Michael Hudson: U.S. New Cold War Policy Has Backfired

Yves here. Michael Hudson looks at the way what he calls “the New Cold War” is creating alliances among countries that the US has as designated enemies, when the classic foreign policy playbook is to do everything you can to keep your opponents isolated.

One thing that is striking about the US decision to escalate against Russia is that it’s not at all clear what the trigger was. And that raises the possibility that these hostilities were instigated out peeve, or what one might more politely call imperial reflex, reflecting the belief that Russia needed to be punished for its various sins, such as supporting Iran, outmaneuvering the US in Syria, and harboring Snowden. And the assumption appears to have been that Russia could be taken down a notch or two on the geopolitical stage at no cost to the US. Hudson explains that the reverse is proving to be the case.

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is “The Bubble and Beyond.” Jointly published with his website

The world’s geopolitics, major trade patterns and military alliances have changed radically in the past month. Russia has re-oriented its gas and oil trade, and also its trade in military technology, away from Europe toward Eurasia.

The result is the opposite of America’s hope for the past half-century of dividing and conquering Eurasia: setting Russia against China, isolating Iran, and preventing India, the Near East and other Asian countries from joining together to create an alternative to the U.S. dollar area. American sanctions and New Cold War policy has driven these Asian countries together in association with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an alternative to NATO, and in the BRICS moves to avoid dealing with the dollar area, the IMF and World Bank austerity programs.

Regarding Europe, America’s insistence that it join the New Cold War by imposing sanctions on Russia and blocking Russian gas and oil exports has aggravated the Eurozone’s economic austerity, making it even more of a Dead Zone. This week a group of Germany’s leading politicians, diplomats and cultural celebrities wrote an open letter to Angela Merkel protesting her pro-U.S. anti-Russian policy. By overplaying its hand, the United States is in danger of driving Europe out of the U.S. economic orbit.

Turkey already is moving out of the U.S.-European orbit, by turning to Russia for its energy needs. Iran also has moved into an alliance with Russia. Instead of the Obama administration’s neocons dividing and conquering as they had planned, they are isolating America from Europe and Asia. Yet there has been almost no recognition of this in the U.S. press, despite its front-page discussion throughout Europe and Asia. Instead of breaking up the BRICS, the dollar area is coming undone.

This week, President Putin is going to India to negotiate a gas and arms deal. Last week he was in Turkey diverting what was to be the South Stream pipeline away from southern Europe to Turkey. And Turkey is becoming an associate of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization integrating the BRICS in a defensive alliance against the United States, now that it is obvious that it has no chance of joining the EU.

A few months earlier, Russia announced the largest oil and gas trade and pipeline investment ever, with China – along with a transfer of missile defense technology.

There has been almost no discussion of this vast geopolitical realignment in the U.S. media, largely because it represents a defeat for the New Cold War policy pushed by the neocons over the past year, ever since Russia convinced President Obama not to go to war in Syria, which had been a neocon military aim.

Their response was to isolate Russia and economically attack its trade and hence balance-of-payments strength: its gas and oil trade with Europe. Last February, U.S. diplomats engineered a Pinochet-style coup d’état in Ukraine, and used this as a lever to reverse Europe’s buildup of trade with Russia.

The aim was to punish Russia’s economy – and in the process to press for a regime change against Putin, putting in place a more pro-U.S., neoliberal Yeltsin-style regime by causing a financial crisis.

The assumption underlying this policy was that since the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, Russia was turning toward Europe to re-integrate its economy and society. And Europe for its part sought to make Russia its main energy supplier – of oil as well as gas, through new pipelines being built to circumvent Ukraine. Northstream ran via the North Sea to northern Europe. Southstream was to be built via Bulgaria and Serbia to southern Europe – mainly Italy and Austria.

Germany for its part looked to Russia as an export market, to earn the rubles to pay for Russian gas and oil. Other European countries stepped up their agricultural trade with Russia, and France agreed to build the enormous Mistral aircraft carrier. In short, the ending of the Cold War promised to bring a much closer economic and hence political integration of Russia with Europe –cemented largely by a gas pipeline network.

U.S. Cold Warriors have tried to disrupt this trade. The plan was to isolate Russia and lock Europe into the U.S. economy. The dream was to export U.S. shale gas to Europe, squeezing out Russia and thereby hurting its balance of payments.

This was always a pipedream. But what U.S. heavy-handed military confrontation with Russia really has done is to drive a political wedge between the United States and Europe. Last week, Putin gave a speech saying that he found little point in negotiating with European politicians, because they simply followed U.S. orders via NATO and by U.S. pressure on German politicians, French politicians and other European politicians.

In following U.S. New Cold War confrontation, Europe has been acting against its own economic interests. Its neoliberal Third Energy law has effectively blocked Russia from having any economic gain in selling more gas to Europe.

Rentier Pipeline Politics

The U.S. neoliberal plan has been to insist on non-Russian control of the pipelines that would carry Russian gas and oil to Europe. The idea is to use this pipeline as a tollbooth to siphon off the revenue that Russia had hoped to receive from Europe.

Here’s the best way to understand what has occurred. Imagine that the United States had a law that owners of buildings could not also own the elevators in them. This would mean that the owners of the Empire State Building, for instance, could not own their elevators. Some other investors could buy the elevators, and then tell the building’s renters or other occupants that they would have to pay a fee each time they rode up to the 40th floor, the 50th floor, the 60th floor, and so forth.

The result would be that instead of the landlord receiving the rental value of the Empire State Building, the elevator owner could demand the lion’s share. Without access, the building would be a walk-up and its rents would fall – unless renters paid the elevator tollbooth.

This is what would happen with an oil pipeline owned by parties hostile to Russia. It is to avoid this that Gazprom insisted on building its own pipeline, under Russian control, to prevent rent-extracting investors. When Europe sought to block this by pretending that “free markets” meant separating pipeline ownership from the gas suppliers, it was trying to carve out a rent-extraction opportunity to siphon off Russian gas revenue.

The European Commission earlier had pressed an anti-Gazprom policy last year, in the process of imposing its austerity program on Greece. It insisted that Greece pay the IMF for having bailed out foreign bondholders by selling off assets in the public domain. The largest asset was Greece’s oil rights in the Aegean and its commercial oil-related infrastructure. When Gazprom was the largest bidder, Europe blocked the sale. The result has been to impose even deeper austerity on Greece, polarizing that nation’s politics in an increasingly anti-EU and anti-IMF stance – and hence, anti-US Cold War politics.

Perverted Diplomacy – Promoting Ideology Rather Than National Interest

What is occurring is a radical shift in U.S.-European diplomacy – in a way that according to textbook theory is inherently unstable and unworkable.

Europe has inverted the major textbook premises of how national diplomacy is conducted. Instead of basing this diplomacy on economic and commercial interests, it is subordinating these interests to U.S. control. And as for Europe’s membership in NATO, instead of viewing military policy as an arm of foreign diplomacy, it is subordinating economic diplomacy, trade patterns, gas and oil supplies, export markets for industry and agriculture all to serve NATO’s military ends.

The objective no longer is military security as originally was the logic for NATO. Europe’s economic realignment against Russia threatens to bring military conflict directly into the continent as a result of the proxy war in Ukraine.

It has been said that nations do not have friends or enemies, only national interests. Most of these are economic. But today in Europe, German Chancellor Merkel seems to be ignoring German and other European economic interests. Still obsessed with her hatred of the East German Communist regime, she sees in Russia only an enemy, not an economic market and supplier of raw materials and customer for German manufactures and technology. Likewise, her political love for the United States deems it Europe’s natural friend, without taking into account how its New Cold War policy toward Europe – “Let’s you and Russia fight” – undercuts European continental interests and exacerbates its austerity.

The United States for its part has adopted von Clausewitz’s statement that war is an extension of foreign policy by other means in a very limited form: war seems to be the only lever that the United States is using in its foreign policy these days. And lacking an ability to mount a ground invasion, its only real threat is to tear economies apart by aerial bombing, as it has done to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libra and now Syria – and is doing by backing a proxy war in Ukraine.

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  1. timotheus

    Calling what happened in the Ukraine a “Pinochet-style coup d’état” is grotesque cant. Yanukovych is no Salvador Allende.

      1. tim unfold

        Because Allende was the Rafael Correa of the 70s. Yanukovych was a Putin-buddy oligarch.

        I like the other parts of the analysis, though. The mainstream western media vastly underestimates the BRICs.

        1. RUKidding

          So you’re all “down” with the Torture Crew overthrowing governments just so long as they’re “bad” according to someone’s definition of what “bad” means.

          Er, well a lot of people thought Allende was “bad.”

          Faulty logic. Try again.

          1. O-San

            I don’t think he was justifying the coup, just pointing out that there’s no comparison between Allende and Yanukovych.

            1. Seamus Padraig

              Maybe not. But there’s a comparison to made between the Chicago-school neo-liberalism that Pinochet imposed on Chile, and the IMF-austerity being imposed on Ukraine by “Yats” and friends.

        2. penny bloater

          It’s an political-economic coup d’etat by Western based neoliberal-financial elites masquerading as a democratic movement that is really only stripping the country of it’s vital national assets through privatisation programs, and enforcing this with ruthless repression over a non-compliant rural peasantry – all bundled up in the strategic aims of NATO-IMF policy doctrines.

    1. YoungExPat

      And just think, if Ukraine had waited a few months, it could have democratically voted Yanukovych out during the early elections that he had agreed to. Instead, there was a very un-democratic, violent coup, and now a simmering global conflict.

      Gotta love the US State Department. And Right Sector.

        1. OIFVet

          What a fitting comparison! We have become an Ukraine, and are busy exporting ukrainization. It is our main export, in fact.

          1. optimader

            “We have become an Ukraine”
            Well, Ukraine deposed a corrupt president, we didn’t. No less, Bush was installed by edict.

