Politics and Justice Without Borders
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Global Community Newsletter main website

Volume 20 Issue 6 February 2022

Theme of February 2022 Newsletter

SoulLife guiding the formation, evolution and protection of Life in the world.

Back to February 2022 Newsletter

Note: A display of 21 murals each showing the research done by Global Community over the past 37 years, and displaying unique short and long term solutions to the survival of all Life on Earth. Each mural has a small picture shown here whose size is about 650 px by 650 px, the enlargements are about 7000 px by 7000 pix. The pictures of the email messages are about 350 px by 350 px. All murals themselves have sizes of about 16383 px by 16383 px, with a range of 25 MBs to 65 MBs, much to large to upload on Global Community website. This large size picture for each mural can be obtained from special request. Text for each Mural were added here to summarize concerns about the nine most important global issues and threats facing life on our planet today. These threats are changing human life as we know it. Countless mass life extinctions have already happened which are capable of pushing humanity back to virtual prehistoric conditions.

Humans are ultra-resilient and can find a way to deal with most threats we face; however, it is the real life threats created by humans that pose the most imminent extinction to life as we know it. The rate of climate change is too rapid for processes of adaptation and these changes will inevitably involve health related issues in addition to other problems including behavioral, cultural, socio-political, demographical, and economical.

(Global Dialogue 2022 begins September 1st, 2021 and concludes on August 31st, 2022 ww)

Earth Governance
( see enlargement Earth Governance )

Save the world.
( see enlargement Save the world. )

This picture above here was designed to make Peoples aware how urgent meaningfull actions are needed to "Save the world". At the top of the picture the two arms symbolize the cooperation between different Peoples, the multicivilizational world we live in today all over the planet. The couple under the top frame and above the bottom frame symbolizes the formation of Life, its evolution over time. Butterflies shown on the picture are known as insects with a "complete" life cycle. This means that they have four completely separate stages of life, each of which looks entirely different from the next, and serve different purposes in the life of the insect.

Eggs are tiny, round, oval, or cylindrical depending on the variety of Butterfly. Females attach the eggs to leaves, stems, or other parts of the plant that are generally near where the caterpillar will find food. Caterpillars (or larva) are the long worm-like stage of the butterfly. They often have intricate patterns or patches on them and some may have spine-like hairs. This is the feeding and growth stage in the cycle, where they will find leaves and stems of host plants that are specific to their species.

​The Chrysalis (or Pupa) is the transformational stage within which the caterpillar tissues are broken down and the adult insect's structures are formed. Butterflies are the adult (or Imago) stage of the cycle. This is the reproductive and mobile stage of the insects life. Adults live the remainder of their life span in a garden or place with flowers where they enjoy sipping nectar from fruit or flowers, and partake in courtship, mating and laying their eggs. Butterflies are important pollinators. Approximately one-third of all plants need pollination to set fruit, and bees and butterflies are major pollinators. Flower nectar is the food for adult butterflies and by flying from flower to flower sipping nectar, pollination occurs. Butterflies are great for a garden as they are attracted to bright flowers and need to feed on nectar. When they do this their bodies collect pollen and carry it to other plants. This helps fruits, vegetables and flowers to produce new seeds.

Butterflies symbolize evolution, Life evolution. Butterflies also symbolize the need of spreading the words of peace, cooperation, love, and helping each other as a multicivilizational community on Earth. Everyone is important in spreading those words. Let our Soul transform us. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind and heart. Then we will be able to test and approve what SoulLife's will let us evolve. The final reward of this work is "saving the world" from complete extinction. Let us spread the words. The current extinction crisis is entirely of our own making as human beings. More than a century of habitat destruction, pollution, the spread of invasive species, overharvest from the wild, climate change, global warming, population growth and other human activities have pushed nature to the brink. Tipping points, observables are showned and explained in the following 21 murals. Plenty of symbols as well!

Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for this month

Dr Ramzy Baroud, Medea Benjamin, Nicolas J. S. Davies, Pepe Escobar, William T. Hathaway, David Hearst, Walter L. Hixson, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Robert Hunziker (2), Dr Andrew Glikson, Thomas Klikauer (2), Dave Lindorff, Craig Murray, Dmitry Orlov, The Saker, Simon Whalley.

Dr Ramzy Baroud, Coming This 2022: Refugees, Democracy and Human Rights Coming This 2022: Refugees, Democracy and Human Rights
Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies Hey, Hey, USA! How Many Bombs Did You Drop Today? Hey, Hey, USA! How Many Bombs Did You Drop Today?
Pepe Escobar, Putin and Xi Plot Their SWIFT Escape Putin and Xi Plot Their SWIFT Escape
William T. Hathaway, Privatizing Nature Privatizing Nature
David Hearst, America's 'Suez moment': Another strategic mistake would be its last America's 'Suez moment': Another strategic mistake would be its last
Walter L. Hixson, America’s Foreign Policy Death Spiral America’s Foreign Policy Death Spiral
Thomas Homer-Dixon, The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare. The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare.
Robert Hunziker, When to Build Sea Walls. When to Build Sea Walls
Robert Hunziker, The Oceans Are Overheating The Oceans Are Overheating
Dr Andrew Glikson, Accelerating global warming and amplifying feedbacks: The imperative of CO2 drawdown Accelerating global warming and amplifying feedbacks: The imperative of CO2 drawdown
Thomas Klikauer, Automation & (no) Future for Humanity in World. Automation & (no) Future for Humanity in World
Thomas Klikauer, Carbon Justice and Global Survival Carbon Justice and Global Survival
Dave Lindorff, Pentagon Fails Audit (Again!) Pentagon Fails Audit (Again!)
Craig Murray, Protecting the Nazis: The Extraordinary Vote of Ukraine and the USA Protecting the Nazis: The Extraordinary Vote of Ukraine and the USA
Dmitry Orlov, 2022: The Year the US achieves Collapse 2022: The Year the US achieves Collapse
The Saker, Clouds on the horizon Clouds on the horizon
Simon Whalley, The Biggest Threat in ‘Don’t Look Up’ Are the Capitalists on Earth. The Biggest Threat in ‘Don’t Look Up’ Are the Capitalists on Earth

Articles and papers from authors


Day data received Theme or issue Read article or paper
  January 7, 2022
Carbon Justice and Global Survival
by Thomas Klikauer, Countercurrents, in Climate Change

Unlike rather known concept of “climate” justice, the idea of “carbon” justice is so advanced that it does not even have a Wikipedia entry, yet. One of the countries that might serve as a near perfect example for carbon justice is Australia. With its massive coal export, Australia is one of, or perhaps, “the” worst country polluting our world. Its coal export contributes substantially to global warming. Unmatched by others, Australia is poisoning our environment, not so much at home, but abroad.

If one would combine emissions from Australia’s exports with its local emissions, Australia contributes a colossal 3% to 4% to the world’s entire emissions. With a population less than the city of Shanghai (26.4 million), Australia (25.69 million) remains the world’s 6th largest emitter behind super-polluters like the USA, China, India, Russia and Japan.

Globally, 76% of all emission are from fossil fuels to which corporations operating in Australia make a sizable contribution. Some of these corporations are what the philosopher Jeremy Moss calls carbon majors: BHP, Glencore, Yancoal, Peadbody, AngloAmerican, Chevron, Whitehaven, Woodside, ExxonMobil, and Santos. Combining their emissions results in them being the world’s 8th biggest contributors to global warming.

This alone challenges the idea of an Anthropocene in favor of Capitalocene, as a handful of capitalism’s major corporations alone have the power to change our climate. Beyond that, around 63% of all global emissions over capitalism’s main period –1854 to 2010 – are traceable to the activities of just 90 global corporations. Capitalism has been creating global warming since many decades.

Yet, inside Australia, these carbon-intense corporations lobby Australia’s (mostly) neoliberal government. In this, they are kindly assisted by Australia’s corporate media (e.g. Murdochracy) winning election after election. In terms of propaganda, the triangle of ecocide – (1) mining corporations and corporate lobbying, (2) corporate media, and (3) Australia’s Liberal Party – largely define Australia’s debate on global warming.

They engineer PR slogans like, “we export coal we do not burn it, it is not our problem.” Hidden behind tabloid-slogans remains a dark fact. Just as tobacco corporations selling cigarettes to children, it is not their problem when children die of cancer.

Of course, Australia’s neoliberal Prime Minister (an ex-marketing manager) – commonly known as Scomo – likes to carry coal into parliament to show how harmless coals are. He also likes to fly to Glasgow’s blah-blah-blah Greenwash festival where he spoke to an empty room.

Unlike many Australians, the world has realized that Scott Morrison’s climate change policies are pure propaganda designed for his audience back home, which remains shielded from much of international news through Murdoch’s near-monopoly media apparatus owning 70% of print media, and up to 100% in Queensland. Only North Korea has a higher monopoly. Thankfully, Australia is called a democracy while North Korea is called a dictatorship.

Meanwhile, the tripod of corporate media, neoliberal politicians, and carbon majors (multi-national corporations) assures that most Australians are kept ignorant to ideas such as carbon justice. Key principles of carbon justice are concepts such as historical responsibilitypolluter paysinherited debt, and Utilitarianism’s no harm principle. Virtually all of these rely on a connection between contributing to a global harm (e.g. global warming), and being liablefor the consequences these corporations and countries (guided by neoliberal governments) have caused. Someone will have to pay for all this, eventually.

Key to carbon justice is an acute awareness that climate change is a truly global problem. As a consequence, solutions also need to be global. This means that major emitter like mining corporations and countries that enable these corporations to pollute, can no longer claim, we just export coal – not our problem.

Worse, the disproportionally large contributions of these corporations to global warming assure that a global response can no longer be to simply focus on delivering benefits to mining corporations and a handful of countries that allow their business to flourish to the detriment of humanity.

One of the most serious problems in all that is the allocation of benefits (corporate profits) and burdens (the public and the environment) during an impending transition away from fossil fuels. In many countries, this has started several years ago. This transition might result in the potential bankruptcy of mining companies. It also creates what is known as stranded assets – oilfields and coal mines becoming worthless. Beyond all that, there is likely to be a loss in royalty revenues.

All this indicates that corporations might quickly vanish or that neoliberal governments will shield them from liability under the ideology of de-regulation, i.e. pro-business regulation. In short, the public might be left with un-rehabilitated mines, vast geographical areas that look worse than the dark side of the moon, and with potentially debilitating impacts on entire regions and local communities.

Set against this is the idea of fault-based justice which means that companies and corporations that are at fault are liable to repair the harm they have done. But before that, there needs to be an awareness on what coal corporations and other polluters do is harmful.

The business of coal corporations has to be a contribution – or at least a very likely contribution – to environmental harm. Creating greenhouse gas emissions obviously contributes to global warming. It does so independently of, where the coal is burned or dug up. And, so is the supply of coal extracting equipment, materials, tools, finances, etc. making dangerous emissions possible.

In a wider understanding, this will – or better “will have to” – include corporate lobbying as well as the neoliberal policy outcomes enabling mining corporations to be harmful to nature and its final consequence: threatening the very existence of humanity. Carbon justice sees to prevent this from happening.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC which has 197 countries as signatories, calls this a Scope 3 Justice in its Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard. All this sounds very technical and complicated. Yet, it boils down to the fact that:

Scope 1+2: emissions are polluting discharges produced within a country’s borders from things such as, for example, mining, transport, power generation, agriculture, etc.

Scope 3: are emissions produced outside a country’s borders. These emissions result, for example, from products that are exported, such as, for example, coal.

In short, the concept of carbon justice not only includes harmful emissions made “inside” a country but also those created “outside” of a country when polluting products of a country – used elsewhere – are still harmful to the environment.

In other words, a cigarette produced by a tobacco corporation in country “A” and sold to children in country “B” is still harmful and causes cancer. A tobacco corporation in country “A” remains liable for the cancer it causes in children in country “B”. The neoliberal excuse that “cancer-causing tobacco is just an externality” does not bite, not legally, and not morally. It never has and never will be.

Here is how it works in the case of global warming: when a mining corporation digs up coal and sells it, these are scope 1+2 emissions (domestic). It is produced by extracting coal (e.g. dynamiting, running mine trucks, machinery, miles of conveyor-belts, etc.). Its scope 2 emissions come from products and goods (electricity to power the site), but also services (banking, corporate finance, insurance, etc.) that enable harmful mining operations. These are all responsible for the environmental harm they have created.

