Iraq Coverage: Yet Another Cavalcade of Stupid at the Wall Street Journal

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Normally, although I don’t like the Wall Street Journal’s editorial line, I take the perhaps old-fashioned view that many if not most investors can’t completely lie to themselves, and so there’s a market for reporting excellence, especially on firms (e.g., Boeing) for which the Journal caters. But a recent article on Iraq, “Trump Pushes Iraq, Threatens Sanctions After Vote to Expel U.S. Troops,” has shaken my faith. Of course, not all the stupid comes from the WSJ. U.S. officials helped!

So this will be a very simple post: I’ll just go through the article, pluck out as many solecisms as I can, throw them into buckets, and comment briefly on them. The buckets: Obtuseness, outright errors, lazy reporting, ignorance, strange omissions, and a general inability to look outside our foreign policy establishment’s imperial mindset. I’ll just take the paragraphs in order.

* * *

(1) Obtuseness:

President Trump threatened Iraq with sanctions and a billfor billions of dollars if the U.S. is forced to withdraw its troops from the nation after the Iraqi parliament, responding to a U.S. airstrike that killed a powerful Iranian general on its soil, voted in favor of expelling American forces

And:

Mr. Trump balked at leaving Iraq without reimbursement.

As Yves has pointed out, what you do with a bill is pay it. What Trump has just done is put a price on our withdrawal from Iraq. In other words, it’s a deal. At the very least, this is a policy innovation (and did anyone in the IMF — or the Kremlin — notice?)

(2) Lazy reporting:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said pressure from Iran prompted Mr. Abdul-Mahdi and Iraqi lawmakers to act.

We not only whacked Soleimani at the Baghdad Airport, we whacked an Iraqi citizen, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Surely the Iraqis had reasons of their own to act, beyond Pompeo’s 1-dimensional chess? Yet the Journal simply quotes Pompeo, without contextualizing his remarks.

(3) Obtuseness:

Iran has vowed harsh retaliation, stoking fears of wider conflict across the Middle East, where Gen. Soleimani cultivated a network of proxies that could be activated to strike U.S. interests.

There’s no reason whatever to limit the potential of “wider conflict” to the Middle East; indeed, Iran has form in that regard, as even the Washington Post has noticed.

(4) Lazy reporting:

In Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late Sunday the chamber would this week introduce and vote on a war-powers measure to limit Mr. Trump’s actions involving Iran. Mrs. Pelosi said the resolution would be similar to one introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.), who last week filed a measure to force debate and a vote in the Senate ending further military operations in Iran.

It is not clear to me whether Omar Ilhan and Barbara Lee’s Resolution is the same as the resolution that CIA Democrat Elissa Slotkin is to “lead,” according to Pelosi, although both are based on a Senate Resolution from Tim Kaine (!). This is the sort of detail I would expect first-class reporting to clarify. (As of this writing, neither resolution is available to congress.gov.)

(5) Ignorance:

In a reminder of the increasingly hostile climate for U.S. troops, two rockets were fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy and coalition troops are located, and a third landed outside of it, an Interior Ministry official said. Six civilians were wounded.

This is not new:

(6) Strange omission:

The events have demonstrated the growing power of Iran-backed groups like Kataib Hezbollah, which Iraqi security forces have been unable to prevent firing rockets at bases housing U.S. troops.

A week or so ago, there were enormous protests in Iraq both against corruption, and against Iran’s presence in Iraq. What happened to them?

(7) Outright error:

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Matthew Tueller on Sunday, denouncing the U.S. attack as a violation of the coalition’s mission to fight Islamic State and train Iraqi security forces.

Wrong. Agence France Presse:

The Iraqi foreign ministry on Sunday summoned US ambassador Matthew Tueller to condemn American strikes on Iraq that killed a top Iranian general, an Iraqi commander and other local fighters.

“They were a blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty,” the ministry said in a statement, and “contradict the agreed-upon missions of the international coalition.”

Surely the Iraq Foreign Ministry’s statement was available to the Journal. So why erase the “blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty”?

(8) Imperial mindset:

Before the vote, a senior State Department official said the U.S. had been working with its allies in Iraq to prevent its taking place, characterizing the killing as supporting the sovereignty of Iraq against Iran.

The Iraqi government faced a choice, the official said, as to “whether they want to be an Iranian satellite state or whether they want to be a sovereign nation-state of good standing in the international community.”

Why on earth would anybody think we have the right to make that judgement? In fact, from 30,000 feet, our increasing loss of soft power is the context for our increasingly desperate and futile use of hard power.

(9) Disinformation:

U.S. officials said the strike on Gen. Soleimani was part of attempts to deter imminent attacks against American personnel in the region.

When “U.S. officials” say “imminent,” they are applying the “Bethlehem Doctrine,” explained by Craig Murry here:

What very few people, and almost no international lawyers, accept is the key to the Bethlehem Doctrine – that here “Imminent” – the word used so carefully by Pompeo – does not need to have its normal meanings of either “soon” or “about to happen”. An attack may be deemed “imminent”, according to the Bethlehem Doctrine, even if you know no details of it or when it might occur. So you may be assassinated by a drone or bomb strike – and the doctrine was specifically developed to justify such strikes – because of “intelligence” you are engaged in a plot, when that intelligence neither says what the plot is nor when it might occur. Or even more tenuous, because there is intelligence you have engaged in a plot before, so it is reasonable to kill you in case you do so again.

I am not inventing the Bethlehem Doctrine. It has been the formal legal justification for drone strikes and targeted assassinations by the Israeli, US and UK governments for a decade.

By omitting to clarify that in the national security establishment, “imminent” means the opposite of what a dull normal would think it means, the Journal propagates a black-is-white level of disinformation.

* * *

Readers, feel free to use this post as an open thread for your musings on the extremely dynamic series of events in the Middle East. And I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s wrong with this story, so feel free to dig deeper. If the WSJ had reported on the Boeing 737 MAX the way it’s reporting on Iraq, we’d think the only problem was pilot error.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

107 comments

  1. russell1200

    I took it that the United States was responding to the storming (sort of) of the embassy in Baghdad . But since no Americans were killed, they blamed it on the rocket attack.

    Given the issues that came out of the embassy attack in Bengahzi Libya and of course the (much) earlier Iranian hostage situation, the visuals of embassy situation were a political nightmare. No way is Trump going to let himself be seen as weak in that situation.

    Reply
    1. Michael Fiorillo

      However true your last point is, it doesn’t account for the recklessness of what Trump did. This wasn’t a quasi-staged and telegraphed bombing, a la Syria in 2017, intended to neutralize Russiagate-related friction he was encountering; this was was both a serious act of war and a repudiation of political/diplomatic norms on a pretty megalomanaical scale.

      I try to rein in people when they focus excessively on Trump’s violations of the Norms Fairy, but this is far from the political theater/wrestling match that is everyday US politics, much of which is noise. This act and its long-lasting aftermath will be clarifying in many awful ways.

      Reply
      1. jsn

        Yes, should the US succeed in the future in rebuilding a “commitment capability”, other nations will take at least a generation to develop any trust in it.

        We’re up there with the late Ottomans at this point, completely consumed abroad by our darker angels.

