reports Claim New Images Confirm Iranian Surface-to-Surface Missile Facility In Syria

Israeli Reports Claim New Images Confirm Iranian Surface-to-Surface Missile Facility In Syria

At the end of a week where tensions with Iran and Syria have reached a high point of late, and as the final showdown between the Syrian Army and al-Qaeda insurgents in Idlib looms, multiple Israeli media reports claim Iran is constructing new surface-to-surface ballistic missile factories in Syria.

What's more, the reports claim, Iran's military is taking advantage of Russia's sophisticated antiaircraft defense missile systems in Syria to build the sites within range of the their protective defense umbrella

The Jerusalem Post, for example, echoing other Israeli outlets, relies on the open-source satellite image analysis site ImageSat to claim Iran is taking advantage of Russian defenses to avoid Israeli retaliation.

According to the Jerusalem Post report:

According to ImageSat, both the facility in Masyaf and the one in Wadi Jahannam are located within the operational range of a Russian S-400 deployment, showing that Iran is “utilizing or exploiting the defense abilities of Russia.”

Russia deployed the advanced mobile S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft batteries to Syria in October 2017. The batteries are capable of engaging multiple aircraft and ballistic missiles at a distance of up to 380 kilometers, covering virtually all of Syria as well as significant parts of Israel and neighboring countries such as Turkey and Jordan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has on multiple occasions over the past year warned that Iranian missiles in Syria would constitute a "red line" for which Israel would act militarily.

Over a dozen Israeli strikes have occurred at different locations in Syria recently  mostly in the south and central parts of the country, ostensibly aimed at curtailing the establishment of any permanent Iranian troop or weapons deployment presence. 

As lately as Wednesday Netanyahu warned that Israeli would continue being proactive against its enemies and that it "has the means to destroy them".



The Israeli prime minister said during a ceremony: “Those who threaten to wipe us out put themselves in a similar danger, and in any event will not achieve their goal.”

Israeli officials and military officials have lately tried to claim Iran "is taking over" Syria, though Syrian war analysts have by and large dismissed the claims. 

In a similar vein, the Jerusalem Post provides the following commentary on supposed Iranian expansion right up to Israel's border:

In the past year, the IDF noticed that Iranian efforts in Syria have been increasing, with Soleimani sending from Iran advanced air defense systems with a range of up to 110 kilometers that could threaten Israel’s freedom of action in Syria

The satellite images, provided by ImageSat as part of a lengthy formal report, purport to show at least one Iranian missile production site under construction which the unconfirmed report notes is in "its final stages of construction and will likely be completed by early 2019".

While we don't know the accuracy of such claims, and it appears the threshold of "proof" ought to be much higher (and more than mere visual comparisons of buildings between Iran and Syria based on remote viewed satellite images), it seems that Israeli government and media sources begin circulating such claims every time Washington or Tel Aviv ramps up threats, or are preparing for military strike on targets in Syria

Meanwhile, Iran has owned up to placing long-range ballistic missiles inside Iraqi territory, under the control of Iraqi Shia paramilitary units (PMF) being trained by the IRGC, according to a Reuters report out Friday. 

As we warned previously this week, it appears that something big is coming in Syria

Jim Rogers: "Before This Is Over, Gold Might Turn Into A Bubble"

Authored by Umair Tariq via ValueWalk.com,

Famed investor Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, told Kitco News that while he is not yet buying gold at current levels, a rebound in the yellow metal could cause it to overheat.

“Before this is over, gold could turn into a very overpriced asset, it might even turn into a bubble,” he said. Rogers noted that while he holds physical gold, he would not buy more until prices drop below $1,000 an ounce. “I’m still waiting for $950 an ounce, or something like that,” he said.

On U.S. equities, Rogers said that current valuations are overstretched, although stock prices could still climb higher on good news. He added that the next bear market could be “the worst in my lifetime,” and that instead of U.S. stocks, he is looking at investing in Zimbabwe, an emerging market.

“I’m buying Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was ruined for 40 years by a crazy dictator. There’s a new guy, he may be worse, he may be better, but he’s certainly different, so you should think about Zimbabwe,” he said.

Jim Rogers: "Before This Is Over, Gold Might Turn Into A Bubble"

Transcript

Joining me today is Jim Rogers chairman of Rogers Holdings. Jim good to see you again. Thank you for joining us. I'm delighted to be here. How are you. I'm doing great.

And since about last time we spoke you said that if gold doesn't rally when bad things are happening then the correction isn't over.

Now we're up a little bit this Thursday. But what's keeping gold from really taking off here.