            As well regarding the present POTUS, personally I can make a case that his first term was the result of a thrown election, and he had sympathetic perceptions in his favor..
            As bizarre (to me) as BHO achieving a popular majority for a second term after revealing what he is actually about, I think Romney did more to loose than BHO did to win.
            On principle at least, BHO behavior justifies removal, but then (by design) we are left with Biden so what’s is the point?

            1. madisolation

              Just a couple of comments on your post:

              Well, Ukraine deposed a corrupt president, we didn’t.

              Yanukovych was corrupt, it’s true, but it’s a matter of degree. Poroshenko (and “Yats”) certainly have no problem throwing their entire country and the Ukrainian citizens under the bus. At least Yanukovych refused to sign the EU association agreement. And to imply we didn’t help with the overthrow of Ukrainian government…well, that just being blind to the obvious. No one’s even trying to hide that fact, anymore. Nuland bragged about spending five billion of our taxpayer dollars on the illegal coup.
              Next, you write:

              On principle at least, BHO behavior justifies removal, but then (by design) we are left with Biden so what’s is the point?

              The principle is the point. Either the law is applied equally, regardless of the consequences, or there is no law.

              1. optimader

                I imply nothing, that is your perception.

                Everyone can agree Nuland is a craven and probably a serial liar when it suits .
                But to be consistent, do you only believe what hear repeated if it suits your own perception?

                “Nuland bragged about spending five billion of our taxpayer dollars on the illegal coup”
                Did she?

                I’ve seen this meme repeated ad nauseam, but I don’t believe that is what she actually said.
                So if it is, please provide me a link.


                1. Fiver

                  The $5 billion concerned ‘pro-democracy’ efforts such as NED, USAID and the rest, all stuff formerly done by the CIA. And she certainly named psycho-fascist Yats as US point man. He was on the ground with the fascist thugs who powered the overthrow, he signed away the country and started an instant effort to cause as much of a mess as he possibly could. Nuland and the neocons hit a home run with that maniac.

        2. OIFVet

          BTW, the election in which yanukovich was elected was proclaimed by Western observers as the most democratic election in Ukraine, ever. Unlike, say, Bush’s elections…

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Yanukovych is no Salvador Allende.

      Absolutely! And it didn’t happen in South America either! And the country wasn’t Chile. Imagine!!! Michael better sharpen up his comparisons, eh?

    3. Vatch

      Yanukovych was far more like Pinochet than he was like Allende. The peaceful Maidan demonstrations of November, 2013, were violently dispersed by Yanukovych’s Berkut police thugs on Nov. 30. The protesters returned, and soon they numbered in the hundreds of thousands. There was another police riot on Dec. 11, and on Jan. 16, the government passed new anti-protest laws. The government instigated violence continued.


      Yanukovych would have easily lasted until the elections if he hadn’t continually provoked the people of Ukraine. The U.S. did not overthrow him, nor did the U.S. engineer the events that caused him to flee the country. On the other hand, I’m sure the U.S. played a major role in the actions behind the scenes that led to the formation of the new temporary government after Yanukovych left the country.

      1. Vicky

        Thank you for your continued usefullness. It is great Americans like yourself that play an essential role in bringing democracy, freedom, and free markets to people who struggle to break free from Putin’s imperialism. With your help we will continue to free people and protect their right to sell off their national assets to Western corporations and enjoy the ensuing prosperity. Sincerely, Vicky.

      2. kapala

        Yanukovich did not handle the protests well – when are such protests ever “well handled”? Like they were in hong kong recently? It is easy to judge the handling of such large protests with the benefit of hindsight. Had the protests dwindled we would maybe be discussing Yanukovich’ brutal methods, but not the success of them.
        No, Yanukovich’ main error was not understanding who was behind the protests and how far they were willing to go.
        The US did not overthrow him? OK – then the US did not overthrow the governments of Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, Brazil, Guatemala etc.etc. The locals did all that overthrowin’ all on their own.

        I suggest you look to alternative timelines of the demonstrations and coup as the wikipedia article is quite biased. One quick exampe – the famous “fuck the eu” call from Nuland. Here you have clear proof of US “engineering”: 5 billion dollars to “democracy initiatives”, choosing the head of the coup government weeks before the coup.
        Here is how that wikipedia article presents this most important fact:

        “A diplomatic scandal appeared when a conversation between the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, Victoria Nuland and United States Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt was apparently intercepted and uploaded to YouTube.”

        I could go on about the timeline of the protests, but to what use? If you are truly willing to learn what happened you have to be receptive to more than wikipedia and western mainstream media, and the idea that the US has operated in exactly this way in the dozens of coups and regime changes it has engineered in the past.

        1. Vatch

          The U.S. has organized many coups such Guatemala, Iran, Chile, etc. but the U.S. is not responsible for all changes of government all over the world. Just because the U.S. spent billions of dollars in Ukraine over a period of years does not mean that the U.S. was responsible for Yanukovych’s fall from power. It’s very likely that Russia was meddling very heavily in Ukraine during that period of time, too. I agree that the U.S. was the the primary player in the choice of the interim government. Just because they started planning for the possibility that Yanukovych would fall weeks before he did is not proof that they were responsible for his fall. These are separate, although related, events.

          I’m open to other evidence. Can you please point me to a different time line of events?

          1. OIFVet

            You really have no idea how modern neocolonialism works, do you? The neocolonial power uses money as a lever; with the money it buys the loyalty of local compradors, buys friendly media coverage, buys think tanks and NGOs to do its ideological and political bidding, etc. It corrupts or at least reinforces corruption. What do you think the $5billion went for, sparkle ponies? No, it was used to fertilize the ground, so to speak, thus getting it ready for the US colonial takeover by way of its compradors’ taking oger the government in coup.

            “The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside”, Kwame Nkrumah. Neo-Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism. as Nkrumah elaborates, the IMF (and these days, the EU and ECB) are the main tools of neocolonialism. Yet there are those who are still not convinced that Yanukovich’s rejection of the EU association agreement and his swift fall after that rejection are related. What a touching naivete…

            1. optimader

              “What do you think the $5billion went for, sparkle ponies?”

              It would be illuminating to put some flesh on how the $5BB was “spent” in the Ukraine since ~1992.

              1. Fiver

                Google it. It’s there. I’ve seen breakdowns of specific programs showing half a million here, a million there, a few thousand for this. The sort of stuff that propelled the various ‘colour revolutions’. When you have a trillion dollars a year or more to spend any way you want you of course spend large sums of money subverting the cultural beliefs and values of the target in order to shape a pro-US version that ‘takes direction well’.

          2. Marko

            “I’m open to other evidence. Can you please point me to a different time line of events?”

            You might get an accurate accounting a few decades from now. Until then , the bulk of “events” will remain hidden , and those that are discovered will be dismissed as conspiracy theory , just like they have for previous U.S.-sponsored coups.

            However , here’s a statement by John McCain from 10 years ago that gives you some idea about how we’ve been viewing Ukraine :



            I’m sure a Google search of ” Brzezinski on Ukraine” in the same time period would reveal similar thinking , in greater detail.

            In short , this ship set sail a long time ago.

      3. jgordon

        Aside from the salacious “fuck the EU” comment that was widely reported, in the same conversation Nuland discusses who they would be installing in power after the coup–months before it happened.

        Just throwing that out there in case you honestly believed that the US was not responsible for overthrowing the legitimate Ukraine government and replacing it with a ragtag band of neonazi crazies and avaricious billionaires.

    4. RUKidding

      Soooooo…. now we’re in a pissing match about the “goodness” of various World Leaders. And it’s “ok” for the Torture Crew to oust someone like Yanukovich because “he’s bad,” but gee whiz, too bad about Allende because he “was good”??? Huh? How’s that work out. And who’s the decider about who “deserves” to have a coup to oust them or not? Like: WTF?

      WHY is the Torture Crew entitle to oust ANY lawfully elected govt whether the Torture Crew (and their 1% Corporate-Fascist Masters) “likes” them or not, or they embodied some “standard” or another??

      BTW, the Torture Crew has ousted many govts around the world since it’s inception (and pre-Torture Crews indulged in similar behaviors before that). Do you have a list that says who “deserved” it and who didn’t?

      Need to go back to the drawing board and think this through more, please.

      1. Vatch

        But they didn’t oust him, as I discussed in my message at 9:54 AM. They did play a huge role in choosing his temporary replacement.

        1. Fiver

          Nuland’s call naming Yats as the man to deliver Ukraine into the hands of oil/payback/greed and ABMs was before the night of the agreement for Yanukovych to stand down and soon hold elections – you will recall it was met with mass violence in the late morning hours. It was the first call the Russians (presumably) put out, no doubt thinking having been caught red-handed in planning a coup, just maybe it would not proceed.

      2. Crazy Horse

        Everybody conveniently forgets that the Cheney/Bush cabal ascended to power by what was essentially a coup. Blatant ballot manipulation, race-based voter disqualification, and a final decision by a “supreme” court stacked with key players appointed by Big Daddy Bush.

        But since we are Exceptional it wasn’t really a coup, just an exercise in Democracy.

          1. Crazy Horse

            The Clinton deep throat impeachment was simply politics as usual. Unlike the coup executed by the Cheney/Bush cabal. The coup continued into the second term Little Bush victory with the Diebold fraud in Ohio where exit polls and “official” vote count differed by 10%.

    5. diptherio

      My Interview w/ Onet (Poland) Concerning the Maidan Massacre

      2) On the 1st October, you demonstrated the results of your research at the University of Ottawa. You showed a lot of evidences. Today, are you absolutely sure that the massacre was made by the opposition?

      It is not possible for me as a political scientist to claim absolute certainty. For example, the evidence, such as videos and bullet trajectories, indicate that involvement of the special police units in killing or wounding of some of the protesters, in particular armed ones, cannot be entirely ruled out.