Scope 3 emissions are not only the responsibility of those countries and companies that use coal. They are also the responsibility of those producing coal. In short, burning coal elsewhere does not diminish the responsibility of those corporations that have contributed to carbon emission by producing coal in the first place. This is carbon justice.

To make sure that people do not become aware of the global environmental vandalism, the aforementioned tripod – 1. Neoliberal governments, 2. Corporate media, and 3. Corporations and their corporate lobbying – work very hard.

One of the top corporate lobbyists in all this is the Koch family who, incidentally, have very significant fossil fuel interests. The Koch brothers have spent over $127 million during 1997–2017 in lobbying for their cause: unhindered capitalism, neoliberal deregulation, and profit-making.

The Koch Machine support groups such as the non-scientific but highly neoliberal-free-market Ayn Rand Institutewhich is devoted to attacking climate science. The $127 million over ten years is a whopping $12.7 million per year – every year. It comes from just the one family – the Kochs!

By contrast, the entire budget of the United Nations’ The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC for 2018 was a meagre 7.7 million. In other words, just one family spends 1.7-times more money on destroying science than the IPCC can muster. No wonder we face the Uninhabitable Earth.

Back in the world’s largest coal-producing country, its very own corporate lobbying group – the Minerals Council of Australia – had spent A$22 million to defeat the Rudd government because it had dared to introduce a modest mining tax on corporate super-profits – the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.

It paid off handsomely. The incoming neoliberal government abolished the tax. This system is called democracy. Some call it, Media Capitalism. Noam Chomsky called it, The Spectacular Success of Propaganda.

Of course, much of the anti-global warming propaganda is dedicated to disconnect global warming from, for example, bushfires even though global warming has led to an 800% increase in bushfires. There is a more or less direct link between:

+ mining corporations and their corporate lobbying; and

+ supportive corporate media broadcasting anti-environmental propaganda; and

+ winning elections and the resulting neoliberal government that support mining corporations.

This triangle (1-2-3) of environmental annihilation assures that in Australia’s 2019/2020 bushfires, 1.5 billion animals were killed and 5,900 homes were destroyed. The estimated cost of all that was A$100 million. Yet, neoliberal governments work hard to eliminate the “coal / global warming” link. The calculation of mining corporations and neoliberal governments is that this would assure that the contribution model of carbon justice is delayed as long as possible. For obvious reasons, neoliberalism-loved “user pay” model is not applied here. Those who use coal to make profits are excused.

To fight such neoliberal hallucinations, the carbon justice model says that if companies and corporations contribute to harm climate change by knowingly impacting in a manner that could be avoided, then these corporations are liable for the harm and damages they have caused. To avoid any awareness of this, there is a relentless attack of neoliberal governments on climate science, scientists, and scientific institutions.

One of Australia’s prime apostle of neoliberalism is ex-PM Malcolm Turnbull who said in 2015,  “if Australia stopped exporting coal, the country to which we export would buy it from somewhere else.” A masterpiece of propaganda. It is a bit like saying, I will rob a bank because if I do not do it, someone else will.

Beyond that, carbon justice places mining corporations that have dug up coal in Australia and Australia’s government at the centre because that coal was mined in Australia, and not somewhere else. Cranking up the Liberal Party’s pro-coal propaganda, Turnbull’s very own predecessor – Tony Abbott – once said, coal is good for humanity.

Why do these neoliberal politicians say all that? Well, coal corporations have deep pockets. They finance elections. After all, in 2018–19, the value of exported coal and gas was A$120bn – very serious money.

Yet, the propaganda of saving jobs in the mining industry remains a mirage. The Australian Bureau of Statistics notes for 2020 that the coal industry employs about 39,000 people – a microscopic number given Australia’s 12.5 million workers. In other words, just 1-in-321 workers is employed by the coal industry – the other 320 workers are not employed by the coal industry.

Worse, mining corporations pay next to no taxes. Interestingly, in the financial year 2016 to 2017, the ExxonMobil Corporation paid no tax on its revenue of AU$8.3 billion. The Woodside Corporation also paid no tax on its A$6.5 billion in revenue.

Instead of paying taxes – like workers – mining corporations as a whole receive substantial subsidies from Australia’s neoliberal government – unlike workers. Since there are no exact numbers (for a good reason!), most estimates of tax subsidies range between $12 billion to $29 billion per year for Australia’s fossil fuel sector.

Yet, mining corporations do pay royalties on the coal, oil, and gas they extract. Royalties are not taxes. Royalties are monies paid to state governments for publicly- (or more correctly: Aboriginal) owned resources, such as coal. In one of Australia’s key resource states –Queensland– this state’s government receives a meagre 7% of the state’s budget from coal royalties – inconsequential. Among those who pay peanuts in taxes is coal giant BHP.

In terms of carbon justice, this means the following: if BHP were a country, its global warming enhancing mining emissions from its products (coal, gas, etc.) is larger than the combined domestic emissions of 25 million Australians. Yet, BHP is only “one” corporation making huge profits, paying no taxes, receiving taxpayers’ subsidies, employing next to no people, and working tirelessly to accelerate global warming.

So, what does all this mean? A 2020 report by an evil-anarchist organisation called Deloitte notes that, if unchecked, global warming could result in shrinking Australia’s GDP by A$3.4 trillion – trillion, not billion, and not million! – by 2070, with 880,000 jobs lost.

880,000 jobs is 22 times as many as currently employed in Australia’s coal industry. In other words, job losses because of global warming will outstrip coal jobs by a whopping 22-times. And this comes on top of environmental devastationin Australia and globally.

Another report commissioned by Australia’s very own oil industry lobbying body – the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association – found that the costs of decommissioning Australia’s 65 offshore oil platforms could reach $60 billion over the next thirty years. This figure does not include onshore gas, Australia’s huge coal mines and export terminals.

$60bn is a huge sum. In numbers, it looks like this: 60,000,000,000. The average house price in Australia is: $994,579. In other words, for the money decommissioning offshore oil rigs, 60,327 people could buy a house in Australia – a huge sum.

To finish up with big numbers, Australia’s fossil fuel industry employs just 0.19% of all workers but rakes in a whopping $350 billion (in 2016/17). No wonder, Australia’s prime corporate lobbyist – The Minerals Council – notes that Australia’s stable political (read: we can win elections) and legal systems (read: resulting in favourable laws), our proximity to markets and the cost of Australia’s fossil fuel resources (read: we pay peanuts in royalties and taxes) are all significant factors driving demand (read: we make money while hopefully off-loading the environmental damage onto the taxpayer).

In Carbon Justice, the philosopher Jeremy Moss suggests, “it is time to face the scandal of Australia’s true contribution to climate change.” In reality, the triangle of environmental death – (1) corporations and corporate lobbying, (2) supportive corporate media propagating supportive propaganda, and (3) frequently elected neoliberal governments – will assure that this is not going to happen.

Instead of merely facing a scandal, we face a stark choice of “socialism or barbarity” as Rosa Luxemburg once said. Between the 100 years of her murder and today, barbarity has mutated into the annihilation of planet earth – our common home. During the same 100 years, socialism has become what Hans A. Baer recently called democratic eco-socialism – pretty much the only chance we have if we want to survive.

Thomas Klikauer (MAs, Boston and Bremen University and PhD Warwick University, UK) teaches MBAs and supervises PhDs at the Sydney Graduate School of Management, Western Sydney University, Australia. He has over 700 publications and writes regularly for BraveNewEurope (Western Europe), the Barricades (Eastern Europe), Buzzflash (USA), Counterpunch (USA), Countercurrents (India), Tikkun (USA), and ZNet (USA). His next book is on Media Capitalism (Palgrave).

Meg Young (GCA and GCPA, University of New England at Armidale) is a Sydney Financial Accountant & HR Manager who likes good literature and proof reading.

Originally published in CounterPunch

  Read  Carbon Justice and Global Survival
  January 10, 2022
Coming This 2022: Refugees, Democracy and Human Rights
by Dr Ramzy Baroud, Countercurrents, in World

Although 2021 is now behind us, there are many issues that will linger for a while, or much longer, and will certainly dominate much of the news in 2022, as well. These are but a few of the issues.

NATO-Russian Brinkmanship 

Exasperated with NATO expansion and growing ambitions in the Black Sea region, Moscow has decided to challenge the US-led Western alliance in an area of crucial geopolitical importance to Russia.

Ukraine’s quest for NATO membership, especially following the Crimea conflict in 2014, proved to be a red line for Russia. Starting in late 2021, the US and its European allies began accusing Russia of amassing its forces at the Ukrainian border, suggesting that outright military invasion would soon follow. Russia denied such accusations, insisting that a military solution can be avoided if Russia’s geopolitical interests are respected.

Some analysts argue that Russia is seeking to “coerce the west to start the new Yalta talks,” a reference to a US, UK and Russia summit at the conclusion of World War II. If Russia achieves its objectives, NATO will no longer be able to exploit Russia’s fault lines throughout its Western borders.

While NATO members, especially the US, want to send a strong message to Russia – and China – that the defeat in Afghanistan will not affect their global prestige or tarnish their power, Russia is confident that it has enough political, economic, military and strategic cards that would allow it to eventually prevail.

China’s Unhindered Rise 

Another global tussle is also underway. For years, the US unleashed an open global war to curb China’s rise as a global economic power. While the 2019 ‘Trade War’, instigated by the Donald Trump administration against China delivered lukewarm results, China’s ability to withstand pressure, control with mathematical precision the spread, within China, of the Covid-19 pandemic, and continue to fuel the global economy has proved that Beijing is not easy prey.

An example of the above assertion is the anticipated revival of the Chinese tech giant, Huawei. The war on Huawei served as a microcosm of the larger war on China. British writer, Tom Fowdy, described this war as “blocking exports to (Huawei), isolating it from global chipmakers, forcing allies to ban its participation in their 5G networks, imposing criminal charges against it and kidnapping one of its senior executives”.

However, this is failing, according to Fowdy. 2022 is the year in which Huawei is expected to wage massive global investments that will allow it to overcome many of these obstacles and become self-sustaining in terms of the technologies required to fuel its operations worldwide.

Aside from Huawei, China plans to escalate its response to American pressures by expanding its manufacturing platforms, creating new markets and fortifying its alliances, especially with Moscow. A Chinese-Russian alliance is particularly important for Beijing as both countries are experiencing strong US-Western pushback.

2022 is likely to be the year in which Russia and China, in the words of Beijing’s Ambassador to Moscow, Zhang Hanhui, stage a “response to such overt (US) hegemony and power politics”, where both “continue to deepen back-to-back strategic cooperation.”

The World ‘Hanging by a Thread’

However, other conflicts exist beyond politics and economy. There is also the war unleashed on our planet by those who favor profits over the welfare of future generations. While the Glasgow Climate Pact COP26 began with lofty promises in Scotland in November, it concluded with political compromises that hardly live up to the fact that, per the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “we are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe”.

True, in 2022 many tragedies will be attributed to climate change. However, it will also be a year in which millions of people around the world will continue to push for a collective, non-political response to the ‘climate catastrophe’. While Planet Earth is “hanging by a thread” – according to Guterres – political compromises that favor the rich become the obstacle, not the solution. Only a global movement of well-integrated civil societies worldwide can compel politicians to heed the wishes of the people.

Refugees, Democracy and Human Rights

The adverse effects of climate change can be felt in myriad ways that go beyond the immediate damage inflicted by erratic weather conditions. War, revolutions, endemic socio-economic inequalities, mass migration and refugee crises are a few examples of how climate change has destabilized many parts of the world and wrought pain and suffering to numerous communities worldwide.

The issue of migration and refugees will continue to pose a threat to global stability in 2022, since none of the root causes that forced millions of people to leave their homes in search of safer and better lives have been addressed. Instead of contending with the roots of the problem – climate change, military interventions, inequality, etc. – quite often the hapless refugees find themselves accused and demonized as agents of instability in Western societies.

This, in turn, has served as a political and, at times, moral justification for the rise of far-right political movements in Europe and elsewhere, which are spreading falsehoods, championing racism and undermining whatever semblance of democracy that exists in their countries.

2022 must not be allowed to be another year of pessimism.  It can also be a year of hope and promise. But that is only possible if we play our role as active citizens to bring about the coveted change that we would like to see in the world.

Happy 2022!

