ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Guaranteed Financial Security Is A Fantasy

Guaranteed Financial Security Is A Fantasy

investing

Charles Hugh Smith Charles Hugh Smith

Guarantees based on extracting higher taxes, borrowing trillions of dollars and creating trillions more out of thin air only guarantee eventual systemic implosion.

It is difficult for those living through tectonic social and economic shifts to recognize the passing of one era and the emergence of a new era. We are clearly in such a tectonic shift, yet it is slow enough and uneven enough that those who hope the old era will somehow endure despite the erosion of its foundations can find evidence to support their beliefs.

One such cherished belief is the faith that financial security can be guaranteed. This faith has two components:

1. The faith that risk can be identified and managed to the point it cannot disrupt the payment of promised pensions, benefits, yields, etc.

2. The faith that the system can pay what has been promised by one means or another.

If tax revenues are inadequate, taxes can always be raised. If tax revenues fail to rise, then the money needed to pay the promised pensions, benefits, etc. can be borrowed. If the money cannot be borrowed, then it can simply be created out of thin air by central banks or printed by government treasuries.

Before the advent of high finance, lowering risk could only be achieved by spreading the risk over a large populace. To lower the risk to individuals that their house would burn down in an accidental fire, insurance was sold to 1,000 homes. If one or two of the 1,000 homes burned down each year, the insurance could pay the claims and still build up reserves for future claims.

But if a conflagration burns down all 1,000 homes, the insurance is overwhelmed; the guaranteed coverage is rendered worthless.

The creation of a volunteer (or tax-supported) fire brigade will also lower the risk that an accidental fire could spread. But once again, such a brigade can only mitigate very limited fires; a second fire or a windstorm would exceed the capacity of the brigade to extinguish multiple fires.

The faith in guaranteed security is actually a faith that there will be no consequences from borrowing or printing enormous sums of money, and no possible risk to the system that cannot be anticipated and mitigated with some fancy financial footwork.

Is this faith reality-based? We know that borrowing immense sums of money does have consequences: interest must be paid out of future income, reducing the income that can be consumed or invested, and dependence on borrowed money creates moral hazard: rather than make difficult trade-offs, the borrower just borrows more money.

Creating money out of thin air is also not consequence-free. Fancy financial footwork can mask the consequences of creating money to pay promised pensions, benefits, etc., but eventually the reality that creating money does not create wealth intrudes on the fantasy that if tax revenues are insufficient, and borrowing has limits, then we can guarantee incomes, pensions, benefits, etc. by creating money out of thin air.

Those dependent on the promises made in the previous era will support any policy that “extends and pretends” the illusion that financial security can be guaranteed, regardless of seismic shifts in the natural and financial economies.

The irony of “extend and pretend” is these policies only push the system to extremes that guarantee systemic collapse. The more we avoid facing the intrinsic insecurities generated by tectonic shifts, the more we hasten the sudden implosion of old systems pushed beyond their limits.

Real security arises from the constant volatility, friction and insecurity of experimentation, adaptation and dissent. Guarantees based on extracting higher taxes, borrowing trillions of dollars and creating trillions more out of thin air only guarantee eventual systemic implosion.

Put another way: spreading the risk of a house fire amongst the 1,000 homeowners does not actually lessen the risk of a conflagration burning down the entire town.

Pakistan and the Saudi Dominance

saudi-pakistanPakistan and the Saudi attack on Yemen

in defense of marxism

Written by Lal Khan 

The Pakistani masses have reacted very negatively to the prospects of becoming an accomplice in the Saudi Monarchy’s brutal aggression against Yemen. This response has shocked Pakistan’s ruling elite, the state’s bosses, the media and the intelligentsia. Even some in the media have dared to reveal the vicious character of the despotic Saudi regime and its atrocious treatment of more than 2.5 million Pakistani immigrant workers banished into slavery and drudgery by these tyrannical monarchs

The hesitation, lack of any confidence, and hypocrisy of the rulers is pathetic. An official Press report stated that, “Pakistan called upon the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the international community to play a constructive role in finding a political solution to the crisis in Yemen. An official statement from the PM House (Prime Minister’s Office) had said the meeting concluded that Pakistan remains firmly committed to supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. It was also emphasised in the meeting that Pakistan is committed to playing a meaningful role in resolving the deteriorating situation in the Middle East.”

What a laughable, pathetic and spineless response! What is said about consulting the ‘parliament’ and informing the people is a reeking cynical farce. These rulers themselves are mere timid puppets. Usually they are only informed about military operations and crucial foreign policy decisions after the fact by the top bosses of the state and their imperialist masters. These are the real people calling the shots.