Jim: Daniela as I've said to you several times before I'm still not a buyer until gold goes under a thousand U.S. dollars an ounce. I own gold. I hope I'm smart enough to buy a lot of gold when it gets there. But you know we had a huge blow off back in 2011. And I've been around long enough to know the huge blow offs usually take a long time to correct. In my view that's what's going on. I mean I'm not a very good trader but that's how I see the world.

Daniela: So with the tough summer it's been for gold, I know you've said in the past many times that you buy when gold is down. Was that a good time for you.

Jim: Not yet. I'm still waiting for U.S. dollars an ounce or something like that. It may not get there if it doesn't. It's ok I'll own a lot of gold but that's not what I plan to do Daniela. If it gets there I hope I'm smart enough and brave enough to buy a lot of gold because before this is over before this is over any gold is going to turn into a very overpriced asset. It might even turn into a bubble.

Daniela: Let's move onto equities now and my stock markets as you know have climbed even higher since the last time we spoke. Our valuations just over stretched here. It is now a risk-on or risk-off period.

Jim: But Danielle you say markets... in many markets in the world that have collapsed that are down a lot. You're talking about United States stock market. Let's look at the U.S. believe it or not that's not the only market in the world. Yeah the U.S. markets making all time highs. I'm not interested in buying any market making all time highs. And it looks like it might well go higher. You know if Trump comes up with some good news for a while instead of all this bad news you could have a blow off in the U.S. stock market right. Never. One final move. But I don't I'm not smart enough to buy blow offs. I can't I I don't know how to do that.

Daniela: I know we also spoke about how you for Sa'ar could easily see an over 50 percent correction happening in the U.S. stock market. Are you sticking to that.

Jim: Oh yes going to be worse than that Daniella. When the next time we have a bear market and I wish I were smart enough to know when it's going to be the worst in my lifetime and 2008 we had a problem because of too much debt. And you know the debt has gone through the roof since 2008. The Federal Reserve in America alone has increased its balance sheet by 500 percent in 10 years. I mean that's unheard of that has never nothing like that has ever happened in history. And these are crazy things going on.

Daniela: Jim I'd love to get your thoughts now on the Nafta deal and unfold Lee unfolding and dismantling here you have a risk with that pose to someone's portfolio.

Jim: Well if it turns into a trade war and Mr. Trump keeps saying he wants trade wars it's not good for anybody nobody's ever won a trade war and trade wars have never been good for anybody. We saw that the Mexicans and the Americans did something recently. But I look at that what details we have and I see what's going on here. This is bad for America. It means that prices are going to go up in the United States how is that good for anybody at all. Maybe there are the details I don't know about. But so far what's being negotiated Mr. Trump keeps saying it is a triumph. But I'm an American citizen and at 325 million of us. It's doesn't look good for us. From what I can see.

China Moves Into Afghanistan As Part Of Its Global Expansion Mission

China Moves Into Afghanistan As Part Of Its Global Expansion Mission

Authored by Retired Colonel Lawrence Sellin, op-ed via The Daily Caller,

For many, it was a stunning development. China will build a brigade-size military training facility in the strategic Wakhan Corridor, the land bridge between Tajikistan and Pakistan, which is located in Afghanistan’s northeast Badakhshan province and borders China.

Although Beijing denied the claim that hundreds of Chinese soldiers will be deployed to Afghanistan, a source close to the Chinese military stated, “Construction of the base has started, and China will send at least one battalion of troops, along with weapons and equipment, to be stationed there and provide training to their Afghan counterparts.”

For those who have been closely following growing Chinese influence in Afghanistan, the above report comes as no surprise.

A year earlier on August 14, 2017, Spogmai radio quoted the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense (translation): “A brigade base will be built to maintain the security of Badakhshan, which will be funded by China.”

The spokesman stated that China has steadily increased its military cooperation with Afghanistan and had, at that point, already provided $73 million in military aid.

Beyond the enormous geopolitical implications of a Chinese military base inside Afghanistan, the Badakhshan installation is the final security link between Tajikistan, vital to China’s commercial interests in Afghanistan, and Pakistan, China’s “all-weather” ally in South Asia.

It was largely unreported that China financed border outposts and deployed troops to Tajikistan’s eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, which borders Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province and is part of the Wakhan Corridor.

Consolidating a Chinese presence in Badakhshan province, the Afghan Ministry of Information and Technology has discussed signing a contract with China Telecom for a fiber optic network connecting China to the Wakhan Corridor. No doubt, the intention is to couple that system to the larger network linking China with Pakistan, the Middle East and Africa.

China is already Afghanistan’s biggest investor. In 2007 it took a $3 billion, 30-year lease for the Aynak copper mine. China and Pakistan have offered to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan. Some have concluded that the CPEC invitation is a prelude to positioning China as a mediator to end the Afghan conflict.