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His forthcoming book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

  January 10, 2022
Automation & (no) Future for Humanity in World
by Thomas Klikauer , Countercurrents,

Most people in the so-called advanced world lives, as it seems, part of their daily existence with the Internet, smart phones, smart TVs, email, Twitter, YouTube, logging in to a company’s website where we are employed to be remote-controlled, etc. 

Yet, outside of work and sometimes even while being online for work, plenty of people also spend ample time engaged with online platforms. Euphemistically, they are called social media. In reality, they are run by very powerful multi-national, profit-making, and all too often “no tax”- paying corporations.

The advent of the Internet and having recently been turbo-charged by the Coronavirus pandemic, has transformed the way we work. It also changed the way we interact with co-workers – sometimes, as far afield as, half around the world. Yet, the next step is already on the way. 

This step occurs when digital technologies are starting to move off-screen and becoming integrated into the physical world that surrounds us. These are known as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0. It already includes industrial robotics, self-driving cars and trucks, intelligent cancer-screening machines, and the like. Barely a month ago, a Mercedes S Class’ car can now drive itself on Germany’s infamous Autobahn automatically.

According to some experts – self-appointed and otherwise – human beings would be largely leftovers in an automated future. On this, there are truly wild predictions about massive job losses because of automation. Some suggest that up to 45 million Americans or about 1/4 of the USA’s entire workforce, might lose their jobs to automation by the year 2030. A few years ago (2017), the suggestion was just 39 million.

Historically, technology has always replaced workers ever since capitalism made an appearance. Yet, other reasons have also contributed to job losses like capitalism’s rather frequent economic downturns and habitually re-occurring crises like, for example, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008ff.

Despite the ideology of never ending growth – infinite growth in a finite world! – even some economists slowly start to realize that this is nonsense. Yet, during the period after World War II, many OECD countries saw the actual rate of labor-productivity slowing down – not speeding up. Robert Brenner, for example, calls this the long downturn – an inevitability in capitalism. Combine this with outsourcing and the oversupply of consumer goods (market saturation), neoliberal wage stagnation, etc., unemployment is the result. Beyond that, many know that capitalism always creates unemployment.

Automation certainly contributes to this. Many so-called future of work experts present us with images of a world of work defined by glossy newly automated factories and even Ping Pong playing robots. This is contrasted with crumbling public infrastructures – often the result of decades of neoliberalism. The implicit TINA (there is no alternative) threat is, unless you subscribe to automation, there will be deindustrialized regions of economic decline, desolate workers, and grossly underpaid people who are part of the precordia – just a tick above Marx’s Lumpenproletariat. These will be places and entire regions of utter mass unemployment and places where corporations refuse to invest.

With automation, some investments might fly into a so-called lights out manufacturing which are fully automated mini-factories, or manufacturing processes that no longer require any sort of human input and can therefore operate in total darkness. In the future of the food industry, they are known as dark kitchen.

Much of the debate on automation centers on four key issues: a) workers have already been replaced by automated machines; b) this will lead to a largely automated society; c) automation brings the long-awaited emancipation from enslaving and grinding drudgery; and, d) the most likely solution to automation’s much anticipated societal rapture is the introduction of a Universal Basic Income which, in its most optimistic variation might even get us to Aaron Bastani’s fully automated luxury communism.

Much of this is urgently needed given that labor’s share of income in the seven top economies (G7) has fallen from roughly 70% to today’s 60% since the onslaught of neoliberalism (1980s). In other words, the rich got richer, while the income of the rest has stagnated or workers simply got poorer. During the four decades of neoliberalism (1980-2022), the service industry has absorbed roughly 74% of all workers in high-income countries made redundant because of automation. Once OECD countries enter into service-sector automation, more workers will be pushed out of work. 

Yet, in the history of capitalism, automation remains all but one issue. Traditionally, many waves of deindustrialization have often found their roots not so much in technology and automation but in capitalism itself, and its pathological capacity to frequently create market overcapacities for mass- manufactured goods. 

Since many years and in particular since the last two decades, there have been several waves of automation. These waves of automation are often measured by looking at industrial robots per thousand workers. It indicated the number of robots compared to workers employed in the manufacturing industry. 

The result shows that even the most robot-using country – which has been South Korea for a long time – uses just 63 robots per 1,000 workers. In technologically advanced Germany, the number is merely 31; and in high-tech Japan, it is 30. Yet, these countries have been on the road towards full automation for a long time. In the USA, the number was 19 while in the UK it was just 7 (2016). By 2019, these numbers had all gone up but not by much.

At the same time, the share of workers in manufacturing was significant – albeit declining: South Korea and Germany: 17%, and Japan 15% compared to the USA’s and the UK’s 8%. Still, when seen from the standpoint of worldwide competition, a high degree of robotization appears to translate into international competitiveness.

Yet, its accompanying pathologies are not just a result of automation but are more likely to come because of four decades of neoliberalism turbo-charged by its staunch anti-unionism, anti-labor regulation – framed as deregulation – privatization, wage stagnation, the creation of the precariat, and a separation of productivity from wages.

In line with the neoliberal ideology that began to be introduced during the 1980s, many neoliberal governments started to reduce labor market protections while, simultaneously, also scaling back unemployment benefits in one of neoliberalism’s favorite: punish the poor for being poor and blame them for being poor.

At the same time, what used to be called active labor market policy (ALMP) has all but been annihilated. It has been whipped off the public debate by what a recent book calls media capitalism – capitalism secured by an overarching ideology powerfully transmitted by corporate media. 

Today, and this is before the Coronavirus pandemic, OECD countries spend a meager 0.3% of their GDP on ALMP. Compare this to the 2.5% of GDP that is spent on the army. In other words, we live in countries that are overflowing with the most advanced and expensive killing machines while our unemployed get basically nothing or worse – being punished for being unemployed. Corporate media like to tell everyone that it was their own choice to be unemployed or poor – they simply made the wrong choice.

Favorable for capitalism, and this since the days of Marx, is the fact that much of this including automation creates capitalism’s industrial reserve army. These are workers pushed below the average normal level of income. They are exposed to low-quality jobs. Plenty of workers are also on zero-hours and what Germans call mini-jobs. These workers experience worse than average working conditions and outright despotism in the workplace.

One of the keys to understand the success of neoliberalism and the reason for being such a favored ideology for capitalism, the business class, and adjacent media, is this: since neoliberalism or roughly between 1974 and 2019, unemployment rates were on average 30% higher than they were between the years of the social-democratic compromise between big capital and big labor (1948 and 1973). 

In short, social-democratic regulation eases unemployment. Neoliberalism creates unemployment. Much of this came because of a much lower rate of job creation during the years of neoliberalism even though the apostles of neoliberalism like to claim the very opposite.

But neoliberalism did not stop there. Together with outsourcing and automation, neoliberalism also destroyed huge junks of middle-wage jobs. Instantaneously, neoliberalism also created ever more polarized employment opportunities splitting the working class in high- vs. low-wage worker.

This is exactly the outcome predicted by the demagogues of neoliberalism. When the free market holds sway in the labor market – where actually nothing is for sale! – market polarization will occur. Yet, largely increasing the automation of routine manufacturing jobs and the resulting push of workers into the service industry and middle and higher managerial positions has other consequences too. It has created a race between – ever more expansive – college and university training and the machine, i.e. automation.

Even college-educated workers increasingly face being pushed into precarity under neoliberalism. Between neoliberalism’s prime years (1985-2013), the share of precarious employment rose from 21% to 34% in France; from 25% to 39% in Germany; from 29% to 40% in Italy; and from 30% to 34% in the UK. Worse, 60%t of jobs created in OECD countries in the 1990s and 2000s were insecure non-standard jobs – the rise of job insecurity and the precariat.

Neoliberalism basically means that instead of researchers, tennis instructors, and Michelin chefs, neoliberal work means side-street sellers, rafts of domestic servants, cart vendors, faked self-employment, Uber drivers, fast-food delivery riders, the Mechanical Turk, and Walmart shelf-stackers. 

Unless stopped, the continuation of neoliberalism with all its pathological trimmings is virtually assured. Stopping neoliberalism in its inhuman tracks can be achieved through a new form of collective political action dedicated to something like democratic eco-socialism. This will bring us closer to a world with no bosses with a New Economy for a Better World. The late Erik Olin Wright has outlined how this can be achieved.

It will continue until we have achieved global ecocide. Neoliberalism will carry on with business as usual and that includes automation until the Uninhabitable Earth is achieved. 

What we are likely to see is the maintenance of capitalism’s overcapacity in markets for agriculture and manufacturing goods. Capitalism’s frequent crisis, outsourcing, off-shoring, and the persistence of automation will continue to force many workers out of manufacturing (first) and the service industry (soon).

Yet, in some countries, the service industry will see their share of global employment rising from roughly 50% (in 2020) to 70%-80% by the year 2050s. This comes on top of the fact that rates of economic growth will remain low as environmental vandalism continues despite – or perhaps because of – blah-blah-blah festivals like COP26, etc.

At the same time, the service sector will be able to soak up what automation writers call the losers of automation. Simultaneously, wage stagnation, the precariat, income inequalities, and environmental vandalism will lead the world further and further into neoliberalism’s apocalypse of global warming and the 6th mass extinction – of which, we will all be a part of.

Thomas Klikauer has 670 publications including a book on Managerialism and a textbook on human resource management.

Meg Young is a professional number cruncher and Pomeranian lover who enjoys good books, foreign films and music.

Originally published in Znet

  Read Automation & (no) Future for Humanity
in World
  January 10, 2022
Hey, Hey, USA! How Many Bombs Did You Drop Today?
by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies, Countercurrents, in Imperialism

August 2020 U.S. drone strike in Kabul killed 10 Afghan civilians. Credit: Getty Images

The Pentagon has finally published its first Airpower Summary since President Biden took office nearly a year ago. These monthly reports have been published since 2007 to document the number of bombs and missiles dropped by U.S.-led air forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria since 2004. But President Trump stopped publishing them after February 2020, shrouding continued U.S. bombing in secrecy.

Over the past 20 years, as documented in the table below, U.S. and allied air forces have dropped over 337,000 bombs and missiles on other countries. That is an average of 46 strikes per day for 20 years. This endless bombardment has not only been deadly and devastating for its victims but is broadly recognized as seriously undermining international peace and security and diminishing America’s standing in the world.

The U.S. government and political establishment have been remarkably successful at keeping the American public in the dark about the horrific consequences of these long-term campaigns of mass destruction, allowing them to maintain the illusion of U.S. militarism as a force for good in the world in their domestic political rhetoric.

Now, even in the face of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, they are doubling down on their success at selling this counterfactual narrative to the American public to reignite their old Cold War with Russia and China, dramatically and predictably increasing the risk of nuclear war.

The new Airpower Summary data reveal that the United States has dropped another 3,246 bombs and missiles on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria (2,068 under Trump and 1,178 under Biden) since February 2020.

The good news is that U.S. bombing of those 3 countries has significantly decreased from the over 12,000 bombs and missiles it dropped on them in 2019. In fact, since the withdrawal of U.S. occupation forces from Afghanistan in August, the U.S. military has officially conducted no air strikes there, and only dropped 13 bombs or missiles on Iraq and Syria – although this does not preclude additional unreported strikes by forces under CIA command or control.

Presidents Trump and Biden both deserve credit for recognizing that endless bombing and occupation could not deliver victory in Afghanistan. The speed with which the U.S.-installed government fell to the Taliban once the U.S. withdrawal was under way confirmed how 20 years of hostile military occupation, aerial bombardment and support for corrupt governments ultimately served only to drive the war-weary people of Afghanistan back to Taliban rule.

Biden’s callous decision to follow 20 years of colonial occupation and aerial bombardment in Afghanistan with the same kind of brutal economic siege warfare the United States has inflicted on Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela can only further discredit America in the eyes of the world.

There has been no accountability for these 20 years of senseless destruction. Even with the publication of Airpower Summaries, the ugly reality of U.S. bombing wars and the mass casualties they inflict remain largely hidden from the American people.

How many of the 3,246 attacks documented in the Airpower Summary since February 2020 were you aware of before reading this article? You probably heard about the drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians in Kabul in August 2021. But what about the other 3,245 bombs and missiles? Whom did they kill or maim, and whose homes did they destroy?