        Half way there at home, and CIA Dems want to take us the distance!

        Reply
    2. Plenue

      The embassy incident was itself a response to the US murdering 25+ Iraqi soldiers, which we in turn justified as being in response to the rocket attack that killed a US contractor.

      Reply
      1. Adrian D.

        Has this (in)famous contractor been named yet? Do we know who s/he worked for and on what? A mercenary? A plumber? AFAIK their identity and status has not been released. Seems odd to say the least.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          I don’t believe the contractor has been named, nor their status released. Yes, odd, if you like understatement.

          Reply
        2. Math is Your Friend

          I seem to recall reading, about a year ago, that the number of ‘military contractors’ in Iraq was somewhere in the lower six figure range. It was one of the significant news sites, but which one I do not recall.

          That would incline me to think ‘not a plumber’, without further information.

          Reply
        3. Cesar Jeopardy

          Washington Post:

          Contractor whose death Trump cites was a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iraq–Nawres Hamid

          Reply
  2. rosemerry

    The link posted from Bloomberg with a video was extremely prejudicial to Iran, using a five-year-old story and interview with Sheldon Adelson to blame Iran for cybercrime. Considering the vast extent of cyber attacks and murders of scientists in Iran by Israel and the US (not mentioned) the story appears to be giving facts about Iran’s bad behavior, with only a very partisan person giving “the facts”.

    Reply
    1. T

      Orb-touching Sheldon? WTF. (There are days when I wonder if impeachment theater is orchestrated by an unholy cabal of Mercers and Adelson to keep eyes off China and etc.) (Not seriously. This is just what these times have done to me.)

      Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      No, you can no longer see it there: “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”
      It did talk about moving troops and increased air traffic at night-time, which I thought ominous. If the goal was to reassure Iraqis they were leaving, not redeploying and digging in, wouldn’t daytime be better?

      It starts: “Sir, in due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament, and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR (Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve) will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.”
      The letter says certain measures, including increased air traffic, will be conducted “during hours of darkness” to “ensure the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and efficient manner”.
      It would also “alleviate any perception that we may be bringing more Coalition Forces into the IZ (Green Zone in Baghdad)”.

      https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51014352

      Full text here:
      https://twitter.com/Mustafa_salimb/status/1214272542506209280/photo/1

      Reply
  3. TonyinSoCAL

    Trump wants to get “paid” for leaving Iraq?

    Last time I checked, Iraq did not ask the U.S. to invade and kill ~.5 million Iraqis and destroy their country based on delusions about non-existent weapons of mass destruction. We did that all on our own without any permission.

    So what Trump is really saying is: we forced our way into your country, bombed the shiat out of your country and killed thousands of your people and now you need to pay us for it. Doesn’t pass the sniff test.

    ……….on the other hand murdering someone with a drone does make sense if you have an election and impeachment coming up…..

    Reply
    1. southern appalachian

      Cost of the cleanup of the depleted uranium or whatever we used would most likely exceed the bill. Restoration of the infrastructure destroyed when we bombed them into the Stone Age- I mean, get McKinsey on that, see if they and Halliburton can throw together an estimate.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Did I say it was right?

      That said, it’s “right” in the sense that withdrawal is better than no withdrawal, no matter the “deal”!

      Adding, there’s not much that our national security establishment does in the Middle East that passes the “sniff test.” Let’s not get on our high horse about this.

      Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    Just a technical point. Would you call it the Bethlehem doctrine or would they be using the one per cent doctrine? That was when Vice-President Dick Cheney announced that if there was “a one percent chance” that a threat was real “we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.”-

    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/the-one-percent-doctrine

    I would like to see what the Wall Street Journal would say if a bounty was put on all American executives located overseas as fallout from this attack.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Just a technical point. Would you call it the Bethlehem doctrine or would they be using the one per cent doctrine? That was when Vice-President Dick Cheney announced that if there was “a one percent chance” that a threat was real “we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.”-

      Some day, the history of how national security jargon evolved from Bush through Obama (e.g., “kill list” to “disposition matrix”) will be written. Murray’s post is just one strand in the big, beautiful tapestry.

      I think the executives are safe — at least from state actors — in that Iran said attacks on civilians were off the table.

      Reply
  5. Waking Up

    Lambert Strether: “A week or so ago, there were enormous protests in Iraq both against corruption, and against Iran’s presence in Iraq. What happened to them?”

    Maybe Patrick Cockburn can supply an answer:

    “Mounting Iraqi popular rage against Iran for its interference in Iraq’s internal affairs is now likely to be counter-balanced by the even more blatant assault on Iraq’s national sovereignty by the US. It is difficult to think of a grosser act of interference by a foreign state than killing a foreign general who was openly and legally in Iraq. Also killed by the drone was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, the powerful pro-Iranian paramilitary group. The US may consider paramilitary commanders like him to be evil terrorists, but for many Shia Iraqis, they are the people who fought against Saddam Hussein and defended them against Isis.”

    Reply
      1. vlade

        My experience with most of the US citizens (and journous writing for the US) – from both sides of the divide, left and right, war and anti-war, is that only the US has agency.

        Reply
  6. Plenue

    ‘We violated Iraqi sovereignty to preserve Iraqi sovereignty’ is a pretty, uh, interesting, take the State Department is pushing.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      I think that’s exactly why the WSJ omitted that bit. From Lambert, above:
      (7) Outright error:
      Iraq’s Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Matthew Tueller on Sunday, denouncing the U.S. attack as a violation of the coalition’s mission to fight Islamic State and train Iraqi security forces.
      Wrong. Agence France Presse:
      The Iraqi foreign ministry on Sunday summoned US ambassador Matthew Tueller to condemn American strikes on Iraq that killed a top Iranian general, an Iraqi commander and other local fighters.
      “They were a blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty,” the ministry said in a statement, and “contradict the agreed-upon missions of the international coalition.”

      Reply
      1. Code Name D

        Pff, they think they have sovereignty? Where did they get that silly notion? Iraq works for the corperations, not the other way around.

        Reply
  7. VietnamVet

    Thanks. The Shia military leaders’ assassinations are worse than I thought. The USA is having a mental collapse. Killing the enemy of our enemies is stupid. But the enemies the USA destroyed in Mosul with Shiite militias aid were actually an Imperial proxy force first used by Jimmy Carter to eventually bring down the Soviet Union. Along with neo-Nazis In Ukraine, Barrack Obama and Joe Biden used these proxy forces to try, once again, to bring down the Russian Federation. But the Sunni radicals went off the reservation. The Russian interventions in Syria and Ukraine checkmated these regime changes. However, since the campaign against Russia was never acknowledged in the first place, its failure is also not acknowledged as the cause of the restart of the second Cold War with Russia. Since the destruction of the Caliphate, the US position in Iraq is very tenuous. But like Afghanistan, there is no profits and kickbacks in a withdrawal. The Establishment has to blame Iran for everything that went bad, not themselves.

    Globalist Media Moguls want Donald Trump gone but their PR does not work anymore due to the built-in contradictions that this post points out. It is fake news. The one sure thing is that the immoral illegal assassination of the Generals of a former ally will not be added to Donald Trump’s Impeachment Bill by the Democrats.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And even if it were, it would be discredited-by-association and reflexively dismissed along with the rest of the House Democrats’ fake impeachment.