In the June meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Group (SCO) held in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in order to “facilitate peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan, we need to give full play to the role of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group,” which includes Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group may become a vehicle to remove the U.S. from Afghanistan.

Underlying the soft power component represented by China’s commercial Belt and Road Initiative is a hard power plan for global military expansion.

A Chinese military base in Badakhshan will be the second overseas military base joining the Djibouti naval facility inaugurated in 2017, allegedly to protect China’s interests in Africa, but conveniently located at a strategic choke point near the sea route to the Suez Canal. A similar Chinese naval facility is reportedly planned for Pakistan’s Jiwani Peninsula within reach of the strategically important Strait of Hormuz.

Control of Afghanistan will allow China to complete transportation corridors, power grids and oil and gas pipelines throughout Central and South Asia. China can then begin to exploit Afghanistan’s estimated $3 trillion in untapped mineral resources, in addition to Balochistan’s $1 trillion in gold, copper, oil, precious stones, coal, chromite and natural gas.

China cannot achieve its regional ambitions while the United States maintains a presence in Afghanistan. Both Pakistan and China know that, militarily, American policy in Afghanistan is untenable and the U.S. has few diplomatic cards to play in a negotiated settlement.  With the encouragement of China, Pakistan, through its Taliban proxy, will always do just enough to prevent us from achieving our goals in Afghanistan. Clearly, China is winning in South Asia.

The United States needs to look beyond the current strategic conditions, to create leverage, where we currently don’t have any. Forget the Taliban. Once China achieves its aim of an American withdrawal, the Taliban will eventually be thrown under the bus with the help of the Taliban’s sponsor, Pakistan.

CPEC is the center of gravity and Balochistan is CPEC’s pain point.

Flesh-Eating Genital Infections Caused By Common Diabetes Drugs

Flesh-Eating Genital Infections Caused By Common Diabetes Drugs

The FDA has issued a warning over a rare form of flesh-eating bacteria which targets the genitals, caused by several widely-used diabetes medications, reports Bloomberg's Michelle Cortez. 

The condition, known as "necrotizing fasciitis of the perineum," or Fournier's gangrene, has only affected 12 diabetes patients over a five-year span (seven men and five women), one of whom died - so if you come down with it the support group is going to be small. Also, if you'd like to never eat again, click here (don't do it). 

The drugs covered by the warning include Johnson & Johnson’s Invokana, AstraZeneca Plc’s Farxiga and Eli Lilly & Co.’s Jardiance. Known as SGLT2 inhibitors, they were approved in 2013, 2013 and 2016, respectively. The drugs help the body lower blood-sugar levels via the kidneys, and excess sugar is excreted in a patient’s urine. Urinary tract infections are a known side effect. -Bloomberg

Cortez notes that in the past three decades, the FDA only found six other cases of the condition - all men, while reviewing all other diabetes drug classes. 

The FDA estimates apprximately 1.7 million patients were prescribed one of the affected medications from a retail pharmacy in 2017, while Bloomberg Intelligence believes the  drugs are anticipated to generate as much as $7.1 billion in sales by 2020.

All of the drugs in the class except Merck & Co.’s Steglujan, the most recently approved, have been linked to the condition. The manufacturers must add information about the risk to the prescribing information and medicine guides given to patients. AstraZeneca said it is working with the agency on updating the label and noted that it hadn’t seen any cases of the condition during the development of Farxiga.  -Bloomberg

And now for the fine print from the FDA: 

  • Patients should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any symptoms of tenderness, redness, or swelling of the genitals or the area from the genitals back to the rectum, and have a fever above 100.4 F or a general feeling of being unwell. These symptoms can worsen quickly, so it is important to seek treatment right away.
  • Health care professionals should assess patients for Fournier’s gangrene if they present with the symptoms described above. If suspected, start treatment immediately with broad-spectrum antibiotics and surgical debridement if necessary. Discontinue the SGLT2 inhibitor, closely monitor blood glucose levels, and provide appropriate alternative therapy for glycemic control.
  • Publications report that Fournier’s gangrene occurs in 1.6 out of 100,000 males annually in the U.S., and most frequently occurs in males 50-79 years (3.3 out of 100,000).1-3 In our case series, however, we observed events in both women and men.
FBI Arrests All Five New Mexico "Jihad Compound" Suspects

FBI Arrests All Five New Mexico "Jihad Compound" Suspects

Five suspects who were arrested in a raid on a northern New Mexico compound have been taken into custody by the FBI after local prosecutors botched their case, resulting in the release of three of the individuals. 