The December 2021 New York Times exposé of the consequences of U.S. airstrikes, the result of a five-year investigation, was stunning not only for the high civilian casualties and military lies it exposed, but also because it revealed just how little investigative reporting the U.S. media have done on these two decades of war.

In America’s industrialized, remote-control air wars, even the U.S. military personnel most directly and intimately involved are shielded from human contact with the people whose lives they are destroying, while for most of the American public, it is as if these hundreds of thousands of deadly explosions never even happened.

The lack of public awareness of U.S. airstrikes is not the result of a lack of concern for the mass destruction our government commits in our names. In the rare cases we find out about, like the murderous drone strike in Kabul in August, the public wants to know what happened and strongly supports U.S. accountability for civilian deaths.

So public ignorance of 99% of U.S. air strikes and their consequences is not the result of public apathy, but of deliberate decisions by the U.S. military, politicians of both parties and corporate media to keep the public in the dark. The largely unremarked 21-month-long suppression of monthly Airpower Summaries is only the latest example of this.

Now that the new Airpower Summary has filled in the previously hidden figures for 2020-21, here is the most complete data available on 20 years of deadly and destructive U.S. and allied air strikes.

Numbers of bombs and missiles dropped on other countries by the United States and its allies since 2001:

  Iraq (& Syria*)       Afghanistan    Yemen Other Countries**
2001             214         17,500    
2002             252           6,500            1  
2003        29,200    
2004             285                86               1 (Pk)
2005             404             176               3 (Pk)
2006             310           2,644        7,002 (Le,Pk)
2007           1,708           5,198               9 (Pk,S)
2008           1,075           5,215             40 (Pk,S)
2009             126           4,184             3     5,554 (Pk,Pl)
2010                 8           5,126             2         128 (Pk)
2011                 4           5,411           13     7,763 (Li,Pk,S)
2012             4,083           41           54 (Li, Pk,S)
2013             2,758           22           32 (Li,Pk,S)
2014         6,292*           2,365           20      5,058 (Li,Pl,Pk,S)
2015       28,696*             947   14,191           28 (Li,Pk,S)
2016       30,743*           1,337   14,549         529 (Li,Pk,S)
2017       39,577*           4,361   15,969         301 (Li,Pk,S)
2018         8,713*           7,362     9,746           84 (Li,Pk,S)
2019         4,729*           7,423     3,045           65 (Li,S)
2020         1,188*           1,631     7,622           54 (S)
2021             554*               801     4,428      1,512 (Pl,S)
Total     154, 078*         85,108   69,652     28,217

Grand Total = 337,055 bombs and missiles.

**Other Countries: Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia.

These figures are based on U.S. Airpower Summaries for Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria; the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s count of drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen; the Yemen Data Project‘s count of bombs and missiles dropped on Yemen (only through September 2021); the New America Foundation’s database of foreign air strikes in Libya; and other sources.

There are several categories of air strikes that are not included in this table, meaning that the true numbers of weapons unleashed are certainly higher. These include:

Helicopter strikes: Military Times published an article in February 2017 titled, “The U.S. military’s stats on deadly air strikes are wrong. Thousands have gone unreported.” The largest pool of air strikes not included in U.S. Airpower Summaries are strikes by attack helicopters. The U.S. Army told the authors its helicopters had conducted 456 otherwise unreported air strikes in Afghanistan in 2016. The authors explained that the non-reporting of helicopter strikes has been consistent throughout the post-9/11 wars, and they still did not know how many missiles were fired in those 456 attacks in Afghanistan in the one year they investigated.

AC-130 gunships: The U.S. military did not destroy the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in 2015 with bombs or missiles, but with a Lockheed-Boeing AC-130 gunship. These machines of mass destruction, usually manned by U.S. Air Force special operations forces, are designed to circle a target on the ground, pouring howitzer shells and cannon fire into it until it is completely destroyed. The U.S. has used AC-130s in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Syria.

Strafing runs: U.S. Airpower Summaries for 2004-2007 included a note that their tally of “strikes with munitions dropped… does not include 20mm and 30mm cannon or rockets.” But the 30mm cannons on A-10 Warthogs and other ground attack planes are powerful weapons, originally designed to destroy Soviet tanks. A-10s can fire 65 depleted uranium shells per second to blanket an area with deadly and indiscriminate fire. But that does not appear to count as a “weapons release” in U.S. Airpower Summaries.

“Counter-insurgency” and “counter-terrorism” operations in other parts of the world: The United States formed a military coalition with 11 West African countries in 2005, and has built a drone base in Niger, but we have not found any systematic accounting of U.S. and allied air strikes in that region, or in the Philippines, Latin America or elsewhere.

The failure of the U.S. government, politicians and corporate media to honestly inform and educate the American public about the systematic mass destruction wreaked by our country’s armed forces has allowed this carnage to continue largely unremarked and unchecked for 20 years.

It has also left us precariously vulnerable to the revival of an anachronistic, Manichean Cold War narrative that risks even greater catastrophe. In this topsy-turvy, “through the looking glass” narrative, the country actually bombing cities to rubble and waging wars that kill millions of people, presents itself as a well-intentioned force for good in the world. Then it paints countries like China, Russia and Iran, which have understandably strengthened their defenses to deter the United States from attacking them, as threats to the American people and to world peace.

The high-level talks beginning on January 10th in Geneva between the United States and Russia are a critical opportunity, maybe even a last chance, to rein in the escalation of the current Cold War before this breakdown in East-West relations becomes irreversible or devolves into a military conflict.

If we are to emerge from this morass of militarism and avoid the risk of an apocalyptic war with Russia or China, the U.S. public must challenge the counterfactual Cold War narrative that U.S. military and civilian leaders are peddling to justify their ever-increasing investments in nuclear weapons and the U.S. war machine.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher with CODEPINK and the author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

  Read Hey, Hey, USA! How Many Bombs Did You Drop Today?
  January 14, 2022
Privatizing Nature
by William T. Hathaway, Countercurrents, in Environmental Protection

The financial wizards of Wall Street have devised a new way to profit from Mother Nature. They’ve created a class of stocks called Natural Asset Companies that will control the earth’s resources such as water, wildlife, forests, minerals, and farmland. The project was developed by the Intrinsic Exchange Group in partnership with the New York Stock Exchange, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the investment firm Aberdare Ventures.

According to the Intrinsic Exchange Group’ website, the purpose of these companies is the “conversion of natural assets into financial capital. … These assets make life on Earth possible and enjoyable. … They include biological systems that provide clean air, water, foods, medicines, a stable climate, human health and societal potential. … The potential of this asset class is immense. Nature’s economy is larger than our current industrial economy and we can tap this store of wealth and productivity.” They estimate the value of the “global ecosystem services market” at $125 trillion annually.

The Natural Asset Company will either own the land itself or will own the right to use and sell the resources of the land, including recreational access. For example, people could be charged for hiking and fishing on public land.

The USA will eventually be included, but cash-strapped countries in Latin America are being targeted first. The government of Costa Rica has already expressed interest. The Minister of Environment and Energy, Andrea Meza Murillo, stated the project “will deepen the economic analysis of giving nature its economic value.” Although this will be a windfall for their elite, it will probably be a disaster for the indigenous people who draw their sustenance from the land.

The board of governors of the New York Stock Exchange saw such potential for profit that they took the unusual step of becoming a partner in the venture themselves. According to NYSE’s Michael Blaugrund, “Our hope is that owning a Natural Asset Company is going to be a way that an increasingly broad range of investors have the ability to invest in something that’s intrinsically valuable, but, up to this point, was really excluded from the financial markets.”

Natural Asset Companies are a new way to turn public resources into private profits. They are another step towards what George W. Bush proudly touted as the “Ownership Society” in which everything becomes property.  The juggernaut of capitalism is lurching closer to its endstation, where all life is commodified, reduced to money. Nature, including human beings, is being shrunken down to coins — the Beezosification, Gatesification, Muskification of the universe.

It’s time to overthrow this parasitical system that is grabbing up more and more of the world. Here’s an action plan to build something better: https://socialism.com.

* William T. Hathaway was a Fulbright professor of American studies at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. He is the author of Radical Peace: People Refusing War, which tells the experiences of war resisters, deserters, and peace activists from the USA, Iraq, and Afghanistan and of Lila, the Revolutionary, a fable for adults about an eight-year-old girl who sparks a world revolution for social justice.

  Read  Privatizing Nature
  January 7, 2022
The Biggest Threat in ‘Don’t Look Up’ Are the Capitalists on Earth
by Simon Whalley, Countercurrents, in Climate Change

As the dust settles on a movie that has well and truly got people talking about the climate crisis in a way that no other movie has, it is worth talking about one of the most important messages of the movie, and one that has largely been ignored.

In Don’t Look Up, as the meteor hurtles towards Earth, finally the fictional government decides to act, but just as hope emerges with a plan created by the best scientists, it is dashed by a billionaire businessman promising salvation, and riches to boot. The link between fact and fiction is paper thin. In the movie, Mark Rylance’s character, Peter Isherwell, persuades the President that she can save the world and make trillions in profits while at it. Essentially, she can have her metaphorical cake and eat it. In real-life, climate scientists are urging systemic change that includes “a deep transformation based on a fundamental reorientation of human values, equity, behavior, institutions, economies, and technologies”, while the billionaire brigade are promising us all that we can save the world without having to change the way we live. We can all have our cake and eat it too.

As the crisis gets worse, the calls to tech our way out of the mess will grow ever more fervent. Already, this is the preferred solution of the billionaire class, who see no reason to halt the megamachine that is ultimately causing the extermination event we are witnessing. We still have time, if we act immediately, to avoid complete collapse, but if we act slowly the need for drastic action will arise and this will be in the form of giant geoengineering projects. While they will be sold as a panacea for our problems, they will do more harm than good and once started, there will be no turning back. One such project is the giant space umbrella proposed by James Early in 1989. The idea is that the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs blocked out 90% of the Sun’s rays, resulting in a massive temperature drop. Rather than wait for another asteroid, we could mimic the effect ourselves, the logic goes. The project entails, somehow, getting a 2,000 km-wide (1,242 mile) glass shield into position where it is balanced between the Earth and Sun’s gravity. That position is around a 1.6 million km (1 million miles) away. The shield would be so enormously heavy that it would need to be made on the moon. As a work around to the weight problem, an astronomer called Roger Angel has suggested producing sixteen trillion flying space robots on Earth, each weighing one gram. These space robots would deflect sunlight by forming a cylindrical cloud 96,560 km (60,000 miles) wide. They would need to be regularly “nudged” to avoid them crashing into each other.  If this doesn’t sound outlandish enough, it has even been proposed that we simply move the Earth further away from the Sun. This would be done by causing an explosion equivalent to five thousand million million (yes two millions) hydrogen bombs.

As comical as these “solutions” seem in 2022, by 2042, we may see these as necessary. By far, the most widely touted of these projects, and the most likely to be attempted is solar radiation management (SRM). The aim of this project, funded partly by Bill Gates, is to mimic volcanic explosions. After Mount Pinatubo, in the Philippines, erupted in 1991, around 15 million tons of sulphur dioxide was injected into the stratosphere, between 10km and 50km (31miles) in altitude. This sulphur dioxide then mixed with water and created a layer of sulphuric acid droplets which scatter and absorb incoming sunlight. Stratospheric winds then carried this layer around the globe. The effect was that over the next fifteen months the global temperature dropped by 0.6°C (1.08°F). Of course, as this was a one-off event and CO2 continued to be pumped into the atmosphere, once the aerosols naturally dispersed, the temperature rose again. The man-made version of the Pinatubo effect is to send high altitude airplanes into the stratosphere 4,000 times a year to inject sulphur dioxide. As a bonus, the sunsets would apparently be incredible, but on the flip side, scientists claim SRM would cause a “calamitous drought” in the Sahel region of Africa, projected to be home to 196 million people by 2050. We have experienced the global impact of large volcanic eruptions elsewhere. After the Indonesian volcano, Mount Tambora blew its top in 1815, the following year, Europe experienced widespread harvest failure. Three of the four large dry spells in the Sahel region in the 20th century followed large volcanic eruptions in Alaska and Mexico the previous years. These droughts created ten million refugees and killed 250,000 people. It isn’t just Africa that might suffer the effects of SRM. It has been suggested that to negate the impact on the Sahel, sulphur should be added in the tropics, but scientists warn that this will then cause a decrease in monsoon rains in South Asia, home to two nuclear powers and over a billion people already suffering the effects of drought and flooding. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), SRM will also cause damage to the ozone layer which has been in a long recovery since the 1980s, due to human activities.