      But all the major sources of evidence that I analyzed independently indicate the involvement of the elements of the opposition, including its far right wing, in the massacre. This evidence includes at least 12 locations of suspected shooters in the Maidan-controlled buildings or areas, such as the Hotel Ukraina, Zhovtnevyi Palace, Music Conservatory, the Trade Union building, and the Main Post Office, which then was occupied by the Right Sector. My analysis and synchronization in time of all publicly available videos of the massacre, including those showing suspected shooters, and a radio intercept of a group of shooters point to the same conclusion.

      Some 30 gigabytes of previously unreported intercepts of radio communications of Internal Troops units, the SBU Alfa unit commanders and snipers, and other government agencies during the massacre on February 20 and earlier days of the Maidan, indicate the same. Other sources of evidence include live statements by the Maidan announcers about “snipers” shooting at the protesters from Maidan-controlled buildings, such as the Hotel Ukraina and Zhovtnevyi Palace. Ballistic trajectories indicate that shots came from the same directions. Eyewitness reports by both Maidan protesters and government special units commanders and public statements by government officials confirm many of these locations. Types and caliber of weapons, such as Kalashnikov assault rifles and hunting rifles, bullets and pellets used to shot both the protesters and the police, and types of wounds among both protesters and the police indicate the same. There is also a similar track record of politically motivated misrepresentations by the Maidan politicians of other cases of violence during and after the Maidan and in historical conflicts, such as their denials of the involvement of the OUN and the UPA in mass killings of Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians.

      Sure Yanokovich was no Allende, but that hardly justifies what the opposition did.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        What is this trashing of Allende? Many of his troubles with the economy prior to the coup were the DIRECT result of Western efforts to undermine him. And it was the deteriorating economic conditions, after initial impressive growth under his regime, that led popular support to fall.


        Look at the targeting of the copper market, which then generated 80% of Chile’s exports (and therefore foreign exchange):



        1. Doug Terpstra

          I don’t read anyone here trashing Allende, certainly not Diptherio. Allende is used as the gold standard for CIA brutality and perfidy. A popular, democratically-elected successful socialist; Yanukovich, although also democratically elected, was not so popular. The contrast is exploited to falsely claim the coup was not really a CIA-orchestrated coup at all but a popular uprising. Yanukovich’s acknowledged corruption only made the CIA’s treachery cheaper and easier than in Chile, but ultimately no less vile. It’s a rogue, evil agency that needs to be terminated with extreme prejudice…along with the NSA, DHS, …

          1. RUKidding

            Yes. Thanks. Well stated. Allende = good, so it was “wrong” of CIA to overthrow him (for the record, I do like Allende and what he attempted in Chile, but who cares), but Yanukovich = bad, so it was “OK” of the CIA to overthrow him, even though, whether he was loved or hated, his election was fair & democratic.

            I say: the Torture Crew & our nation really needs to butt out of the coup “business” anywhere at any time, but I hold out NO hope of that ever happening.

        2. Doug Terpstra

          Thank you for a very encouraging post, BTW. I feel less suicidal/homicidal than after reading Bill Black.

      2. optimader

        “Sure Yanokovich was no Allende, but that hardly justifies what the opposition did”
        What , run a Dbag out of the country? If I were a Ukrainian they did exactly what I would hope I would do.

    6. Banger

      No it was not a Pinochet type of operation–not even close–the Chilean military was powerful and needed only disruptions to “take over” the disruptions were funded by the U.S. and the military had been allied with the U.S. for a long time. There was, indeed, popular revulsion for the oligarchs running Ukraine so the U.S. only had to push here and there to get its people in power. But there is no question that the U.S. and Western operatives played a major role and still do.

  2. Jim Haygood

    ‘Putin gave a speech saying that he found little point in negotiating with European politicians, because they simply followed U.S. orders via NATO and by U.S. pressure on German politicians, French politicians and other European politicians.’

    Nearly 70 years after WW II ended, Europe is paying a heavy price for continuing to accept US military occupation. By failing to demobilize and go home after WW II (as it did after WW I), the US has transformed what seemed like a decisive victory into a recipe for imperial decline.

    Remaining in a state of permanent war gave us spook agencies such as the CIA, which now serves as the off-books drug-running and torture arm of the US presidency. After seventy years of learned helplessness, it seems improbable that Europe will ever reclaim its sovereignty by deporting its US occupiers.

    Is Europe dying, as Steve Winwood claimed way back in 1985? Maybe rectal rehydration is in order. Nurse!

    1. jgordon

      Let oil become even slightly less available to the US than it is today. The occupiers will be deported by default–because they can no longer afford to occupy. All these incompetent/insane blunders being committed by the empire are nothing more than a futile attempt to stave off the inevitable for a year or two more.

      More importantly militarized policing, illegal mass spying, Wall Street, etc, all only exist as they do today because of the massive surplusses of energy available to the US. A militarized/financialized police state is an extraordinarily expensive operation to maintain. Our leadership and people would become a lot healthier (and a lot less delusional) if we went on a severe calorie diet. So it’s something to look forward to.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Certainly the real economy denominated in BTUs ultimately trumps the illusory one denominated in fiat dollars.

        But meanwhile, our wizards behind the curtain can finance themselves for 30 years at the low, low rate of only 2.82%, which they find eminently affordable. They look at Japan’s 240% of GDP debt and rationalize, ‘Hey, at only 100%, we’re doin’ GREAT!’

        And so the US military bases in Japan soldier on, despite the vehement opposition of Okinawans who host them. Last month Okinawans elected a new governor who’s pledged to close Futenma air base, after their last governor sold them out. Surely the US can find a way to co-opt him. Letting the people vote on their future is not the American way.

        1. Clive

          For me, if you want my two pennies worth, the Japanese really will this time want Something Done about the Okinawa base. It’s become one of those drip-drip-drip issues that never goes away. In JP politics, it’s been a case of the following:

          Okinawans: “We absolutely have to sort out the matter of the base”
          Government (local and national): “We take you concerns seriously and will look into the issue”
          Okinawans: “We still absolutely have to sort out the matter of the base”
          Government (local and national): “We take you concerns seriously and will look again into the issue”
          Okinawans: “We must now look to sort out the matter of the base”
          Government (local and national): “We are reviewing concerns seriously and will look into policy options”
          Okinawans: “We absolutely have to sort out the matter of the base”
          Government (local and national): “We understand your concerns and will continue to make strenuous efforts to look into the issue”

          (repeat, like, a hundred times until eventually… and this is the point at the current time)

          Okinawans: “We look forward to resolving the matter of the base”
          Government (local and national): “We will resolve the matter of the base”

          This usually signifies that, in the coded exchanges of officialdom, they will indeed Do Something. Even the Abe administration is saying, overtly, they will Do Something, and any possible left leading new administration would be much more eager still.

          A recent article (http://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/article.php?id=90876) gave this broad summary:

          1) The newly elected governor of Okinawa does not support the base move — he wants it closed
          2) Abe wants the matter resolved
          3) The US is now making noises about how its military strategy could change markedly thus opening up the possibility that a big re-think on the Okinawa base is on the cards (no named sources, but the JP press doesn’t usually make stuff up completely)

          Going back to the context of the original article, it’s not just in Europe that the U.S. foreign policy sucks. In the Asia Pacific region, it is if anything even suckier. China recently completely wrong-footed the US at the ASEAN summit. In foreign policy terms, the U.S. approach really is a masterpiece of failure.

          1. susan the other

            I thought that too about ASEAN. China holds all the cards. And as soon as Japan and China settle their deep resentments from WW2, hold on to your hat. And also too there is always the possibility that this is what a majority of our policy architects want, simply because it is the only thing that will endure and/or make sense for Japan. Maybe.

        2. jgordon

          Let them finance whatever they like. If the physical BTUs don’t exist and/or if the other guy who has the BTUs in his possession is stronger than you and does not like you very much–you aren’t going to burn them regardless of whatever financial games you choose to play.

          The US economy is a holograph with dominating presence: if you only take a cursory look then it seems imposing. But the moment you try to measure its mass the illusion falls apart.

  3. David Lentini

    The United States for its part has adopted von Clausewitz’s statement that war is an extension of foreign policy by other means in a very limited form: war seems to be the only lever that the United States is using in its foreign policy these days.

    I think Michael’s statement is too generous. War is not a lever of US policy, it is US policy. That’s because our intellectually and morally bankrupt political scientists and economists, in the form of the neocons and neoliberals, think only in terms of power.

    In our world of so-called realpolitik, the powerful rule and morality is whatever the powerful dictate it to be; whatever acts suit their ends is inherently moral. Not using all available power, e.g., by acceding to a weaker parties demands or even negotiating, means achieving less than maximum utility, i.e., sacrifice, and is thus immoral. Under those terms, negotiating is impossible. Policy then just becomes the use of power to maximum effect. And the greatest power is, of course, the power over life and death; the power to destroy.

    Power is also fleeting. You can’t be sure you’ll be as powerful tomorrow as you are today or were yesterday. So, power has to be used now. Power requires the short view.

    Diplomacy requires a long view. Diplomacy requires time for reflection, consultation, discussion, persuasion, and negotiation. Diplomacy requires stability in order to realize the long term gains from short terms sacrifices.

    Wisdom comes when you understand that those who live by the sword die by the sword. The foolish believe they are immortal. Our leaders think they’re immortal.