      Reply
    2. Ptolemy Philopater

      “Globalist Media Moguls want Donald Trump gone” @VietnamVet. Trump is a creature of the Globalist Media Moguls. We live in a Stalinist one party system based on state capitalism. The feigned opposition to Trump is a Dog & Pony show to fool the masses. We have all the trappings of the Stalinist State, controlled media, controlled opposition, mass surveillance and mass incarceration, kill lists. Stalin had kill lists! Our government and economic system have been taken over by organized crime. Trump is the mafia don keeping the competition in line with threats of sudden murder from the sky. World leaders are just now absorbing the meaning of the threat of world wide assassination from above. Who will be next? Angela Merkel for going forward with Nord Stream II. There needs to be a world wide ban on drone technology. Politics by other means, indeed!

      Reply
  8. drumlin woodchuckles

    As I think about how “somebody” might get revenge for this at some future point, perhaps against the Trump family’s property and money, it occurred to me that I should really hope that no innocent hotel-goers or golfers or staffers get hurt in any of this.

    And so I hope that any “revenge-takers” would hope the same thing. So how could one get expensive revenge against Trump properties without hurting any people? Perhaps a slow infiltration of operatives into staff and service positions ( or very sabatooge-knowledgeable tourists) into those facilities? And then quiet monkey-wrenching operations like releasing non-harmful mixtures of stink-compounds into air and ventilation systems? Like mixtures of rotting ginkgo fruit extract, putricine, eue d’ buzzard puke and essence of gagged maggot?

    ” Cheeses riced! What’s that forking goal dumm smell?” If every Trump facility gained a durable and persistent reputation as too stenchy to be able to stay inside of for more than 5 minutes, that would in the long run grind the whole Trump Fortune down to zero, would it not?

    Reply
      1. carl

        You ain’t kidding. Asian hotels specifically mention durian fruit as absolutely forbidden in rooms, lest you incur a giant cleaning surcharge.

        Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      t no innocent hotel-goers or golfers or staffers get hurt in any of this.

      Are there any innocent Trump hotel guests? There are certainly no innocent golfers.

      Reply
        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          Perhaps a stealth introduction into Trump golf courses of ” Caddy shack ” type gophers, leading to the necessity of Bill Murray like Shock & Awe tactics to get rid of them.

          Reply
    2. tegnost

      Democrat wet dream… have trump take the retaliation for the sins of the us for the past 30 years. Yes we’ve been bombing the crap out of the middle east for most of my life, but if iran bombs a trump hotel who wouldn’t be happy! An eye for an eyeroll…

      Reply
    3. Wukchumni

      I knew somebody who was wronged by a retail merchant, and revenge came cold one day in the wee hours when thousands of crickets made their way into the store via the mail slot in the front door.

      Reply
  9. JBird4049

    Lambert don’t hold back. Please, tell us how you **really** feel.

    :-)

    I feel like rereading my copies of The March of Folly and The Guns of August for some light reading.

    Then again Scoop by Evelyn Waugh might be more appropriate.

    Reply
  10. Appleseed

    Have we become immune to calling out the use of anonymous sources? “senior State Department official” or “State Department officials” (plural in the original.) Never a good sign.

    Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Hasn’t that mostly been true even when there was a real honest to God news media forty years ago?

        The only difference was in degree in that then it was only a solid majority of stenography whereas today it is just only.

        Reply
  11. Karla

    It’s not a bill, it’s extortion.

    We invaded Iraq, destroyed their government, and their civil society, allowed the looting of their resources when we were in command and control, ie the Museum of Antiquities, but NOT the Oil Ministry, used them as a staging ground for supporting our “only ally in the Middle East” and installed a so called Democracy which has voted to oust our military.

    Pay for the airbase we built against their will?

    President Trump, why not cut to the chase: “We have the baddest military in the world. You have oil. We are taking it.” That would at least be an honest policy.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It’s not a bill, it’s extortion.

      Unlike international relations generally? Let’s hold our noses. It’s better that the United States withdraw than that it not withdraw!

      Reply
      1. vlade

        Yes, but it sets a very dangerous precedent. Well, not really a precedent, because up to 19th century it was sort of normal practice – when strapped for cash, invade a weaker neighbor and tell them to give you their cash.

        Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      President Trump, why not cut to the chase: “We have the baddest military in the world. You have oil. We are taking it.”
      Trump has come out with more or less exactly that.

      Reply
    3. Allegorio

      I can see Trump demanding payment before leaving office. After all he is the greatest President the United States ever had, gave us the best economy ever and the most murders for the buck. Please President Trump give the American people the bill for your greatest of all Presidencies and refuse to leave until paid! I suppose it would be worth it just get him out of the White House!

      Reply
  12. Samuel Conner

    I read somewhere (perhaps MofA) that QS was in Iraq on a diplomatic mission, scheduled to meet the next day with the Iraqi Prime Minister to convey the Iranian reply to a request from Saudi Arabia (conveyed to Iran via Iraqi diplomats acting as intermediaries, IIRC) for proposals for de-escalating the Saudi/Iranian relationship.

    If that’s right, me thinks that the motive for whacking QS, at this time and place, might have been not to deter or prevent future attacks on US forces, but to avoid the de-escalation that the Saudis are reported to have requested.

    Reply
    1. Ptolemy Philopater

      There is a world wide genocidal racist elite, the more chaos, the more of “those” people that die, the better. Clear the planet of the rabble and make room for the “right” people, lebensraum!

      These are not just greedy venal men, this is pure evil. The sooner that men of morality and character pull their heads out of the sand and recognize this cancer on mankind must be eliminated now, war crimes trials now, the sooner that millions of lives will be saved! In the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Indifference to evil is more evil than evil itself” We all have a lot to answer for. 22 million people have been murdered since the end of World War II. Why? Mindless ignorance, blind allegiance is no excuse.

      Reply
  13. Matthew G. Saroff

    It should also be noted that Soleimani was on a diplomatic mission, delivering a response to a Saudi note, when he was assassinated.

    Reply
    1. hemeantwell

      I’ve also seen the reports that he was involved in responding to a tension reduction initiative by the Saudis. If so, this reminds me of past readings of Israeli moves to disrupt peace initiatives through assassination of Palestinian leaders. Netanyahu has reportedly told the Israeli cabinet that Israel was out of the loop on this one, but that may just be smoke. The Israeli position in the ME is eroding and my guess is that they see a US-backed war as a remedy.

      Reply
      1. Derek

        Pepe reports it but it came out of the transcript of the Iraqi Premier’s statement from Sunday. It makes total sense, albeit evil to the core.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith

        The Iraqi PM said in a public statement that Soleimani was on his calendar. That alone would confer diplomatic immunity. He’s also said the meeting was pursuant to a Saudi memo.

        Reply
  14. Bill Carson

    I think Trump’s assassination of Soleimani is going to help Bernie—he’s the candidate who opposed the Iraq War in the first place. Do you think the American people are going to be attracted to Biden when they learn that he supported the War and now that they are getting a reminder of how awful the Obama foreign policy was? I’m not sure that the killing of Soleimani is much different than “We came, we saw, he died. [cackle]” This s**t has got to stop.

