ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

A Darkness Is Spreading Across America

We ended last week wondering what future generations will think of us. We take away our monuments in the dead of night… and spit on the graves of our ancestors in the light of day.

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”– George Orwell, 1984

POITOU, FRANCE

Today, a darkness spreads across the country.

From coast to coast, we are benighted… in a total eclipse of good sense.

Smashing Statues

A now-famous photo shows a stout young woman in North Carolina stomping on a statue of a Confederate soldier.

A protester in North Carolina stands on a toppled Confederate statue (AP Photo/ Jonathan Drew)

It is not a monument to the Confederacy or to the generals or to slavery. It is merely a statue remembering the sacrifices and suffering of ordinary soldiers.

The common man in the South had no truck with slavery. He owned no slaves. Instead, his earnings were reduced because he had to compete with slave labor.

But when the call went out to defend his country, he took the patriotic bait, as men always do.

More than a quarter of a million soldiers died on the Southern side alone – killed by bullets or disease… hunger or cold.

You’d think that people today – comfortable in their air-conditioned apartments… fed to a fault… and succored by student loans, Obamacare, unemployment comp, and disability – could find it in their plump little hearts to forgive the mistakes of their forebears and honor their suffering.

Nope.

Instead, we trash our grandfathers’ heroes, kick their gods, and smash their statues.

Yes, dear reader, today we are under assault, too. We suffer neither cold nor hunger. We take up arms not to protect our homeland, but to inflict murder and mayhem on people half a world away who can do us no real harm.

But today, we are attacked by one preposterous thing after another, each of them even more absurd than the last.

Doom Update

Before we get to that, we promised to revisit our Doom Index.

You’ll recall that our research department has put together 11 indicators that – when aggregated – have coincided with the last two major blowups.

Has doom come closer? We asked our chief researcher, Joe Withrow:

U.S. junk bond prices – one of our 11 indicators – have fallen nearly 2% since our last update. The ISM Manufacturing Index and railcar use – two of our other indicators – have fallen as well.

None of these moves are extreme enough to warrant the crash flag prior to getting third-quarter data… but they are worth mentioning.

And on a side note relating to your Diary entries this week: I got a call from family in western Virginia. Rumors are the young lefties are planning to march on the historic Robert E. Lee Hotel in Lexington.

The fruits of an American education, I suppose. It is beginning to look as though there is an inverse correlation between total student loans outstanding and total logic outstanding. If we could only figure out how to make that a Market Insight!

Yes, Joe is onto something. The more time people spend in schools, the dumber they get.

And now, the typical American’s brain has been so dulled by the internet and education that he can’t think straight.

Bigger Storm

We were supposed to believe, for example, that the Russians hijacked the U.S. presidential election, putting Donald J. Trump in the White House.

Congress imposed stiffer sanctions on Russia by an almost universal vote in favor, despite a lack of evidence the hack ever happened.

Even if it had happened, it is hard to see how disclosing the internal deliberations of the Democratic National Committee would have made voters less able to make an informed choice!

Then we were supposed to believe that the president of Syria had attacked his own people with chemical weapons.

In response, Team Trump committed an act of war against a foreign nation… even though many experts thought it unlikely that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attack.

And now, we are supposed to believe that Mr. Trump is a “racist” and a “white supremacist.”

His Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin – a Jew – was urged by his Yale classmates to resign. No more proof that today’s education system turns its students into morons is needed.

These are Yale graduates… hundreds of them:

We call upon you, as our friend, our classmate, and as a fellow American, to resign in protest of President Trump’s support of Nazism and white supremacy. We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing.

What?

There is no evidence of any kind showing Trump to be a Nazi supporter. A fool? An imbecile? An opportunist? Maybe. But with all his obvious and egregious faults, why accuse him of being something he isn’t?

But behind the flurries lies a much bigger storm.

There, the howling winds of fake finance blow up so much dust that the typical person cannot see clearly.

If he is ready to believe that we can all get rich by borrowing money that never existed from people who never earned it… and never pay it back… he is ready to believe anything!

Today, the sun hides its face in shame and embarrassment.