    1. sufferin' succotash

      “morality is whatever the powerful dictate it to be; whatever acts suit their ends is inherently moral.”
      It’s worth examining what those ends are in the case of the makers of US “policy”. In global affairs, they really have no concrete or coherent ends; the only “goal” (if you want to call it that) is to go on making as many nations as possible afraid of the United States. If we’re looking for a substantial goal, we need to look instead at domestic affairs: preserving, protecting and defending the political and social Right and its associated economic interests.
      If there are any historical parallels here, it’s with pre-1914 Germany.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      The late USAF Col. John Boyd was the leader of a military reform movement that briefly flowered in the late 70s and early 80s and the mere mention of his name is still a leading cause of heartburn in the Offense Establishment, 17 years after his death and nearly 40 after his retirement from uniformed service. After said retirement Boyd turned his attention to the broader issues of war and peace, and his insights in this area have come to be recognized by many as comparable to those of Sun Tsu and Clausewitz. Among numerous other accomplishments he put forth a set of criteria according to which the effectiveness of a state’s grand strategy can be judged. Boyd was constantly refining his thinking and thus also revising the presentation slides on which it was documented, making his ideas something of a moving target.* The version that makes the most sense to me consists of one fundamental objective and five supporting ones, which if successfully achieved will move toward the fundamental aim.

      Fundamental Objective: Ensure the nation’s fitness, as an organic whole, to shape and cope with the ever-changing environment of which it is a part.

      Supporting Sub-Objectives:
      · Strengthen national resolve and increase the nation’s internal political solidarity.
      · Weaken the resolve of the nation’s adversaries and reduce their internal cohesion.
      · Reinforce the commitments of our allies to our cause and make them empathetic to our success.
      · Attract the uncommitted to our cause.
      · End conflicts on terms that do not sow the seeds for future conflicts.

      When viewing US policies and actions since the end of the (first?) Cold War, and especially since the inauguration of Bush 43, one could be forgiven for suspecting that the upper reaches of our government is and has been inhabited by Manchurian Candidates manipulated into place in order to undermine our national security. Our policies and actions diametrically oppose each of the sub-objectives and thus our nation’s fitness as a whole diminishes by the day. Michael Hudson’s piece documents this decline process in a devastating manner. Thank you for this post, Dr. Hudson.

      * The audience for Boyd’s work was what was then the Defense Establishment, wherein the primary means of upward communication in the loftier reaches of the hierarchy is the oral presentation. Thus Boyd’s work is documented mostly on pre-Powerpoint slides; relatively little of the limited amount of prose he wrote survives. There are some audio recordings of his presentations on the ‘net. On at least one occasion he allegedly refused a four-star’s request/order to abridge a full-day presentation down to an hour or two, saying it then wouldn’t be worth the time for either of them. John Boyd is one of the most accomplished, yet unsung, players in the post-WWII Defense Establishment. His life is a testament to what a person of intellectual power, will power and iron integrity can achieve even if he or she rises to only a middling station in life. If you have further interest in this man I suggest Robert Coram’s biography Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, and Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd, by the Dutch Air Force officer Frans Osinga, if you want to explore his thinking in more depth. The latter book is a bit pricy but probably available in some academic libraries.

      1. james

        Applies to every walk of life:

        “And you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go.” He raised his hand and pointed. “If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.” Then Boyd raised his other hand and pointed another direction. “Or you can go that way and you can do something — something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?”


      2. Banger

        Thanks for bringing up Boyd. There have been many in the military who are relatively sane, even the occasional General. But let’s be clear what the U.S. military is and is not. It is not a force that exists to protect the territorial integrity of the USA or to defend the interests of the American people as a whole. A of military people want to believe that but it is false. It exists to first create profits for the MIC (including the gaggle of courtiers/consultants I often saw swarm at various locales in and around Washington DC) and secondly to promote the interests of various oligarchs around the world who include our corporate sectotr, organized crime of various kinds, local warlords and oligarchs and so on and, finally, to provide nice careers and fast promotions (wars are attractive for that reason) for the officer corps. All this can be safely done because Americans not only don’t believe in history or reason but have this mythological view that the U.S. military and its “brave men and women” are somehow holy–even more now despite the obviously poor track record since WWII. This myth that the American people hold onto with touching persistence seems to be the one myth that cannot be deconstructed.

        1. Jackrabbit

          American’s . . . [don’t] believe in history or reason

          Blaming the victim (again). What of the disenfranchisement and propaganda? And Americans are hardly the only people that believe that their military is honorable.

    3. EoinW

      To be fair to the Masters of the American Universe, they are simply playing the US’s strongest hand. America’s military might is second to none. It was inevitable that some psychos would come along to make use of the country’s greatest asset. After all, most of the country’s wealth has been poured into that military for decades. Therefore the blame goes well beyond the neocons. They’re simply a natural result to the equation. Diplomacy? Economic competition? The playing fields are too level. Why play a nice game of chess when you can bring a sledgehammer down on the board then declare victory?

  4. James

    And to think, we in the west naively imagined that we had “won” the cold war, when in fact Russia was just smart enough to give up that pointless standoff and move on first, leaving we the “victors” to stew in and expand on that same pointless and self-defeating ideology ever since. Game, set, and it would appear to be soon, match, to Putin and Russia. Well done neo-cons and neo-libs! One wonders, what will you do for an encore? The world breathlessly awaits.

    1. susan the other

      I know James! I thought that when the Wall came down. My thinking was that the Russians could see that we were so overextended that if they backed out we would just tip over and crash. And what did we do? We were so entrenched in a war economy we just thrashed around even when we bit the dirt.

  5. sufferin' succotash

    We aren’t hearing much from Victoria Nuland these days and I wonder why. Maybe her absence from the public scene is an instance of Mission Accomplished: Ukraine destabilized, Russia antagonized, so her work there was done. Given her neocon connections, there’s one possibility for Potomacologists to consider, namely that the entire operation was rogue from the start, undertaken independently of and contrary to what passes for White House policy. Once it was begun Obama had to go along or else advertise his own inability to control his own Executive Branch. So, to what end? Nothing could be more in the political interests of Nuland, Kagan, & Co. than a re-invention of the Cold War, especially since the famous Global War On Terror is rapidly losing its appeal. And a new Cold War isn’t going to re-invent itself.

    1. David Lentini

      Possibly. Or, as is also often the case, the neocons go back under their rocks when they fail and wait until the blowback is over before moving on to the next disaster. They’re just like the group chaing the Maltese Falcon—blow into town, cause murder and mayhem, and then leave for the next destination of a Falcon signting as if nothing had happened.

      1. EoinW

        Friends of Mr.Cairo? I like that analogy. However our neocons certainly do not do it with the style of Dashiell Hammett. “F the EU” is hardly the stuff dreams are made of.

    2. ohmyheck

      Unless Kagan and Nuland are banished by Obomber, and have absolutely zero access to power in the US gov’t, I won’t buy the old “Obama didn’t know” theory.

      1. sufferin' succotash

        It wouldn’t have to be a case of “if only the Czar knew”. Obama could have been aware of the plan all along, but was afraid that any attempt to stop it, even by firing Nuland, would be too politically embarrassing. Dirty laundry, etc.. It’s not as if he’s a tower of strength, after all.

    3. RUKIdding

      Interesting theory, if not possible to confirm. I, too, have wondered where the dreadful Nuland is hiding herself these days. Obama is clearly as unsuited to the job as he immediate predecessor was, albeit W had Daddy & Cheney to really run his show. Obama seems vastly out of his league and has chosen poor palace advisors, like some boy/girl kings of yore.

      No doubt the Kaganate of Nuland will emerge from under some scummy rock somewhere again in the future, and we’ll have to deal with their crapulous actions all over again. More’s the pity.

    4. kapala

      thanks for bringing this up, and all the comments that followed – certainly one of the more intriguing aspects of this coup.

      imho when you are the sole hegemon, everybody is a potential enemy, “allies” included. So i don’t doubt that multiple “contingency plans” exist for pretty much any country that is or could possibly become active on the geopolitical cheeseboard.
      imho Obama was not in the loop – at least not the inner loop. Obama is a follower, not a leader. And the folks beind the curtain correctly calculated that Obama simply could not back down to Putin yet again (Iran, Syria). If he did he would be permanently painted as putin’s patsy. Win-win!, so full speed ahead, bust out the hammer and let the pieces fall where they may.

    5. Banger

      As I’ve said for a long time–there is an ongoing power struggle in Washington between various factions–some ideological, some tribal, some religious, some personality conflicts between various oligarchs. The Ukraine operation was, I believe, largely a rogue operation run by the neocon faction who have power because they are experts and Machiavellian intrigue and have important connections with the intel services not only of the U.S. but other countries–i.e., they have their own private networks they’ve nurtured for many decades. Obama could not then stop them–the fact that the U.S. has not amped up rhetoric or pressure on Russia shows that the neocons overplayed their hands and upset the WH who sees its role as balancing the half-dozen factions they must deal with most of which play very a very serious brand of politics.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Obama apologist much?

        Obama has never evidenced any disagreement or disdain for Ukraine actions. And he doesn’t have to ramp up criticism when Congress is doing it for him. Not a peep from Obama about September’s Ukraine Freedom Act of 2014 (September, authorizing $350m in lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine, among other things) or House Resolution 758, which Ron Paul called a ‘declaration of war’ against Russia.

        1. Banger

          For the sake of argument let’s say Obama favored a less hostile relationship with Moscow–would he act any differently? He couldn’t publically oppose the neocons and their fellow travelers in Washington that would be political suicide the media would roast him over a hot fire to the cheers of everyone. This is the same as opposing Israel–many people in the FP community hate Israel but they can’t say so publically because the Israeli right has infiltrated every major American institution with their operatives–particularly Congress and the MSM. There is some force within government that is stopping things like war with Russia or war with Iran and I believe that is Obama.

          But certainly if the balance of power in Washington favored war he would make war–he is not a courageous leader.

          1. Jackrabbit

            “Political suicide”
            His political career is over. As Yves has noted, he is a narcissist who loves his job hob-nobbing with the elite. If Obama any reservations, moral or otherwise, he didn’t have to run for his second term.