The defendants, Jany Leveille, 35, a Haitian national illegally present in the United States, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, Hujrah Wahhaj, 37, Subhanah Wahhaj, 35, and Lucas Morton, 40, are charged in a criminal complaint that was filed earlier today in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. The criminal complaint charges Jany Leveille with being an alien unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition in the District of New Mexico from Nov. 2017 through Aug. 2018. The criminal complaint charges the other four defendants with aiding and abetting Leveille in committing the offense, and with conspiring with Leveille to commit the offense. -KRWG

In other words, the feds have pinned firearms offenses on one of the women arrested at the compound - Jany Leveille, while the other four defendants - one of whom Police believe abducted and then ritualistically murdered his 4-year-old son on the property (and happens to be the son of a famous New York Imam), are charged with helping her. We didn't note any charges connected to the dead child, Abdul-ghani Wahha. If convicted of all charges, each defendant faces a maximum of ten years in prison. 

So according to the FBI: 

Eleven children were found on the property in a state of malnourishment and squalor, who local authorities say were being trained to commit acts of terrorism. Children from the compound told police that Jany Leveille, 35 - the partner of the dead boy's father, Siraj Wahhaj, 40, "intended to confront 'corrupt' institutions or individuals, such as the military, big businesses, CIA, teachers/schools and reveal the 'truth' to these corrupt institutions or individuals." 

Police also found a "terrorist training manual" on the property: 

The handwritten document contained "instructions for 'The one-time terrorist,' instructions on the use of a 'choke point,' a location 'called the ideal attack site,' the 'ability to defend the safe haven,' the 'ability to escape-perimeter rings,' and 'sniper position detection procedure,'" according to the court filing.

Some of the children at the compound told police that Morten allegedly "stated he wished to die in Jihad, as a martyr," prosecutors said in the motion.

"At times, Jany Leveille would laugh and joke about dying in Jihad as would Subhanna Wahhaj," according to the court document. -CNN

The FBI had been surveilling the compound for several months prior to the August 3 raid by the Taos County Sheriff's Office - however they must not have been watching when the child was allegedly murdered. 

Twe weeks after the raid, the compound was mysteriously destroyed by authorities with no explanation, while an RV central to the property in which the suspects and the children were living was seized. 

The last time the FBI was found to have been surveilling radical Islamic terrorists in the Southwest was May 2015, when an undercover FBI agent was caught driving behind two armed Jihadis, filming them as they pulled up to a "Draw Muhammad" exhibit in Garland, Texas - ostensibly to attack the event. The would-be terrorists were shot dead on the spot by security guards, while the FBI agent - who encouraged one of the terrorists to "tear up Texas" in a text message, was arrested at gunpoint and later released

Commercial Real Estate Paying The Lowest Return Since Before The Housing Crisis

Commercial Real Estate Paying The Lowest Return Since Before The Housing Crisis

Investors taking on more risk in US commercial real estate are now receiving the lowest return since the housing crisis. The premium spread for buying BBB- tranches of commercial mortgage backed securities versus AAA is the lowest its been since May 2007, according to a new report from analytics company Trepp, the FT reports.

The euphoria associated with the US economy even as the overall global economy is rolling over means that those bearing the brunt of risk for commercial mortgage backed securities are getting paid the least. This also comes as a result of investors chasing yield, which could be another obvious canary in the coal mine that the now record bull market could be reaching an apex.

“As you get toward the latter innings of the credit cycle, people have money they need to put to work and they take on more risk for less return,” said Alan Todd, a CMBS analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Commercial mortgage backed securities are made up of a combination of types of mortgages which are then divided up by risk. Traditionally, as with any financial instrument, the more risk that investors bear, the more they get paid. But now, investors are looking more and more like they're "picking up pennies in front of bulldozers" as demand for AAA tranches of CMBS' has fallen. Meanwhile BBB- slices of CMBS continue to see an influx of demand. The conclusion?

“You are probably not getting paid for the risk you are taking and that definitely concerns us,” Dushyant Mehra, co-chief investment officer at Hildene, told the Financial Times.

The Federal Reserve's tightening could be another potential cause for the shift: higher quality fixed rate investments like AAA tranches of CMBS, have fallen in price as a result of Fed policy. This, in turn, has caused investors to seek out riskier products, like floating rate company loans, to juice returns.

Meanwhile, the boom in commercial housing has resulted in a significant amount of CMBS supply. $49 billion in new issuance between January and July of this year eclipses the $45 billion that was sold throughout the same period of time last year.

The credit premium between AAA and BBB-, which is as low as you can go without hitting a junk rating, has fallen to 2.1% in August from 2.2% in July, according to the report. While this is below the 2014 low of 2.3%, it still is nowhere near the pre-financial crisis lows of just 0.67%, which printed in May 2007 when everyone was long, and just before RMBS and CMBS blew up, catalyzing the financial crisis.