Regards,

Signature

Bill

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Nobody Can Force All the Taliban Factions To the Negotiating Table

[Fighting the Taliban to force them to negotiate for peace requires levels of force equal to those used against Taliban and Qaeda in their Tora Bora holdout.  Does Trump really intend to inflict wholesale slaughter from the air of sufficient intensity to make them beg for their lives?  Can anyone fight all 20 of those recognized terrorist groups at once, or even just those who answer to the Quetta Shura (Mullah Mansour group)? Does Trump understand the militant on militant action going on right now, the Mansour Taliban against the Mullah Rasoul Taliban, the Syrian/Iraqi ISIS Caliphate against the Taliban Islamist Emirati, or other warlord on warlord fighting?

Somehow, I doubt that he can make any difference.]

Trump’s Afghanistan war strategy: Use

military to force peace talks with

Taliban

 

 

WASHINGTON — President Trump vowed to prevail over Taliban insurgents on the Afghanistan battlefield, but his top diplomat acknowledged Tuesday that the war will end at the negotiating table.

“This entire effort is intended to put pressure on the Taliban, to have the Taliban understand you will not win a battlefield victory,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said a day after Trump outlined a strategy lacking specifics for concluding a war approaching its 16th anniversary.

Many military experts believe that only a broad political reconciliation between the U.S.-backed Afghan government and Taliban will bring an end to America’s longest war, since an outright victory over the insurgency is unlikely.

But getting the Taliban to the negotiating table will require turning the tide on the battlefield, where Taliban fighters have been expanding the territory they control as U.S. troops have withdrawn from combat. The Pentagon has described the war as a “stalemate.”

Afghanistan’s government remains weak, and the Taliban and the Haqqani, another insurgent network, have sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan, making a U.S.-led military victory largely out of reach, said Scott Worden, an analyst at the U.S. Institute for Peace.

The Taliban, while not popular in Afghanistan, does have support in some corners of the country, where there is mistrust for a central government riddled with corruption and dependent on foreign military support.

Trump did not dwell on reconciliation in outlining a new strategy. “Our troops will fight to win,” Trump said in his Monday night speech.

That doesn’t mean the Taliban will be crushed. Trump did not define “win” except to say he would not allow Afghanistan to be a safe haven for terrorists again. President George W. Bush ordered an invasion in October 2001 to topple a Taliban regime because it harbored the al-Qaeda plotters of the 9/11 attacks.

Tillerson said continued military operations are designed to convince the Taliban leaders that they will not prevail on the battlefield, and if they want to survive they need to talk with Afghanistan’s government.

e may not win one, but neither will you,” Tillerson said. “So at some point, we have to come to the negotiating table and find a way to bring this to an end.”

Peace talks and other reconciliation efforts over the years have largely faltered. The Afghan government has at times balked at direct talks with the radical Islamic group in the past, and recent military successes have made the Taliban less willing to negotiate a political settlement.

The Taliban has captured districts and villages as the U.S.-backed security forces have suffered high casualties.

Afghanistan’s government has expressed a willingness now to hold talks with Taliban leaders. The United States is prepared to facilitate such talks. “We stand ready to support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban without preconditions,” Tillerson said.

Trump’s strategy clears the way for an increase of several thousand U.S. advisers to support Afghan security forces. Currently the U.S. military has deployed about 8,400 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, but none in conventional combat roles.

Trump has also said he will expand the authority of field commanders to order U.S. air power and other support.

Trump’s strategy of increasing military pressure and removing any deadlines for U.S. troop withdrawal may present an opportunity for new diplomatic initiatives, Worden said.

President Barack Obama had set a schedule for U.S. troop withdrawals, which gave the Taliban an incentive to be patient until the U.S. exit date.

Trump said any withdrawal would be based on security conditions. “America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out,” Trump said.

Trump said his strategy also calls for increased pressure on Pakistan, whose cooperation is considered essential in bringing about political reconciliation with the Taliban.

Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency has historic ties with the Taliban and influence over its leadership. “Pakistan in particular can play an important role here, certainly in delivering the Taliban to the negotiating table,” Tillerson said.

“It’s time to begin a process — it may very well be a lengthy process — of reconciliation and a peace accord,” he said.

Does Latest U.S. Naval Collision Reveal That “Freedom Of Navigation” Operations Are Dangerous Game of “Chicken”?