Saudi Arabia’s influence in Pakistan

The influence of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan should not be underestimated. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was granted amnesty under pressure from the Saudi Monarchs and spent his years in exile after Musharraf’s coup in 1999 in Saudi Arabia. During Sharif’s time in Saudi Arabia he was a guest of the Royal family who were also his business partners. His return to the country and his road to power was paved by the Saudi Royals. On his coming to power in 2013 he was doled out a gift of $1.5 billion by the Saudi government. Despite his frequent visits and business deals with China, Turkey and Qatar, and his bondage with his American masters, he is still most indebted to the Saudi monarchy. At the same time, Saudi Arabia regularly provides free oil for Pakistan’s military and other ‘gifts’ on regular basis. With tanks, fighter planes and naval ships running on Saudi oil, it is not an option for the Pakistani ruling class to disobey their masters orders. Pakistan’s Mullahs and religious parties from Wahhabi sects also regularly receive large donations to run their madrassas and terrorist outfits. Saudi Arabia was the first country in the whole world to recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan back in 1996.

Saudi Arabia has always been a bossy key player in Pakistani politics for a long time. Along with doling out large sums of money for the Army and the clerics, they have been instrumental in toppling unwanted governments and bringing their favourites to power. All of this was being done in cooperation with US Imperialism. But since the US-Saudi alliance has begun to crack, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Pakistani ruling class to serve two masters at the same time.

For the working masses, this Saudi patronage for the right wing parties and the ruling class of Pakistan has always been presented as a kindness from their religious brothers in the “holy land”. But those Pakistanis who work in this “holy land” know the disgusting truth; that for the Saudi rulers they are merely considered slaves and untouchables. They can never attain a Saudi nationality and always need a Saudi citizen’s approval to live or do any business in the country. The Saudi regime’s contemptuous attitude towards Pakistanis is laid bare by the fact that no Pakistani under the age of 40 is allowed to perform Umra – a form of pilgrimage of the holy Kaaba – in all other months than the the month of the Hajj. Only Pakistani Muslims are subjected to this prohibition.  Millions of Pakistanis, mainly from the petit bourgeoisie, visit Mecca and Medina for Hajj every year. This is a huge source of income for the Saudi regime.

Why is Saudi Arabia attacking Yemen?

On the other hand the Saudi Army, which is the fourth most costly in the world, has never gone to war. When the Saudis moved to crush the revolution in Bahrain in 2011, they relied heavily on Pakistani soldiers and mercenaries. The Saudis have also, allegedly, recently called for the Pakistani army to deploy 30,000 troops on the border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq and Syria to defend the House of Saud against an impending attack by the ISIL. It is clear that the kingdom does not trust its own forces that could just as well turn their expensive arms against the Royalty itself.  It shows the intrinsic weakness of this despotic regime and the fears of the ruling elite.

sanaa yemen rebels rallySaudi Arabian fighter aircraft have been ferociously bombing targets across Yemen, killing hundreds if not thousands of civilians, including children. It is clear that this figure will dramatically rise as the targets of the attack are moving into the civilian populated areas in Sana’a and in the northern Houthi villages which are expected to be heavily bombed.  Refugee camps, factories and congested populated civilian areas are being bombed. The infrastructure, whole towns and cities are being destroyed and turned into ruins.  Along with the ‘holy’ alliance of the Arab states, Israel has also supported the bombings. This reveals the decline of the system. These events are now exposing the farce of Saudi foreign policy towards Israel, the disingenuous anti-Israel rhetoric, and the hollow slogans of Palestinian freedom. It shows the class unity of the rulers of repressive regimes and why workers from all religions and nationalities should come together and fight against this cruel system.

Yet again, Yemen, which is the poorest Arab country, has become a target for savage attacks by the Saudi regime and its Arab and non-Arab allies.

The burgeoning domestic crisis, Saudi Arabia’s waning hegemony in the region and the rising desperation of the reactionary Al Saud family, with its growing internal conflicts, has brought desperation to the present clique that came to power along with the new King, Salman. His thirty-year-old son, Mohammad, who has been appointed the new defence minister, is a bully gone berserk. In reality they are trying to protect the Saudi ruling class and its imperialist designs in the Middle East. The Saudis could not accept the disintegration of Yemen and it falling into the hands of Iranian backed forces on its southern borders. Since the Iraq war, Iran and to a minor extent Qatar have developed into the biggest threat to the supremacy of Saudi Arabia in the region. Turkey is also expanding its influence by supporting IS in Iraq and Syria and other proxies in the region.