    Reply
    1. Bill Carson

      What I mean is that, up until last Friday, Trump talked and twittered like a raving lunatic, but his actions were subdued and restrained. For example, he talked a big game with NK, but ultimately hasn’t done squat. Same with Assad, and Putin, and China (admittedly, the tariffs are crazy, but they haven’t risked a military response), and Mexico, and Venezuela.

      But that has all changed now, because now Trump has committed a war crime, has put the American people at risk, and may have started a new long conflict.

      Now we’ve got proof that it’s not just all a show—he really is a crazy man, and he really does hold the nuclear codes.

      Reply
    2. Carey

      >Do you think the American people are going to be attracted to Biden when they learn that he supported the War and now that they are getting a reminder of how awful the Obama foreign policy was?

      I don’t see it making a difference to the (perhaps mythical) “Biden voter”. IOW, expect him to “poll” around 30% through the Democrat Convention™, no matter what (and I mean that literally).

      Maybe I’ll be happily, happily wrong.

      Reply
  15. Temporarily Sane

    If Trump had done what he’d promised during his election campaign and pulled US troops out of the Middle East and started bringing them home from all the other foreign bases, he’d be a genuine hero in the eyes of a majority of Americans and billions of people around the world. He could have gone down in history as the president that began winding down the bloated, corrupt and homicidal Empire and all the glory and respect that America and the world were prepared to give Obama would have been his.

    Given his adolescent nature and history as a real estate scammer, attention seeking reality TV host and alpha male caricature that was always a long shot. Still, for a while he did seem somewhat serious about defying the MIC and keeping his word. The missile attacks against Syria took out an abandoned air field and a vacant lot and were for show only, he refrained from going nuts on Iran after they shot down that drone and he made all the right noises about pulling the troops out of Syria. OTOH, he became the most pro-Israel and pro-Saudi president ever practically on day one of his administration and he invited psychopathic neocon goons like Bolton and Pompeo into his inner circle. They no doubt encouraged his fanatical and illogical anti-Iran stance at every turn…and here we are.

    Sadly, despite everything that has happened there are still people who can’t, or don’t want to, see that Trump simply isn’t a very competent commander in chief. They still talk about Obama this or Hillary that…or claim that Trump was tricked by “Zionists” into ordering the killing of Soleimani. The way it works is that the buck stops with the president. Nothing happens until he gives the word and the ultimate responsibility rests with him. If he signs off on something he’s not sure about or lets himself get “tricked” into it, that doesn’t absolve him of responsibility, it makes him incompetent and unfit for the job. So much for the isolationist hero who chastised Obama for his trigger happy tendencies. What a way to start the decade…

    Reply
  16. Peter

    What is absolutely shameful is the response by the EU, proving once and for all that this club is nothing but the tail the US wags if needed.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/joint-statement-from-president-macron-chancellor-merkel-and-prime-minister-johnson-on-the-situation-in-iraq

    We have condemned the recent attacks on coalitions forces in Iraq and are gravely concerned by the negative role Iran has played in the region, including through the IRGC and the Al-Qods force under the command of General Soleimani.

    There is now an urgent need for de-escalation. We call on all parties to exercise utmost restraint and responsibility. The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped.

    We specifically call on Iran to refrain from further violent action or proliferation, and urge Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with the JCPOA.

    We recall our attachment to the sovereignty and security of Iraq. Another crisis risks jeopardizing years of efforts to stabilize Iraq.

    We also reaffirm our commitment to continue the fight against Daesh, which remains a high priority. The preservation of the Coalition is key in this regard. We therefore urge the Iraqi authorities to continue providing the Coalition all the necessary support.

    We stand ready to continue our engagement with all sides in order to contribute to defuse tensions and restore stability to the region.

    No word about the utter illegality of the assassination, the fact that an Iraqi military leader was killed, no mention that the EU did NOT fulfill its obligations under the JCPOA, that Sulamani was acting as an envoy for Iran with proposals to ease the tensions between the Saudis and Iran – just worthless bullshit that in its saying absolutely nothing about what happens seems to be the typical EU stance.

    Lets get rid of THIS EU asap – it is even worse than the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920 – 30s that led because of its utter uselessness and incompetence to Hitler. The tendencies in Europe are already there, the protests as evidenced by various elections show that this EU does not represent anything the populations see as important and valuable.
    As happened in Europe’s history before – not the democratic socialist international will win, but a narrowly defined “National Socialism” with a strong military component, corporatism with a sheen of labour participation and the scapegoats to blame everything wrong on.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      You seem to forget that this EU is a military protectorate of the US. Its ability to operate independently is limited. That is why Germany went along with the sanctions against Russia even though a lot of German businessmen were vehemently opposed.

      Reply
      1. Peter

        Actually – I did not forget that, I was just pointing out how blatantly clear those statements elucidate this fact of the EU’s powerlessness and ineffectiveness regarding especially foreign policies.

        Reply
  17. makedonamend

    The EU wasn’t conceived as a military alliance. We cannot project power onto it which it never had. It is only a market based alliance. It is an alliance created by Treaties. Every political structure of the EU was negotiated by every country within the EU such that individual countries maintain their own sovereignty with regard to foreign policy. The EU can’t directly tax European Union citizens, nor does it have a standing army. Rather, for example, the EU’s political structure seeks to harmonise tax regimes between all its members so ensure a smoother running of the internal EU market.

    It is time that we stop conflating the power that federal nations such as Australia or Germany have with the legal limiting factors that govern the relationship between nations who belong to the EU.

    https://www.europarl.europa.eu/factsheets/en/sheet/92/general-tax-policy

    “The power to tax is in the hands of the Member States, with the EU having only limited EU competences. As EU tax policy is geared towards the smooth running of the single market, the harmonisation of indirect taxation was addressed before direct taxation. The fight against harmful tax evasion and tax avoidance has become a recent policy priority. Tax measures must be adopted unanimously by the Member States. The European Parliament has the right to be consulted on tax matters, except on budgetary-related issues, for which it is co-legislator.”

    The EU’s strength, such as it is, is the value of its internal market and the weight this gives the EU (and by extension its member states) when negotiating trade treaties with countries outside of the EU.

    As we can see, the “market” is not all powerful. There are many external and internal political factors which affect the market rather than the market necessarily affecting the political factors.

    As for foreign policy issues, those powers are the sole prerogative of individual nations, whether they be in the EU or not. The UK routinely became involved in USA lead conflicts without any input from other EU members or institutions. That’s the way the EU works.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      The problem is, as this issue ably demonstrates, is that politics always and everywhere trumps economics.

      But the EU’s political project has stalled, so it has let itself become a one-trick pony (always falling back on the “power” of the Single Market). Which means “business”, which is all-too-easily swayed by where it thinks the next buck is coming from. Expecting VW, BASF, Total, Deutsch Bank etc. to stand up to Trump strains credulity. Expecting Merkel and Macron to stand up these economic actors, likewise.

      So when are we going to restart moves to political integration in the EU, then? Not any time soon. The federalisits don’t trust Europe’s voters enough to let them have any serious chance of getting their hands on the levers of power.