“It is something everyone frets over,” Gunter Seeger, a portfolio manager at fund manager PineBridge, said of the evaporating premium investors are demanding. “You are always concerned that the pendulum swings too far but the reach for yield is still there.”

Everyone may be "fretting" but it has yet to step them from buying.

As is the case during any euphoric period, few are paying attention and taking the data as a warning. Perhaps once the numbers start to move closer to May 2007 levels, it will catch people's attention, although considering that even the Fed has repeatedly warned about "froth" in commercial real estate with no change in behavior, it is safe to say that no lessons from the financial crisis have been learned.

Bad Faith Nation: Jim Kunstler Exposes America's "Garbage Barge Of Toxic Politics"

Bad Faith Nation: Jim Kunstler Exposes America's "Garbage Barge Of Toxic Politics"

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler,com,

There’s a simple reason that the old US Ship-of-State has turned into a garbage barge of toxic politics: both sides are operating in obviously bad faith - making arguments and taking positions that they know are false - and it’s been on full display this past week.

For instance, the Trump rally in Evansville, Indiana, Thursday night. The Golden Gloating Golem of Greatness presided over the spectacle in full gloatissimo mode, playing his audience of economic losers like a Hammond B-3 organ at a roller rink. His performance was oddly like the sort of rant that Uber drivers must suffer through with a fare who has been tweaking cocaine for three days en route to a funeral or a foreclosure. And, yes, I know that the President is said to abstain from mind-altering substances, but it appears that his mind has been sufficiently altered by his bizarre life experience to produce a similar effect. How else could he stand before an audience of millions (if you include the folks watching TV) and bellow, “I’m president and they’re not!”

Radiating anger and, at times, actual malice, Mr. Trump presented exactly the lack of couth that drives his hypothetically more refined “blue” enemies up a tree. His rhetorical skills have not improved since 2016, but his demagogic self-confidence soars as he unwittingly launches himself into a one-man Space Force flying too close to the sun, claiming that he has magically made America great again, mission accomplished! Even the live audience of Hoosier clods appeared strangely restive and unconvinced after an hour of this bellowing, and one got a sense of Mr. Trump slip-sliding towards Hubrisville like some ass-clown pol in a Coen Brothers’ movie about to be run out of the grange hall on a rail.

His error: taking “ownership” of a financialized economy of hallucinated markets run by out-of-control algo robots into a twilight zone of default and insolvency. The “red” and “blue” constituencies at war with each other are essentially the losers and winners in this depraved system. When the hallucination dissolves, the winners will be the new losers and the old losers will be looking to string them up. That scenario remains to be played out as we say our official goodbyes to summer this holiday weekend and turn the corner into portentous autumn.

On the “blue” side of things, mendacity rules as usual lately, especially in the Deep State septic abscess that the Russia probe has become. Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr, twice demoted but still on the payroll, went into a closed congressional hearing and apparently threw everybody but his mother under the bus, laying out an evidence trail of stupendous, flagrant corruption in that perfidious scheme to un-do the election results of 2016.

Most amazingly, it was revealed that Mr. Ohr had not been called to testify by special counsel Robert Mueller nor by the federal prosecutor John Huber, who is charged with investigating the FBI / DOJ irregularities surrounding the Russia probe. It is amazing because Mr. Ohr is precisely the pivotal figure in what now looks like an obvious conspiracy to politically weaponize the agencies against the Golden Golem. An awful lot of people have some ‘splainin’ to do on that one, starting with the Attorney General and his deputy. Who will put it to them?

The New York Times, once known as the Newspaper of Record, continued to ignore that story. Their bad faith specialty these days is stoking the fires of race war under the pretense of “social justice.”

For instance, the op-ed piece they ran today (Friday) titled The Religion of Whiteness Becomes a Suicide Cult. It’s hard to imagine a better way to send those Hoosier clods to the gun cabinet — and not to blow their own brains out, either, but to hunt down the very Wokesters who openly pledge to exterminate them. This isn’t even “fake news.” It’s more like racist sedition.

California Democrats Boycott Of In-N-Out Backfires Spectacularly

California Democrats Boycott Of In-N-Out Backfires Spectacularly

A call from the head of the California Democratic Party to boycott In-N-Out Burger over its $25,000 donation to the GOP, appears to have backfired rather spectacularly according to the Los Angeles Times. Take Anthony Grigore, a true-blue Democrat. But as he waited Thursday at an In-N-Out Burger in El Segundo for his meal, Grigore made it clear party loyalty would only go so far.

Just hours earlier, the head of the California Democratic Party called for a boycott of the famed burger chain after a public filing revealed that the company had recently donated $25,000 to the state’s Republican Party.