            “There is some force within government that is stopping things . . .”
            The US public got fed up with the Iraq War crimes and the lying that led up to the war. THAT is the mysterious ‘force’ – not Obama.

            Good grief, Banger. This is just shoddy thinking.

  6. Brooklin Bridge

    What I find interesting is the notion that this new cold war “policy” came about due to pique, particularly Obama being resentful that Putin was acting like an adult while he, Obama, was acting like a a puppet. That’s gotta sting. More importantly though, it is very plausible. Our fearless leaders, along with the elite who make them dance, are not different from the rest of us simply because they have more money. That more money has the effect of turning them into spoiled brats that will throw tantrums if they don’t get their way.
    Given the extraordinary efforts our MSM go to to give us objective news and analysis, it’s surprising they haven’t focused more on this human side of things; but then -amazingly enough- they too have their blind spots. It seems to take an unusually perceptive economist to point out the blindingly obvious…

    1. Crazy Horse

      Bridge, I too have observed that Obomber couldn’t have been happy when Putin diplomatically made it impossible for him to attack Syria mere hours before he planned to unleash the “smart” bombs. But one must keep in mind that he isn’t in charge of national policy except in his role as Deceiver-in Chief.

      As I read Michael Hudson’s description of the folly of US foreign policy regarding post-Soviet Russia, I can’t help but wonder— who benefits from efforts to isolate, demonize, and initiate economic warfare against Russia? At least part of the answer lies in the necessity of an Imperial State to always have an enemy at hand to drive all available resources into the hands of the Military Industrial sector. The US has used the threat of Muslim terror attacks to fill that role very effectively for years, abetted by false flag attacks on 911, fabrications about WMD’s, and the demonetization of the long dead CIA asset Osama bin Laden, but an amorphous enemy like that is difficult to sell to the public. Russia is a much more useful enemy, benefiting from generations of collective propaganda memory as THE mother of all enemies. And with the hollowing out of the US middle class and transfer of most of their wealth into the hands of a few thousand Overlords, having a Putin to divert anger toward is of vital importance to the continued existence of the Empire.

      1. Banger

        All praise unto you!

        Putin is a smart and wily enemy worthy of cartoonizing by the propaganda organs. He is acutally a threat if he is attacked, whereas the terrorist threat is minor because people don’t know that most “terror” groups have long ago been infiltrated and run by various intel services just as organized crime is folded into the political system.

        1. Crazy Horse

          Banger, care to speculate which US clandestine group managed the 20 Saudis who were the face of the attacks on the WTC? Or were they supplied by the Saudi royals in exchange for lifetime unconditional protection by the US?

          All manner of miracles happened on that day, not the least of which was the recovery of the passport of one of the hijackers lying undamaged on the street— the clue that enabled the perpetrators of the crime to be so rapidly identified and the case solved conclusively so that no further investigation was necessary. I guess if you are very special you receive a passport printed on Kryptonite instead of paper like the one they issued me.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Crazy Horse,

        Good point about the military industrial sector. To a degree, I took my focus on Obama by this paragraph,

        Turkey already is moving out of the U.S.-European orbit, by turning to Russia for its energy needs. Iran also has moved into an alliance with Russia. Instead of the Obama administration’s neocons dividing and conquering as they had planned, they are isolating America from Europe and Asia. Yet there has been almost no recognition of this in the U.S. press, despite its front-page discussion throughout Europe and Asia. Instead of breaking up the BRICS, the dollar area is coming undone.

        in which the Obama administration’s neocons fail to divide and conquer (implicitly – I assumed – due to human pique, to not getting their way) and I assumed that Obama’s neocons had something to do with Obama and then made the additional jump to Obama himself as being pissed off at not getting his way on a variety of things such as Syria and troops in Iraq and Snowden and Assange and so on, thus being more inclined to get rid of such people as Chuck Hagel who have been described here as a restraining influence and being inclined to promote such people as Susan Rice might want – Susan Rice being described here as an advocate of the kinds of policies Mr. Hudson is describing intended to punish Russia but instead simply driving Russia to align with non European sphere.

    2. Banger

      I don’t think Obama was that pissed at Obama–but he was resentful that Putin had freedom of movement and could make big decisions without having to pass everything by a haggling and unruly Court in Washington. Obama is NOT in charge in Washington or even, perhaps, in the WH. Putin is in charge in Moscow.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I never said it was Obama that was pissed and therefore responsible. Among other things, Obama is such a narcissist that he is probably incapable of recognizing that Putin has been looking more statesmanlke than him of late.

        The NSA (and possibly the DoD generally) was completely unhinged at its inability to get to Snowden. There were even public statements to the effect that a death warrant was on his head and someone should take him out. And look at the forced landing of Correa’s airplane. That was one indicator of the desperation to get him. I can see Snowden alone being seen as a casus belli in some circles.

        1. susan the other

          I don’t think Snowden was clever enough to get to Moscow on his own. I think he had oodles of high level State Department help. So that creates lots more questions. Which seem to be on the back burner for now. But it also does seem to be apparent that we are not giving Russia the full US War Machine treatment. So US War Theater is a possibility. Just thinkin’.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            With all due respect, he was clever enough to DELIBERATELY find a role that would allow him to get all those documents when he’d barely been inside the security state, in terms of tenure, and to HK and stay alive. And he got trapped in Moscow in transit. That was not his end destination. If I were anyone in a position of influence in the US, that would be the one of the last places I’d want him trapped as events played out. The US most assuredly wanted him back under our control and to give him the Chelsea Manning treatment ASAP.

            Remember how he was stuck in that little transit hotel for weeks while he was trying to find a way out?

          1. bruno marr

            Ah, yes, air piracy by proxy! Gotta love those snively Euro’s. They’ll do anything to appease the American market.

        2. Banger

          Snowden is hated in “some circles” but those circles are just another faction vying for power and the Snowden revalations made them lose power. Many people within the power structure do not like what the NSA is doing including rival bureaucracies.

          At any rate there is virtually no chance of anything more than Cold War Lite with Russia–enough tension to keep the military budgets high but no more.

  7. camelotkidd

    Robert Parry wrote one of the best articles pointing out the madness behind neocon ideology–consortiumnews.com/2014/04/27/why-neocons-seek-to-destabilize-russia/
    “There is a “little-old-lady-who-swallowed-the-fly” quality to neocon thinking. When one of their schemes goes bad, they simply move to a bigger, more dangerous scheme.”

  8. dearieme

    American policy has presumably always been in hock to American corporations. That’s why she was so keen to end the British and French Empires – to give her corporations more access to those markets. But any policy that drives Russia into China’s arms is so clearly a folly that there’s not a lot more analysis necessary. No wonder old Kissinger thinks it’s all bollocks.

  9. washunate

    I agree generally, but I think there’s a flaw in the emphasis on how this affects the US overseas. The Bush-Obama policy response isn’t primarily aimed at the ROW. It’s aimed domestically. To borrow a phrase, the looting must go on.

    It’s the next, more overt phase of the assault on Constitutional governance, the part that couldn’t be unveiled without a cover event like 9/11 and the anthrax scares and mushroom clouds and yellow cake and all that. That the US position is weakened overseas is really immaterial to the US authoritarians because no country or coalition of countries seriously threatens the US in any kind of offensive military capacity.

    And of course NATO expansion goes back even further to Clinton.

    Which is the heart of the matter: the Bretton Woods system collapsed over a period of a couple decades of unfunded war. First US foreign exchange reserves started falling in the 50s, then silver was removed from US coinage, then the London Gold Pool collapsed, then Nixon closed the gold window itself. By the 1980s, even copper was removed from the penny.

    Now, whatever exactly was the hodgepodge cobbled together of an international financial system after Bretton Woods ended finally collapsed itself in the 1990s. The past couple decades has basically been a conflict between returning America to a Constitutional republic, or abandoning that notion entirely. The quiet, behind the scenes quasi fascism is no longer working. The fraud is so deep, the misallocation of resources so grand, that the entire power of the government is now necessary to simply maintain the status quo of massive concentration of wealth and power.

    What scares the authoritarians isn’t Russia and China and Iran and India working together. It’s a return to rule of law in the US that would send criminals to jail and put their companies through bankruptcy.

    1. e

      Speaking of putting criminals in jail, check out the Bill Black post Yves put up this morning after the Links post. If the 2nd Appellate Court reversal decision isn’t in turn reversed either by the same court en banke or by SCOTUS, kleptocracy will have been institutionalized. If it hasn’t been already.

      1. washunate

        Agreed. I think the question at this point is whether we will de-institutionalize the kleptocracy, or whether our institutions themselves will collapse at some point.

  10. Michael Hudson

    I really left too much implicit, not explicit. Here’s what I thought was evident, but needs to be spelled out:

    The United States for its part has adopted von Clausewitz’s statement that war is an extension of foreign policy in a very limited form: war seems to be the only lever that the United States is using in its foreign policy these days. But that does not mean that all wars have a long-term policy in mind. It seems to be war without policy – military force (from the air only) in itself, making America only a paper tiger when it comes to ground troops. Lacking an ability to mount a ground invasion, its only real threat is to tear economies apart by aerial bombing, as it has done to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria – and in its proxy war in Ukraine. It can smash and grab, but not build.
    There is only one conclusion of such strategy: to drive enemies together, to drive neutral countries to join them in order to stop the threat to grab all the world’s resources and destroy all governments that act independently in their own interest. Old Europe has not reached that stage yet, so is safe. But the rest of the world is pulling together.

    1. Larry B.

      Wars don’t need a “long-term policy objective” to be profitable. In fact, having an objective can reduce profits as it makes it easier to end a war before all the money has been squeezed out.

    2. OIFVet

      There is only one conclusion of such strategy: to drive enemies together, to drive neutral countries to join them in order to stop the threat to grab all the world’s resources and destroy all governments that act independently in their own interest.