The concern for many scientists is that as the temperature continues to rise, populations will demand that their leaders take drastic action, and twenty or thirty years down the line, this may be a last resort. For this reason, research was carried out by the Swiss National Science Foundation in 2020, and they found that while the temperature would drop, the interference would impact precipitation, flood and drought patterns around the world. While it may become necessary, if we fail to act now, climate scientists are clear that it should be avoided. Emeritus Professor at Imperial College London, Joanna Haigh, said of these research findings:

“The results of this study indicate that solar geoengineering can in no sense be viewed as a sensible rescue plan due to the potential to severely impact on temperature, precipitation, floods and drought patterns across the globe.”

Other research has looked at the long-term effects of SRM and the findings do not look good. It has been estimated that stratocumulus clouds would gradually thin and break up, in turn causing global warming of 5°C (9°F). Further problems arise because SRM is relatively cheap at $2 billion a year, so cheap that most countries could afford to carry out their own projects, independent from each other. This would create a wild west free-for-all where countries attempt to whack-a-mole and could descend into complete climate chaos, causing mass starvation and triggering global wars.

Failure to address the crisis head on immediately will mean that actions we consider insane today will likely be heralded as essential solutions within a few decades. Don’t Look Up is a welcome piece of comedy that has got us all finally talking about the elephant in the room. Realizing that businessmen don’t always make the soundest decisions is a takeaway we would be wise to remember. As in art, time is running out, and the faster that we all realize this, the better. We don’t need piecemeal change; we need a systematic transformation of our societies. What that looks like and how fast we get there should be up to us, not profiteering billionaires who have a Plan B to terraform a distant planet on the backburner.

Simon Whalley is an educator in Japan, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion Japan and the author of the upcoming book, Dear Indy: A Heartfelt Plea From a Climate Anxious Father.

Originally published in CommonDreams.org

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

  Read The Biggest Threat in ‘Don’t Look Up’ Are the Capitalists on Earth
 January 7, 2022
When to Build Sea Walls
by Robert Hunziker, Countercurrents, in Climate Change

During the month of December 2021 two warnings of impending sea level rise were issued by highly respected groups of climate scientists. These are professional scientists who do not deal in hyperbole. Rather, they are archetypical conservative serious-minded scientists who follow the facts.

The most recent warning on December 30th is of deteriorating conditions at the Arctic and Greenland. The second warning is the threatening collapse in Antarctica of one of the largest glaciers in the world. As these events unfortunately coincide so close together, one at the top of the world, the other at the bottom, should coastal cities plan to build sea walls?

The scale of time and material and costs to build seawalls is nearly overwhelming. In fact, it is overwhelming. The US Army Corps of Engineers is already drafting plans for a gigantic seawall to protect New York-New Jersey Harbour and Tributaries from surges and flooding. It’s a multi-year study that should be completed this year, 2022. The estimated cost is US$119 billion built-out over a period of 25 years for 6 miles of seawall. Yet, already there is concern that it may prove inadequate, only defending against storm surges, not rising sea levels. NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer has suggested 520 miles of exposed shorelines as an alternative plan. (Source: US Army Weighs Up Proposal For Gigantic Sea Wall to Defend NY From Future Floods, ScienceAlert, January 20, 2020)

The Army Corps of Engineers also estimated $4.6 billion for a one-mile wall for Miami-Dade and $2 billion for an eight-mile seawall around Charleston. It’s not known if these bids are only for storm surges or sea level rise but most likely it’s the former.

A study by the Center for Climate Integrity at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, Washington, D.C. concluded: If seawalls were built in every coastal community, the national cost over the next couple of decades would be $400+ billion, which would be designated for storm surge protection. According to YaleEnvironment360: “That’s nearly the price of building the 47,000 miles of the interstate highway system, which took four decades and cost more than $500 billion in today’s dollars.” (Source: Who Will Pay for the Huge Costs of Holding Back Rising Seas? YaleEnvironment360, August 9, 2019)

Jason Box, professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, created a seven-minute video on December 30th entitled: Recent Developments in Arctic Climate Observational Indicators.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cBVs2NOWsQ

His final statement in the video sums up the facts: “At these levels of CO2, the world needs to prepare itself for abrupt sea level rise.”

This can only mean nation/states need to start planning on either building continent-wide sea walls, which will hit taxpayers right between the eyes, or prepare residents of coastal cities, like Miami, to move to higher ground. There are no alternatives. For decades now it has become only too obvious that world governments are not going to seriously tackle CO2 emissions to slow down greenhouse gases from warming the planet with a resulting onslaught of rising sea levels.

Here’s Jason Box’s opening statement: “I am part of a team of about 20 scientists/authors where we look at all kinds of observational records of Arctic climate. We take in everything like rivers, temperatures, snow cover, and so I am going to quickly take you through our updated summary survey of these observati0nal records,” as follows herein:

“The Arctic is getting wetter. There is more rain falling instead of snow. This is the largest trend in the Arctic, the increasing rainfall trend.”

That’s an incredibly disturbing statement. Isn’t the Arctic supposed to be “the brutal cold of the North” that freezes over as endless solid ice and importantly serves as the planet’s biggest reflector of incoming solar radiation? Answer: Yes, that’s true, but that was pre-global warming. Nowadays, the planet’s Coppertone, i.e., multi-year thick ice, is almost gone, exposing it to severe sunburn.

Moreover, counter-intuitively, most of the warming occurs in the cold season of October thru May. It’s the most dynamic season in the Arctic and some of the biggest changes in the permafrost are happening in that cold season. Yes, but doesn’t permafrost mean “permanently frozen?” In fact, Dr. Box claims that permafrost is changing in the middle of the winter. Really!

According to the study details, using new more authoritative data sets, looking at the rate of warming in the Arctic, since 1971, it is warming at a rate of 3.3 times the globe. But, on a seasonal basis, it’s warming at 4 times the global increase during the cold season of October thru May.

Not only is it warming faster in the winter, but the studies also found a “non-surprising coincidence of extreme wildfires” when temperatures are extremely high. For example, only recently Biblical-scale fires, never before witnessed, hit Siberia. At the time, SciTechDaily’s headline stated: “Meteorologists Shocked as Heat and Fire Scorches Siberia,” June 23rd, 2020.

The crux of the matter links “land ice surveys” of Greenland and the overall Arctic, which are some of the largest sources of sea level rise, illustrated on a chart displayed in the video, demonstrating “an increase in sea level contribution every decade.”

Sea level rise, which has been relatively quiescent throughout the Holocene Era over the past 10,000 years is starting to accelerate. This is extremely bad news, meaning the climate system is breaking away from the wonderfully stable Holocene Era of the remarkable forgiving Goldilocks climate, “not too hot, not too cold.” But now, all of a sudden, it’s no longer ”remarkably forgiving.”

As a result of so many years of the wondrous Holocene Era, humanity got spoiled rotten with very stable sea levels and as a result far too complacent. But complacency gives rise to repercussions.

According to Jason Box “future sea level rise contribution from land ice, and especially ice sheets, is very difficult to project into the future.” However, here’s what sends a shiver down the spine, he went on to say: “At best, we can say at these levels of CO2, the world needs to prepare itself for abrupt sea level rise.”

“At best… prepare for abrupt sea level rise” is a powerful warning from scientists who do not take warnings lightly. He did not say prepare for “sea level rise.” He said prepare for “abrupt sea level rise.” There is no subtlety about abrupt. It means “sudden and unexpected.”

Which brings on climate change warning #2, Antarctica: The Thwaites “Doomsday Glacier” in West Antarctica. Satellite images shown at a recent meeting on December 13th of the American Geophysical Union showed numerous large, diagonal cracks extending across the Thwaites floating ice wedge. The ice sheet/glacier could collapse. And, it’s big, 80 miles across with up to 4,000 feet depth and with a 28-mile-wide cracking ice shelf that extends over the Amundsen Sea.

NewScientist d/d December 13, 2021 discussed the satellite images of Thwaites’ massive cracks: “Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier could break free of the continent within 10 years, which could lead to catastrophic sea level rise and potentially set off a domino effect in surrounding ice.”

Meanwhile, by yearend 2021, both poles, North and South, are rumbling and threatening coastal life throughout the world, but frankly, nobody knows how soon or how high the seas will react, 1-3 feet this century, 1-3 feet within a couple decades, or more in less time, maybe 10 feet, or how about “several meters” this century, which is a calculation used in a study in 2015 by Dr. James Hansen of Columbia University before scientists knew what they know today. Dr. Hansen’s paper was published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms Evidence From Paleoclimate Data, Climate Modeling, and Modern Observations that 2°C Global Warming Could Be Dangerous, March 22, 2016.

Part of the Hansen argument is paleoclimate evidence during the Eemian Period 120,000 years ago when “Earth’s oceans were six to nine meters higher (20-30 feet) at less than 1C warmer than it is today.” For perspective purposes, that was 6 years ago, today scientists claim we’re at 1.2°C above pre-industrial, or 0.8°C off the dreaded 2C level.

Six years after Dr. James Hansen’s warning, scientists who study the Arctic and Antarctica are echoing his words but with more immediacy and concern. In plain English, Jason Box did say: ““At these levels of CO2, the world needs to prepare itself for abrupt sea level rise.” After all, who else has a better grasp of the situation than Dr. Jason Box, professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland?

Warnings today are more pronounced than ever before even though the biosphere is not yet at 1.5° C above pre-industrial, widely considered the IPCC safe limit, or is it? That depends upon how pre-industrial is calculated. Is it 1750 or 1880 or 1950? But even if we’re not there yet, the damage caused to critical ecosystems at only 1.2°C above pre-industrial, where we are today, is enough to write a book, a very long book.

Nevertheless, what is known today is that preparations and build-outs of sea walls will be decades in the making and dreadfully costly. Is there an alternative? Once sea level makes its mark, higher and higher, it’s too late to start drawing sketches and drafting plans.

Climate scientists who are on the frontlines of climate change are sending smoke signals of a looming threat on the horizon. It’s much closer than anybody expected.

Alas, considering the disquieting fact that climate change in real time has been outpacing the climate models of scientists by quite a wide margin for quite a long time, abrupt sea level rise needs to be respected as a distinct reality.

An article by M. Farquharson, et al in Geophysical Research Letters d/d June 10, 2019 stated: “Observed maximum thaw depths at our sites are already exceeding those projected to occur by 2090.” In other words, fieldwork in the High Arctic found cataclysmic impact of climate change happening 70 years ahead of what the scientific models expected.

Do something!

Robert Hunziker is a writer from Los Angeles

  Read  When to Build Sea Walls
  January 1, 2022
Accelerating global warming and amplifying feedbacks: The imperative of CO2 drawdown
by Dr Andrew Glikson, Countercurrents, in Climate Change

Satellite measurements indicate that 2021 was one of the warmest years on record, with the past seven years being the hottest period recorded globally (M et Office, January 10, 2022). Attempts at global emission reductions, lowered in part due to COVID-19 economic slow-down, appear to have little effect on atmospheric CO2 rise, as indicated by the current rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide to record high levels of 420 ppm despite reduced emissions in 2020-2021 (Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1.  A. Mean global CO2 levels from 800,000 years to the present. NASA

BMean global temperature rise from 1850 to 2021

CarbonBrief: Atmospheric CO2 is now hitting 50% higher than pre-industrial levels.

As stated by CarbonBrief: “The year so far has been one of extremes, featuring record-shattering heatwaves, wildfires and flooding, as well as the warmest-ever northern-hemisphere summer – June, July and August – in the global land-surface record.

Whereas climate negotiations mostly focus on possible reductions in emissions, the cumulative  buildup of greenhouse gases is determining the future of the terrestrial climate. According to NASA “Once it’s (CO2) added to the atmosphere, it hangs around, for a long time: between 300 to 1,000 years.”.

Other estimates are much longer (  ).Because of the longevity of CO2 and other greenhouses gases in the atmosphere, a decrease in carbon emissions, while essential, is not sufficient to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere in time.

According to the IPCC “about 50% of a CO2 increase will be removed from the atmosphere within 30 years, and a further 30% will be removed within a few centuries. The remaining 20% may stay in the atmosphere for many thousands of years”. According to the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) “Atmospheric lifetime: 50-200 years. No single lifetime can be defined for CO2 because of the different rates of uptake by different removal processes”.