"Eating at In-N-Out is such a standard thing to do across California," Grigore told the LA Times dismissing the boycott idea as a bit silly.

On Wednesday, Journalist Gabe Schneider tweeted a filing from the burger joint showing the $25,000 donation (while failing to note the $80,000 In-N-Out has donated to a liberal PAC over two years). 

Hours after Schneider's tweet, California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman kneejerked into action and called for a boycott, tweeting; "Et tu In-N-Out? Tens of thousands of dollars donated to the California Republican Party... it’s time to #BoycottInNOut - let Trump and his cronies support these creeps...  perhaps animal style!" along with a link to a local paper

At this point, Bauman went too far for some California Democrats who distanced themselves from the political dust-up between their social justice warrior leadership and the California eatery owned by an evangelical Christian family with a history of support for GOP candidates. 

By the end of the day, Democrats were distancing themselves from the idea and Republicans were enjoying a political feast, with many making big lunch orders to show their support for the chain and posting photos on social media. Some were even feeding their dogs:

We have all of our children eating In-N-Out burgers. Even my son’s German shepherd eats In-N-Out,” said state Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, whose staff ordered 25 burgers and 50 bags of fries for lunch.

Political experts said they aren’t surprised that In-N-Out has proved hard to demonize, especially if the company’s sin was simply donating to the Republican Party.

The stomach overrules the mind,” Jaime Regalado, emeritus professor of political science at California State University, Los Angeles. “A cheap, good-tasting burger is hard to dismiss politically.” -LA Times

Shortly after the story went viral, In-N-Out issued a statement from Executive Vice President Arnie Wensinger noting that the company had "made equal contributions to both Democratic and Republican" PAC's in 2018.

"For years, In-N-Out Burger has supported lawmakers who, regardless of political affiliation, promote policies that strengthen California and allow us to continue operating with the values of providing strong pay and great benefits for our associates," Wensinger said.

The boycott quickly turned into a free publicity stunt for republicans: GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox posted a photo of himself in front an In-N-Out on Thursday on Twitter and declared, “There’s nothing more Californian than In-N-Out Burger.”

After Bauman's tweet went viral and made national news, Bauman referred questions to the party's communications director, John Vigna, who responded that the Bauman's tweet was "just his personal view," and that the official California Democratic Party was not involved. 

“We’re not happy that In-N-Out gave the money, but we’re not calling for an official boycott,” Vigna said. “Democrats are very fired up. Chair (Bauman) is definitely giving voice to a feeling a lot of people have right now.”

Amusingly, boycotts of companies that give money to the opposition would take political partisanship to a whole new level. The SF Chronicle looked at 2018 donations to the two main California parties, to  shows just what dueling, tit-for-tat boycotts could mean for businesses.

Democrats, for example, would have to avoid not only In-N-Out, but also Facebook, Target, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s and virtually every oil company. They’re just some of the many groups that have given money to the state Republican Party this year.

For Republicans, boycotting Democratic supporters would mean never using Uber, not drinking Gallo wine or Pepsi, dropping T-Mobile cellular service, refusing to have garbage hauled by Recology or to go to a Paramount Pictures movie.

Ultra-partisan fighting over who gives what to whom is something neither party wants to contemplate. If companies are forced to choose between a boycott by their customers or making political contributions, it would suddenly become much tougher for Democrats and Republicans to raise money to run their campaigns.

For Democratic Party officials, the answer was to laugh off Bauman’s hasty tweet and hope the kerfuffle goes away.

“Chair Bauman’s personal tweet reflects his belief that he shouldn’t support companies that support the Trump agenda, and that Jeff’s Gourmet Kosher Sausage Factory on West Pico Boulevard is the best All-American treat in California,” the party said.

Escobar: Get Ready For A Major Geopolitical Chessboard Rumble

Escobar: Get Ready For A Major Geopolitical Chessboard Rumble

Authored by Pepe Escobar via ConsortiumNews.com,

What is left roaming our wilderness of mirrors depends on the mood swings of the Goddess of the Market. No wonder an effect of Eurasia integration will be a death blow to Bretton Woods and “democratic” neoliberalism...

Get ready for a major geopolitical chessboard rumble: from now on, every butterfly fluttering its wings and setting off a tornado directly connects to the battle between Eurasia integration and Western sanctions as foreign policy.

It is the paradigm shift of China’s New Silk Roads versus America’s Our Way or the Highway. We used to be under the illusion that history had ended. How did it come to this?

Hop in for some essential time travel. For centuries the Ancient Silk Road, run by mobile nomads, established the competitiveness standard for land-based trade connectivity; a web of trade routes linking Eurasia to the – dominant – Chinese market.

