Links 6/21/14

SAR #14170 Some Assembly Required. If you haven’t checked into SAR, you don’t know what you’ve been missing.

After 12 Months, The Number Of Daily Bitcoin Transactions Have Gone Nowhere Business Insider

PTSD treatment for veterans appears to be ineffective, report finds Los Angeles Times

Fukushima’s Ongoing Fallout CounterPunch

China’s Real-Estate Wrongs Project Syndicate

UK bans teaching of creationism in any school that receives public funding Raw Story

Presbyterians Vote to Divest Holdings to Pressure Israel New York Times

Argentina Bonds Rally as Fernandez Says Debt Talks Are On Bloomberg


EU, US threaten Russia with new round of sanctions over Ukraine DW

US steps up sanctions over Ukraine BBC

Russia redeploying more troops along Ukraine border, U.S. officials say Washington Post


Iraq Pressed by U.S. to Quickly Solve Political Crisis Bloomberg. Um, what about civil war don’t we understand?

Show of force raises Iraq tensions BBC

Iraq’s Next PM? Ahmed Chalabi, Chief Peddler of False WMDs, Meets U.S. Officials as Maliki Falters Democracy Now. OMFG.

Shia cleric calls for new Iraq government Financial Times

U.S. Again Gunning For “Regime Change” In Iraq Moon of Alabama

The Contradictions of the U.S. Riding the Jihadist Tiger Real News Network

Iraq and the Persistence of American Hegemony CounterPunch

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

More Details on NSA Tapping the Internet Backbone Bruce Schneier

Local cops can track your phone, and the government doesn’t want you to know how Columbia Journalism Review

Chicago Adding Sensors For Public Monitoring Slashdot

Health Insurers Pressing Down on Drug Prices New York Times

Dear Defense Contractor CEOs: Why Is the Pentagon Buying Weapons With Chinese Parts Instead of US Parts? TruthOut

More than 400 U.S. drones have crashed since ’01, hitting homes, roads Washington Post

How Foster Farms Used the USDA, Big Chicken Lobbyists and Lawyers to Avoid a Recall spocko, Firedoglake

It’s Official. Big Food Sues Vermont TruthOut

“You Can’t Eat Principles” – Detroit’s Grand Bargain Moves Another Step Forward Melissa Jacoby, Credit Slips

Corinthian’s Cloudy Future Inside Higher Ed. EM: “This soft-peddles the serious and multiple allegations of student-‘success’-related data falsification levied at Corinthian”

Gary Becker’s Failure to Understand the Current Crisis Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives. Becker is every bit as odious as Black indicates. I saw him speak at the 2008 Milken conference. It was the first time I saw toads hop out of someone’s mouth.

Discounting the very distant future VoxEU

Stocks are ‘dangerously overvalued,’ M&A deals suggest MarketWatch

Last Time Corporate America Did This, The Stock Market Crashed Wolf Richter. Craazyman will of course point out that the gloomsters have been in full throat for years and have yet to win over Mr. Market.

Private Equity

SEC Charges Private Equity Firm With Pay-to-Play Violations Involving Political Campaign Contributions in Pennsylvania SEC

As Investors Grapple with Growing Cash Piles, Private Equity’s Secondary Market Booms Forbes

The Only Things Standing Between Bank Of America And A $17 Billion Justice Department Fine Are Brian Moynihan’s Negotiating Skills, Latent Charisma Dealbreaker

Class Warfare

A Drone Filmed A Gorgeous $24 Million Yacht Going Up In Flames Business Insider. A “class warfare” item due to the way the owner described the loss, which was actually in many ways honest but also terribly revealing.

Poll: Fewer Americans Blame Poverty on the Poor NBC

How the U.S. compares on income inequality and poverty PBS

Understanding economics without economists MacroBusiness

The Dead-End Of Financialization: Innovation Is Slumping For A Reason Jeffrey Snider, David Stockman (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour (timotheus):


And a bonus video (Richard Smith):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Ned Ludd

    To understand U.S. imperialism, the most insightful writer is Phil Greaves, who is quoted in the Moon of Alabama article. Greaves is a prolific writer on Twitter, and he is always a few steps (or miles) ahead of the rest of the left in understanding the U.S. government’s game plan.

    1. Luke Nolan

      Oooo, I’m afraid Mr. Greaves quotes from documents posted on Information Clearing House. That site isn’t serious enough for this crowd.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Every situation has to be fit within the framework of Hegelian dialectics to a Marxist-Leninist. The Council on Foreign Relations hasn’t even forged a consensus regarding the future of Iraq as a viable state. If the CFR doesn’t have a clue neither does the National Security Council. Do you honestly believe there is a dastardly imperial plan at work here?

      The current alliance between the Baathists and ISIS is more than a coincidence. I find it incredibly suspicious when former members of the Baathist regime are in positions of power in ISIS. Furthermore the organization that eventually became ISIS originally had the goal of overthrowing the monarchy in Jordan. Neither of which are really in America’s imperial interests since Jordan has been a reliable client-state and Arab nationalism has long been a threat to American hegemony in the region.

      It is based upon these circumstances that I suspect that ISIS was originally a byproduct of an Iraqi intelligence operation whose purpose was to destabilize neighboring Jordan and Saudi Arabia. We know that Iraq under Saddam aspired to regional dominance and these covert actions would assist with this goal. One major problem with these plans was the American invasion of Iraq followed by the sequential rise of Iran. But that really hasn’t changed the aspirations of the Baathists has it?

  2. craazyman

    If you’re bearish and lonely, just remember, I’ll be there for you when the sky falls. :-)

    (but I might be broke from all the margin calls . . . nobody’s perfect)

    “Let the sky fall
    When it crumbles
    We will stand tall
    Face it all together

    Let the sky fall
    When it crumbles
    We will stand tall
    Face it all together
    At skyfall
    That skyfall”


  3. DakotabornKansan

    Just find someone, anyone, to replace Iraqi’s al-Maliki!

    Ahmad Chalabi???

    He was once before a favored opposition figure by the CIA.

    It would be a logical choice by the powers that be in Washington:

    Jane Mayer, “The Manipulator,”

    “The C.I.A.’s sponsorship of Chalabi came at an opportune moment. He had recently been convicted, in absentia, by a military court in Jordan for his part in a spectacular bank fraud that imperilled the country’s fragile economy. With the help of the U.S. government, Chalabi was able to recast himself from an accused swindler to a charismatic political leader and a champion of liberal democratic values.”