According to Solomon et al. (2009) and Eby et al. (2009) high levels of CO2 on the scale of 102 to 103 ppm would persist for millennia.

Global emission reductions, decreased in part due to COVID-19 economic slow-down, have little effect on the atmospheric CO2 level, as indicated by the current trend of atmospheric carbon dioxide, at record high levels despite reduced emissions in 2020 (Figure 2). This suggests to a significant extent the current rise in atmospheric CO2 arises from amplifying feedbacks from land and ocean.


Figure 2. A. Observed and forecast monthly and annual CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa. Observations from the Scripps CO2 program, forecasts from Met Office. Credit: Met Office. B. Measured and forecast monthly CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. Black line: measurements by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Solid red line with vertical uncertainty bars: forecast by the Met Office, including the revised forecast for 2020 issued in May 2020 accounting for reduced global emissions due to societal responses to Covid-19. The forecast uncertainty estimate is ± 0.6 ppm. Dotted red line: original Met Office forecast for 2020 issued in January 2020, not accounting for Covid-related emissions reductions. Horizontal dashed blue line: 417 ppm, a 50% increase above 278 ppm, the level in 1750-1800 from ice core records.

All taking place notwithstanding hollow promises made at COP26, a meeting noted for the near-absence of contributions by climate scientists.

In trying to avoid an exponential rise in greenhouse gases toward catastrophic levels, one option exists, namely urgent attempts at drawing down at least part of the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere. The $trillions of dollars required, constituting the “Price of the Earth”, may not exceed the $trillion dollars military expenses spent by the world over the last 70 years, including nuclear missile fleets which constitute a separate threat for life on Earth, as warned by Albert Einstein“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe”

Professor Andrew Glikson,Earth and climate scientist Email: geospec@iinet.net.au

  Read  Accelerating global warming and amplifying feedbacks: The imperative of CO2 drawdown
  January 15, 2022
The Oceans Are Overheating
by Robert Hunziker, Countercurrents, in Climate Change

Photo by Eva Luedin

The world’s oceans in 2021 witnessed the hottest temperatures in recorded history. (Source: Lijing Cheng, et al, Another Record: Ocean Warming Continues Through 2021 Despite La Niña Conditions, Advanced in Atmospheric Sciences, January 11, 2022)

According to the Ocean Conservancy: “From the beginning of industrialization until today, the ocean has absorbed more than 90 percent of the heat from human-caused global warming and about one-third of our carbon emissions. But we are now seeing the devastating effects of that heat and carbon dioxide.”

This brings into focus big questions about the overall condition of the ecosystems of the planet. The oceans, by far the biggest, cover more than 70% of the planet. As readily seen from outer space, the oceans are the essence of the planet.

Indeed, every ecosystem on the planet is nearly stressed to its limit and showing alarming signs of deterioration. This is factual. It’s not hard to prove. The evidence is compelling and straightforward.

Yet, that evidence shows up first where nobody lives in the least populated regions of the planet like the Arctic, Siberia, Patagonia, Antarctica, rainforests, mountain glaciers, Greenland, and of course, the oceans.

The great cities of the world are the last to experience the loss of wildlife and to witness deterioration of ecosystems supportive of life. However, interestingly enough, rural residents throughout the world do see the radical changes in ecosystems and send messages or emails about the devastating, nearly unbelievable, loss of insects and wildlife. Their personal messages say, “it’s different now, something is missing,” a void or emptiness stares them in the face every morning.

This past year 2021 is the sixth consecutive year of increasing ocean temperatures. It’s the hottest in recorded history and a threat to marine life. In fact, it’s already impacting marine life, as increasing numbers of emaciated birds, whales, and fish wash ashore. Who will take notice of this tragedy and do something with enough international impact that it truly makes a difference?  That important question is searching for answers.

A team of journalists from the LA Times traveled to the Far North only recently. Here’s what they reported: “Forces profound and alarming are reshaping the upper reaches of the North Pacific and Arctic oceans, breaking the food chain that supports billions of creatures and one of the world’s most important fisheries.”(Source: Susanne Rust, Unprecedented Die-offs, Melting Ice: Climate Change is Wreaking Havoc in the Arctic and Beyond, Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2021). The Susanne Rust research trip was covered in more detail in “Warnings from the Far North.” Dec. 27, 2021.

People do not cherish articles like this, or the referenced LA Times article or any article that deals with loss of wildlife and loss of habitat and loss of ecosystems. The negativity is too much to handle on a personal basis. Nevertheless, if reality is not recognized for what it really truly is, then nobody will ever strive to change things for the better.

For some time now scientists have been beating the drums about the risks of loss of ocean life. Now, their warnings have turned real. Alas, scientists’ warnings have not stopped the ravaging of CO2 emissions, heat, plastic, pollution, agricultural runoff, overfishing, or garbage.

It is important to contemplate the possibility that the human footprint is altering ocean life so much so that it risks not only the world’s fisheries, it risks loss of all marine life. In fact, at the current rate, scientists believe ocean life will be gone by mid century. It can already be seen right before our eyes.

An article by the Natural History Museum/London claims: “Nature is stretching to a breaking point. If we don’t stop, the ocean could be drastically changed within our lifetimes.”

One year ago the Alliance of World Scientists, 13,700 members, delivered a biting report, not mincing words: “Scientists now find that catastrophic climate change could render a significant portion of the Earth uninhabitable.” (Source: William J. Ripple, et al, The Climate Emergency: 2020 in Review, Scientific American, January 6, 2021)

As a follow up: It’s already happening.

According to Janet Duffy-Anderson, who is a marine scientist, interviewed by the LA Times team, and the leader of surveys of the Bering Sea for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center: The ripple effect of what’s happening in the Far North could shut down fisheries as well as leave migrating animals starving for food, which, in fact, is already omnipresent. For the third year in a row, Gray Whales have been found in very poor condition or dead in large numbers along the west coast of Mexico, USA and Canada.

Since 2019 hundreds of Gray Whales have died along North America’s Pacific coastline. Many of the whales appeared skinny or underfed. (Source: Mary Lou Jones and Steven Swartz -Aarhus University- A Large Number of Gray Whales are Starving and Dying in the Eastern North Pacific, ScienceDaily, January 22, 2021)

Even though protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Gray Whale is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (“IUCN”) Red List of Threatened Species.

Starving whales at the top of the food chain can only mean the ocean is sickly. Too much heat and overfishing and discarded fishing nets (4,600,000 commercial fishing vessels either legally or illegally prowl the seas– See the Netflix documentary: Seaspiracy) and too much CO2 combined with pollution cause a multitude of deadly problems for marine life.

It’s estimated that one billion sea creatures died off the coast of Vancouver, as extreme heat hit the Pacific. (Source: Heat Wave Killed An Estimated 1 Billion Sea Creatures, And Scientists Fear Even Worse, NPR Environment, July 9, 2021)

Recent studies of the Pacific Ocean inflow to the Arctic from 1990-2019 registered significant annual mean temperature warming of plus 2°C to 4°C It’s believed that 4°C above pre-industrial for the planet as a whole is a killer for terrestrial life. (Source: Warming and Freshening of the Pacific Inflow to the Arctic from 1990-2019 Implying Dramatic Shoaling in Pacific Winter Water Ventilation of the Arctic Water Column, Geophysical Research Letters, April 2021)

Moreover, according to scientists interviewed by the LA Times team: “Data from a Bering Sea mooring shows the average temperature throughout the water column has risen markedly in the last several years: in 2018, water temperatures were 9F degrees above the historical average.”

Not surprisingly, people do not want to accept the facts about how bad things really are, but it is becoming only too apparent that to maintain life on the planet, the world economy must stabilize with massive reduction of greenhouse gases accompanied by flat-line economic activity. It is not difficult to make that case with plenty of evidence readily available.

Changing, mitigating, even moderating the world’s massive economic growth trend is as big of a problem as it creates for the planet’s ecosystems because of the carelessness of the growth machine. Economic growth and the condition of the planet work inversely, and of course the planet loses. Why is that? Answer: According to the Global Human Footprint Network (14,000 data points), humanity is using 1.75 Earth’s whilst “failing to husband its resources.” That’s an on-going formula for disaster.

What has already happened is hard to accept: “Today’s seas contain only 10% of the marlin, tuna, sharks and other large predators that were found in the 1950s.”  (Source: Will the Ocean Really Be Dead In 50 Years? Natural History Museum, London)

Yes, only 10% left within only 70 years.

How about the next seventy?

Robert Hunziker is a writer from Los Angeles

  Read  The Oceans Are Overheating
  December 30, 2022
Protecting the Nazis: The Extraordinary Vote of Ukraine and the USA
by Craig Murray, Information Clearing House,

 This is verbatim from the official report of the UN General Assembly plenary of 16 December 2021:

The Assembly next took up the report on “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”, containing two draft resolutions.

By a recorded vote of 130 in favour to 2 against (Ukraine, United States), with 49 abstentions, the Assembly then adopted draft resolution I, “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo‑Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”.

By its terms, the Assembly expressed deep concern about the glorification of the Nazi movement, neo‑Nazism and former members of the Waffen SS organization, including by erecting monuments and memorials, holding public demonstrations in the name of the glorification of the Nazi past, the Nazi movement and neo‑Nazism, and declaring or attempting to declare such members and those who fought against the anti‑Hitler coalition, collaborated with the Nazi movement and committed war crimes and crimes against humanity “participants in national liberation movements”.

Further, the Assembly urged States to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination by all appropriate means, including through legislation, urging them to address new and emerging threats posed by the rise in terrorist attacks incited by racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, or in the name of religion or belief. It would call on States to ensure that education systems develop the necessary content to provide accurate accounts of history, as well as promote tolerance and other international human rights principles. It likewise would condemn without reservation any denial of or attempt to deny the Holocaust, as well as any manifestation of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities on the basis of ethnic origin or religious belief.

In Ukraine, support for the Ukrainian nationalist divisions who fought alongside the Nazis has become, over the last eight years, the founding ideology of the modern post 2013 Ukrainian state (which is very different from the diverse Ukrainian state which briefly existed 1991-2013). The full resolution on nazism and racism passed by the General Assembly is lengthy, unnzaires but these provisions in particular were voted against by the United States and by the Ukraine:

6. Emphasizes the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur that “any commemorative celebration of the Nazi regime, its allies and related organizations, whether official or unofficial, should be prohibited by States”, also emphasizes that such manifestations do injustice to the memory of the countless victims of the Second World War and negatively influence children and young people, and stresses in this regard that it is important that States take measures, in accordance with international human rights law, to counteract any celebration of the Nazi SS organization and all its integral parts, including the Waffen SS;

7. Expresses concern about recurring attempts to desecrate or demolish monuments erected in remembrance of those who fought against Nazism during the Second World War, as well as to unlawfully exhume or remove the remains of such persons, and in this regard urges States to fully comply with their relevant obligations, inter alia, under article 34 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949;

10. Condemns without reservation any denial or attempt to deny the Holocaust;

11. Welcomes the call of the Special Rapporteur for the active preservation of those Holocaust sites that served as Nazi death camps, concentration and forced labour camps and prisons, as well as his encouragement of States to take measures, including legislative, law enforcement and educational measures, to put an end to all forms of Holocaust denial

As reported in the Times of Israel, hundreds took part in a demonstration in Kiev in May 2021, and others throughout Ukraine, in honour of a specific division of the SS. That is but one march and one division – glorification of its Nazi past is a mainstream part of Ukrainian political culture.

In 2018 a bipartisan letter by 50 US Congressmen condemned multiple events commemorating Nazi allies held in Ukraine with official Ukrainian government backing.

There are no two ways about it. The Ukrainian vote against the UN resolution against Nazism was motivated by sympathy for the ideology of historic, genocide active Nazis. It is as simple as that.

The United States claims that its vote against was motivated by concern for freedom of speech. We have the Explanation of Vote that the United States gave at the committee stage:

The United States Supreme Court has consistently affirmed the constitutional right to freedom of speech and the rights of peaceful assembly and association, including by avowed Nazis

That sounds good and noble. But consider this – why does the United States Government believe that avowed Nazis have freedom of speech, but that Julian Assange does not? You can have freedom of speech to advocate the murder of Jews and immigrants, but not to reveal US war crimes?