[SEE:   U.S. warship stayed on deadly collision course despite warning ; Freighter Was On Autopilot When It Hit U.S. Destroyer, Destroyer Slowed Down]

MARINETRAFFIC.COM

Latest collision calls U.S. Navy training,

‘FONOPs’ in question

 

 

Xinhua Editor: Gu Liping ECNS

USS John S. McCain (L) is seen at sea off Singapore's Changi Naval Base, on Aug. 21, 2017. Ten sailors were missing and five others injured after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant vessel in waters east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore early on Monday, the U.S. navy said in a statement. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)

USS John S. McCain (L) is seen at sea off Singapore’s Changi Naval Base, on Aug. 21, 2017. Ten sailors were missing and five others injured after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant vessel in waters east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore early on Monday, the U.S. navy said in a statement. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)

A U.S. destroyer’s collision with a merchant vessel east of Singapore on Monday, the fourth accident involving a U.S. warship this year, reveals problems of U.S. Navy training and calls into question the U.S. so-called “freedom of navigation operation” (“FONOPs”).

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with Greek tanker vessel Alnic MC in waters east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, leaving 10 sailors missing and five others injured.

OPERATIONAL PAUSE

The U.S. Navy announced Monday an operational pause of its fleets globally and a comprehensive review of the U.S. Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the collision, which caused significant damage to the destroyer’s hull, resulting in flooding to crew berthing, machinery, communications rooms and other nearby compartments.

The review should seek the root causes of the incidents, said U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, in a video published on the U.S. Navy’s official Twitter account.

The investigation will examine the process by which the U.S. Navy trains and certifies its forces that were forward deployed in Japan, said Richardson, adding that the investigation team should be a “broad and diverse” one, with people inside and outside the Navy.

The USS McCain is the fourth U.S. Navy ship involved in an accident this year.

In January, the USS Antietam ran aground, dumping 1,100 gallons of hydraulic fluid into Tokyo Bay.

On May 9, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain was struck by a South Korean fishing vessel off the Korean Peninsula.

In mid-June, the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine container vessel ACX Crystal, claiming the lives of seven Fitzgerald sailors, injuring three more and damaging both ships.

“NAVY IS NOT LOOKING GOOD”

The Straits of Malacca is a busy shipping lane with about 8,000 ships passing by daily. However, CNN military analyst Rick Francona believed that the McCain, with faster speed and better equipment, could have avoided the collision.

“How does a state-of-the-art Navy destroyer — equipped with multiple radar systems and communications gear with a full bridge watch — not see, detect and evade a 30,000-ton slow-moving behemoth?” Francona asked.

“I can almost guarantee you that there will be a tumultuous shake-up in the senior leadership of at least the 7th Fleet and maybe the Navy in general,” Francona said.

On Aug. 17, the U.S. 7th Fleet issued a statement, announcing the commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief of the Fitzgerald were relieved of their duties.

They were believed to demonstrate “flawed watch stander teamwork and inadequate leadership,” which contributed to the collision.

“The Navy is not looking good about now,” Francona said.

“It’s not the same level of training you used to get,” American Fox News quoted an anonymous official as saying.

INFLAMING REGIONAL TENSION

On Aug. 10, the McCain illegally sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Meiji Reef of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea and conducted a so-called “FONOP” without permission of the Chinese government.

It was the third “freedom of navigation operation” during Donald Trump’s presidency, as reported by Reuters.

On July 2, the missile destroyer USS Stethem trespassed into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands. On May 25, the USS Dewey illegally sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Meiji Reef.

As a country outside the South China Sea region, its navy sailed across the Pacific with aims to inflame regional tension and destroy regional peace and stability to profit from the disorder, Ling Xiaoyun, a critic of the Asia Pacific Daily, wrote in the paper.

The United States will reap the bitter fruits of its disguised “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea, where over 100,000 ships of various countries pass freely, as its naval maneuvers benefit none and might cause more collisions with merchant vessels, Ling said in his article.

The Straits of Malacca, the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, is a more sensitive area than the South China Sea, he said.

More collisions may occur if the U.S. Navy continues to conduct more “freedom of navigation” in this area, which may lead to a restriction of the freedom of merchant vessels, he said.

The U.S. so-called “FONOPs” aim to uphold U.S. global maritime supremacy, and challenge other countries’ sovereignty and international public interests, said Ling.