    1. Mr. Sensitivity

      Why must we find someone? Do you think a leader will just emerge out of nowhere who respects both Sunni and Shia interests? Moreover, do you truly believe that the Sunni Baathists / ISIL will just lay down their arms and resolve this conflict diplomatically? There are only a couple ways this can be resolved peacefully, and none of them are in the US’ best interests.

        1. evodevo

          Yes! What is it with failed neocons and painting? He got it all wrong the first time, just like W. Do all failed managers take up painting ?!

  4. diptherio

    Clicking through the SAR article, I got to this: Dallas County Commissioners Unwittingly back Slavery Reparations, which includes the most telling line from an elected official I’ve seen in quite awhile.

    The Dallas County Commissioners Court declared Tuesday that African-Americans deserve reparations for slavery, even though most commissioners didn’t seem to know that they were doing so.

    The issue arose in a resolution written by John Wiley Price, the county’s only black commissioner. Described only as a “Juneteenth Resolution,” it was approved unanimously.

    Other commissioners admitted after their meeting Tuesday that they hadn’t read the document before voting for it.

    Commissioner Mike Cantrell, the court’s lone Republican, later changed his vote to an abstention.

    “The reason why I didn’t abstain this morning is that I had not received a copy of the resolution,” he said.

    You see, I hadn’t read the bill yet, so I figured I better vote for it, just in case… Open mouth, insert foot, bite down hard. Gotta love it.

    1. McMike

      No biggie. Hell, the Patriot Act and ACA passed that way.

      I suspect Congress-critters haven’t read anything they vote on for years. That’s why the snappy titles are so important.

  5. McMike

    Hmmm. I may need some re-humanizing. On seeing the burning yacht, my first reaction was schadenfreude. I literally thought: boo-hoo; screw you.

    PS – The headline was a bit misleading. When I think drone, I think, you know, drone – a full sized unmanned armed aircraft. That film was captured by an overgrown RC helicopter with a go-pro cam.

    1. kgilmour

      My thoughts exactly. I predicted a sea change in how Americans… not just working stiffs, but entrepreneurs and recovering Republicans – YES TEA Partiers.–

      view not only wealth – but the tragedies that accompany it. This was probably an insurance fire, however… it’s got all the signs… just like those poor race horses who die in barn fires once their use date is up.

      No sympathy for me for the billionaires when they lose a home, business, lawsuit, or child…. The world now knows that behind all fortunes – YES _ THERE ARE GREAT CRIMES>… Nobody gets super dooper rich without cronyism, use of government to enlarge profits and stifle competition.

      Larger and larger segments of the population cheer not only tragedy of the rich… but cop killings, bank robberies – jewelry and art heists…

      the average Joe and Josephine know they’ve been screwed and nobody is on their side…. the cops are pathological former military sadists.. the FBI does damage control for heavy hitters — the prison system makes bad people worse — and the banks and government… we all know who they work for.

      So — actually, I feel cheated in that story… why wasn’t he aboard???? Would have made better TV.

      1. McMike

        Probably not insurance fire. Welding accidents like this happen sometimes. Some poor boat repair dude is going lose his a**.

        The boat owner, once he gets over the psych shock of having a real live bad thing happen to him (him!), will take his insurance proceeds and buy a bigger better boat. And now have a story to go with it.

        1. McMike

          A friend of mine restored an old Airstream trailer. Wood interior. Beautiful.

          One of the last steps was to do some welding under the frame… the metal heated up… the heat passed through the flooring to a cigarette lighter that had fallen under a drawer… the trailer was a total loss.

          I still have scorch marks on the plywood under my tent trailer where we did some welding on the frame. One guy welded; the other sprayed the flooring with water.

    1. McMike

      I used to buy organic chicken thighs from Kroger to use in my favorite quick-brined bbq chicken recipe – a big family hit. However, I got three packages on three occasions across a couple months that were full-on putrid – gag-level putrid – right out of the package. Despite proper handling by me. Now I have no chicken supplier; my local producer having folded tents due to low margin and lack of local processing facility.

      Recipe. I have brined it for as little as an hour and it is still moist and tasty:

      1. McMike

        PS. I am curious how the author got so sick if he indeed cooked the bird to 165.

        I presume that the guidelines include a margin of overkill.

          1. McMike

            Yeah, I shortchange the counter sanitation too.

            The birds get cooked to 165 or more every time. (A thermapen is the best invention ever; not just to avoid sickness, but to defeat over/under cooked food). And I shuttle uneaten chicken into the fridge pretty fast. But I am not nearly anal enough about the prep area.

            And I do wash the birds. Because I know it was handled by a seven-fingered immigrant on a high speed line in a slave factory making 13 cent per hour.

      2. MtnLife

        A lot of the meat is now being irradiated and looks good even as it decays. Too bad about your local processor. Slaughter facilities can be hard to find. Too bad he didn’t live near one of these, they are great for smaller producers.

    2. McMike

      Reminds me of the massive peanut processing recall a few years back. The Feds were unable/unwilling to shut the guy down, despite repeated chronic violations. “Everyone” on the inside KNEW this guy was killing people, literally, and they still couldn’t shut him down. That’s how toothless our inspection/enforcement is.

      Eventually they got at the guy with terrorism or racketeering or tax evasion rules or some other indirect route.

      It was also a good lesson that despite being a nation of over 300 million, nearly every single peanut product in the nation – and there are a lot of peanut products – was going through that one plant run by a single defiant pathological owner.

      1. MtnLife

        People often forget that scale doesn’t only magnify positive effects but can also make what would ordinarily be a small, relatively contained error into a massive, widespread problem. With increased scale comes an increased difficulty in properly managing the product for quality and safety, decreased personal responsibility, and making manageable waste into a problem.
        In personal terms, the waste from my 40-something chickens helps my garden nicely (composted after being mixed with my wood shop waste) but if I were to be pushing through 100,000 broilers every 6 weeks like they do down south, that amount of waste is toxic and has to be treated. I notice if there is something wrong with my birds and take care of it. When you have thousands you just walk through, pick up the dead ones, and throw them in the tractor bucket. I feel I have to deal with my birds because it directly affects me and those I know. When offloading huge amounts to some faceless corporation who also sells to people you don’t know, well, then you are just “trying to make a living” as I’ve heard so many times before.