Why was the United States government targeting journalists in the invasion of Iraq? The United States believes in freedom of speech when it serves its imperial interests. It does not do so otherwise. This is the very worst kind of high sounding hypocrisy, in aid of defending the Nazis in Ukraine.

The second reason the United States gives is that Russia is making the whole thing up:

a document most notable for its thinly veiled attempts to legitimize Russian disinformation campaigns denigrating neighboring nations and promoting the distorted Soviet narrative of much of contemporary European history, using the cynical guise of halting Nazi glorification

The problem here is that it is very difficult to portray the Times of Israel or 50 bipartisan US congressmen as a Russian disinformation campaign. There is no historical doubt whatsoever of Ukrainian nationalist forces active support of Nazism and participation in genocide, not just of Jews and Roma but of Poles and religious minorities. There is no doubt whatsoever of the modern glorification in Ukraine of these evil people.

It is of course not just Ukraine. In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the record of collaboration with Nazis, of active participation in fighting for Nazis, and in active participation in genocide is extremely shaming. Throughout Eastern Europe there is a failure in these “victim nations” to look history squarely in the eye and to admit what happened – a failure the United States in actually promoting as “a campaign against Russian disinformation”.

I recommend to you the website www.defendinghistory.com, run by the admirable David Katz, which is a large and valuable resource on this website from a Lithuanian Jewish perspective that cannot remotely be dismissed as Russian or left wing propaganda. The front page currently features the December 2021 naming of a square in the capital after Lithuanian “freedom fighter” Juokas Luksa “Daumantas”, a man who commenced the massacre of Jews in Vilnius ahead of the arrival of German forces.

These are precisely the kind of commemorations the resolution is against. There has been a rash of destruction of Soviet war memorials and even war graves, and erection of commemorations, in various form, of Nazis throughout the Baltic states. That is what paras 6 and 7 of the resolution refer to, and there is no doubt whatsoever of the truth of these events. It is not “Russian disinformation”.

However the European Union, in support of its Baltic states members and their desire to forget or deny historical truth and to build a new national myth expunging their active role in the genocide of their Jewish and Roma populations, would not support the UN Resolution on Nazism. The EU countries abstained, as did the UK. The truth of course is that NATO intends to use the descendants of Eastern European racists against Russia much as Hitler did, at least in a cold war context.

You won’t find that in the Explanation of Vote.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. https://www.craigmurray.org.uk   Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

  Read  Protecting the Nazis: The Extraordinary Vote of Ukraine and the USA
  December 30, 2022
America’s Foreign Policy Death Spiral
by Walter L. Hixson, Information Clearing House,

American foreign policy today is in a reactionary death spiral. Never has a new “national security” policy paradigm been more desperately needed, yet there is not even a glimpse of salvation on the horizon—wherever you look you will find policies that speak to the past and offer little hope for a viable global future.

The paradigm that ensnares American diplomacy cemented some 75 years ago with World War II and the Cold War. Those cataclysmic events forged an enduring American national security state characterized by unlimited global intervention, cultivation of an ever-metastasizing “military-industrial complex,” and endless and often racialized enemy-othering followed by highly destructive yet ultimately losing wars replete with devastating blowback on the “homeland.”

Urgently needed is a new foreign policy paradigm of cooperative internationalism centered on combating climate change, population control, control of infectious disease, investment to deal effectively with poverty and global migration, dramatic demilitarization, and renunciation of arms as well as human trafficking. The United States should take the lead in resurrecting and strengthening the United Nations to better enable it to pursue the mission of promoting global security, anti-racism, and universal human rights.

Sound like idealistic liberal poppycock? Well, how do you like what the “realist” foreign policy paradigm has delivered—an endless series of forever wars, an utterly inept response to the existential threat of climate change, rampant destruction of animal and plant species, ongoing militarization of the planet amid poverty, epidemic disease, and little prospect of genuine national, much less international, security.

Still in the grip of the Cold War paradigm, the Biden administration is just as wedded to confrontation with China and Russia as Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and every other administration since 1945. The sheer hubris at the core of American national identity—typically referenced as American exceptionalism—cannot abide the existence other great powers. Yes, China’s takeover of Hong Kong, efforts to establish hegemony in the South China Sea, and egregious human rights record, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang, are disturbing. Over time a viable UN—which realists have long hamstrung and condemned as an outpost idealistic universalism—could put meaningful pressure on China on human rights, but at this time cooperation on climate change is the greater priority.

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The one thin reed of Biden diplomatic accomplishment–which can be credited to John Kerry rather than the plodding Secretary of State Anthony Blinken–was agreeing with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to pursue joint action, tepid as it has been to this point, on climate change. We have no choice but to work with other nations, especially China and India, and to do so immediately. There is only one clear vision on the global horizon, and that is the ever-rising tidal wave of climate change fueled by decades of US-led global oil addiction, which was yet another staple of the postwar paradigm.

US policy on Russia has been irrational since 1945. At that time a truly “realistic” foreign policy would have recognized and settled for trying to ameliorate an inevitable expansion of Soviet influence owing to the sacrifices of the USSR in the war. Well more than 50 Soviets died for every dead American in the conflict as the USSR deserved the lion’s share of the credit—which of course it never received from either Washington or Hollywood—for defeating the Nazis.

Instead of addressing Soviet power realistically the United States declared and waged an ideological holy war, which produced militarized nightmares all over the world and notably in Indochina. After childishly trumpeting “victory” in the Cold War in 1991, the United States did the one thing that Russian experts notably George F. Kennan warned would ensure that the Cold War continued—it expanded NATO, a hostile anti-Russian military alliance, into Eastern Europe and then into the former Soviet republics.

Today, Vladimir Putin has drawn the line in eastern Ukraine, a place in which millions of Russians live (they comprise nearly a two-thirds majority in the Crimea, which Putin has already secured) and where the Russian language is widely spoken. Rather than having the realism to recognize Russian national interests along its western border–and pursue common ground on climate change and perhaps non-intervention in each other’s domestic politics–the United States is choosing confrontation at the risk of an escalating military conflict.

Finally, postwar US foreign policy in the Middle East, anchored by support for reactionary regimes throughout the region—notably Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia—has been an unmitigated disaster replete with forever wars, horrific blowback, and perennial instability. The only “success” in the region was to keep the oil flowing, which produced the existential crisis we now face.

Now, because the Biden administration is bowing to the Trump policy of torpedoing the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the possibility of yet another Middle East war has emerged before the dust has even settled in Afghanistan. Israel of course is the only country in the Middle East that actually has nuclear weapons, which it developed in the 1960s in defiance of the US-led nuclear non-proliferation agreement (1968). Israel and its lobby—by far the most powerful lobby of any foreign nation in American history–prefer war to diplomacy hence the openly racist former Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and now his successor, Naftali Bennett– who likes to boast about the number of Arabs he has killed–strive relentlessly to overturn the 2015 accord with Iran. The multilateral agreement was an excellent piece of diplomacy that would have kept Iran verifiably bomb-free in return for sanctions relief.

Israel, now widely and accurately recognized as an apartheid state, has with the assistance of the AIPAC-led lobby—which controls the US Congress as fully as Putin controls the Russian duma—every intention of provoking a war with Iran. Blinken, a longtime dedicated Zionist, might just accommodate them, pulling sleepy Joe along, rather than resurrecting the nuclear accord.

What is certain is that Congress will continue to give Israel, a tiny little country of some nine million people, more money than it gives any other country and even whole continents–$3.8 billion a year and $146 billion since 1948. This ongoing and absurd level of military assistance has made Israel the colossus of the Middle East, the world leader in targeted assassination with a specialization in waging indiscriminate warfare against Arabs especially in the captive Gaza strip, the site of repeated war crimes. For decades Israel has made a laughingstock of the mythical “peace process” as more than 700,000 “settlers” intruded into the illegally occupied Palestinian territories. Israel is in the process of taking over East Jerusalem, which was supposed to be the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

US foreign policy has enabled and funded these actions by the Jewish state, which Israel proclaimed itself to be in 2018. The Jewish State Law made apartheid official, marginalizing Israel’s Arab population, 20 percent of the total, as well as the repressed Palestinians in the occupied territories.

The aforementioned George Kennan once compared US foreign policy to a brontosaurus, a large prehistoric beast that wreaked havoc with its powerful tail, which went unrestrained by its very small brain. The image has never been more appropriate than today.

A new foreign policy paradigm is desperately needed but, as with World War II, it will probably require a cataclysm to inspire the required tectonic shift. In the meantime, there will be a premium on survival.

Walter L. Hixson is the author of myriad studies on US foreign policy, including most recently Imperialism and War: The History Americans Need to Own and Architects of Repression: How Israel and Its Lobby Put Racism, Violence, and Injustice at the Center of Middle East Policy, both published in 2021 by the Institute for Research in Washington. Hixson taught American history at the collegiate level for 36 years, achieving the rank of distinguished professor.

  Read  America’s Foreign Policy Death Spiral
  December 30, 2022
Clouds on the horizon
by The Saker, Information Clearing House,

 "Saker " - - The US did not provide Russia with any answer on Friday.  By itself, this is not very surprising, the levels of infighting in the US ruling elites have made it impossible to agree on a reply on such short notice, especially during the various end of year celebrations in the West.

As for the Russians, they are fine with that, since their own deadline was mid-January.  So as of right now, nothing significant has changed, what we observe is only a lot of statements by anybody and everybody, most of these statements make little or no sense and they typically all contradict each other.  We should not get too caught up in the “he said this, she said that” thingie, as this is, quite literally, just hot air.

In terms of actions, again we see contradictory developments: some sources report that NATO is preparing for a major war while other report that the US Americans and UK personnel are preparing an emergency evacuation.

There appears to be a meeting between Putin and Biden in the making, according to same sources after the Orthodox Nativity, so sometime around or soon after January 8th.  If so, I welcome that.

Also, Stoltenberg has said that there will be a meeting between NATO and Russia on the 12th.  But then, Stoltenberg is a powerless clown whose verbal emissions mean nothing.  He was the one who totally rejected any negotiations with Russia just a week ago, and now he is offering to negotiate…

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I spent the last 3 days reading opinions on the Runet, listening to talk shows and watching various officials and personalities expressing their opinion and I want to share my conclusion with you: there is absolutely overwhelming evidence that the Russians are NOT bluffing, that they really mean every word they said.  There is even a growing chorus of voices saying that it would be better for Russia if the West would simply reject all the Russian demands out of hand.  Many clearly hope that the West will try that as this would completely untie Russia’s hands (or, if you prefer, her bear claws).

Most military officials seem to believe that a full-scale war against NATO will not happen, but that some kind of conflict with the Ukraine is now inevitable.  I tend agree with them.

Many observers also seem to be really fed up.  Fed up with the constant bloodletting in the LDNR, fed up with the constant presence of western military “advisors” in the Ukraine, fed up with the grandstanding and pompous declarations by EU/NATO officials whom the Russians don’t even take seriously.  This entire topic has become a huge abscess in the mind of many Russians and an increasing number of them now want this abscess to be cut open, disinfected and healed.  “More of the same” is just not something anybody is willing to accept.

But while I am sure that the Russians are not bluffing, I am not so sure at all whether decision-makers in the West realize that.  Judging by the nonsense spewed by western officials and the AngloZionist media, I would say that no, they mostly don’t (there are a few notable exceptions like this one).

So I would say that there are definitely clouds on the horizon.

But the fact that the US and Russia seem to be preparing for some kind of summit is definitely a good sign as it shows that there is still a chance for the two sides to make some kind of deal avoiding the worst (if the US Americans only wanted to meet to issue more threats or to dismiss the Russian demands, neither side would bother with organizing a meeting).

The biggest risk now is that the US Americans will try to talk their way out and just let the clock run down without ever giving a clear answer to the Russians.  Deputy Foreign Minister Riabkov said this about that “we don’t need negotiations, we need security guarantees, and very soon”.  The Russians won’t take unilateral action unless and until they become convinced that the West is not willing to restrain itself and offer any legally biding and verifiable security guarantees.  The other side of this coin is that should the West not be willing to restrain itself and refuse to offer any legally biding a verifiable security guarantees, then the Russians will be free take unilateral action.  In other words, the Russians are saying this: look, we will get what we want, one way or another, whether we do that by means of a bilateral/multilateral negotiation or unilaterally now depends on you.  For us, either way is fine, and we will achieve our objective in any scenario.  The key message here is this: there is nothing you, the collective West or the USA, can do to prevent that outcome.