In the early 15th century, based on the tributary system, China had already established a Maritime Silk Road along the Indian Ocean all the way to the east coast of Africa, led by the legendary Admiral Zheng He. Yet it didn’t take much for imperial Beijing to conclude that China was self-sufficient enough – and that emphasis should be placed on land-based operations.

Deprived of a trade connection via a land corridor between Europe and China, Europeans went all-out for their own maritime silk roads. We are all familiar with the spectacular result: half a millennium of Western dominance.

Until quite recently the latest chapters of this Brave New World were conceptualized by the Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman trio.

The Heartland of the World

Mackinder

Halford Mackinder’s 1904 Heartland Theory – a product of the imperial Russia-Britain New Great Game – codified the supreme Anglo, and then Anglo-American, fear of a new emerging land power able to reconnect Eurasia to the detriment of maritime powers.

Nicholas Spykman’s 1942 Rimland Theory advocated that mobile maritime powers, such as the UK and the U.S., should aim for strategic offshore balancing. The key was to control the maritime edges of Eurasia—that is, Western Europe, the Middle East and East Asia—against any possible Eurasia unifier. When you don’t need to maintain a large Eurasia land-based army, you exercise control by dominating trade routes along the Eurasian periphery.

Even before Mackinder and Spykman, U.S. Navy Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan had come up in the 1890s with his Influence of Sea Power Upon History – whereby the “island” U.S. should establish itself as a seaworthy giant, modeled on the British empire, to maintain a balance of power in Europe and Asia.

It was all about containing the maritime edges of Eurasia.

In fact, we lived in a mix of Heartland and Rimland. In 1952, then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles adopted the concept of an “island chain” (then expanded to three chains) alongside Japan, Australia and the Philippines to encircle and contain both China and the USSR in the Pacific. (Note the Trump administration’s attempt at revival via the Quad–U.S., Japan, Australia and India).

George Kennan, the architect of containing the USSR, was drunk on Spykman, while, in a parallel track, as late as 1988, President Ronald Reagan’s speechwriters were still drunk on Mackinder. Referring to U.S. competitors as having a shot at dominating the Eurasian landmass, Reagan gave away the plot: “We fought two world wars to prevent this from occurring,” he said.

Eurasia integration and connectivity is taking on many forms. The China-driven New Silk Roads, also known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); the Russia-driven Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU); the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), and myriad other mechanisms, are now leading us to a whole new game.

How delightful that the very concept of Eurasian “connectivity” actually comes from a 2007 World Bank report about competitiveness in global supply chains.

Also delightful is how the late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski was “inspired” by Mackinder after the fall of the USSR – advocating the partition of a then weak Russia into three separate regions; European, Siberian and Far Eastern.

All Nodes Covered

At the height of the unipolar moment, history did seem to have “ended.” Both the western and eastern peripheries of Eurasia were under tight Western control – in Germany and Japan, the two critical nodes in Europe and East Asia. There was also that extra node in the southern periphery of Eurasia, namely the energy-wealthy Middle East.

Washington had encouraged the development of a multilateral European Union that might eventually rival the U.S. in some tech domains, but most of all would enable the U.S. to contain Russia by proxy.

China was only a delocalized, low-cost manufacture base for the expansion of Western capitalism. Japan was not only for all practical purposes still occupied, but also instrumentalized via the Asian Development Bank (ADB), whose message was: We fund your projects only if you are politically correct.

The primary aim, once again, was to prevent any possible convergence of European and East Asian powers as rivals to the US.

The confluence between communism and the Cold War had been essential to prevent Eurasia integration. Washington configured a sort of benign tributary system – borrowing from imperial China – designed to ensure perpetual unipolarity. It was duly maintained by a formidable military, diplomatic, economic, and covert apparatus, with a star role for theChalmers Johnson-defined Empire of Bases encircling, containing and dominating Eurasia.

Compare this recent idyllic past with Brzezinski’s – and Henry Kissinger’s – worst nightmare: what could be defined today as the “revenge of history”.

That features the Russia-China strategic partnership, from energy to trade:  interpolating Russia-China geo-economics; the concerted drive to bypass the U.S. dollar; the AIIB and the BRICS’s New Development Bank involved in infrastructure financing; the tech upgrade inbuilt in Made in China 2025; the push towards an alternative banking clearance mechanism (a new SWIFT); massive stockpiling of gold reserves; and the expanded politico-economic role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

As Glenn Diesen formulates in his brilliant book, Russia’s Geo-economic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia, “the foundations of an Eurasian core can create a gravitational pull to draw the rimland towards the centre.”

If the complex, long-term, multi-vector process of Eurasia integration could be resumed by just one formula, it would be something like this: the heartland progressively integrating; the rimlands mired in myriad battlefields and the power of the hegemon irretrievably dissolving. Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman to the rescue? It’s not enough.