  6. Luke Nolan

    Top Iraq Shiite cleric criticizes al-Maliki, urges Iraqis to stop insurgency before too late
    Maliki’s days are almost certainly numbered.

    White House: ISIS Airstrikes Won’t Be Confined to Iraq
    “‘The president has demonstrated a willingness to go into other countries where necessary to protect our national and homeland security,’ Earnest said, noting US strikes in Yemen and Somalia.

    Other officials had indicated President Obama wouldn’t hesitate to launch strikes in Syria, but Earnest’s comments suggest the whole world is the battlefield once again and that President Obama might conceivably strike anywhere he wants.”

    Palestinian FM: If Hamas was behind kidnapping, it would be a blow to reconciliation
    “After seven years of feuding, Abbas’s secular Fatah movement and its rival Hamas agreed earlier this month to the formation of a unity government, but the disappearance of the seminary students has put an immediate strain on their accord.

    ‘If Hamas is behind it, and nobody knows up until now, then it will be a blow to the reconciliation process,’ Malki said. ‘If we reach that conclusion, then the president will take drastic decisions,’ he said, without elaborating.”

    “‘I can assure you that as long as President Abu Mazen is in charge, there will be no third Intifada,’ he said, referring to Abbas. However, he acknowledged that the president’s credibility might be undermined because of his decision to help Israel.”

    Honestly, this is one of the most repugnant displays of cravenness I’ve ever seen. The shadow of Arafat’s Fatah isn’t just going to allow the Israelis to wipe their civilization from the face of the earth, the Judases are going to help them do it too.

    1. Luke Nolan

      For those of you not assiduously reading Moon of Alabama, Tom Murphy posted this video analysis–put out by the Representative Press youtube channel–in yesterdays open thread:

      Apologize to Israel for saying West Bank is Occupied?!

      Apparently Hillary Clinton is being excoriated by the pundits at CNN for referring to Israel’s occupation of Palestine as “an occupation.” Fascinating that this should become taboo just around the time that the Middle East detonates and Israel decides to raid the West Bank.

      1. Jackrabbit

        The reaction against ANY prominent or substantive criticism of Israel or US support for Israel is well know. This is another example where Michael Scheuer, an ex-CIA analyst of 20+ years, talks about US actions in the ME and gets mired in question of US support for Israel. Watch to the MacCarthly-like questioning of Sen. Stewart who demands to know if anti-Israel sentiment is widespread in the CIA.

        Scheuer’s points are simple: American’s have been misled about the reasons for war and the costs associated with our foreign policy.

        H O P

        1. Luke Nolan

          True, but to even deny that there is an occupation–despite acknowledging it in the past–is pushing the envelope. For my part, I’m taking this as a signal that Norman Finkelstein has–unfortunately– been correct these last months and we are indeed witnessing the end of Palestine.

          1. Glenn Condell

            The Australian government is on that bandwagon… referring to the East Jerusalem occupation as an occupation is apparently “fraught with “pejorative implications”
            We can’t have that.


            The hoop-jumping does provide the odd laugh:

            ‘Julie Bishop has tried to defuse the row over the government’s decision to refer to East Jerusalem as “disputed” rather than “occupied” by refusing to use either term and insisting on only referring to the territory as “east”


    2. Nathanael

      Well, this time there are some well-equipped and well-trained militias and mercenaries who know US tactics and know how to fight against US tactics.

      Iran has already brought down and hacked US military drones.

      It’s going to be interesting to see how long these pointless and destructive US foreign invasions continue before the US loses *outright*. The US lost in Vietnam and has lost in nearly every war since then, but they’ve always been these tenuous losses. I think we need the total obliteration of an overseas base (maybe the sinking of the fleet at Qatar would do) to make the point clearly to the US elites that WE NEED TO GET THE HELL OUT.

      1. Banger

        I don’t think the US lost those wars at all. The fact they lasted so long is the first clue to understanding what is going on. The actual “enemy” is the citizenry who transfers wealth to the MIC. Wars, traditionally, feature plunder and the plunder consists plundering the Treasury without the need to provide either the stated objectives nor meet real threats. Most of the “threats” the propaganda organs play on the Mighty Wurlitzer are phony or, at least, extremely exaggerated.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Surely “winning” an overseas war (removing the putative threat) is in important ways involving money/power the worst possible outcome. Losing overseas wars and particularly protracted wars is far more profitable (hot war creates both huge opportunity and red white and blue smoke to conceal profiteering) and the threat that spurs spending remains usefully intact. Hell, losing wars of choice makes arguing for an expansion of military money/power seem plausible whereas after a war is won the public expects the threat to be diminished or neutralized (the promised result) and may well and justly clamor for government resources to be reallocated to non-military purposes. To a military contractor that is exponentially more disastrous than losing a Vietnam or Iraq. A decade or more long defeat overseas is in fact the optimal strategy.

    3. Jackrabbit

      What did the ‘surge’ accomplish? Apparently Obama broke a campaign promise that caused more American casualties for no good reason.

      H O P

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    B of A and the Justice Dept.

    One question.

    Usually, when the government takes someone or some entity to court, it’s ‘the people’ vs. that some one or some thing.

    So, if money is awarded, shouldn’t that money go to the people, directly, and not the lawyer of the people (in this case, the Justice Department, if there is any legal action) nor the banker (the Treasury Dept)?

    And fines should be handled the same way, no????

    $17 billion divided by the number of taxpayers = what, less than 10 cents each? Not much, but it’s a good start. And it establishes a principle (which you can’t eat, however).

    Perhaps we can retroactively each get a share of, say, the tobacco settlement money.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The question assumes that

      1.the government is a household,
      2.the people, through elected representatives, consent to/approve a government spending budget
      3 law suit monetary awards are not to be defaulted to the government’s spending budget.

  8. rjs

    i’m pleased to see you highlight Jim’s work at Some Assembly Required
    his site, yours, and economist’s view have been the mainstays of my mornings for years…

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    I wonder if it will help our soldiers, even just a little, if Zen meditation is required as part of the training, before combat???…or even after combat….

    1. McMike

      As I understand it, basic training is about the opposite of Zen training. Basic is about dehumanizing soldiers, getting them to be willing to kill, to pathologize soldiers by creating extreme tribal attachments and dehumanizing the enemy.

      Perhaps the meditation sessions would fit in between grenade launcher lessons and bayonet practice.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Actually, kamikaze pilots were basically told their choice was a bullet in the head or the kamikaze run. Bullet to the head meant dishonor to the family, so the kamikaze flight was the less bad way to die.