      I get it now: this is an 11 dimensional chess game whose aim is to bring back a multipolar world and re-assert state sovereignty to push back against globalization. It’s brilliant, in an unintended kind of way.

      1. Jackrabbit

        I think he meant “outcome” rather than “conclusion”. As in, it is a hubris-induced short-sighted attempt to bully opponents that will almost inevitably backfire.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The drones cant get around physics. They still need fuel. They still need to carry ordinance/tools/whatever to be useful. The question is what is the relative trade off between carrying extra shielding to protect the drone from electronic/magnetic interference, more fuel, or better ordinance. Drones at military bases crash all the time from local interference. In deserted areas, they work fine, but the ground invasion and “shock and awe” both preceeded the drone attacks in Iraq. Even if they solve those problems, drones are under a certain size are at risk from crashing from random gusts much like model airplanes. “Perfectly level flying is the supreme challenge of the scale model pilot.”

        Barry Obama might think they are magic because of a good sales job, but drones sent to Iran have been captured because they aren’t magic. The drones only started to be authorized in the U.S. after the old television signals were disabled. There was too much clutter for the drones to fly and communicate with the ground.

        1. optimader

          ““Perfectly level flying is the supreme challenge of the scale model pilot.”
          Drone are not scale model aircraft. Drone are capable of autonomous flight, they don’t necessarily need humans in the loop. The human is the “nuisance” in the targeting protocol to keep it “moral”.

    3. susan the other

      I thank you for your explanation of what should have been obvious to me – that we and the EU wanted Russia to share the wealth. I shouldn’t have been so surprissed – even the Mafia has a business plan. A little fee here, a little one there. That’s why McCain said that Russia wasn’t a country, it was just a gas station. OK then John. Let’s just siphon because that’s what we do best until we have the power to do a complete takeover. And now all sorts of sparks are flying out of my brain. Like, it was OK for the big corporations to put mom and pop out of business and shut down Mainstreet, that was just capitalism, but it is not OK to shut down the middlemen on gas and oil. They always get their cut. Like Stalin (or Lenin?) said about the UK (and the US now) “(It) is a nation of shopkeepers.” So retail is our answer to poverty? OK. We’re done. I did actually already know we were done.

  11. Steven

    My questions center around this section: Perverted Diplomacy – Promoting Ideology Rather Than National Interest. I find it hard to believe that ideology or the personal inclinations of the leaders of major powers like Germany or the U.S. have much if anything to do with those nations’ policies, foreign or domestic. That the prospective ‘leader’ actually believes what he or she has been hired by those nations’ real powers that be (PTB) – those who have or can create lots of ex nihilo money – may make the ‘leader’ a better sales person. But lack of such beliefs is not an inherent disqualification. Take for example Ronald Reagan. In a more literate age the PTB might have been afraid the symbolism inherent in hiring an actor to serve as the country’s nominal head might have caused some ‘public diplomacy’ problems. (I have no idea what Reagan actually believed. Maybe he didn’t either. But he sure attracted a lot of quality people, e.g. Kevin Phillips and Paul Craig Roberts.)

    Anyhow the moment of truth for “Old Europe” and other U.S. imperial vassals passed in 1972 if not many years before. Rather than continuing to throw ‘good money after bad’, if they had set up something like the current BRICS system and extricated themselves from the US dollar trap they and the world economy – US included – would be in a LOT better shape now. Ultimately, of course, it boils down to a failure of leadership. But my guess is that the explanation for that failure lies with the (money) PTB. Having accumulated hundreds of billions (trillions?) in Central Bank balances and US Treasury debt, those PTB were reluctant to say “Oops! We’ve acquired a lot of ‘Debt that can’t be repaid (and) won’t be.'” and move on. Jimmy Carter was certainly no saint. But his fate illustrates what happens to a leader who crosses the PTB attempting to put a country on sustainable economic foundations (e.g. energy / oil).

    The bottom line here is the free lunch inherent in ex nihilo money creation. This goes WAY beyond free lunch and rentier income to buying (sic) and devouring the whole hog. In “The Koch Brothers’ Governors” Hudson writes “…the whole country needs a more enlightened discourse on wealth creation.. This really gets to the core of what is wrong with the entire profession of economics. For some tips, take a look at the work of Frederick Soddy:

    As Ruskin said, a logical definition of wealth is absolutely needed for the basis of economics if it is to be a science. The doctrine of energy, and the laws of thermodynamics do allow of this.

    “Soddy, Frederick M.A., F.R.S.. Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt (Kindle Locations 1883-1884). Distributed Proofreaders Canada.”

    I suspect the real reason the U.S. has gotten away with sustaining its “Empire of Debt” for more than a half-century is:

    The modern wars that break out between industrialised nations have a precisely parallel explanation. Then the belligerent nations rather than individuals shoulder the debt. The glut of wealth, that in time of peace cannot be profitably exchanged, is now owed for as it is produced by the nations as such Along with the flower of the country’s manhood, it is destroyed as rapidly as the most powerful modern engines of destruction allow. The dead do not return, but the wealth destroyed discards its corruptible body to take on an incorruptible. It is national debt, better than wealth to individuals, a permanent source of wealth, defying the passage of time and the ravages of rats and worms.

    MONEY versus MAN: A STATEMENT OF THE WORLD PROBLEM FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE NEW ECONOMICS, FREDERICK SODDY, London : E. Mathews & Marrot, 1931, pp. 27-28 Figuring the US was ‘good for it’ the world’s PTB continued to pour good money after bad. After all, the only thing the US had to do was pay the interest on its debt. A core principle of enlightened banking is not to seek repayment of at least national debt. What the retail market and the PTB want after all is the ‘free lunch’, the income stream, from their money – NOT the money itself. (If it was the money they would have kept and spent it.)


    hey hey there! stop already, Vatch’s head is hurtin from all these facts and analysifications. Can we go back to good vs. eeeeevil please?

  13. Banger

    On the surface, Hudson makes sense here. But I don’t buy the basic premise. The New Cold War is only peripherally ideological in my view. It is mainly a function of intra-Washington political conflict. We have to remember that Washington is the world’s largest political playground/battleground because that is where the big money and power is at the moment. Running drugs is fairly profitable but picking up a big gov’t contract–now that’s the ticket! Unless you’ve hung out in the beehive of lobbyists, hustlers, con men, whores and so on that is Washington you don’t know what it has become over the years. People can smell the stench coming out of that town–but it’s even worse than they imagine! And it’s all very logical if you think about it. If there are no values other than the “bottom-line” then how the hell does anyone expect statesmen (and women) to emerge? At one time patriotism meant something in that town and I remember that time–but it is now something to be manipulated and has little meaning. Unlike most people here, I believe Obama is attempting to moderate the mob gathered outside the palace and blunt the worse instincts or the thieves that surround him.

    1. Steven

      Unlike most people here, I believe Obama is attempting to moderate the mob gathered outside the palace and blunt the worse instincts or the thieves that surround him.

      I will sell you all the government property in Arizona for a song! (Oh, wait! The government is already in the process of doing just that – only not to you.) The Money Power (MP) long ago adopted the Wobblies’ (IWW) slogan of “one big party”. Those who fail to see that may present a greater threat to the future than those who buy the MP’s lies hook, line and sinker.

    2. James

      Unlike most people here, I believe Obama is attempting to moderate the mob gathered outside the palace and blunt the worse instincts or the thieves that surround him.

      Sorry Banger, I don’t think Obama holds or exercises that much power and I think foreign policy is too critical to be haphazardly be left to the whims of assorted power groups. I think it’s all by design (albeit perhaps a very poor one!) from above, the purpose of which could be loosely termed as an anti-strategy, or loosely planned chaos. I think the overriding concerns in DC these days are to continue and escalate the GWOT by any and all means possible, as that is the political justification for everything going on now (just listen to Cheney’s response to the torture information releases), and then use that to “control what we can,” primarily domestically, and make damn sure that “if we can’t control it, then know one can” everywhere else. And of course all of this is framed within the larger and much more ominous energy and natural resource limitations that industrial civilization is unsuccessfully trying to come to terms with.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Yes. Banger wants us to believe that there is no agency. Its all a hodge-podge of chaos and intrigue. Like ‘fog of war’, no guilt can be assigned.

        Banger’s grand jury fails to indict.

        Banger also wants us to know that the ‘fault’ lies with “the left” and/or the American people. (Blame the victim.)

        1. Jim

          In an attempt to move the discussion about the nature of our modern State forward I would like to summarize briefly:

          Banger, just in this thread, has laid out a series of assumptions:

          Obama is not in charge in Washington or even perhaps the White House

          Ongoing serious struggle in Washington between many different factions–ideological,
          tribal, religious, personality.

          White House and Obama attempt to arbitrate and balance these factions.

          Military not really protecting citizen interests, but rather interests of various oligarchs, organized crime, local warlords.

          His assumptions, in turn, seem to depend on his conception of how the modern State actually functions and what elements it consists of

          What specifically are your assumptions about the modern State?

          Lambert and Yves seem to think,in part, that a negative political consequence of such a perspective is demoralization because such an entity appears totally out of our control.

          How do you see it?

          1. Banger

            Well laid out. These are assumptions, btw, based on extensive research and my own knowledge of government and living and hanging out in Washington for a very long time. Also I use logic–if there is no unitary “idea” that unites various parts of the power elite then only the quest for power and influence remains and, history shows, this leads to factionalism, court intrigue and, eventually, chaos. We are not quite at the chaos stage but we could get there. As I see it, there are no clear mechanisms for a “unitary excecutive”–the Cheney/Bush people attempted it but it fell apart by 2006.