Divide and Rule, Revisited

The Oracle still speaks.

The same applies for the preeminent post-mod Delphic Oracle, also known as Henry Kissinger, simultaneously adorned by hagiography gold and despised as a war criminal.

Before the Trump inauguration, there was much debate in Washington about how Kissinger might engineer – for Trump – a “pivot to Russia” that he had envisioned 45 years ago. This is how I framed the shadow playat the time.

In the end, it’s always about variations of Divide and Rule – as in splitting Russia from China and vice-versa. In theory, Kissinger advised Trump to “rebalance” towards Russia to oppose the irresistible Chinese ascension. It won’t happen, not only because of the strength of the Russia-China strategic partnership, but because across the Beltway, neocons and humanitarian imperialists ganged up to veto it.

Brzezinski’s perpetual Cold War mindset still lords over a fuzzy mix of the Wolfowitz Doctrine and the Clash of Civilizations. The Russophobic Wolfowitz Doctrine – still fully classified – is code for Russia as the perennial top existential threat to the U.S. The Clash, for its part, codifies another variant of Cold War 2.0: East (as in China) vs. West.

Kissinger is trying some rebalancing/hedging himself, noting that the mistake the West (and NATO) is making “is to think that there is a sort of historic evolution that will march across Eurasia – and not to understand that somewhere on that march it will encounter something very different to a Westphalian entity.”

Both Eurasianist Russia and civilization-state China are already on post-Westphalian mode. The redesign goes deep. It includes a key treaty signed in 2001, only a few weeks before 9/11, stressing that both nations renounce any territorial designs on one another’s territory. This happens to concern, crucially, the Primorsky Territory in the Russian Far East along the Amur River, which was ruled by the Ming and Qing empires.

Moreover, Russia and China commit never to do deals with any third party, or allow a third country to use its territory to harm the other’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.

So much for turning Russia against China. Instead, what will develop 24/7 are variations of U.S. military and economic containment against Russia, China and Iran – the key nodes of Eurasia integration – in a geo-strategic spectrum. It will include intersections of heartland and rimland across Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and the South China Sea. That will proceed in parallel to the Fed weaponizing the U.S. dollar at will.

Heraclitus Defies Voltaire

Voltaire

Alastair Crooke took a great shot at deconstructing why Western global elites are terrified of the Russian conceptualization of Eurasia.

It’s because “they ‘scent’…a stealth reversion to the old, pre-Socratic values: for the Ancients … the very notion of ‘man’, in that way, did not exist. There were only men: Greeks, Romans, barbarians, Syrians, and so on. This stands in obvious opposition to universal, cosmopolitan ‘man’.”

So it’s Heraclitus versus Voltaire – even as “humanism” as we inherited it from the Enlightenment, is de facto over. Whatever is left roaming our wilderness of mirrors depends on the irascible mood swings of the Goddess of the Market. No wonder one of the side effects of progressive Eurasia integration will be not only a death blow to Bretton Woods but also to “democratic” neoliberalism.

What we have now is also a remastered version of sea power versus land powers. Relentless Russophobia is paired with supreme fear of a Russia-Germany rapprochement – as Bismarck wanted, and as Putin and Merkel recently hinted at. The supreme nightmare for the U.S. is in fact a truly Eurasian Beijing-Berlin-Moscow partnership.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has not even begun; according to the official Beijing timetable, we’re still in the planning phase. Implementation starts next year. The horizon is 2039.

(Wellcome Library, London.) 

This is China playing a long-distance game of go on steroids, incrementally making the best strategic decisions (allowing for margins of error, of course) to render the opponent powerless as he does not even realize he is under attack.

The New Silk Roads were launched by Xi Jinping five years ago, in Astana (the Silk Road Economic Belt) and Jakarta (the Maritime Silk Road). It took Washington almost half a decade to come up with a response. And that amounts to an avalanche of sanctions and tariffs. Not good enough.

Russia for its part was forced to publicly announce a show of mesmerizing weaponryto dissuade the proverbial War Party adventurers probably for good – while heralding Moscow’s role as co-driver of a brand new game.

On sprawling, superimposed levels, the Russia-China partnership is on a roll; recent examples include summits in Singapore, Astana and St. Petersburg; the SCO summit in Qingdao; and the BRICS Plus summit.

Were the European peninsula of Asia to fully integrate before mid-century – via high-speed rail, fiber optics, pipelines – into the heart of massive, sprawling Eurasia, it’s game over. No wonder Exceptionalistan elites are starting to get the feeling of a silk rope drawn ever so softly, squeezing their gentle throats.