            The US created the myth of crazed quasi-religious fanatics. A variant on the long, proud tradition of demonizing the enemy. You did know that Germans bayonetted babies in World War I, right?

            1. nobody

              “One would have to read their last letters to learn that the kamikaze weren’t all volunteers, nor were they all swashbuckling samurai. Before drinking his last cup of saké Ryoji Uebara had written: ‘I have always thought that Japan must live free in order to live eternally. It may seem idiotic to say that today, under a totalitarian regime. We kamikaze pilots are machines, we have nothing to say, except to beg our compatriots to make Japan the great country of our dreams. In the plane I am a machine, a bit of magnetized metal that will plaster itself against an aircraft carrier. But once on the ground I am a human being with feelings and passions. Please excuse these disorganized thoughts. I’m leaving you a rather melancholy picture, but in the depths of my heart I am happy. I have spoken frankly, forgive me.'”


      1. optimader

        “Basic is about dehumanizing soldiers, getting them to be willing to kill, to pathologize soldiers by creating extreme tribal attachments and dehumanizing the enemy.”

        that is precisely what basic training is and should be. The Military is supposed to be a ruthlessly efficient killing machine that is unleashed after all forms of diplomacy and mediation have failed. The later part is what MANY people including much of the political class don’t get, or at least choose not to acknowledge.
        The military should be nothing more than the equivalent of a rarely used insurance policy, lurking in the background as a largely psychological motivating tool.
        Instead the US has diluted the real value of the military by using it as a quick fix of first resort, rather than enlightened diplomacy, and it that almost uniformly fails the mission objective. As well, as a result of poorly conceived, nonstrategic and consequently extracted deployments our military’s effectiveness is degraded by allowing inexpensive countermeasures to be developed by trial and error.
        As bad is the well intentioned (or not?) deploying of the US military as a oddly cast “humanitarian” force in the world. It’s the metaphorical equivalent of sending the Frankenstein monster out into the world as a preschool substitute teacher.
        Soldiers should be soldiers, feared and ideally never deployed, and humanitarian workers should be well intentioned NGO employees/volunteers, not affiliated with military.

        1. McMike

          It is possible to get too good at your job. One of the consequences of that is misuse, and overuse.

          In fact, there are other dangers in your premise. Yes, we want to be really good at war. But there are plenty of historical examples of righteousness and the motivation of home defense trumping raw killing machines. We did okay in WWI with a volunteer army assembled on the fly.

          Not to mention the dangers of having standing armies lounging around or a reliance on expert mercenaries.

          If our soldiers have their backs actually against the wall so to speak, there would be less need for intense artificial psychological reprogramming. The need for the sociopathic conditioning arises when you send them abroad to perform sociopathic tasks.

          1. optimader

            “It is possible to get too good at your job. One of the consequences of that is misuse, and overuse.”
            “Misuse and overuse” is a political decision not a military one, at least here in the US. I don’t understand how you are relating job efficacy to use/overuse, it seems nonsensical. Given the choice I surely prefer a highly trained and disciplined military to a poorly trained unreliable military.

            Atrocities are an inevitability WHENEVER military is deployed.
            Don’t believe for a minute that US WWII military (the greatest generation, blah,blah,blah) did not engage in atrocities such as machinegunning enemy sailors merchant/marines in the water or killing/mutilation of enemy soldiers/ prisoners during the pacific island campaign.

            .The longer military is deployed the more likely atrocious behavior will occur. It’s part of the reality of war. Don’t unleash the dogs if you don’t have the stomach for what they do. As a society, I think we don’t get that.

            “We did okay in WWI with a volunteer army assembled on the fly.”
            I think you need to crack open a history book. Conscription or not WWI is a HUGE example of a war the US should NEVER have been sucked into..
            “World War I
            In 1917 the administration of Woodrow Wilson decided to rely primarily on conscription, rather than voluntary enlistment, to raise military manpower for World War I when only 73,000 volunteers enlisted out of the initial 1 million target in the first six weeks of the war.[9] One claimed motivation was to head off former president Theodore Roosevelt, who proposed to raise a volunteer division, which would upstage Wilson, however there is no evidence that even Roosevelt had the popularity to overcome the unpopular war.
            The Selective Service Act of 1917 was carefully drawn to remedy the defects in the Civil War system a…..

            Frankly I’m all for a military draft when our political leadership fails all diplomatic avenues and armed conflict seems the only recourse. A draft is a HUGE disincentive to go to war and a great incentive to pursue creative negotiation/trade agreements.

            ” But there are plenty of historical examples of righteousness and the motivation of home defense trumping raw killing machines.”
            Insurgents vs military, yes I agree. your point is what?

            “The need for the sociopathic conditioning arises when you send them abroad to perform sociopathic tasks.”

            I’m not so sure that is correct use of “sociopathic”. Sociopathology is a disease as far as I know, not a conditioned behavior.
            In fact a darkside of your “all volunteer” military notion is that it is a magnet FOR aggregating sociopaths. I’ve seen more than a few that are attracted to the military for exactly the wrong reasons, doubledown on that for Special Forces. Unwrapped form the flag, many are just guys w/ a strong compulsion to be professional killers. Target irrelevant.

            1. hunkerdown

              “Misuse and overuse” is a political decision not a military one, at least here in the US. I don’t understand how you are relating job efficacy to use/overuse, it seems nonsensical.

              Perhaps by way of the managerialism that is characteristic of the “middle class”? I mean, that’s more or less what a good Prussian neoliberal education taught us we should be voting for.

            2. McMike

              Exactly. The political temptation to misuse and overuse is directly proportional to the size and power of the standing army at the politicians disposal.

              “We did okay in WWI” was supposed to read WWII… I stand by that; we did okay without a pre-trained on call killer force.

              As for atrocities by our team, I have no illusions about that. My elementary school principle would occasionally talk about collecting Jap gold teeth with the butt of his rifle.

              Yes, I should have used anti-social not sociopathic. Oh wait, the DSM defines that too. Damn.

              My point remains, the more professional you make your army, the more likely it will be misused.