What the West Got Wrong in Syria

What the West Got Wrong in Syria

 

 

What the West Got Wrong in Syria YOUSSEF KARWASHAN/AFP/Getty Images

If Western politicians are wondering why they achieved so few of their goals in the Syrian civil war, they should start by examining their own decisions. The West’s approach to the Syrian uprising was from the very beginning dominated by an overdose of wishful thinking. Politicians apparently based their positions on their day-to-day domestic political reflexes, rather than on the long-term vision and result-oriented pragmatism that were needed to work toward genuinely helping to solve the conflict.

Most Western politicians early on became fixated on the idea that the conflict could only be resolved if President Bashar al-Assad were removed from power. Many really thought that the regime would fall within a relatively short time. Various ambassadors in Damascus expected Assad to have been gone by the summer of 2012. The strength of the regime was completely underestimated, partly out of ignorance and lack of knowledge of the Syrian regime, as well as because of misplaced optimism.

Academics, journalists, and policymakers who predicted that there was a realistic chance for the Assad regime to survive for a longer time, or called the moral legitimacy of the allegedly “peaceful” opposition into question, ran the risk of being accused of being pro-Assad — or even of being against democracy. Ideological arguments sometimes prevailed over realistic ones. Even the United Nations and its special envoys for Syria were from time to time accused of being partial to Assad after the slightest move that could potentially be interpreted as not opposing his interests.

Western politicians generally had clear thoughts about what they did not want, but no realistic or clear ideas of what they wanted in Assad’s place. They wanted a kind of democracy in Syria, but a violent ousting of Assad could not realistically have been expected to result in such a desired peaceful democracy.

Politicians did not always keep up with the realities on the ground and continued to use “politically correct” slogans even though the country’s situation no longer fully justified them. The Syrian opposition continued to be described as peaceful and democratic, even long after more radical forces, including Islamists and jihadis, had hijacked its platform and the Syrian war was already well underway. Subsequently, the concept of peaceful opposition became more of a myth than the reality it was in the beginning. But the rhetoric of Western politicians did not change.

Nor did the West’s military support for the Syrian opposition ever match its rhetoric

Nor did the West’s military support for the Syrian opposition ever match its rhetoric, thus dangerously inflating the opposition’s expectations. The opposition was never given sufficient military support to bring the regime to its knees, even when such military pressure would have been necessary to achieve the political solution the West claimed it wanted. With this combination, the Syrian revolution was doomed to failure — certainly as long as the regime received military support from its allies Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah.The Western countries’ declared aim of arming the opposition turned out to be rather restricted when it came to reality. When the EU arms embargo against Syria was lifted at the insistence of the United Kingdom and France in 2013, there was — contrary to expectations — no great change as far as arms deliveries to the opposition were concerned.

It turned out that there was no political will to really arm any part of the opposition to such an extent that it had a real chance to win battles against the regime, even where the predominantly secular side was concerned. Questions were raised about which of the many opposition groups should be armed and with what aim, as the Western countries obviously wanted to avoid the possible establishment of an Islamic extremist dictatorship.

But was there any guarantee that arms provided to others would not end up in the hands of Islamists and jihadis? And were the arms really intended to help topple the Assad regime? Or was providing arms mainly intended to help the opposition in defending itself? Or mainly to fight the Islamic State, the Nusra Front, and other jihadi organizations? Was it a humanitarian gesture? No clear U.S. or EU strategy was visible, except that defeating the Islamic State became the priority.

Meanwhile, more radical Islamic groups had become stronger than the relatively moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA). Countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar focused their support also on Islamist armed organizations like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam.

What the West clearly wanted to see was a moderate, democratic, secular, pluralist successor regime, but such a possibility was not a realistic prospect, certainly not in the foreseeable future. As far as the secular armed groups of the FSA were concerned, they gradually also became more radicalized as a result of the prolonged bloody war. The Islamic current in Syria had become stronger during the Syrian war, and secularism had correspondingly become less popular.

Western politicians, however, largely ignored this development, continuing to pay lip service to what they considered to be the predominantly secular opposition. But as long as they did not provide it with the necessary means to gain the upper hand in battle, their moral support did not have any decisive value on the battleground. While they may have cleared their “political conscience” by expressing support for the opposition, they were, in reality, unintentionally contributing to prolonging the war and helping Assad move toward victory, particularly after Russia started to intervene militarily on the regime’s behalf in September 2015.