This conflict has exacerbated tensions and bloody conflicts between Saudi and Iranian proxies in the region in which sectarian hatred is being imposed by the warring mercenaries. The Iranian regime has not only been supporting clerics and sectarian terrorist outfits in Pakistan, but in many other countries in the region as well. Reactionary Shia clerics and religious parties are heavily funded across the Middle East by the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime also attempted to divert the revolutionary movement in Bahrain on sectarian lines. This movement was a threat to both Saudi and Iranian interests, and both regimes tried to crush it in their own way. Similarly, the Iranian regime tried to intervene in other movements of the Arab revolution and impose their own narrow agenda. The collapse of Mubarak in Egypt and the temporary retreat of the Arab revolutionary upheaval provided them with an opportunity to step up their intervention in the region. Because of the internal crisis of the Iranian State and decaying economy, they use the threat of external enemies to prop up their rule at home.

In these circumstances, the Iranian mullah regime used the rise of the IS to rally sectarian support. Similarly, Saudi aggression in Yemen will provide them with more excuses for spreading their influence. The regional proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran has been used by both regimes for this purpose. But the sectarianism they have spawned has not been able to find fertile ground to spread on a mass scale. In fact, the masses are becoming wary of the situation of which they are the victims. Although the Arab revolution has receded without achieving its ultimate goals, the possibility of sharp swings in public opinion is implicit in the situation.

The Pakistani army for hire

The intervention of Pakistan’s military in the Middle East is not a new phenomenon. They have been used as mercenaries by the reactionary and despotic regimes of the Middle East for decades. One of the most gruesome episodes was the massacre of the Palestinians in Jordan in 1970 to protect the monarchy there. From 1967 to 1970, Brigadier Muhammad Zia ul Haq was stationed in Jordan in Official Military Capacity to protect the Hashemite Kingdom. On September 15, 1970, King Hussein declared martial law in Jordan to crush a revolutionary uprising of the Palestinians. The next day, Jordanian tanks of the 60th Armoured Brigade attacked the headquarters of Palestinian organizations in Amman while the army also attacked camps in Irbid, Salt, Sweileh, Baq’aa, Wehdat and Zarqa. Then the head of the Pakistani training mission to Jordan, Brigadier Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (later Chief of Army Staff and President of Pakistan), took command of the 2nd division. King Hussain took this extraordinary step because he was terrified that the Jordanian generals would refuse to massacre fellow Palestinians and could turn their guns against him. The American backed Jordanian army shelled the PLO headquarters in Amman and battled with Palestinian guerrillas in the narrow streets of the capital. Yasir Arafat had later claimed that the Jordanian and Pakistani troops killed between 10,000 and 25,000 Palestinians.

The intensity of the bloodletting by Zia ul Haq and King Hussain was such that one of the founder fathers of Israel, Moshe Dayan, cynically remarked:“King Hussein, with help from Zia-ul-Haq of the Pakistani army, sent in his Bedouin army on 27 September to clear out the Palestinian bases in Jordan. Hussein killed more Palestinians in eleven days than Israel could kill in twenty years.” Also, a year later, they participated in the bloody civil war and massacres in East Bengal. Again, in the 1980’s, Zia ul Haq, who was now the head of state, rented the Pakistani military institutions to American Imperialism and forged the “dollar jihad” to overthrow the Afghan revolution of 1978.

A state of crisis

However, any direct intervention of the Pakistani troops in this Saudi aggression against Yemen will be much more dangerous. This intervention would come back to bite the ruling classes and the state. It could severely harm Pakistan’s relationship with Iran and incite protest by the masses. The indecisiveness of the ruling elite exposes their fear and cowardice. Currently, the Pakistani State is quite different to what it was in the 1970s or 1980s. It is now at war with itself. A cruel operation is being carried out in Baluchistan on a vast scale in which hundreds of Baluchi militants have been killed and their mutilated bodies thrown in streets. Helicopter gunships are used to annihilate whole villages and towns in which women and children are mercilessly killed.

A so called operation against the Taliban is also being carried out in tribal regions along the Afghan border. In this fake operation, many ordinary Pashtoons are killed on the pretext of killing Taliban while real terrorists are protected by the State and its army. In Karachi, the Army is also involved in a mutually destructive conflict between the neo-fascist MQM, and Taliban terrorists and other reactionary forces.

On the eastern border, skirmishes with the Indian army are a regular occurrence. Continuous attempts are made to smuggle terrorists into Indian held Kashmir and other parts of India. The ruling class on both sides never wants to give anything up. They whip up hatred against each other in order to continue their oppressive rule at home and to justify the buildup of expensive nuclear arsenals at the expense of endless poverty and misery.