          2. OIFVet

            It’s not’ sociopathic conditioning’, it is aimed at breaking down the natural reluctance of most human beings to kill other human beings and making killing as automatic as possible. They don’t want you to think of the consequences, they want you to act by reflex. It doesn’t make one a sociopath, if anything the the prevalence of PTSD points out the enduring nature of the ingrained reluctance to kill. Training may weaken it or turn it off temporarily, but it is still there, with the soldier bearing the consequences of the acts he was ordered to commit. It’s a raw deal IMO, and for some it is too much to overcome. Soldiers are by and large human, and remain so despite the training. There is a great book that explores the issues, “On Killing” by Col. Dave Grossman. I highly recommend it, it helped me deal with my own issues by understanding them better. PDF download at

            1. McMike

              I was using sociopathic loosely, not clinically. In terms of conditioned to disregard conventional social norms with rationalized replacement norms.

              And yes, since they are not clinically pathological when they go in (well, increasingly they are), but since generally they were not, they come out with PTSD when it is all over.

              1. OIFVet

                “In terms of conditioned to disregard conventional social norms with rationalized replacement norms.”

                Well, given the general glorification of war and other violence in the media, entertainment, politics, and culture I would say that what used to be conventional social norms are not so conventional anymore. I see no reason to single out military personnel and exclude the general population. Remember all those buffoons who celebrated OBL’s killing in front of the White House? Perhaps I am the abnormal one, but his death gave me no satisfaction despite what he had done or inspired. If anything the people cheering the violent killing of another person made me feel rather ill, despite my military conditioning.

      2. Banger

        Basic Zen ideas are neither moral or immoral–they simply demand that we focus on the moment thus expanding our range of perception since we are less occupied with talking to ourselves. At the level of elite training these methods are used–they are certainly featured in advanced martial arts training.

        1. McMike

          I know. I was joking.

          Our soldiers have, perhaps, too much zen.

          Although not sure where bloodlust and revenge orgies fit in.

    2. Ben Johannson

      The most helpful treatment I’ve received for PTSD is mindfulness meditation. One of the most serious symptoms of the disorder is overreaction coupled with obsessive thinking. A daily meditation regimine helps reduce that.

      1. spooz

        I agree that mindfulness can get you out of some dark places, and know its what I would reach for if my thinking was self destructive. My introduction to it was Jon Kabat-Zinn’s “Wherever You Go, There You Are”. I intend to revisit it sometime.

        Another avenue I think could prove helpful is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which uses acceptance and mindfulness.

        “According to a 2008 Center for Military Health Policy Research study, the prevalence of PTSD among returning OIF/OEF service members was 13.8%. The National Center for PTSD recommends three evidence-based approaches to treat returning soldiers: cognitive-processing therapy (CPT), prolonged exposure therapy (PE), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Mindfulness-based therapies, such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), are considered adjunct therapies to these first-line treatments.”

        If the protocols aren’t working, its time to change them, imo

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “Stocks are dangerously overvalued.”

    The harder question is this: how long can they stay overvalued?

    1. F. Beard

      Well, ultimately consumers are needed so eventually consumption will be stimulated, hopefully not by war as in WW II, but by a more just distribution of purchasing power.

      So literally, it seems, “No justice = no peace.”

    2. MtnLife

      As long as the captain of the Titanic can convince the poor to go back below decks by pointing to the first class cabins being dry as evidence that the boat isn’t sinking.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    UK bans teaching of creationism…public funding…

    How about the teaching of some religion’s non-creationism? Can schools with public money teach, say, Buddhist non-creationism – there is no beginning and no end of the world/life?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is Big Bang the current best explanation?

      How about Dao De Jing’s explanation?

      Or Native American’s many different explanation?

      Maybe Hindus’ or Mayans’ explanations?

      Should we even teach anything when all one can claim is ‘it’s the best, but no way we know for sure if true, explanation.’

      1. F. Beard

        Is Big Bang the current best explanation? MLTPB

        Yes, and you, unlike many scientifically naive Christians, seem to understand that the Big Bang Theory is consistent with the Bible’s account of Creation from nothing, especially since the Oscillating universe theory of the Hindus has been ruled out.

        Dr. Hugh Ross, a Christian with a Phd in Astrophysics, calls Science the 67th book of the Bible. Bring it on then and the truth shall set us free.

        Ultimately though it comes down to choice since the odds against Creation are, at best, less than 50% given the testimony of eyewitnesses.

      2. MtnLife

        It should all be taught – just not in science class. Social studies/world studies or religion/philosophy would be good courses to place that in.

  12. Eeyores enigma

    90% of innovation over the last 100 years has been about way to consume more fossil fuels. Over 70% of the economy is about extracting resources, turning them into something that can be burned up or thrown away, a waste based economy. This was possible, and in fact so wildly profitable that money could be siphoned off at every turn creating many profitable industries (FIRE) that had nothing to do with production, because we had an ever increasing source of cheap almost free energy that was unbelievably dense and portable.

    This master resource is no longer increasing and is in fact only holding flat due to massive amounts of money being thrown at it. End of growth period.

    The implication of the article is the typical technocopian dogma that we will soon get right back on track wrt growth as soon as we figure out the right button to push or leaver to pull. Flying cars, jetpacks for the kids, and all our meals will be sumptuously produced from our 3D printers.

    The sooner we understand the real issue the sooner we can talk about real solutions.

      1. James Levy

        Bingo! There is no ersatz product to replace oil. We have more coal, but it’s use is suicidal, and it is only great for stationary energy production or railroads (cars, trucks, and planes, forget it). We are stuck with two terrible ideas that seem unshakable: 1) technology will automatically replace the jobs it destroys; 2) another energy source as cheap and portable as oil has proven to be over the last century is just around the corner. These two dogmas are doing as much to kill us than anything I can think of.

    1. F. Beard

      The Earth actually gains about 10,000 tons of mass every year from cosmic dust and matter, given sufficient energy, can be endlessly re-used since it is normally not destroyed by ANY (non-nuclear) use.

      1. F. Beard

        Adding that sufficient energy is or could be available once we lose our nuclear phobia.

        Besides which increasing technology allows us to do more and more with less and less matter and energy.

        The irony is that lack of ethics causes us to waste vast amounts of resources on wars. So why not address that problem rather than fret about what is ultimately a non-problem, O ye of little faith?

        1. hunkerdown

          The ancient Hebrew verb for “fear” also meant “respect”, didn’t it? If Rev 8:9 might be in process this very moment it’s a bit plank-eyed to dismiss these things as mere phobias, isn’t it?