Western leaders on various occasions called for measures against the Syrian regime that they could have known in advance were not going to be implemented. But to do nothing or not to react at all was, politically speaking, not an acceptable option for democratic governments. Nevertheless, it can, rationally speaking, be argued that in some cases it would have been wiser to do nothing rather than to do the wrong thing with disastrous consequences.

Politicians were expected “to do something.” Expressions like “Shouldn’t we intervene there?” and “How can you just sit by and watch how people in Syria are being oppressed and slaughtered?” became quite common, but not much was done in practice to drastically help change the situation of the Syrian population on the ground.

A key question that ran throughout the debates around the Syrian crisis was: Is justice to be done? The answer was: Yes, of course, but at which cost? It was easy to say, for instance, that Assad should be tried for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. But this did not help in finding a solution. The idea that Assad would ever be able to leave Syria alive for such a court case was extremely unrealistic. Some people did even imagine that President Assad would start to behave and think differently once he was more aware of the future possibility of being tried at the ICC. It all appeared to be wishful thinking.

Calling for justice was good in itself, as was the documenting of all the war crimes that had been committed. This had to be done, of course, but not over and above efforts to proactively work toward finding a solution and preventing the further bloodshed that would undoubtedly continue if no serious negotiations were facilitated among Syria’s various clashing factions.

The call for justice needed to be part of wider efforts to create peace

The call for justice needed to be part of wider efforts to create peace, rather than focusing only on who were guilty of the crimes committed against the Syrian people in the recent past. A political solution had to be found before justice could be done. It could not be the other way around.The West in fact created false expectations and gave the opposition hope for more Western support, which, in the end, was not provided.

By branding the rule of President Assad as illegitimate, Western countries may have been morally just, but they thereby prematurely blocked any opportunity they might have had to play a constructive role in finding a political solution to the crisis. The question was: What should have priority — being morally correct or helping find a solution?

Domestic political factors were apparently considered more important. Robert Ford, the then U.S. ambassador to Syria, had reportedly opposed calling for Assad’s departure, arguing that the United States would not be able to bring it about, but his counsel was overruled. According to Christopher Phillips, “the domestic cost of not calling for Assad’s departure was perceived as getting too high” in the United States.

The solidarity visit of Ford and his French counterpart, Eric Chevallier, to the opposition in Hama in July 2011 looked sympathetic from a Western point of view but in fact led to the end of the possibility for the United States and France or other countries to play any role as mediator in the conflict. Their visits rather created false hopes among the opposition that essential Western support was forthcoming — and in the end it was not as forthcoming as had been suggested.

In some ways, the situation looked similar to that of southern Iraq in 1991, when the United States and others encouraged the Shiite community to rise up against the rule of President Saddam Hussein but did nothing to help them when their uprising was bloodily suppressed.

As David Lesch put it, “Ford’s actions were universally praised in the United States and elsewhere in the West as a courageous act that drew attention to the plight of the protestors, and in so doing helped prevent what some had been predicting: another massacre like the one in Hama in 1982.” But it is more probable that his and Chevallier’s actions achieved the opposite.

When more than five years later the Syrian regime reconquered the eastern part of the city of Aleppo in December 2016 — which had been under the control of military opposition forces for more than four years (and lay in rubble as a result) — the greater part of the international community, including the Western and Arab Gulf countries that had supported most of the military opposition forces, could not do much more than stand idly by and issue statements of the strongest condemnation and moral outrage concerning the bloodshed and atrocities that had reportedly taken place. They were powerless to intervene politically or militarily because they had already excluded any military intervention in Syria several years before and no longer had any real influence over the Syrian regime (with which they had broken off relations years earlier) nor over its allies Russia and Iran to change their policies concerning Syria. Moreover, they apparently had not provided the opposition groups with enough military support to be able to win the battle for Aleppo.

In 2012, leading figures in the Syrian National Council still spoke of their preference for military intervention, as if it were a realistic possibility. Regional leaders had been assuring the opposition that intervention was “definitely coming” but refused to accept the possibility that the United States would eventually choose not to militarily intervene after decades of muscle flexing.

It took a long time before the opposition started to be sufficiently aware that it had become the victim of the false expectations created by its so-called friendly supporters in the West, who did not want to openly confront it, and themselves, with the realities of the situation.

This article is an edited extract from Nikolaos van Dam’s new book, Destroying a Nation: The Civil War in Syria.

 

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