Suicide bombs, lynching by mobs and other terrorist activities in which the warring factions of the Pakistani state is involved have become a normality. The Pakistani State always relies on sectarian hatred to continue its oppression of the working masses. Saudi and Iranian Riyals for clerics and terrorist outfits are considered as donations from holy lands by the ruling class. This sectarian hatred found fertile ground amongst some layers of the middle-class in the 1980s after the defeat of the revolution. The Neo-fascist MQM in Karachi was also built in those times to divide the proletarians of Karachi on communal lines. But now, it is becoming increasingly difficult for reactionary outfits to appeal to these layers and find mass following. All attempts to organize mass marches by religious alliances, supported by secret agencies and the bourgeois media, end up as a gathering of a few hundred people. Most of these people are paid to attend or are promised benefits and perks.

The state, the army and the various secret agencies are all in a state of crisis, and the different factions within them are in open war with each other. The army has its hands in everything from real estate development to the drug trade. The distribution of heroin and other drugs from Afghanistan’s opium fields to the Arabian Sea and from there to parts of Europe and Africa is making an estimated 100 billion dollars per year. This is the main source of income for many in the ruling circles including Parliamentarians, Generals, Judges and top bureaucrats.

All of this leads to is more bloodletting as the warring factions of the state clash. At the same time, sectarianism is destabilising the army itself. If Pakistan is thrown into the Yemeni conflict this problem will get worse. A sectarian conflict can have a devastating effect on the already decaying and demoralised army. It could lead to the destabilisation of the state itself.

Pakistani society is at an impasse. Unemployment exists on a massive scale. Street crimes, prostitution, drug addiction and general decay is on the rise. All of this provides breeding ground for reactionary and terrorist outfits. Although reactionary state sponsored groups have not been able to gain mass support, lynch mobs killing people on religious grounds are normal occurrences. A conflict in Yemen could lead to further disintegration and chaos.

Class struggle

However, the Pakistani working class has a long history of struggle. Pakistani workers also have a strong bond to Yemeni workers and workers in other gulf states. However much the ruling class tries to divide the working class, class solidarity will always emerge eventually.

In the past, Baluchi student leaders defied the attempts by the Pakistani state to send Baluchis to Oman and Bahrain as mercenaries. Those student leaders had to pay for this with their lives. The reactionary acts of ruling classes of the Middle East and Pakistan can lead to a revolutionary response from the working class and revolutionary youth. Class solidarity is the only way out of this mayhem.

From the shores of the Mediterranean to the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East is descending into bloody chaos and barbarism. This is the only outcome under capitalism. However, the Arab revolution proved that once the masses move all the reactionaries can be easily swept aside. Without the overthrow of the reactionary regimes, from the Israeli Zionists to the Saudi despotic monarchy, and from the Mullahcracy in Iran to the rotten Pakistani ruling elite, no way out is possible. Without a socialist revolution, the crisis in the middle east will not be resolved. Such is the intensity of the capitalist crisis that a revolutionary transformation in any one country can, and must, quickly spread throughout the entire region.

Homeland Security Stockpiling Lots of “Less Lethal Specialty Munitions”

Are They Arming for Riots Across America? Homeland Stockpiling “Less Lethal Specialty Munitions”

SHTFplan-logo-350

Mac Slavo

tear-gas-riot-crowds

One of the biggest stories for years in the alternative media was the mysterious and foreboding purchase by Homeland Security of more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition.

Thanks to coverage on prominent sites like DrudgeReport, the story reached into mainstream media, prompting official spin and downplaying of the purchase.

Now, a new Homeland Security purchase order listed on FedBizOpps  also raises an eyebrow or two, given the heated and divided political and social climate at hand. Just look at what happened in Ferguson…

A request for “less lethal specialty munitions” for use by Homeland Security dated March 23, 2015 reads:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends to solicit responses to Request for Information (RFI) 20082225-JTC for Less Lethal Specialty Munitions (LLSM) for use by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CBP is interested in incorporating commercial and industry practices that support this type of procurement. To accomplish this, CBP intends to make industry a partner in all facets of the acquisition process, specifically by considering existing market capabilities, strengths and weaknesses for the acquisition of this commodity.

FedBizOpps-Homeland-Less-Lethal4.14-PM

Over the course of 9 pages (PDF), the technical requirements call for an arsenal of specialized weaponry for training and deployment against crowds.

On top of a wide range of gas and chemical grenades, rubber bullets and other riot rounds, the purchase calls for “controlled noise and light distraction devices,” including flash bangs which set off a 175 dB sound with 6 – 8 million candelas light bursts in 10 milliseconds.

So why are the Feds prepping to take on crowds?

Officially, the request is put through Customs and Border Patrol, a subset of the Department of Homeland Security, but it is unlikely that the equipment will be used to protect the border and keep out illegal aliens. But the riot gear and crowd control devices have many potential uses.