  13. TimR

    David Lentini- Brilliant, brilliant comment yesterday… Maybe I am biased since it just lends credence to a lot of my views and suspicions :-)

    My take on it is largely based on reading though, I don’t have much personal experience with scientists. One of the best sources/insights I ever came across on this topic, was John Taylor Gatto’s gloss on Francis Bacon’s _Novum Organum_, and then tying that in to the German universities and how that model was exported to the US et al. It seemed to suggest that one of Bacon’s big insights was, “Hey! We don’t need to produce scientific geniuses…! Technicians will be just fine.. In fact… They might even be better, since then the elites can use them instrumentally without any pesky intrusions of moral or ethical or spiritual questions..”

    I’m sure that’s butchering Bacon, just my coarse paraphrasing. But yeah, part of the whole goal of Schooling was to produce cogs in the machine. Real creative thinkers or holistic humanistic intellects would probably abandon rationalism and the Enlightenment for some more sensible way of life. Intellectual drudges are needed to establish the Elites’ hell on earth of scientific rationalism.


    David Lentini June 20, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Definitely one of Archdruid’s better posts. Having spent the past 35 years or so studying science, learning how to do scientific research, and working with scientists as a patent attorney, I’ve come to some similar thoughts myself. In fact, looking at the various debates and occasional hysteria, I see the following:

    1. The vast majority of scientists, including those with doctorate and post-doctorate education and training, and even many famous names, are far more technicians than thinkers. That’s not to denigrate their genius, virtuosity, and accomplishments. But the sad fact is that most science is about executing accepted procedures to achieve a pre-determined result. The advances come in the forms of new techniques to replace or augment existing techniques to reach that result. Often the failure to reach the desired result, i.e., the failure to find a working technique, simply results in moving on to a new project and repeating the sequence. The underlying failure is rarely investigated as a point of scientific investigation.

    2. Scientists are enclosed in an intellectual bubble just like every other academic discipline. In fact, not unlike professional athletes, promising students in the sciences can count on financial support and move straight from college to graduate school to academia without any break to join the real world. The result is a that scientists become trapped in a very strong echo chamber that reveres “science”, although few really understand the philosophical basis for the science method and its limits. Thus, scientists learn to speak with a haughty self-assurance, forgetting that the vast majority of non-scientists don’t realize that scientific “knowledge” is highly contingent and can easily change with the next experiment. (Watch James Burke’s excellent BBC documentary The Day the Universe Changed if you can.) In fact a number of recent studies have demonstrated just how ignorant scientists are about the scientific method itself (see 1. above).

    3. The two points above, I believe, stem from the transformation of higher education in the Western world from one based on a holistic liberal arts curriculum and educational philosophy to one based on research. The rise of the “research university” occurred in the mid- to late 19th Century in Germany and was imported to the US around the turn of the century, pushed by funding of Robber Barons like Rockefeller, Ford, and Carnegie (none of whom was really educated), who wanted the philosophy of laissez faire economics brought into every sphere of life. The major change was to drop the vision of students obtaining a common intellectual foundation in favor of students choosing electives and the emphasis moving towards subjects that garnered outside financial research funding (i.e., earned their keep). Thus, the humanities has withered while science and engineering$mdash;read defense research—have flourished. The result is that we have lots of experts who are fools.

    4. The points above have led to a growing “scientism” in society, especially among those who have strong educations in science and technology, and which is fed by our faith in technology that has become a surrogate for scientific knowledge. Scientism is the unreasonable faith in the truth of statements that appear to be based on scientific research. Many scientists of earlier generations warned about this in the ’50s–’70s as the social sciences, and especially economics, unreasonably made their work look more like physics and mathematics. Richard Feynman gave a famous commencement address at Cal. Tech. in the early ’70s lamenting the rise of what he called “Cargo-Cult Science”.

    Like if or not, our education has become so fragmented that few can integrate the diverse ideas need to gain perspective on our lives on Earth. We thus become vulnerable to every scientific fad and prey to every charlatan and demagogue. We can change this, but I believe that will require making some real commitments to a more comprehensive education in Western philosophy since that is the root of our cultural decay.

    1. craazyman

      that seems more like an anecdotal than a scientific assessment. bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaak!!! Irrationality Alert!!! What a wasted day. One after the other. Day after day, scheming to get rich quick. Then what? What if it actually works? That would be incredible. But not much would change. There would be More wasted days, of course, but at least they’ll be completely & utterly wasted, all the way, in total complacency and wanton sloth. :)

    2. Glenn Condell

      ‘Richard Feynman gave a famous commencement address at Cal. Tech. in the early ’70s lamenting the rise of what he called “Cargo-Cult Science”.’

      Feynman said a lot of wise things, and ‘scientism’ was a favourite target:

      ‘This freedom to doubt is an important matter in the sciences and, I believe, in other fields. It was born of a struggle. It was a struggle to be permitted to doubt, to be unsure. And I do not want us to forget the importance of the struggle and, by default, to let the thing fall away. I feel a responsibility as a scientist who knows the great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, and the progress made possible by such a philosophy, progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought. I feel a responsibility to proclaim the value of this freedom and to teach that doubt is not to be feared, but that it is to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential for human beings.’

      This chimes nicely with Ha-Joon Chang in the Macrobusiness link above, urging us in the context of economics to doubt and to question, and not to trust expertise. Feynman again:

      ‘Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true. So I have developed in a previous talk, and I want to maintain here, that it is in the admission of ignorance and the admission of uncertainty that there is a hope for the continuous motion of human beings in some direction that doesn’t get confined, permanently blocked, as it has so many times before in various periods in the history of man.’

      David L: ‘I believe that will require making some real commitments to a more comprehensive education in Western philosophy since that is the root of our cultural decay’

      Central to that effort should be a focus on the encouragement of skepticism and the value of doubt.

      It’s worth noting that Feynman in the same lecture series also said:

      ‘Doubt and discussion are essential to progress. The United States government, in that respect, is new, it’s modern, and it is scientific.’

  14. optimader

    Dear Defense Contractor CEOs: Why Is the Pentagon Buying Weapons With Chinese Parts Instead of US Parts? TruthOut
    I think if you actually read the awkwardly written article and look at the slides, the angst is not about “Chinese parts” , it’s about the sourcing of rare earth elements that are used both in semiconductors, and lesser understood by the somewhat informed intelligentsia, also used and micro-alloying ingredients in many (most) higher performance metal alloys, notably the class referred to as Super alloys which are designed for high temperature performance properties.
    Here is one of the most ridiculous cases:
    Skip Gold, buy a mayonnaise jar full on rhenium and bury it in the backyard.