            1. Steven

              I contend there is indeed a “unitary “idea” that unites various parts of the power elite”. It is preserving the power of money – a specifically the US dollar. With the demise of the Robber Barron generation Wall Street and its banks took charge of managing the nation’s wealth. But as Hudson has often explained “the product of Wall Street is debt.” Combine that with Soddy’s observation that money is inherently debt, i.e. a claim on society’s wealth and Hyman Minsky’s “Any unit (i.e. anyone) can create money. The problem is getting it accepted.”

              And everybody with money (or to create it by the billions) gets to enjoy the power they are acquiring over the lives and labor not just of those now living but their posterity down to the nth generation.

              The bottom line here is that both Wall Street and the US government are ‘printing’ the world’s money. It is the job of Wall Street’s financial engineers to get debt ( AKA ‘money’) they are creating “accepted” peacefully. When they can’t it is the US government’s job to use ‘other means’ as required. And this goes not just for new “product” but for all the old money floating around out there in the world. The imperial hegemon gets to buy up the world with ex nihilo money. But along with the “exorbitant privilege” comes the responsibility to insure all the paper it has hung in the past continues to be “accepted”.

              1. Steven

                (This got screwed up by my rotten wireless adapted. Here it is again – hopefully correct this time…)
                I contend there is indeed a “unitary “idea” that unites various parts of the power elite”. It is preserving the power of money – a specifically the US dollar. With the demise of the Robber Barron generation Wall Street and its banks took charge of managing the nation’s wealth. But as Hudson has often explained “the product of Wall Street is debt.” Combine that with Soddy’s observation that money is inherently debt, i.e. a claim on society’s wealth and Hyman Minsky’s “Any unit (i.e. anyone) can create money. The problem is getting it accepted.”

                The bottom line here is that both Wall Street and the US government are ‘printing’ the world’s money. It is the job of Wall Street’s financial engineers to get debt ( AKA ‘money’) they are creating “accepted” peacefully. When they can’t it is the US government’s job to use ‘other means’ as required. And this goes not just for new “product” but for all the old money floating around out there in the world. The imperial hegemon gets to buy up the world with ex nihilo money. But along with the “exorbitant privilege” comes the responsibility to insure all the paper it has hung in the past continues to be “accepted”.

                And everybody with money (or the power to create it by the trillions) gets to enjoy the power they are acquiring over the lives and labor not just of those now living but their posterity down to the nth generation.

                1. Jim


                  Aren’t there different factions contesting over the nature, definition and preservation of the power of money?

                  Is there complete unity among intellectuals/professionals at the Federal Reserve/Department of the Treasury/regulatory agencies etc. on these issues?

                  Are there different schools of thought on the nature and definition of money among academics within different departments of economics and finance?

                  For example, from a Neo-Keynesian perspective do Steve Keen (Circuit School) and many MMT theorists agree about the nature of money and its definition or is there a difference in emphasis–Keen tilting toward an emphasis on private bank-created money and MMT tilting toward an emphasis on public State-created money.

                  Could these different tilts have institutional consequences as far as preserving the power of money?

                  1. Steven


                    There are no doubt system details to be worked out by Keen, the MMT people and anyone who is into – and competent in – that sort of thing. But for the rest of us the issue is not really money creation but WEALTH creation. (Hudson says as much in “The Koch Brothers’ Governors”.) The whole point of a monetary system is to facilitate the creation and distribution of wealth. But our civilization has gotten in backwards. The economic system exists to facilitate the creation of money – the military industrial system, wars, the American lifestyle are ‘good’ because they allow Wall Street and its banks to create more debt (i.e. money).

                    I really don’t believe it would be all that tough to create a monetary system that facilitates genuine wealth creation – once we as a culture answer some basic question like: what is wealth; to how much of it is any one generation entitled; in an age of mechanization and automation, who really creates wealth and what do we do with people who don’t or can’t (is there really a ‘right to life?)

                    There are some system details that appear to be clear even at this point, however; e.g. no person or nation is entitled to a perpetual free lunch by creating ex nihilo money or through a claim on society’s wealth established by their fore-bearers growing at exponential rates from the past to the end of time.

          2. Jackrabbit

            I’ll start with an example: that environmentalists contend for power and influence in energy policy would be a truism but fails to capture the real state of play where energy companies pay billions to ensure political influence, positive media coverage, positive reports from think tanks, etc.

            The same dynamic holds true in other key areas like pharmaceuticals, finance, and . . . . foreign policy where neocons/neolibcons have a tight grip on power via an assortment of interests that they have assiduously lined up behind their agenda (MIC, energy, foreign trade, Israel, etc.).

            For someone who proclaims to have a deep understanding of Washington to pretend that important decisions might be up for grabs is laughable. NC readers may have previously noticed how Banger occasionally seizes upon/spotlights minor, fleeting, ‘gains’ by realists which always proof illusory.

            The ‘court intrigue’ story is as much a cover-all as the ‘deep state’ and just as entertaining for those who don’t know better.

            H O P

            1. skippy

              That they give out medals is contrary to Bangers pettifoggery.

              skippy…. by the time the honing is done, there will be only a nub I fear…

            2. Jackrabbit

              To complete the thought:

              When was the last time you heard environmentalists complaining about ‘court intrigue’? Never. They know who is pulling the energy-related strings.

              H O P

            3. Jim

              Today in the Financial Times on page 2 Geoff Dyer wrote an article entitled “Democrats’ report underlines growth of “deep state” in US.”

              He quotes favorably from Michael Glennon’s recent book “National Security and Double Government,” that “increasingly national security policy is forged and carried out by a managerial class that is effectively removed from electoral and constitutional restraints.”

              I see this managerial class as the top two hundred to three hundred high and mid-level national security officers (some of who may have linkages to deep state intelligence organizations, military unites, and possibly criminal operations of some kinds. They do not function secretly but they receive incentives to behave the way they do from the political structures in which they operate.

              Would you support such a potential characterization

              1. Jackrabbit

                You are misunderstanding my point. I am not denying that there is jockeying for power or some amount of intrigue. That is part and parcel of politics. The point I am making is that certain groups have the bulk of the power and, effectively a ‘controlling interest’, if you will. They have the initiative, and barring some embarrassing event, will generally get their way.

                Consider Dodd-Frank financial reform. After the financial crisis ‘reform’ was a political necessity. What was crafted was a complex piece of legislation that was, behind the scenes, largely nullified and/or rolled back. Parts that actually benefit the financial industry (like enhanced secrecy, stealth bailouts via consumer ‘bail-in’s, etc.) remain. Today Congress they just passed budget legislation that includes a further roll-back for derivatives.

                As far as the ‘Deep State’: I don’t deny that something like the ‘Deep State’ exists (even if I also agree with Lambert that it is something of a ‘hairball’). But it like ‘court intrigue’ it is a shiny object that is only useful to academics, lobbyists, and scaremongers. For example, Banger has spoken often of the ‘Deep State’ BUT the strategy he seems to offer to counter it is to run into the arms of the oligarchs (because they have the power and knowledge to interface with ‘Deep State’ elements). This aligns with Banger’s libertarian leanings but strengthening oligarchical power seems more likely to strengthen the ‘Deep State’ than effectively counter it.

                We can’t vote against the ‘Deep State’. And making the ‘Deep State’ into a campaign issue is likely to be counterproductive. IMO the best strategy is to ‘drain the swamp’ via tax reform and campaign finance reform. It is MUCH more fruitful to talk of, and work toward, these reforms than to be distracted by shiny objects.

                1. skippy

                  Big push on here in Australia with the “we need” the egregiously wealthy or we all die shtick.

                  Skippy… even on the Aussie blog Yves sometimes links to, its infested and do they loth NC.

                  1. skippy

                    Case in point…

                    No agency!! Corporations don’t drive on the roads, corporation don’t drink water, corporations don’t take the shuttle to the Sydney, corporations don’t go to the doctor. No agency!

                    Who are you trying to impose contributions on amenities never utilized? No no no the end user must pay because its their demand that pulls it all into existence. Or have you changed your mind on that now?

                    December 12, 2014 at 7:39 pm

                    Well corporations, as you are wont to repeat ad nauseaum, don’t consume resources – and can’t effect anything of themselves (don’t have agency) – ergo to place restrictions on something which does nothing is beyond arbitrary, its utterly incomprehensible.

                    If, on the other hand, you concede that corporations can/do have agency, through policies and incentive structures and vision statements, then we can start to talk about what restraints may be conceivably brought to bear…

                    corporations are political players, hence they have agency

                    HA!!! But governments don’t?!?!?

                    December 12, 2014 at 7:53 pm

                    Big push on here in Australia with the “we need” the egregiously wealthy or we all die shtick.
                    [anon] … even on the Aussie blog Yves sometimes links to, its infested and do they loth NC.


                    skip here… what kicked this all off?

                    December 12, 2014 at 6:24 pm

                    Corporations receive the lions share of both subsidy’s and offsets, yet they pay almost nothing for the infrastructure put in place by citizens contributions.

                    Skippy… and now when the economy is weak… we have the coup de grâce via TTP et al…

                2. Jim

                  I tend to agree with you that certain groups have the bulk of the power and effectively a controlling interest.

                  At the more abstract level I have been arguing that both Big Capital and Big State make up the twin pillars of the forces we are fighting against. Each pillar often supports the others interests but each also has its own unique foundations of power. For Big State power seems to center around political loyalty, political obligation and obedience . For Big Capital, on the other hand, power centers around disproportionate bargaining power in private contract negotiations.

                  Why in your opinion does the Left only focus on Big Capital when Big State seems equally predominant in our modern structure of power and will eventually have to be dealt with in some way?

                  1. Jackrabbit

                    Business and State are resource allocators. One is guided by markets, the other is guided by social imperatives (like education and defense). Among those social imperatives is “regulation of business”, which is really just correcting for market failures.

                    The left-right divide has traditional been defined in terms of capital. The state is just the battleground. But identity politics changed that, causing many to see the state as being ‘on their side’. As a result, they reflexively approve of a (too-)powerful state.