Perhaps, the equipment for use in instances like last year, when protesters in Murrieta confronted Customs and Border Patrol agents and blocked buses carrying a wave of illegal immigrants from Central America?

The requested equipment includes:

Hand Delivered Pyrotechnic Canisters, including

  • Smoke Canister for Training (Reduced Toxicity)
  • Continuous Discharge Large Smoke Canister (Operations)
  • Continuous Discharge CS Canister
  • Orange Colored Smoke Canister
  • Green Colored Smoke Canister
  • Pocket Tactical Smoke Canister
  • Pocket Tactical CS Canister
  • Three Part Sub-Munitions CS Canister
  • Non-Burning Internal Canister OC Grenade

Non-Pyrotechnic Indoor/Outdoor Use

  • Flameless Expulsion Grenade (OC)
  • Flameless Expulsion Grenade (CS)
  • Flameless Expulsion Grenade (Inert)

Hand Delivered Rubber Ball Grenades

  • Rubber Ball Grenade
  • Rubber Ball Grenade (CS)

40mm Launched Specialty Impact Munitions

  • 40mm Direct Impact Sponge Cartridge
    40mm Direct Impact Sponge Cartridge (OC)
  • 40mm Direct Impact Sponge Cartridge (Marking)
  • 40mm Direct Impact Sponge Cartridge (Inert)
  • 40mm Sponge Training Rounds

Crowd Management Projectile Cartridges

  • 40mm Smokeless Powder Blast (OC)
  • 40mm Smokeless Powder Blast (CS)
  • 40mm Long Range Canister (CS)
  • 40mm Long Range Canister (Smoke)
  • 40mm Cartridge Four Part Sub-Munitions (CS)
  • 40mm Cartridge Four Part Sub-Munitions (Smoke)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions (100 Meters)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions (200 Meters)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions (300 Meters)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions OC (100 Meters)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions OC (200 Meters)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions OC (300 Meters)

Controlled Noise And Light Distraction Devices

  • Distraction Device Compact
  • Distraction Device
  • Distraction Device Reloadable Steel Body
  • Distraction Device Reload
  • Command Initiated Distraction Device Reload
  • Distraction Device Training Fuse
  • Distraction Device Training Body
  • Multiple Detonation Distraction Device
  • Low Profile Distraction Device
  • Command Initiator

Ferret Rounds

  • 40mm Ferret Round (OC Powder)
  • 40mm Ferret Round (OC Liquid)
  • 40mm Ferret Round (CS Powder)
  • 40mm Ferret Round (CS Liquid)
  • 40mm Ferret Round (Inert Powder)

The ferret rounds are designed to penetrate barriers and deliver debilitating or disrupting chemicals:

“The projectile shall be designed to penetrate barriers of glass, particle board, and interior walls. Upon impact of the barrier, the nose cone will rupture and instantaneously deliver the OC liquid on the other side of the barrier. “

The collection of equipment provides a diverse range of toys with which authorities could push back crowds and potentially intimidate free speech as well.

Are there more riots coming? Is widespread civil unrest only a matter of time? Is it related to martial law exercises like Jade Helm 15?

What do the Feds know that we don’t?

They are getting ready… are you?

 

Related Reading:

The Prepper’s Blueprint: Prepare For Any Disaster

If Martial Law Comes to America “Dissidents and Subversives Would Be Rounded Up”

The 17 Elements of Martial Law

America’s Complicated Pro-Wahhabi, Iran Friendly, Mideast Policy

Layout 1A look at America’s complicated collage of a Mideast policy

new zealand herald

 

WASHINGTON (AP) ” The United States’ engagement in the volatile and unpredictable Middle East got more complicated this week, as American and Iranian negotiators sought a historic nuclear agreement while the U.S. provided intelligence for a Saudi-led air campaign against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

The two efforts, diplomatic and military, underscore the sometimes conflicting and oftentimes country-by-country alliances that are guiding U.S. policy in the region. The collage is largely framed by America’s difficult relationship with Iran.

Despite severing diplomatic ties 36 years ago, the adversaries recently have found some means of direct and indirect cooperation. Beyond the nuclear talks, they are both helping Iraq’s government fight Islamic State extremists.

At the same time Washington and Tehran are locked in a proxy war in Syria, where the U.S. is arming insurgents battling the Iran-backed government. A reverse conflict could be emerging in Yemen, where Washington is assisting the military intervention by Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia against Iran-supported Shiite rebels.

A look at several crises in the Middle East and how the Obama administration is approaching matters:
NUCLEAR TALKS:

President Barack Obama’s biggest national security goal is reaching a diplomatic agreement that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But achieving such a goal through negotiation, and not through military or economic pressure, means it requires cooperation from the Islamic Republic.