    So I will be one of the first to pile on the Chinese, that said, we Americans CHOOSE to take the mimimus route when it comes to rare earth mining and refining because it is traditionally an environmental disaster and consequently EPA restrictions have made it an impractical extraction/refining activity.

    “…The Mountain Pass rare earth mine is an open-pit mine of rare earth elements (REEs) on the south flank of the Clark Mountain Range, just north of the unincorporated community of Mountain Pass, California, United States. The mine, owned by Molycorp Inc., once supplied most of the world’s rare earth elements….

    A sidebar point worth noting:
    “…Thorium is estimated to be about three to four times more abundant than uranium in the Earth’s crust, and is chiefly refined from monazite sands as a by-product of extracting rare earth metals….”

    Now we can have our shorts in a bunch about sourcing RE from china rather than producing it domestically,

    none of this has changed, except for getting worse.

    II. Problem: U.S. reliance on foreign-supplied strategic
    minerals, such as manganese, cobalt, chromium and platinum
    group metals, is unacceptably high. The disruption in
    supply of these foreign-supplied critical strategic
    materials makes the U.S. vulnerable.
    III. DATA: The United States is dependent on imports of
    some one-hundred critical minerals. The world’s supply of
    these minerals is found largely in South Africa and the
    Soviet Union. The U.S. imports 98 percent of its cobalt and
    82 percent of its chromium. Major uses for these imports
    range from jet engines to computer chips. Hence, the
    strategic importance to the U.S. defense system, economy and
    IV. CONCLUSION: The United States must place greater
    emphasis on reducing its import vulnerability in non-fuel
    materials and, in particular, critical strategic minerals.
    V. RECOMMENDATIONS: Over-reliance on foreign-supplied
    strategic minerals can be reduced to some extent by taking
    appropriate action to: (1) identify domestic reserves and
    resources; (2) properly maintain the stockpile through
    regularly-updated risk assessments; (3) research the
    possible substitution of more readily available minerals;
    (4) increase supply through recycling scrap materials; and
    (5) form cartels targeted at those minerals that are
    designated high-risk items.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I did read the article, and I have long said it is crazy for us to have gotten as dependent on China as we are, not just from a military standpoint but generally. Chips are an obvious area of vulnerability. I haven’t found recent good stats, but even as of quite a few years ago, China provided something like 50% of American chips, and Taiwan (where China has good odds of being able to interfere with shipping) supplies something on the order of another 20%.

      1. optimader

        Meant “actually reread” , I’m sure you read it if you posted it.
        the article peculiarly goes around the huge risk of using foreign manufactured bits (semi conductorchips and hardware) and instead is focused on the use of certain strategic material (rare earths). The dumbing down of MILSTND to allow commercial chips to infiltrate military systems is a fairly new development, the use of foreign sourced strategic raw material is not.
        I am sure there is a reader who could drill deeper on the interesting dirty laundry of the Pentagons dilution of the hardened MILSTND semiconductors. which progressively were never able to keep up w/ the performance of mainstream commercial semiconductors, as the Pentagon and its supply chain went “all digital”. Now of course, foreign mfgd semiconductors (and widgets like fasteners) have infiltrated all manner of defense related hardware. It all goes directly to the absurd impracticality of a conventional WWIII.

  15. different clue

    (This computer is mal-nesting my comments). In reply to Banger’s comment about the wars being open-ended on purpose in order to extract maximum money from stateside taxpayers . . . Good point. One notices that the initial battles of both Iraq and Afghanistan were wildly successful and that the Administration’s people-in-place
    carefully threw the victories away deliberately and on purpose precisely in order to create conditions for the Taliban and certain Iraquis to mount insurgencies.

  16. Jeff W

    “Understanding economics without economists”

    Excellent post summarizing the ideas in economist Ha-Joon Chang’s latest book Economics: The User’s Guide. Chang’s talk (on YouTube here), which is featured in the post, is well-worth watching.

    1. Jeff W

      Actually, the video linked to in the post (which I refer to above) is an edited version of this one, in case you want to see the whole thing.

  17. Luke Nolan

    I’ve seen Juan Cole’s articles get posted to this site so I thought I’d link to his latest piece at Truthdig.

    Obama Prepares for Drone War in Iraq

    Now as far as I’m concerned, this whole article is fairly trivial and a lot of blather and obfuscation, but I noticed this:

    “To the extent that Obama is likely paving the way to US drone strikes on ISIS in Iraq, he is mysteriously failing to take his own advice. He has already admitted that the Iraq crisis is political and not military, and said that there are no military solutions. The Sunni Iraqis of Mosul, Tikrit and other towns of the west and north of the country have risen up and thrown off the government and the army of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The uprising was coordinated with ISIS, but was made up of many groups and to some extent was the spontaneous act of townspeople. Droning some ISIS commanders to death isn’t going to change the situation in Mosul, a city of 2 million that is done out with the Maliki government.

    For Obama to associate himself with an attempt to crush this uprising in favor the the highly sectarian ruling Da’wa Party (Shiite ‘Call’ or ‘Mission’), which is allied with Iran is most unwise. If it had to be done, it should have been done as a covert operation and never spoken of publicly.”

    So the man who wrote “it is not clear that right now is the best time to force al-Maliki out,” despite agreeing with the Washington Consensus that Maliki needs to go, now thinks it’s a bad idea for the US to be seen as helping the the Maliki administration–THE ACTING GOVERNMENT OF IRAQ!!! I mean, this sick joke is just too much.

    Since people–especially those on the left–seem to have real trouble remembering Cole’s record, here’s and old John Walsh article from John Walsh, vintage 2011:

    Meet Professor Juan Cole, Consultant to the CIA
    “Thus on March 19, 2003, as the imperial invasion commenced, Cole enthused on his blog: “I remain (Emphasis mine.) convinced that, for all the concerns one might have about the aftermath, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the murderous Baath regime from power will be worth the sacrifices that are about to be made on all sides.” Now, with over 1 million Iraqis dead, 4 million displaced and the country’s infrastructure destroyed, might Cole still echo Madeline Albright that the price was “worth it”? Cole has called the Afghan War “the right war at the right time” and has emerged as a cheerleader for Obama’s unconstitutional war on Libya and for Obama himself.”

