Friday, August 30, 2013

Obama Set Up?

This entire Syria episode is quite fishy.  Obama, who is (I am reasonably certain) a reluctant hawk – playing the part because he knows he must if he wants to keep his job and see any of his life-long pension – finally steps up with his red line interpretation, exactly as one would expect the neo-cons would hope he finally would do.

But not so fast.  Instead of overwhelming support from a chicken-hawk Congress, a pliant ally, and willing military (as well as a second Nobel Peace Prize), Obama is being isolated: by Boehner, who I believe never met a war he didn’t like; by the British, who previously never failed to do their part in moving the war-dialogue forward; and now even by his own military:

The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers.

“There’s a broad naivete in the political class about America’s obligations in foreign policy issues, and scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve,” said retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the run-up to the Iraq war, noting that many of his contemporaries are alarmed by the plan.

The criticism is not confined to the retired:

Marine Lt. Col. Gordon Miller, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, warned this week of “potentially devastating consequences, including a fresh round of chemical weapons attacks and a military response by Israel.”

Some choose to speak anonymously:

“I can’t believe the president is even considering it,” said the officer, who like most officers interviewed for this story agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because military personnel are reluctant to criticize policymakers while military campaigns are being planned. “We have been fighting the last 10 years a counterinsurgency war. Syria has modern weaponry. We would have to retrain for a conventional war.”

Others more openly, although cautiously:

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned in great detail about the risks and pitfalls of U.S. military intervention in Syria.

“As we weigh our options, we should be able to conclude with some confidence that use of force will move us toward the intended outcome,” Dempsey wrote last month in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”

Even the recently retired can speak more freely:

The recently retired head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. James Mattis, said last month at a security conference that the United States has “no moral obligation to do the impossible” in Syria. “If Americans take ownership of this, this is going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war,” said Mattis, who as Centcom chief oversaw planning for a range of U.S. military responses in Syria.

Another anonymous source:

“What is the political end state we’re trying to achieve?” said a retired senior officer involved in Middle East operational planning who said his concerns are widely shared by active-duty military leaders. “I don’t know what it is. We say it’s not regime change. If it’s punishment, there are other ways to punish.”

That the press also is openly publishing these cautionary comments is also telling.  Real or make-believe, the use of anonymous sources to criticize what has previously been worshipped neocon SOP is telling.

There is something more going on here.  It is possible that there are some who want Obama to do more: not just a few cruise missiles, but an all-out attack on Syrian – and therefore Iranian-backed – positions.  This is possible.  But then why the negative (or at least questioning) comments from Boehner?  Why weren’t a handful of British MPs strong-armed to swing the vote?  And why so many military voices calling for, not an application of overwhelming force, but instead, the consideration of no force?

Yes, there is something more going on here…and it smells like something aimed at embarrassing Obama.

But what?  And why?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Exposing the False History During the Confederation

In libertarian circles – both those of the minarchist variety and those of the anarchist variety – the time in the US under the Articles of Confederation are considered to have offered a better political environment than what came after.  This certainly sounds good to me, but beyond ignorantly smiling approvingly I have little knowledge of the period.

In order to understand this period better, I will work through a book by Merrill Jensen, “The New Nation: A History of the United States During the Confederation 1781 – 1789.”

Merrill Monroe Jensen (1905–1980) was an American historian whose research and writing focused on the ratification of the United States Constitution. His historical interpretations are generally considered to be of the "Progressive School" of American history, the most famous exponent of which was Charles A. Beard.

His early scholarship challenged the "consensus" interpretation of the Constitutional ratification process, arguing that the Articles of Confederation were a better expression of genuine democratic values than was the Constitution. The replacement of the Articles with the Constitution, Jensen argued, created a system of government that minimized the influence of radical democracy rooted in local politics. From his reading of the documentary evidence, he identified deep ideological conflicts among Americans at the time of the ratification.

From the forward, by Richard Morris:

Merrill Jensen’s The New Nation has assumed its rightful place as a classic.  When it first appeared it was welcomed by the historical profession as a brilliant refutation of the traditional picture of the years preceding 1787. (Page vii)

Jensen went after the traditional view that the period under the Confederation was chaotic had “no value as either history or example,” and that the weak economic condition of the 1780s was not sufficient reason to explain or justify the supplanting of the relatively weak federal system in favor of a strong central government. (Page vii)

Jensen refers to those who favored the decentralized system properly as “federalists” (contrary to the popular usage) as opposed to the “nationalists” or centralists. (Page vii)

Jensen notes that the post-Constitutional debate regarding the power afforded the central government did not start with the Constitution, and certainly not with Hamilton and Jefferson: “for they had been the very core of constitutional debate ever since the Declaration of Independence, and even before it, for that matter.”  The debate continued in the decades that followed, with Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun on either side of the argument – and each switching sides over time. (Page xiii)