Secretary of State John Kerry is leading the U.S. in talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, hoping to reach an outline of a deal over the next several days that would curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.

But Obama has said a deal could lead to a “better path” that includes greater trade ties, foreign investment, cultural exchange, scientific partnerships and jobs for young Iranians. The prospect of a nuclear accord and even the tiniest steps toward U.S.-Iranian rapprochement are prompting deep concern and even opposition among America’s traditional allies in the neighborhood.

Israel has lobbied aggressively against the deal in the United States, claiming it would pave the way for an Iranian nuclear arsenal. Saudi Arabia has threatened to explore greater nuclear technology of its own. Other Sunni governments want greater U.S. commitment to their defense. And all have spoken gravely of the implications of what they see as Washington cozying up to Tehran.

Hoping to ease their concerns, the U.S. has emphasized repeatedly it isn’t shifting alliances.

IRAQ:

In Iraq, the U.S. and Iran actively support a common ally.

American airstrikes started this week to help Iraqi troops retake the northern city of Tikrit from Islamic State extremists. Until recently, the Iraqis there were fighting side-by-side with Shiite militias and Iranian special forces. But they withdrew as a condition of the U.S. air intervention, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin told a congressional panel Thursday.

Although the Americans and Iranians share the common goal of defeating Islamic State extremists, they differ on tactics. Washington has cited reports of human rights abuses by Iranian-backed militias and criticized the Iranian-led operation in Tikrit for lacking precision firepower, proper command from the Iraqi government and a coherent plan for maneuvering ground forces against a dug-in enemy.

Both sides deny that they are actively coordinating military strategy, though U.S. officials have spoken of working with the Iraqis as a go-between to “deconflict” operations. The dynamic has unsettled Sunni Arab states likes Saudi Arabia.

___

SYRIA:

In Syria, the U.S. and Iran are on a clearer collision course. While each again speaks of combating the Islamic State group, they clash on their views of the Syrian government and the country’s four-year rebellion.

The U.S. is arming and training a primarily Sunni force described as moderate, working with Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan. The rebels have the double objective of defeating the terrorists and ousting President Bashar Assad from power.

On the other side, the Iranians are providing military assistance to Assad’s army and Hezbollah forces fighting the rebellion, and have deployed special forces of their own to help out.

___

YEMEN:

The picture is similarly complicated in Yemen.

The U.S. is providing intelligence and logistical help for the Saudi-led airstrikes against the Houthi rebels who’ve seized the capital and much of the country, driving out the president. The Saudis and their Arab partners may now be planning a ground invasion.

But the Iranians are unhappy, and the threat of another wider war is clear. Despite the U.S’s auxiliary role, Tehran is blaming Washington for the attacks. And it is calling the intervention a “dangerous step” that will fuel terrorism. The Iranians only acknowledge giving the Houthi rebels humanitarian support, not the advanced weaponry that the Saudis and others claim is being provided.

The U.S. is in an uncomfortable position, tied by its alliances to Sunni Arab states and conviction that Yemen’s rightful government should be restored. But it doesn’t want a protracted war that draws Iran in deeper, takes attention away from Yemen’s highly active al-Qaida branch and other threats to the United States, or becomes a factor in U.S.-Iranian nuclear discussions.

Although Kerry “commended” Saudi Arabia’s action in a telephone call with Arab foreign ministers Thursday, he then discussed the situation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the nuclear talks. Details of that conversation were kept private.

New Era of American Financial Warfare

New Era of Financial Warfare

bodhita

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Thursday’s Daily Telegraph, reports on new ways the U.S. is carrying out financial warfare against Russia by stealth. He writes that the U.S. has created a financial “neutron bomb” that can target any country and is now targeting Russia. He claims that for the past 12 years an “elite cell” at the U.S. Treasury has been designing ways to bring almost any country to its knees without firing a shot.

“It is a new kind of war, like a creeping financial insurgency, intended to constrict our enemies’ financial lifeblood, unprecedented in its reach and effectiveness,” says Juan Zarate, the Treasury and White House official who led the policy after 9/11. “The new geo-economic game may be more efficient and subtle than past geopolitical competitions, but it is no less ruthless and destructive,” he writes in his book Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare.

This includes shutting off market access for Russian banks, companies, and state bodies with $714 billion of debt. He calls it the “scarlet letter,” created under Section 311 of the U.S. Patriot Act, which was devised to be used against terrorist financiers. Once a bank is named, it will be caught in a “boa constrictor’s lethal embrace,” as Zarate puts it. Even if the bank has no operations in the U.S., European banks will not violate it.