    “It hit this listener like a ton of bricks when it was disclosed in Goodman’s interview that Cole was a long time ‘consultant’ for the CIA, the National Intelligence Council and other agencies.”


    Juan Cole also published this charming open letter that same year where he admonishes those opposed to the intervention of Libya for being absolute pacifists, absolute anti-imperialists, and anti-military pragmatists.

    You killed one god for being a plagiarist, how about going for the double and smashing up the Temple of Cole too–ISIS style, baby!

    1. Carolinian

      Might want to dial back the gonzo. I’m pretty sure Hedges unkilled since I’ve seen him linked on leftie sites like Commondreams since the so-called controversy.

      Not that I care that much about Hedges or Cole either and the latter has certainly disappointed with his recent enthusiasm for r2p (you left out Syria). But Cole has also been a fairly trenchant critic of Israel and is widely seen as an expert on the Arab world who speaks Arabic, travels to the region. This–the criticism of Israel–is undoubtedly why he lost the Yale job and it was widely written about at the time.

      Which is to say Cole is a mixed bag and broad brush moral condemnations can get rather confusing. But mostly I do agree that Cole has discredited himself with the Libya stance and more recent pro intervention opinions.

      1. Luke Nolan

        I’ll tone it down, but I’m missing the part where you actually defended Cole.

        So he’s “widely seen as an expert on the region” and criticizes Israel, so what? Cole doesn’t offer any commentary you can’t get from anywhere else and that includes the liberal interventionist stance he adopts every time the US has an enemy in its sights and that last bit taints anything useful he might otherwise have to say.

  18. Jackrabbit

    This guy, Phil Greaves, describes the larger context of Iraq/ISIS. Also has many interesting links to support his arguments.

    IMO, You really can’t understand Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and more without being mindful of the the multi-dimensional big picture. One nit: I don’t blame capitalism as some do, saying that it inevitably morphs into a monster due to human nature. That we face such a monster today, isn’t sufficient evidence for inevitability.

    H O P

    1. F. Beard

      One nit: I don’t blame capitalism as some do, saying that it inevitably morphs into a monster due to human nature.

      The current version surely does since it legalizes theft of purchasing power for the sake of the so-called credit worthy and the banking cartel. In the case of consumer loans, the so-called credit worthy are often victims themselves, having been driven into debt for housing and transportation.

    2. Luke Nolan

      I wrote along similar lines a few days ago.

      As for all the Marxist analysis–I don’t know–I’ve never found it particularly useful, not even rhetorically useful–unless you’re talking to hardcore Marxists who’ll mostly ignore you until you use the proper shibboleth.

      Plunder is the Modus operandi of the powerful and it has always been thus. Ideology is nothing more than the protean disguise genuflecting intellectuals manufacture for their social superiors–doesn’t matter if it’s Capitalism, Communism, or the Divine Right of Kings. This is so self-evident I feel patronising even writing it out and it’s a message hardly worthy of obtuse jargon.

    3. Andrew Watts

      Mr. Greaves is making the same mistake that Washington is. It is not an insurgency but a wholesale uprising of Sunni Muslims. ISIS/ISIL are merely the vanguard of shock troops being used to soften up resistance. This illustrates the problem with attempting to use ideology to understand and explain real-life events.

      Anyway, I’ll leave the tactical commentary to somebody more qualified than I am. I recommend Colonel Lang. His expertise is excellent concerning those matters.

  19. Roland

    I’m afraid I have to give SAR a failing grade, since he repeats the falsehood that Saudi Arabian government is backing ISIS.

    There are many people in Saudi Arabia who are backing Al-Qaeda and ISIS, among others. But those people are not in the Saudi government.

    Commentary on foreign affairs must, absolutely must, take a mature view of the policy interests of other countries’ governments. There are plenty of good reasons why Saudi Arabia wouldn’t want the USA, Iran, or Great Britain to deploy armed forces in Iraq. For instance, one reason might be that the current sectarian fighting in Iraq has been the direct result of the USA’s invasion of that country.

    Don’t forget that Saudi Arabia was not willing to host US forces for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, i.e. the Saudi government’s position on foreign armed intervention in Iraq has been consistent.

    If you want to condemn Saudi foreign policy, look to their post-2005 record in Lebanon and Syria, or look at their repeated attacks on Yemen. There is no need for any stupid nonsense about the Saudi government supporting Al-Qaeda.

    I am becoming alarmed by the frequency and extent of anti-Saudi propaganda that is becoming prevalent across the political and media spectra in the West. The prejudices which develop from this constant propaganda could contribute to another war.

  20. Roland

    I wouldn’t too quick to write off Maliki, unless Moqtada Al-Sadr returns to politics and summons his men back to the colours.

    For one thing, Maliki is a brave person. I will never forget the clip of Ban Ki Moon’s visit to Baghdad, during which he and Maliki shared the podium. Some cheeky guerrillas decided to say hello, and hit the place with mortars and rockets. Nearly everyone present dove under the tables. I seem to recall that Ban even knocked his head in his haste to take cover. But Maliki didn’t flinch. I mean that literally. His facial expression betrayed only some sign of exasperation.

    Remember that while the USA backed Maliki, they did so out of necessity. Maliki has been a collaborator, but he is not a puppet.

    Again, the kingmaker might prove be Moqtada.

  21. Roland

    I don’t know if the USA “lost the war” in Iraq. Winning or losing depends on what you think the objective might have been.

    Obviously, if the war’s objective was to establish a pro-Western neoliberal regime in Iraq, then the war was a failure.

    But the invaders’ failure to reach the maximum fulfilment of a propaganda pledge does not necessarily mean that the war ended in defeat for the invaders.

    I think that the Western powers which invaded Iraq did achieve what one might call their minimum aim. That minimum aim was to destroy Iraq’s sovereignty and integrity.

    The neoliberal globalizers, most of whom believe that the new global system can be best guaranteed by a single hegemonic power, have a natural tendency to regard every significant sovereign state as a potential threat to their preferred world system. Countries such as Iraq, which tried to maintain a strong sovereignty, therefore all become the targets in a series of covert or overt wars.

    As for the waste, confusion, and tactical military indecisiveness attendant on such wars, it’s worth reading Sallust’s Jugurthine War. The wars fought by the Romans in Numidia, and the way in which those wars figured within Rome’s own factional struggles among the Roman ruling class, show that the Empires often look like they’re falling, even when they’re rising. It’s a lesson well worth bearing in mind.

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