He notes that Jefferson – who was, when not in office, the champion of a decentralized system – justified his purchase of Louisiana by “constitutional theories that even Hamilton hardly dared use.” (Page xiii) 

Jensen points out that advocates of ever-larger monopoly government, including world government, point to the time under the Articles as a reason that further centralization is beneficial – the time falsely labeled as chaotic. (Page xiv) 

Even if it can be granted that most appeals to the history of the Confederation have been sincere, let it also be said that they have seldom been infused with any knowledge of the period or its problems.  The result has been the drawing of lessons the past does not have to teach. (Page xvi)

The main culprit of this false history, in Jensen’s eyes, is John Fiske and his book The Critical Period of American History, “a book of vast influence but of no value as either history or example.” (Page xvi)

The picture is one of stagnation, ineptitude, bankruptcy, corruption, and disintegration.  Such a picture is at worst false and at best grossly distorted…. We have too long ignored the fact that thoroughly patriotic Americans during the 1780s did not believe there was chaos and emphatically denied that their supposed rescuers were patriotic. (Page xvii)

The question never was one of a new nation – that there was a new nation was never in debate.  The issue was if the new nation should have a federal or a national government. (Page xviii)

It is this story that Jensen tells, and the history I hope to understand.

Germany as Enemy

Stead’s book, The Americanization of the World, offers some interesting insights into the British – German conflicts in the last few decades of the nineteenth century.  My interest is due to the obvious implications: in less than fifteen years after the writing of this book, Britain and Germany will be two of the major antagonists of the Great War – a war for which the beginnings defy reasonable explanation.

For context, I offer a subset (and expansion) of my working hypothesis regarding elite control:

1)      There is a group of elite, interested in control – even more than wealth.
2)      Control by this group is exercised through the co-opting of government institutions.
3)      In the nineteenth century, this control was exercised primarily through Great Britain; by the end of the nineteenth century, it was obvious that Britain would no longer be able to sustain its paramount position.
4)      Both the United States and Germany represented threats to the British position, and therefore as threats to the elite.
5)      The state most like Britain, and therefore most likely to succumb to similar mechanisms, was the United States.  Additionally, the United States offered the most untapped economic potential to be placed in service of the elite.  For these reasons, the elite took actions conducive to bringing the United State government under control.
6)      Germany was not as capable a vassal for elite purposes as was the United States, and perhaps not as easy to bring under control in a non-violent manner.

Germany was seen as a threat to elite control because Germany was seen as a commercial threat to Britain.  Stead’s comments all revolve around commercial and colonial issues.  He describes these in the language of national interests, but can be better understood in the context of elite efforts at control.

Stead examines the conflicts between Britain and Germany, region by region.  Don’t worry: this will not be nearly as long as my prior post on this general subject.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An Anthony Wile Sighting

Anthony has come up for air:

I know that many of you were left wondering why The Daily Bell ceased publishing on July 16th. In due time The Bell will reappear, albeit in a somewhat different form, and you'll be notified as soon as that happens. But today, I want to tell you what has focused my attention to such an extent that I decided to devote 100% of my efforts to it.

It is an investment opportunity, for accredited investors.  It will be explained to those who attend a conference in Nova Scotia in October:

As soon as you arrive we'll put in your hands a very special report written that will explain this exceptional, elite promotion. You'll learn more about it via insightful presentations and one-on-one and small group conversations.

There you have it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Untiring Work of the Internet

So the Syrian government has used chemical weapons.  Don’t believe me?  Ask John Kerry:

What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.

He doesn’t say which party is guilty.

This is about the large-scale, indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all, a conviction shared even by countries that agree on little else.

He doesn’t say which party is guilty.

There is a reason why President Obama has made clear to the Assad regime that this international norm cannot be violated without consequences.

He doesn’t say which party is guilty.

And there is a reason why, no matter what you believe about Syria, all peoples and all nations who believe in the cause of our common humanity must stand up to assure that there is accountability for the use of chemical weapons so that it never happens again.

He doesn’t say which party is guilty.

So I also want to underscore that while investigators are gathering additional evidence on the ground, our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscience, and guided by common sense.

But he hasn’t said which party is guilty.

President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people.

He still hasn’t said which party is guilty.

Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these chemical weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has the capacity to do this with rockets. We know that the regime has been determined to clear the opposition from those very places where the attacks took place. And with our own eyes, we have all of us become witnesses.


(I am certain at some point the USG will come out with real evidence against the Syrian government on this.  But it isn’t in this statement.)

There are some rather obvious points to make.  First, on the international stage, the US will not shake the stigma of Colin Powell’s false statements about Iraq and Saddam Hussein.  No one with measurable brain activity believes the US Government on such issues.  Perhaps Kerry doesn’t want to come out and make a definitive statement to avoid later be accused of lying?