      Reply
      1. Math is Your Friend

        Recent events have made possible progress in the evolution of the EU.

        Certainly the steps toward forming an EU military force may eventually lead to one of the prerequisites for an independent EU foreign policy.

        Remember, the EU is still only 27 years old, and the euro has only been circulating for 18 years. It is made up of countries with long histories as independent countries and cultures. Creating a strong and unified EU is a lot harder and a lot more work than, for example, creating the USA, which required joining several colonies from the same or similar origins.

        Trying to predict what it will or will not achieve is akin to trying to predict the career achievements of a one year old child.

        That said, we are heading toward a multi-polar future with several major powers… certainly the US, China, and India, quite possibly Russia, Brazil and Japan as ‘close to top tier’ powers. If the EU wants to do well in that world, it will have to become more capable and more integrated, to become another of the top tier political entities.

        With that motivation emerging, it would be a mistake to assume they cannot ever do so.

        Reply
        1. Clive

          Trump’s assassination of Soleimani happened a few days ago. The EU’s High Representative could have issued a strongly worded statement at any time lambasting the US for its ill-judged actions. It did not do so. Saying the EU is only 27 years in existence so, oh dear, it’s still the new kid on the block, it can’t be expected to grow a pair in that short time is unconvincing.

          I have, as I expanded upon at a little more length elsewhere, no objection to the EU being the US’ poodle. I can entirely understand the motivations it might have for being so. But I will not let go unanswered (equally correct) decrying the UK for being the US’ poodle while at the same time seeing arguments advanced that the EU is to be applauded for resisting, unlike the hopeless UK, the temptation to become the US’ poodle (for, presumably, the same reasons, economic and/or geopolitical advantage or avoidance of disadvantage).

          During the UK Brexit debate, I have watched some really rubbish debates about how the UK is leaving behind all sorts of good things in no longer being an EU Member State. One such is that the EU, acting as a larger power-block, can be a counterbalance to an overbearing US. The EU’s response to the Soleimani killing shows that is, if you’ll forgive the crude shorthand, baloney. I don’t expect to hear, hence-forth, criticisms of the UK for being a US poodle, while the EU is not, apparently, a US poodle. If it looks like a poodle, acts like a poodle and whimpers like a poodle, it, too, is probably a poodle.

          Reply
          1. john

            You’re a hard man, Clive.

            Perhaps you do not know the history.

            The High Representative you lambast is Josep Borrell.

            He was the Socialist candidate in 2000, which was the one immediately before Zapatero’s win in 2004.

            He watched as Zapatero

            issued a strongly worded statement at any time lambasting the US for its ill-judged actions

            For doing that, Bush literally ruined his time in office.

            Now, given this background, do you not think Borrell is wise to be cautious? And why do you take it so personally?

            Reply
            1. Clive

              And why do you take it so personally?

              Oh, I don’t know, just my silly old sense of right and wrong.

              That, and a guttural loathing of hypocrisy. I’ve watched aghast over the past three and half years or so as no-doubt well intentioned pro EU voices have heaped criticism on the UK (and people in the UK who voted to leave the EU) citing, often, how this is an inexplicable, illogical and dishonest choice to make because the EU is such a force for good in the world in standing up to the US, And goodness knows, something needs to stand up to the US, and that certainly isn’t going to be the UK, given a free hand.

              But then to see, when push comes to shove, how the EU — when faced with a choice as to whether to censure the US for an open-and-shut case of wrongdoing — simply gives the US a thrashing with a wet noodle and then all the pro-EU types go and give the EU a pat on the head for doing so?

              And then, for good measure, dole out the ad hominems to me? (“you’re taking it personally”). Sorry (well, not at all sorry, actually) that anyone apologising for the EU’s apologising for the US incurs my displeasure, but I’m not about to stop pointing out bad actors when they are staring me in the face, despite them being made into sacred cows by some. If you want to make a cow into a sacred cow, best to pick a good cow to sanctify in the first place.

              Reply
        2. flora

          A bit facile.

          ” Creating a strong and unified EU is a lot harder and a lot more work than, for example, creating the USA, which required joining several colonies from the same or similar origins.”

          er…um… something about the US Civil War… etc.

          Reply
      2. fajensen

        So when are we going to restart moves to political integration in the EU, then?

        As soon as the UK is not around anymore. Which could be either soon, or a long way off, depending on the phases of the Jupiter moons or whatever it is that pulls on the minds of the UK Tories.

        Reply
    2. Peter

      Thanks for confirming that the EU is a except for being a trading block and enforcing some vicious monetary and fiscal policies towards weaker states in trouble such as Greece a useless entity – a one trick pony that however can dictate internal policies as regarding the privatization of water rights etc. and the unequal treatment of member states with regards following guidelines as to debt and deficit loads.

      It also seems to be capable to permit some states with more economic powers to ride roughshod over the desires of those with less power as demonstrated in the Merkel “wir schaffen das” proclamations that permitted an uncontrolled immigration without considering the consequences for the immegrees or the native population.

      Reply
      1. makedonamend

        Your welcome.

        Privitization of water is up to local governments and in some countries local authorities. Paris, for example, took their water system back into municipal ownership after finding privitisation lacking.

        The Irish government, on its own behest, tried to privatise water nationwide several years ago. People protested and stopped them for accomplishing their task. The EU had no art nor part. The EU cannot force the Irish government to privitise anything.

        “Paris’s return to public water supplies makes waves beyond France”

        https://www.reuters.com/article/water-utilities-paris-idUSL6N0PE57220140708

        “Tens of thousands protest against water charges
        Slogans chanted: ‘Enda Kenny* not a penny’ and ‘From rivers to sea, water should be free’”

        https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/tens-of-thousands-protest-against-water-charges-1.1985010

        The UK, on the other hand, privitised many municipal services long, long ago under the mantra of free markets and TINA.

        I never claimed the EU was trouble free, nor without problems. It has many. Many Europeans will work towards fixing them but they are often hampered by the prevailing neolibertarian ideology which is now a fixed feature in most European countries.

        But I also clarified that foreign policy is very much a consideration of each individual country and not a competency of the EU. No negotiated treaty exists which compromises an individual country sovereignty.

        Of course the UK is leaving the “vicscious” EU and will be able to remedy and tenderly care for immigrants near and far.

        One would imagine we’ll hear less about the EU after 31/1/2020?

        *Taoiseach/leader of Ireland at that time

        Reply
        1. Clive

          Another “the EU would be fine, if it wasn’t for those pesky Member States ruining it all” canard.

          The EU mandates https://ec.europa.eu/competition/sectors/energy/overview_en.html “third party” (private-sector, in other words) access to all sectors of the economy:

          Liberalisation of the electricity and gas markets

          During the 1990s, when most of the national electricity and natural gas markets were still monopolised the European Union and the Member States decided to open these markets to competition gradually. In particular, the European Union decided to

          distinguish clearly between competitive parts of the industry (e.g. supply to customers) and non-competitive parts (e.g. operation of the networks);

          oblige the operators of the non-competitive parts of the industry (e.g. the networks and other infrastructure) to allow third parties to have access to the infrastructure;

          free up the supply side of the market (e.g. remove barriers preventing alternative suppliers from importing or producing energy);

          An notice the finessing “[…] the EU and the Member States decided…” So who, exactly, was it who did the “decided” bit? As the page later makes clear “Liberalisation of a similar kind was introduced in a number of other sectors.” You betcha it was.