                    We all have a duty to ensure that the state doesn’t grow into Big State; an entity which acts against the best interest of all of its citizens. However, today we have a state that is at once Big State and little state. Ordinary people and small business experience the Big State, while the very wealthy and big corporations see a little state that they can lobby and control because their money buys them influence.

                    ‘The left’ is not monolithic. The corporate friendly Democratic Party is very different from real progressives. I believe that most principled people on both the left and right are opposed to both Big Capital and Big State as they are both serial abusers of individual rights and human dignity.

              2. Lambert Strether

                Like I’ve been saying, like kudzu all over everything; a virulently viral meme. The number of 200 or so sounds an order of magnitude off, to me, if you count people like retired generals going on TV — notice the Flexian state change between state and civil society — and mercenaries. I’d call the whole shebang the “national security class” and note its overlap, at the tippy top, with the “political class” (DiFi, Hayden). One of these days I’ll write the post that urges the idea that a distinction between the state and civil society is an artificial, academic one, made only for purposes of study. “It’s called a ruling class because it rules,” as Arthur Silber says.

  14. kevinearick

    Telephones talking to telephones, telling their automaton carriers what to do, to show up on the freeway at 8am, so they can all be exploited, is not an economy. Uber isn’t doing anything new; it’s simply further isolating the individual, increasing the efficiency of extortion. Edison made the same mistake. And German Mitts are the last in position to complain. Thyssen, IBM & Friends, now bringing you The Cloud, experimented on human beings and threw them in the oven when they were done, with US Steel, all of which are expected symptoms of empire.

    Empires live and die on the ability to arbitrarily assign debt to the individual, by force if necessary, taking the front end of the distribution and placing it in back. The argument of the monetarist is that you are helpless alone and must join a peer group, that the irrational market outlasts all individual investors. All politics is local in that controlling families at the community level breed out what they recognize as competitors, with increasing fiscal taxation. Communism doesn’t work, and always ends in fascism, because it places all participants in the same time, a prison of prison departmentalization.

    Upon reflection, the number of times you have been misrepresented (lied to) by authority and the number of inconsistencies (lies) you have found in Empire History, do you really think that only a handful of individuals, as it suggests, exited its market of false assumptions?

    What you learn over time is that time is the trees, frequency is the forest, and there are a relatively infinite number of dimensions. Every marriage is bonded by a common, with a potential difference, creating resonance at some frequency. Contract marriage is the empire common, chasing empire accounting money with compliance to civil law, feeding the bankruptcy queue with natural resource exploitation. It’s just a reference extension, carrying a load, like translating a D to a B with a Bell Curve, as a system retarder, which is what you see coming out of Stanford.

    The problem with printing money to get to the future is that no one going to the future uses toilet paper, or gold, as a yard stick. The planet has a hold of this empire and is whipsawing it, because it has no labor for propulsion. Keep trying to prime that pump, expecting a different result. Actuarial accounting has always been a ponzi; Warren Buffet is just better at it than others, because he had a head start. Silicon Valley and Europe deserve each other.

    To the extent the law is relative, and they ALL are, the only rules are those imposed upon the weak, by the less weak, herded up for the purpose. Don’t build your life on false assumptions and expect a happy outcome. The real estate agencies are crooks, public education is a farce, and the police state is fascist, surprise, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is a crook and no on is capable of ignoring the artificial business cycle.

    If you have nested flags on your government paper from a third party – social services, a lawyer, a real estate agency, you can go to a judge in the fourth branch and motion for relief, but don’t expect the next iteration to be better. The wizard is a travelling snake-oil salesman, and the witch is wicked, selling out her own sister, but who willingly chose to enter the casino, expecting anything else?

  15. Patrick Donnelly

    The antagonism is a show.

    The true opponent has yet to be identified, but the removal of most of their Pu may be a clue. Or is it another, whose elites are making investments in the West, while the going is still good?

    Note the absence next year of USCVNs from the Pacific. Submarines may be now in charge of the battlefield? Will there be another tsunami? It appears that International law has been suspended for some time….

  16. calsa

    I’m just worried someone will take Hudson’s elevator tollbooth idea and run with it. In the world in which we live it doesn’t sound so outlandish.

  17. Jim

    It also seems important to begin to examine potential intellectual networks of influence in Russia, itself, which may be a source of many of Putin’s geo-strategic/political/cultural ideas and actions.

    There is a controversial Professor of Sociology at Moscow State University by the name of Alexander Dugin who recently completed a book “The Fourth Political Theory” which essentially argues that Eurasianism considers Western culture and logic as simply a local and temporary phenomenon and affirms that there exists in the world a multiplicity of cultures and civilizations–one of which is contemporary Russia. In other words Dugin and Putin both seem to reject the attempted universalization of the Western project.

    Dugin asserts that modernity is a phenomenon peculiar only to the West and he seems to view eurasianism as a poliltical/religious/philosophical project that depends on the articulation of a conservative sociology meant as an alternative to Western Liberalism.

    Strangely enough, what may be playing out philosophically in the foreign policy realm is a contemporary battle between 2 different networks of conservatives (neocons in the West and Eurasianists in Russia).

  18. Jackrabbit

    I find Hudson’s first sentence a bit misleading as it makes it seem as though the realignment has just happened. I think it is important to recognize that Russia and other countries have been unhappy for years (recall Obama’s promises of a ‘reset’) as it better shows the enormous FAIL of neolibcon foreign policy agenda.

    Along those lines, I think Hudson should have mentioned Libya. This is an important antecedent as I’ve read that Putin and others were galvanized by the Obama Administration’s turning a UN-approved ‘No-fly’ zone into a bombing campaign. The Ukraine gambit has only exacerbated this concern among many nations, a major unforced error by the US that handed Putin a propaganda victory (while leaving the US/EU with an economic basket case that needs hundreds of billions of dollars in support).

    Also, everyone focuses on Russian energy sales to Europe but Russia’s vast energy reserves are also important to China and India, who would otherwise be much less able/willing to counter/act against US/Western interests.


    Lastly, as an aside: I again draw reader attention to Kissinger’s Wall Street Journal Op-Ed after Ukraine was defeated by the rebels in August (On the Assembly of a New World Order; published Aug 29).

    IMO this message to the ‘owners’ was the first indication of the US/West response would be. After excusing US behavior as stemming from a failure of the world order to meet the challenge of current realities (many would instead say that the US took advantage of outdated mechanisms to throw its weight around), Kissinger declares that the US neocons will not back down from their NWO agenda:

    . . . the affirmation of America’s exceptional nature must be sustained. History offers no respite to countries that set aside their sense of identity in favor of a seemingly less arduous course. But [sic] nor does it assure success for the most elevated convictions in the absence of a comprehensive geopolitical strategy.

    Although understated and oblique, this is a rather belligerent message from the dean of the American Foreign Policy establishment (who likes to couch his neocon leanings in ‘realist’ language). Everything that has happened since is consistent with it. The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 was sponsored/introduced within weeks (September 16) of Kissinger’s Op-Ed (description of the bill is here and an example of the criticism it received is here) and Ukraine’s President got to address Congress soon after. More recently, House Resolution 758 condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine was passed on Dec. 4. Ron Paul described HR758 as a ‘declaration of war’.

    Also of note: the Obama Administration is now seeking a new AUMF (ostensibly directed at ISIS but including “associated forces” – rather vague term) with no troop or geographical restraint.

    H O P

    1. Jackrabbit

      Use the HOP below instead of the one above.

      Also note: the comment that it hops to is actually in the middle of a thread. So, after the hop, scroll up to the first in the thread.

      H O P

  19. Mel

    John Ralston Saul wrote Voltaire’s Bastards explaining the Rational™ mindset, and described “courtiers” who are the operatives in the ingrown political system of a court. You could understand the doings of European politicians by thinking of them not as national leaders, but as courtiers. The court would be the transnational corporatist system that allocates all the money and moxie lately. Even in Versailles in 1788, courtiers had actual roles such as the Comte de Cy or the Duc de Là; just that that wasn’t how they spent their time. It could be that the only difference between Putin and the others is that Putin actually is a national leader; his decisions proceed from what Russia actually is, and what Russia actually can do.

  20. Marko

    Hudson: “….American sanctions and New Cold War policy has driven these Asian countries together in association with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an alternative to NATO, and in the BRICS moves to avoid dealing with the dollar area, the IMF and World Bank austerity programs……”

    A few days ago I saw a live video of IMF’s Lagarde speaking at a conference in Chile. Her pleading on behalf of the IMF was so pathetic , I almost felt sorry for that vile hag. Almost. Latin America has learned their lesson re: reliance on the IMF in times of distress ( or at any time , for that matter ).

    I can’t find the video , but here’s the text :


    Lagarde : “…..This is certainly not your grandmother’s IMF – we are adapting to the changing needs of our members. Here in Latin America, the Fund’s role has shifted from “crisis responder” to “insurance provider”…….This is why we are here this week: to engage in a dialogue, learn from you, and increase our understanding of your economies and of the concerns and aspirations of the people. The IMF is your institution, and the Fund’s staff is at your service. ”


    Translation : “We’re different now. No , really ! Now we’re nice ! Come back to us — pretty please ?? “

  21. Chris in Paris

    Just wanted to point out that the Mistral is not an aircraft carrier but an amphibious assault ship.

    France has built only one aircraft carrier (for its own navy) and it has been problematic in use.

  22. Huckleberry

    Hudson has lost the plot. There is no “new cold war” – there is a hot economic war, and the US is, at this writing, winning. Shale oil – if production can be sustained for just a decade – might just do what invasions and airstrikes have not. The problem is that it will hurt “friends” like the Saudis as well as “foes” like Russia, Iran, et al, etc, ad nauseam.

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