Second, the world has a much more heinous weapon, and the US government has used it, unnecessarily, twice.  No other regime has ever used it.

Third, and to me the most notable:

…I went back and I watched the videos, the videos that anybody can watch in the social media, and I watched them one more gut-wrenching time.

Anyone who could claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass. What is before us today is real, and it is compelling. (emphasis added)

It seems Kerry is reading Justin Raimondo:

Those rollicking jihadists, the Syrian rebels, love a joke: although they can be deadly serious – such as when they’re eating the internal organs of their enemies – what they enjoy more than anything is a really good prank. There was the time they claimed the Assad regime was killing babies in incubators – not very original, but hey, it worked for the Kuwaitis! Then there was the "massacre" at Houla, which was alleged to have killed 32 children and over 60 adults: a photo started appearing in the mainstream media, documenting the slaughter. The state-supported BBC was first to run with it – until it was discovered the supposedly incriminating photo was taken in Iraq during the recent war. The photographer was justifiably furious, the story was withdrawn, and the Syrian rebels went back to the drawing board.

I could go on for quite a while about the various Syrian hoaxes we’ve been subjected to, but let’s get down to the latest one – a claim Syrian government forces used nerve gas at the Syrian village known as Ghouta.

The internet is creating cracks in the armor.  When in the past has such a high-ranking government official made a statement in anticipation of the claims, certain to come on the internet, that the statements are “contrived” and “fabricated”?  In the past, with the controlled media, the official story would have been pounded into the heads of an audience with little ability to go elsewhere for news.

These statements demonstrate that a) the state knows it is losing the battle for the narrative, and b) the audience is increasingly skeptical of every word coming out of the mouth of political leaders.

The Daily Bell would always say that the internet was a process not an episode.  This statement from Kerry demonstrates the wisdom of that view.

How the Americanization of the World Will Come About

The Inevitable Transition

As previously suggested by Stead, the elite saw the transition of global superpower from Great Britain to the United States as inevitable; therefore they concluded that the co-opting of American political institutions would be necessary in order to remain in control.

I have previously outlined my working hypothesis regarding events since the mid- to late-nineteenth century, driven by the agenda of those commonly referred to as the Anglo-American elite (well, common for those who believe in such things).  Consistent with my view that the elite saw, well in advance of the actual event, the eclipsing of Great Britain by the United States in the coming decades, Stead offers evidence in the form of William Gladstone:

It was not till the close of last century that the United States could be said to have secured the commercial primacy of the world.  But the fact that they would supersede us had long been foreseen by the more prescient amongst us.  Conspicuous among these was Mr. Gladstone, who in 1878 and again in 1890 expressed in the clearest terms his conviction…as to the inevitableness of the change…. (Page 342)

Mr. Gladstone in 1878, as previously in 1866, implored his countrymen to recognize the great duty of preparing “by a resolute and sturdy effort to reduce our public burdens in preparation for a day when we shall probably have less capacity than we have now to bear them.”  (Page 343)

Gladstone had no doubt that the transition would occur, with Britain unable to hold supremacy over the United States.  He said:

While we have been advancing with portentous rapidity, America is passing us by as if in a canter.  There can hardly be a doubt, as between America and England, of the belief that the daughter at no very distant time will, whether fairer or less fair, be unquestionably stronger than the mother. (Page 343)

When Mr. Gladstone contemplated what he called “the paramount question of the American future” he expressed himself with the same sense of awe which filled the Hebrew prophet when he had a vision of the glory of the Lord and His train filled the Temple. (Page 439)

…he had enough faith in freedom to believe that it would work powerfully for good… (Page 440)

Gladstone’s credentials certainly qualify him to speak with knowledge regarding the geo-political and strategic condition of both Britain and the United States, and also as a public window to the elite for whom he worked:

William Ewart Gladstone, FRS, FSS (29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898), was a British Liberal politician. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times (1868–1874, 1880–1885, February–July 1886 and 1892–1894), more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 when he resigned for the last time. He had also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer four times (1853–1855, 1859–1866, 1873–1874, and 1880–1882).

Stead examines, region by region, how the Americanization of various parts of the Empire and the world will come about.  In several cases, a brief comment will be helpful to shed some light on the author’s thinking; as the author also has influence in the Empire, his thinking certainly is reflective of the thinking of those in position of power. 

NB: what follows is a high level but lengthy review of the condition of the various British colonies and other regions of the world, regarding the relations of these with both Britain and the United States.  I find many parts of this history and the views Stead presents fascinating.  However, if you are familiar with this history or otherwise find the review tedious, I will suggest skipping ahead to the section entitled “An Anglo-American Path to World Peace.”