Evans-Pritchard continues, “The U.S. Treasury faces a more formidable prey with Russia, the world’s biggest producer of energy with a $2 trillion economy, superb scientists, and a first-strike nuclear arsenal. It is also tightly linked to the German and East European economies,” and therefore the U.S. risks destabilizing its own alliance system. Furthermore, President Vladimir Putin knows this as well and no doubt is prepared to take counter-moves.

Zarate now advises HSBC on how to stop in-house money laundering, which is a laugh in itself.

Evans-Pritchard’s column cites Princeton Professor Harold James, who compares such actions to the pre-First World War attempts by Britain and France to use financial warfare against Germany. Warning of the dangers of such action, James said, in a piece for Project Syndicate, “Lehman was a small institution compared with the Austrian, French, and German banks that have become highly exposed to Russia’s financial system. A Russian asset freeze could be catastrophic for European — indeed, global — financial markets.”

Evans-Pritchard seems to be familiarizing himself with the Classics, as he cites how the sanction imposed by Pericles turned out badly. “So are the salutary lessons. Pericles tried to cow the city state of Megara in 432 B.C. by cutting off trade access to markets of the Athenian Empire. He set off the Peloponnesian Wars, bringing Sparta’s Hoplite infantry crashing down on Athens. Greece’s economic system was left in ruins, at the mercy of Persia. That was a taste of asymmetry.”

Bodhita | News & Analysis

US Policy Is Driving Force Behind the Call To Jihad

[A very strong case is made that it is US foreign policy which fuels Islamist anger and drives the call to “jihad.”  American policy has been humiliating to every Muslim since 2001, in particular, the policies of torture, secret renditions and drone assassinations, all of which have been designed to destroy the collective psyche of all Muslim males.  

Murder by drone and rendition have demonstrated to every Muslim family that none of them are safe in their beds, or in their homes anymore.  What more reason would a sensible young man need than this, to drive him to take-up arms against the American aggressors?   Yemen hosted a US drone/counter-insurgency base, allegedly used to “hunt al-Qaeda,” which was probably the driving force in Yemen’s destabilization.  The more the US and the Saudis bombed Yemen, the greater grew the unrest of all sectarian derivations. 

The ease of recruitment for ISIS (and the Middle Eastern radicals in general) is a pretty direct measure of the effectiveness of US psychological warfare.  The more we humiliate Muslims, the more jihadis answer the call to battle. 

But, I would argue that that has been the objective of the entire war on terror since its inception…find those who would be jihadis and kill them all.  It doesn’t matter to the Pentagon/CIA that they are feeding the cycle that they have been fighting to stop?  Instead of trying to kill the Muslim world to get all the survivors to “LIKE” us, we should try to disengage long enough for the Arabs to fight among themselves and settle their tribal/religious feuds which we had no right to interfere with, at all.]

Smith College religion professor, historian says US should stay out of Middle East battles

MASS live

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By Diane Lederman | dlederman@repub.com

 

Smith College religion professor Suleiman A. Mourad believes the United States should not be involved in the Middle East. (Diane Lederman/The Republican)

 

NORTHAMPTON – This week, Saudi Arabia took on rebels in Yemen, the latest action in the escalating conflict in the Middle East. It’s a confusing muddle of alliances.

As the New York Times reports the United States is supporting the Saudi campaign to dislodge Iranian-backed Houthi rebels but in Iraq and Syria, the United States is on the same side as Iran in the fight against the Islamic State.

And while some Congress debate whether to send in ground troops, Smith College religion professor Suleiman A. Mourad believes the United States should not be involved.

In fact anger against the United States is fueling the antagonism and serves as a recruiting tool for Isis and other extremists.

Mourad, who also studies jihad, explained some of the roots of the conflict and the reasons he believes that it needs to play out there without United States intervention.

He doesn’t think the warring parties are ready or able to talk to each other nor does he see any diplomat in the United States able to bring the parties to the table.

In fact, he said the United States is hated abroad. A native of Lebanon he returned recently and said the level of animosity between Sunnis and Shia towards the United States was extreme.

Middle Eastern leaders don’t trust or respect the United States.

The wars between Sunnis and the Shia – different sects within the Muslim community with different customs – have both modern and historical roots.
According to the BBC, most of the Muslims are Sunnis – estimates suggest the figure is somewhere between 85 to 90 percent.

Historically, Sunnis consider themselves as the orthodox or traditional form of Islam where the Shia the political faction, according to the BBC.

“There are historical grievances historical reasons that speak to the current grievances,” Mourad said, much in the way slavery here is linked to issue of race in America.