          Maybe I’m being too selective? Okay, hows about this on Postal Services:

          One of the Commission’s, and more specifically the Competition DG’s, core tasks is to promote and safeguard effective competition in the postal services sector. Promoting more competition in this sector is also important in reaching the Europe 2020 goals for sustainable growth in a resource-efficient and more competitive economy.

          There’s literally a hundred pages on different sectors where that came from. Why is it that EU apologists manage to be in such denial about the fundamental modus operandi of the EU? It is all written up, perfectly clearly, in black-and-white on ec.europa.eu.

          Of course, with that annoying UK gone, or going, the EU or, as you put it “Europeans” are “working towards” fixing this. It’s good to see, then, how this figures so strongly in von der Leyen’s priorities. Oh, wait a minute… still “fighting” poverty (but never winning), “pushing” for democracy (but never implementing it). And as for that poster-child of neoliberalism, the Stability and Growth Pact, surely that’ll be the first thing to be junked once the EU is free from the UK’s malign influence? Nope, von der Leyen wants to “make the full use of the flexibility allowed within [it]”. Alrighty, so it’s not going anywhere, then…

          Don’t even get me started on the rest of her opus, what with it’s ensuring “access” to healthcare and education and “What we want to spend on this transition, we first need to earn…” (aka “taxes fund spending”). The woman has “neoliberal” written through to her very core, I’m sure if you peeked inside her, it would be spelt out, Blackpool-stick of-rock-like through-and-through. And don’t tell you had any “say” in her appointment, either. You got lumbered with her, just like the rest of the EU did. Oh, and wasn’t it nice to see her manifesto before she got appointed? Oh, you didn’t? Gosh, how on earth did that ommission happen… “A Union that strives for more: My agenda for Europe“? I am literally laughing out loud here.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            It would be somewhat surprising if the EU was not promoting liberalised markets, seeing as virtually every EU State has elected neoliberal or sympathetic to neoliberalism governments for the past 3 decades at least. You can’t say the EU is undemocratic when its policies simply reflect the stated economic policies of almost all the members.

            In any event, as madedoandmend has pointed out, there are numerous get out clauses for individual member states, those statements are almost entirely aspirational, as are the many statements in official documents on workers rights, worker protection, human rights, etc.

            Reply
            1. Clive

              If the EU can’t bring itself to issue a stern condemnation of Trump when he’s acting like a slavering war dog, and it can’t resist the foisting of neoliberalism on it from the UK, Macron and von der Leyen why, then, does it justify any defending by progressives?

              Because its heart is in the right place, but it’s inherent virtuousness keeps getting stymied, forcing it to adopt unpleasant positions against its will? Consider me highly skeptical.

              I utterly condemn and denounce as contemptible the UK’s, France’s and Germany’s apologising for the US’ actions and their refusal to censure the US. Failing to, to the fullest extent possible, decry the EU for also not at least issue a strong statement deploring the US is letting the EU off the hook.

              Apologising for apologists of bad actors, like the US has shown itself to be, such as the EU is doing in letting it off with a bit of virtue-signalling is tantamount to telling the world that all one needs to do is let the EU go around saying that it’s a bullwalk against the US, that it holds the US to account etc. etc. etc. but then taking the nice, easy path in not risking the US wrath by actually standing up to it.

              Seems the UK is not alone in being the US’ poodle. At least the UK isn’t being hypocritical — we’re the US’ poodle, always have been and probably always will be. But at least that is honest poode-dom. I think I’d rather be that than the EU, pretending to be a rottweiler but it is in fact only prepared to be a poodle in reality, although happy going around telling everyone what a fierce rottweiler it is.

              Reply
            2. Carey

              >It would be somewhat surprising if the EU was not promoting liberalised markets, seeing as virtually every EU State has elected neoliberal or sympathetic to neoliberalism governments for the past 3 decades at least. You can’t say the EU is undemocratic when its policies simply reflect the stated economic policies of almost all the members.

              In your view, were these results truly the result of democratic processes, with substantively alternative-policy (eg non-neoliberal) candidates really on offer?

              Reply
        2. Peter

          https://www.dw.com/en/privatization-of-water-in-europe-controversial/a-16605658

          German local authorities and citizen initiatives are protesting against an EU directive that would lead to the privatization of public water supply systems. It could lead to forced privatization, critics fear.

          https://corporateeurope.org/en/pressreleases/2012/10/eu-commission-forces-crisis-hit-countries-privatise-water

          Brussels – The European Commission is deliberately promoting privatization of water services as one of the conditions being imposed as part of bailouts, it has acknowledged in a letter to civil society groups.1 EU Commissioner Olli Rehn’s directorate was responding to questions posed in an open letter concerning the European Commission’s role in imposing privatisation through the Troika in Greece, Portugal and other countries.2 The civil society groups have today written to Commissioner Rehn to demand that he “refrains from any further pressure to impose water privatisation conditionalities”.3

          the “vicscious” EU I think you mean vicious.

          https://www.cadtm.org/Greece-completing-the-vicious-circle

          Elected to oppose the policies of the Troika (the ECB, IMF, and the EU) in imposing vicious austerity measures on Greeks in return for ‘bailing out’ its banks, foreign banks and government debt, Syriza at first resisted the Troika……
          Pensions have been slashed, public sector employees have been sacked and wage freezes imposed, state assets have been sold off, taxes have been raised sharply. Varoufakis resigned after the capitulation and toured Europe; and the left faction in Syriza split away to run its own electoral parties – to no avail. The Syriza government ploughed on in the hope and expectation that if it met the austerity measures imposed by the Troika, it would eventually be able to resume economic growth, gain some ‘fiscal space’ and ‘return to the market’ for government borrowing.

          Maybe less reliance on the EU propaganda sources would allow you are more critical view of the EU, which is a Neoliberal enterprise.

          https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/brexit/2017/07/lexit-eu-neoliberal-project-so-lets-do-something-different-when-we-leave-it

          From its inception, the EU has been a top-down project driven by political and administrative elites, “a protected sphere”, in the judgment of the late Peter Mair, “in which policy-making can evade the constraints imposed by representative democracy”. To complain about the EU’s “democratic deficit” is to have misunderstood its purpose. The main thrust of European economic policy has been to extend and deepen the market through liberalisation, privatisation, and flexiblisation, subordinating employment and social protection to goals of low inflation, debt reduction, and increased competitiveness.

          http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=41571

          Whatever the origins of the European Union (and I analysed that in detail in my 2015 book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale), the modern incarnation of the Union is neoliberal central.

          Neoliberalism is built into the Treaties. It is a core aspect of the Union not something around the edges that can be dispensed with and then we move on to utopia.

          The so-called “democratic deficit” in the European Union, often denied by Europhiles, arises not because of lobbying behaviour, but because only narrow interests are served by this behaviour.

          The money involved in maintaining missions in Brussels or venturing to Brussels means that organisations that might represent the interests of the poor and the fragile, and who are typically cash-strapped, are absent.