He said at the same time, some Shia are aligned with some Sunnis and vice versa. Also he said Shias in Yemen are different than the Shias of Iran. “They don’t have a common history. There’s much animosity.”

Each political leader has his own agenda and uses the rebel groups to support that just as long they don’t topple their own regime. “Every dictator has interests.”

While the Middle East was under the control of such leaders as Saddam Hussein, the militant factions were squelched but as those leaders were toppled the militant groups were able to emerge.
And what makes the modern conflict unprecedented is how widespread the uprisings are. The battle “across the Muslim world is unprecedented.”

He said the modern day Sunni militant movements began in the 1960s-1970s with the ideas of Sayyid Qutb of Egypt and Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi of Pakistan being put into practice.

They believed that Muslims rulers “were in the pockets of the West.:” And he said those militant ideologues were in “pursuit of a great Islam” and urged Muslims to jihad and unity.

Later there was a split where one group wanted a less militant approach and instead advocated for activism. The idea was “to just do activism to take control of the Sunnis. Teach ideas to ultimately unify Islam.”

But with such things as the overthrow of the Shah in Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini becoming the supreme leader and the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, these militants groups realized they had power and could demonstrate that militarism could achieve their goals.

Isis too feels like it has power with the attention it garners with the beheadings of Americans or its connection to attacks in France at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine in January.

“(In their minds) It puts them on equal footing with the west,” Mourad said. And if “we are equal to the West, we can defeat the West.”

Each regime, meanwhile, in the Middle East has its own agenda but leaders are not able or willing right now to talk about what that is and how to meet their needs. Some take advantage of groups like Isis to push for their respective interests and agendas.

So the wars have to play out until they are willing to talk. Meanwhile he said, “We have no business being (there.)”

He said the Iranians during the overthrow of the Shah said, “America is Satan” and wanted to destroy the country. That hatred has only worsened as the United States has gotten more involved in the battles of the countries in the Middle East.

UN Calling Humanitarian Disaster In Syria A “Situation”

 

UN: Humanitarian situation in Syria dramatically worsened

daily sabah
Istanbul
UN: Humanitarian situation in Syria dramatically worsened

The United Nations has more than doubled its estimate of Syrians who are living in besieged areas, who risk death by starvation, dehydration and a lack of medical care, to roughly 440,000. The U.N.’s top humanitarian official said that the life expectancy of a Syrian is expected to be 20 years lower than when the conflict started. The U.N. also said that the war, which has recently entered its fifth year, has killed more than 220,000 people. It was also claimed that at least $8.5 billion is needed this year to meet the needs of Syrians.

The Arab uprisings, which euphorically swept across the Middle East and North Africa, attracted Syrians who had lived under the dictatorship of the Assad family since 1970, when Bashar’s father Hafiz Assad seized power. Since then the majority Sunnis were forced to live in a police state that tried to control every movement, organization or business through the use a wide-ranging intelligence service. In March of 2011, Syrians were emboldened enough to raise their voices against the dictatorship. However, the regime’s response was not as peaceful as the protests. And the country was subsequently dragged into a deadly civil war after opposition groups took up arms against the government. The opposition groups have also been divided internally. While moderate opposition groups like the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) were struggling for a democratic Syria where all religious and political groups would be free to exist, radical elements like al-Qaida’s Syrian branch Nusra Front or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) aimed to establish a new Syria, ruled by an extremist religious jurisprudence.

The fate of the country was changed since the war started. United Nations’ top humanitarian official said that the inability of the international community to stop the war means millions of Syrians will continue to suffer. Valerie Amos said the situation has “dramatically worsened.” In just the past month, she noted that the number of Syrians living in what are considered “besieged” areas has doubled, from 212,000 to 440,000. Nearly 5 million Syrians live in hard-to-reach areas. “The inability of this Council, and countries with influence over the different parties at war in Syria, to agree on the elements for a political solution in the country means that the humanitarian consequences will continue to be dire for millions of Syrians,” said Amos. As the world has taken stock this month of Syria on the anniversary of the conflict, Amos pointed out some of the more grim findings: “Today, a Syrian’s life expectancy is estimated to be 20 years less than when the conflict started,” she said. “Unemployment is around 58 percent, up from around 10 percent in 2010; nearly two-thirds of all Syrians are now estimated to be living in extreme poverty.” Amos later told reporters that $8.5 billion is needed this year to address the crisis both in and outside Syria, whose neighbors say they are overwhelmed by millions of refugees. Many aid groups and others in the international community say the divided council has failed the Syrian people on this and other issues. Russia, Syria’s ally, has blocked actions such as an attempted referral of the country’s situation to the International Criminal Court, though some diplomats say they’d like to try again for a referral.

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