          Reply
        3. Peter

          https://www.dw.com/en/privatization-of-water-in-europe-controversial/a-16605658

          German local authorities and citizen initiatives are protesting against an EU directive that would lead to the privatization of public water supply systems. It could lead to forced privatization, critics fear.

          https://corporateeurope.org/en/pressreleases/2012/10/eu-commission-forces-crisis-hit-countries-privatise-water

          Brussels – The European Commission is deliberately promoting privatization of water services as one of the conditions being imposed as part of bailouts, it has acknowledged in a letter to civil society groups.1 EU Commissioner Olli Rehn’s directorate was responding to questions posed in an open letter concerning the European Commission’s role in imposing privatisation through the Troika in Greece, Portugal and other countries.2 The civil society groups have today written to Commissioner Rehn to demand that he “refrains from any further pressure to impose water privatisation conditionalities”.3

          the “vicscious” EU – I think you mean vicious.

          https://www.cadtm.org/Greece-completing-the-vicious-circle

          Elected to oppose the policies of the Troika (the ECB, IMF, and the EU) in imposing vicious austerity measures on Greeks in return for ‘bailing out’ its banks, foreign banks and government debt, Syriza at first resisted the Troika……
          Pensions have been slashed, public sector employees have been sacked and wage freezes imposed, state assets have been sold off, taxes have been raised sharply. Varoufakis resigned after the capitulation and toured Europe; and the left faction in Syriza split away to run its own electoral parties – to no avail. The Syriza government ploughed on in the hope and expectation that if it met the austerity measures imposed by the Troika, it would eventually be able to resume economic growth, gain some ‘fiscal space’ and ‘return to the market’ for government borrowing.

          Maybe less reliance on the EU propaganda sources would allow you are more critical view of the EU, which is a Neoliberal enterprise.

          https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/brexit/2017/07/lexit-eu-neoliberal-project-so-lets-do-something-different-when-we-leave-it

          From its inception, the EU has been a top-down project driven by political and administrative elites, “a protected sphere”, in the judgment of the late Peter Mair, “in which policy-making can evade the constraints imposed by representative democracy”. To complain about the EU’s “democratic deficit” is to have misunderstood its purpose. The main thrust of European economic policy has been to extend and deepen the market through liberalisation, privatisation, and flexiblisation, subordinating employment and social protection to goals of low inflation, debt reduction, and increased competitiveness.

          http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=41571

          Whatever the origins of the European Union (and I analysed that in detail in my 2015 book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale), the modern incarnation of the Union is neoliberal central.

          Neoliberalism is built into the Treaties. It is a core aspect of the Union not something around the edges that can be dispensed with and then we move on to utopia.

          The so-called “democratic deficit” in the European Union, often denied by Europhiles, arises not because of lobbying behaviour, but because only narrow interests are served by this behaviour.

          The money involved in maintaining missions in Brussels or venturing to Brussels means that organisations that might represent the interests of the poor and the fragile, and who are typically cash-strapped, are absent.

          Reply
          1. makedonamend

            Yes, I know how to spell viscious. Is that meant to suggest something? I didn’t proof read. Mea cupla mega. (spoiler alert: I’m not going to proof read this either.)

            And why do you accuse me of relying on EU propoganda? Please point out the EU propoganda sources that I refered to in my statements. Do you think someone cannot present a viewpoint without relying on so-called propoganda if you don’t agree with that viewpoint?

            As to water, the Irish public also protested against water charges that were leading to privitisation. They public resisted in 2014 and in 2020 there is no talk of water privitisation on the horizon. It might also interest you that there are privitised water services in parts of rural Ireland in the form of community cooperatives. I llived in an area with water meters and charges were levied to pay for the services. The EU seems to be behind the curve.

            I have no illusions how the neoliberal epidemic has infected the Eurozone and indeed the EU. Many Europeans are well aware of the short comings of the Euro and the lack of capital transfer mechanisms.

            However, if you or anybody else has a methodology of promoting trade in Europe that has also reconciled many internal conflicts that plagued Europe for centuries, we Europeans would be onlly too happy to listen I’m sure.

            It’s interesting that a statement that the EU effectively had no mechanism to pursue a foreign policy has lead to several people launching a full-on broadside on anyone that dare point out the obvious about the EU in relation to foreign affairs. Alternative viewpoints I would have thought was only proper to a discussion. Seems not.

            For, if truth be told, those who are throwing the metaphorical stones reside in neoliberal economic glass houses themselves. Maybe yeese can lead the way out of the neoliberal economic miasma. Sincerely, show us the way, but I don’t think the dissolution of the EU will affect the march of neo-liberalism nor be a solution to the neoliberal epidemic. If anything it seems the neo-liberalism seems to promote a greater division both between nations and within nations.

            Indeed continue to critise the EU and the Eurozone. Criticism is good. It may lead to change. I just don’t see how the EU is any worse and even somehow a naturally viscious entity that deseves special opprobrium when I survey higher levels level of savagery in international affairs and savagery directed at the working poor and laboring classes throughout Western economies.

            Reply
            1. Carey

              >I just don’t see how the EU is any worse and even somehow a naturally viscious entity that deseves special opprobrium when I survey higher levels level of savagery in international affairs and savagery directed at the working poor and laboring classes throughout Western economies.

              Because the neoliberalism, EU-style, is quietly and carefully codified, internalized, and eventually becomes transparent (“the natural order of things”), as with fish in water.

              Reply
              1. makedonamend

                Neoliberalism is codified in every neo-liberal country, and futhermore in more advanced neo-liberal countries it is the bonefire of regulation and codification that enhances and allows the true nature of the neoliberal order to emerge in its more insidious manifestations. It’s most noticeable in the ‘strong’ leader personna emerging in the politics of the more advanced non-European neo-liberal countries where the talk of Control has become universal political theme.

                I find the whole talk that somehow the countries of the EU is more noteable for its neo-liberalism perplexing in light of recent events, if not bordering on the absurd.

                In fact the initial statement that kicked this onslaught off is rather strange:

                1. The USA government has a foreign general assassinated.
                2. The EU didn’t come out and stand up to the USA and failed to strongly condemn the assassination.*

                Conclusion: The bad EU must be dissolved. (Yeah, That’ll stop neo-liberalism in its tracks.)

                Huh?

                Start talking about and doing someting about the five eye countries, their surveillance, their desire to ignore international standards of behaviour, and their desire to ignore national and international accountability, and get back to Europe then.

                *we’ll leave aside that if the EU was able to physically stand up to the USA that EU detractors would no doubt state that it’s proof that the EU is a neo-liberal bully.

                Reply
  18. makedonamend

    The EU is still functioning very effectively. It’s main objective is, and always has been, its internal market which allows for smooth and integrated trade between all member nations in order to increase and diversity trade within that internal market. The internal market still works just fine, and further refinements are on the cards. Its other main competency is in its ability to negotiate trade treaties with countries outside of the EU market. It is generally acknowledged that EU negotiators are very good and on top of their game. There are still a number of trade treaties being negotaited simultaneousnessly.

    The EU project is ongoing and forward looking in those areas in which it has treaty competencies.

    Foreign policy is not one of the EU’s competencies, except in as much as trade treaties are involved. Never was. Never will be imo. National sovereignty trumps the EU. There are no treaties with reference to the EU that ever impinged upon national sovereignty of any of its member states.

    However, the EU is a mechanism that allows European countries to cooperate in economic self-interest.

    Just to clarify:

    My comment about the markets, as in the neoliberal/libertarian ideological conception and implementation, was mainly to illustrate that markets are limited. Liberaltarians more or less claimed supra-natural powers for market. But we find markets are just as limited for the US, Kenya or China when it comes to their various circumstances. I imagine all countries that live by the neoliberal market mantra will be affected by that mantra in various ways.

    There is no need to project onto the EU market other than it is just an internal market. It’s how the individual countries, as a collective, decided to use their common ability to cooperate (via markets) that merges the political and the economic. It seems to suite most members just fine.

    Markets and their inherent limitations are not really a stick with which to beat the EU.

    As Engels/Marx (among many other classical economists) illustrated, economics and politics are inextricably linked. One only has to look at the creation of class in industrial and post-industrial economies as method to control the market for labor and by extension facits of the political arena.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      Which is fine, but I never want to hear ever again from EU positivists “oh, but the EU is great, because it is a foil to, and a counterbalance for, the US” when it patently refuses to step into any such role. Seeing yet another EU/Member State switcheroo — individual Member States refusing to condemn the US’ extra-judicial assassination because “this issue requires a unified EU response to preserve the EU/Iranian nuclear deal which was negotiated at EU level so we can’t tread on the toes of that competency”, but then the EU doing, as it demonstrably has done, nothing more than hand-waving and fence-sitting because “foreign policy is a competency retained by the Member States” — is so familiar, but no less disappointing just because that’s what always happens.

      It does though, as you say suit the Member States right down to the ground — handing off their responsibilities to pursue foreign policy to the High Representative (“charged with shaping and carrying out the EU’s foreign, security and defence policies”). Who can then only, apparently, do sod all.

      Reply
  19. makedonamend

    Whatever.

    Unfortunately my rather short rebuttal is continually eaten by the net.

    Liberalisation/harmonisation does not equate to privisation, but que sera. Each country will follow its own path. Ireland isn’t privitising water. Full Stop. It isn’t privitising water because people stopped the Irish government from doing so. (And if it did privitise water, it would just be doing what the UK has already done without EU directives.) The EU isn’t going to make it do so.

    I suppose you can thank your lucky stars you escaped the EU, hey? Yeese don’t have the burdensome need to worry about the EU anymore.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      No, each country will not “follow it’s own path”. The EU mandates that state operated enterprises must be opened to competition. This is EU-enabled EU-driven neoliberalism. If anyone wants to take a slice out of Ireland’s utilities, waste collection, railways, postal services (or similar) then whatever the people of Ireland think of the matter, that is not only what is going to happen, if the services themselves or the government think otherwise, then the Commission will support whichever private sector actor is trying to muscle in — all the way to the CJEU.

      I’m continually amazed at how EU-bots have an understanding of what the EU does which is diametrically the opposite of reality. Which of the various EU competition Directives do you think don’t apply to Ireland? And why do you think no would-be “competition” is going to exploit these to “open up” state-run monopolies? Because the people of Ireland don’t like the idea?

      And, furthermore, the Commission has big plans for your “anti competitive” corporation tax rate. Without the UK there, trying to protect its own vested interests, how long, exactly, do you think Ireland will be able to hold out against that?

      Reply
  20. Keith Howard

    WRT the Bethlehem Doctrine, Craig Murray says that the exact language of that Doctrine as adopted by US, UK, and Israel is ‘classified.’ The tardy ‘notification’ to the US Congress (Soleimani murder) is also ‘classified.’ Couldn’t a member of Congress simply stand on the floor of one of the chambers and read those documents into the record?

    Reply
  21. makedonamend

    From the EU-Bot desk:

    Ok pal, we got the memo. EU = BAD. Bad, bad EU. EU of all that is bad. Look up bad in the dictionary and you get a picture of the EU beside the defintion.

    But since you’re no longer in the EU, just, like, chill.

    (But, it’s gotta be said, your claims about what horrible things the EU are going to do to us Europeans has, well, already been done for UK residents by the UK government for decades – privitised electricity, water, transport, partial privitisation of the post office, privatised security in prisons, introduciton of privatised procurement in the NHS. So, by this logic, when the EU forces us to do the very same we will be like —- the UK! And because of Brexit, yeese just elected the Tories to a ginormous great majority. The UK elected the very people who live an breath neoliberal economic ideology.

    If anything, you should be happy that we want to emulate what the UK has already achieved.)

    Reply
    1. Clive

      This is a comments section. The purpose of a commects section is to hold a debate.

      I am a very skilled debator and I like to win the argument. I don’t always and am not infalible. But if I choose to debate the grounds which someone else has chosen to open here, by initiating a comments thread, then I don’t intend to reduce my intellectual capabilities and debating skills to a lower level simply in an effort to make them happy.

      I do not wish, for the same reasons, to become someone’s “pal”. And I don’t having got into my stride and demolished their sadly inferior attempts to put up a counter-argument, see anything in it for me to “chill”. So I am declining your invitation.

      If you want to talk to a know-nothing echo chamber and if you only want to have to face stupid people who might come up against you in a discussion, may I recommend Facebook?

      Reply
  22. makedonamend

    Hmmm, that’s a pretty harsh. But que sera. So much for levity.

    I must say that from my perspective it does not feel like you so much engage in “talk” or debate with me. So be it. (We can all come across like that in written formats. c’est la vie.) I do studiously avoid directly commenting on your opinions elsewhere as you requested a while ago.

    But I can take written invective as retort. In the great scheme of things, it matters not a jot.

    As for my commenting here, until Yves Smith or Lambert ban me, I’ll don’t think I’ll let you determine what I do. (I do appreciate their insights, news and moderation.)

    And maybe, just maybe, since I’m such inferior fodder, you might choose the more worthy for your consideration?

    As for the rest of it: water meet duck’s back.

    Reply
  23. Susan the other

    So here we have it. This is the blowback of our inability to effectuate our arrogant plan to do regime changes across the mideast. In order to control oil. And prevent too much encroachment from China. Whether or not climate change is the father of regime change, we really don’t know because we’ve been up to these tricks since before 1953. What we now have in place of coherent government in the mideast is chaos. It is preferable to order. So it wasn’t really regime change as regime prevention. What better way to prevent coherent government that to fragment it all into Marx’s sack of potatoes – identity politics. Look at all those factions. It could be the natural tendency toward religious diversity; creating sects, in turn creating politics. But it’s a mess. My instincts tell me the attack on Soleimani was meant to stir this pot to self-destruction. Watching the France 24 Debate last night was almost shocking. A usually congenial panel was at each others’ throats. The guy they go to on mideast politics in Washington was totally disheveled. He almost told the moderator to shut up, He behaved as if he had been caught completely off guard and didn’t see this coming – he had been working on creating a pro-American faction which seemed to have been blown out of the water. And all the other panelists were talking over each other. “Twas a mess of confusion. As intended.

    Reply

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