I conclude that the Russian ultimatum was really the very last effort by Russia to settle the problem diplomatically.  If this effort fails, then the West better prepare itself for a lot of unilateral Russian actions.

As they say in Russia “those who will not listen to Lavrov will have to deal with Shoigu“.  Even Lavrov himself seems to agree.

We will soon find out I suppose.

PS: in the meantime, the LDNR authorities have identified the chemical substances US PMCs have brought to the cities of Mariupol, Krasnyi Liman and Avdeevka: botulinum toxin and dibenzoxazepine.  These chemical weapon were brought over from the USA by USAF contracted aircraft and are now deployed by 120 US mercenaries.

  Read Clouds on the horizon
  December 30, 2022
2022: The Year the US achieves Collapse
by Dmitry Orlov, Information Clearing House,

I have been studying the forthcoming collapse of the USA for 25 years and publishing books and articles on this subject for the last 15, with good results: CCCP 2.0 is developing quite nicely. The 30-year reprieve which the US was granted thanks to the collapse of the USSR has now expired, every effort at imperial expansion since then (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and the “suicide belt” of Eastern Europe) has been a total failure. Meanwhile a reborn Russia, backed by much of the rest of Eurasia, is now turning the tables and ordering the US around in perfectly undiplomatic terms. And now this: Barbara Water of US San Diego recently appeared on CNN to explain that the US is now in a zone of high risk for political violence and civil war.

And what this means is that the US has finally achieved Total Collapse Preparedness. Let us look into the details of this.

Just yesterday Russia Foreign Ministry published a couple of documents which people have been struggling to interpret ever since, to little useful effect. I would like to offer my own explanation of what these documents mean, which will probably differ a great deal from most other explanations you are likely to hear. Time will tell how close they are to the truth; for now, I am happy to simply add to the spectrum of ideas that are available to it.

The two documents describe in detail what Washington must do to avoid the consequences of breaking its verbal agreement entered into with Mikhail Gorbachev to not expand NATO eastward toward Russia’s borders—essentially, to freeze NATO forces where they were in 1997, before NATO expanded farther east. The documents also address other aspects of deescalation, such as removing all US nuclear weapons from foreign territory and confining US forces to waters and airspace from which they cannot threaten the territory of Russia.

One line of explanation, most recently expressed in Washington and elsewhere, is that these documents are a negotiating gambit (not an ultimatum), to be discussed privately (to avoid complete loss of face by the US) and in consultation with NATO members and partners, plus, maybe, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, Amnesty International and Greenpeace (to avoid making their combined irrelevance apparent to all). I agree that there is little to be gained from public discussions; after all Moscow has already achieved the required bombshell effect through the public release of these documents and in forcing Washington to acknowledge their receipt and to consent to “negotiations”.

I disagree that there is anything to be negotiated: these documents are not intended to be used as a starting point for negotiations; they are an invitation for Washington to acknowledge and remedy its transgressions. Washington broke the deal it made with Moscow not to expand east. It could do so because in the years following the breakup of the USSR Moscow was too weak to resist and run by people who thought it possible for Russia to integrate into the West, perhaps even to join NATO. But that era has ended some time ago and the collective West now has to put its collective toes back behind the red line—whether voluntarily or not—and that is the only thing yet to be determined. That is the only choice to be made: stand down voluntarily and make amends or refuse and be punished.

I also disagree that this choice—between making amends and accepting punishment—has anything to do with the EU, or NATO, or various “members” or “partners”. Moscow has no relationship with NATO, seeing it as a mere piece of paper that grants Washington rather questionable legal authority to deploy its military forces in countries around the world. Moscow has some vestigial diplomatic representation with the EU, but doesn’t see it as important and concentrates on bilateral relations with EU members. As for its Eastern European neighbors, the Ukraine is, viewed from Moscow, a US colony and thus entirely a US concern, Poland can go and partition itself again (or not), and, as far as those tiny yet politically annoying statelets of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, so sorry, but the Russian army is equipped with binoculars, not microscopes.

The choice, really, is between facing an increasing risk of a nuclear exchange between two nuclear superpowers—one that is rapidly fading in strength and one that is growing stronger all the time—and reducing that risk as much as possible. Only the two nuclear superpowers need to come to an understanding; everyone else can simply do as they say so that nobody gets hurt. In the case of the Europeans, they should be quite interested in doing so (if they still know what’s good for them) because NATO’s eastward expansion has left them with huge nuclear target signs painted all over them which they would do well to try to remove. Not only that, but NATO’s encroachment on Russia’s borders has increased the risk of a nuclear confrontation breaking out accidentally: all those nuclear-armed bombers, ships and submarines could make a wrong turn somewhere and then—kaboom!—no more Europe.

You might thing that those bombers and ships and submarines must loiter around Russia’s borders in order to “contain” Russia, but this is false. Russia does an acceptably good job of containing itself, and the little territorial disputes that are likely to crop up here and there periodically are certainly not going to be solved by increasing the risk of nuclear war. The Russian Federation has land borders with over a dozen countries, most of which have Russian citizens living on both sides of them, and that makes land disputes inevitable, but none of them will ever be worth blowing up the planet over.

You might think that NATO forces need to show activity and act dangerous in order to justify their existence and their ridiculously bloated defense budgets. Also, if they didn’t get a chance to be threatening toward Russia, they might become despondent and just sit around drinking, doing drugs and having gay sex, and that would be bad for morale. (But then what’s wrong with a little gay sex between consenting off-duty gender-ambiguous servicepersons?) I’d think that these are all rather minor, if not trifling, concerns, considering that what’s on the other side of the scale is the risk of a planetary conflagration.

You might also think that Washington’s eastward expansion is not a crime because, you see, Gorbachev failed to get its promise not to expand east committed to in writing. Well, let me offer you a tiny insight into the inner workings of Russian civilization. If you enter into a verbal agreement with the Russians, break it, and then taunt them by saying “But you didn’t get it in writing!” you have just made the problem much worse for yourself. We all make mistakes and must sometimes break our promises, in which the proper course of action is to be contrite, apologize sincerely and offer to make amends. If, instead, you claim that the promise is null and void because a certain piece of paper cannot be located, then you have compounded you dishonorable conduct with willful disregard and have singled yourself out for exemplary punishment. This punishment may be slow to arrive, taking decades, perhaps even centuries, but you can be sure that you will be punished eventually.

Once upon a time Moscow was weak and Washington strong, but now the balance has shifted in Moscow’s favor and the time for Washington’s punishment has finally come. The only remaining question is, What form will this punishment take? The one proposed by Moscow is in the form of submission to public humiliation: Washington signs the security guarantees drafted in Moscow, drags itself back to its kennel and lies quietly like a good doggo licking its balls to console itself. And that’s the more pleasant alternative, a win-win sort of thing, offered in good faith.

The less pleasant alternative would be, I can’t help but imagine, much less pleasant, very confusing and quite dangerous. Think about Poseidons—undetectable nuclear-powered torpedos—endlessly cruising in thousands of feet of water of water off the continental shelf along the US coasts, ready to wash them off with entirely accidental tsunamis, their sporadic pings causing the Joint Chiefs of Staff to soil their diapers every time. Think about NATO planes, ships and submarines quietly going missing for no adequately explored reason, their crews later turning up on some faraway beach very drunk and wearing Speedos in the colors of the Russian flag. Think of hypersonic something-or-others periodically doing zigzags in low Earth orbit over the US mainland, causing every cable TV channel to broadcast Russia Today, in turn causing CNN’s talking heads to explode in impotent fury.

I would think that, in their own enlightened best interest, right-thinking Americans, regardless of party affiliation or lack thereof, would want to clamor for their elected representatives to quit making any more trouble and to just sign the damned security guarantees! But that’s just my own, private opinion.

Please support Dmitry Orlov's writing at https://subscribestar.com/orlov or https://patreon.com/orlov

  Read  2022: The Year the US achieves Collapse
 December 30, 2022
America's 'Suez moment': Another strategic mistake would be its last
by David Hearst, Information Clearing House

"Middle East Eye" - America has just had its Suez Crisis," commented a member of the Iranian delegation at the nuclear talks in Vienna about the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, "but it has yet to see it."

It's not just the fall of Kabul.

In 2021, President Joe Biden truly reaped a bitter harvest from the strategic foreign policy errors of four of his predecessors. As he was the vice president for one of them, Barack Obama, he has trouble seeing this as well. The seeds of each of the major global conflict zones post - Afghanistan, Ukraine, Taiwan, and Iran were planted long ago. 

What unravelled this year was no less than three decades of bungled US global governance.

Each US president in the post-Soviet period shared the belief that he had the file to himself. It was not something to be shared at the UN Security Council. He was the commander-in-chief of the largest, best-equipped and most mobile armed force in the world, one that could stage over the horizon attacks with devastating accuracy. The US president controls 750 military bases in 80 different countries. He also had the biggest pocket, the world's reserve currency, so, ergo, he could now set the rules.

What could possibly go wrong?

With that belief came two assumptions that proved to be fatally flawed: that the US monopoly on the use of force would last forever - it ended with Russia's intervention in Syria - and that the US could continue to enforce a "rules-based" world order - so long as it continued to make the rules. Biden has quietly buried both assumptions by admitting that great powers will be forced to "manage" their competition to avoid conflict that no one can win. 

But hang on a moment. There is something not quite right here.

The cause and effect theory

Major conflicts, which have the potential to produce tank battles not seen since World War II, like Ukraine, do not just happen.

There is cause and effect. The cause was the unilateral but at the time uncontroversial decision to expand Nato eastwards in the 1990s, abandoning the model of a largely demilitarised and missile-free Eastern Europe that had been discussed with president Mikhail Gorbachev a decade earlier.

This was done to give new meaning to Nato, a military pact whose purpose died when its enemy did. Complete rubbish was talked about Nato "cementing" democracy in Eastern Europe by guaranteeing its independence from Moscow. But remember the mood at the time. It was triumphalist. Not only was capitalism the only economic system left, but its neo-liberal brand was the only brand worth promoting. 

For a brief moment, Moscow became an eastern gold rush, a Klondike for venture capitalists, Ikea, Carrefour, Irish pubs, and bible bashers. The Russians, meanwhile, were obsessed with designer labels, not politics.  

The Americans in Moscow - at the time - did not bother much about what their hosts thought or did. Russia became irrelevant on the international stage. US advisers boasted about writing the decrees the Russian president Boris Yeltsin issued. And Yeltsin returned the favour by handing over the designs of the latest Russian tank and the wiring diagram of bugs placed by the KGB in the concrete foundation of an extension being built in the US embassy.

For Russian nationalists, this was nothing less than an act of treason. But doors were open so wide to the West that literally everything that was not nailed down flew through them - nuclear scientists, missile engineers, the cream of the KGB, and suitcases full of cash. Where do you think the Russians who settled in Highgate in North London, or the Hamptons on Long Island, or Cyprus, or Israel got their money from?

For a time, even the word "West" dropped out of Russian political vocabulary because the new Russians thought they had just joined it.

Ukraine, the West's victim

The first US ambassador to the newly created Russian Federation, Robert Strauss, spent more time defending what happened in the Kremlin than the White House. Western embassies became spokesmen for a Russia they thought they now owned. 

Strauss downplayed the first reports of the rise of the Russian mafia state, as a mere bagatelle. "This is what Chicago was like in the 20s," he told me. This was followed by inanities about the green shoots of democracy and the time it took to mow an English lawn. As if he knew.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were similarly blasé about what they did in Russia.

The Russian army was "a joke". When the Russians sent their armoured columns into Grozny in December 1994, the West thought it could be stopped by small bands of determined Chechens; their pilots had only three hours flying time each month: their frigates sailed in pairs - one to patrol, the second to tow back the first one when it broke down; their submarines sunk.

And so Nato pushed eastwards.

No one at the time bought the argument that all Nato would do was to push the line of confrontation eastwards. Russia's pleas to negotiate a security architecture for Eastern Europe fell on deaf ears. They are not falling on deaf ears now, with 90,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine's borders. 

The victim of this gross act of western stupidity was Ukraine, which for at least the first decade after the fall of the Soviets had survived intact and largely in peace. Civil wars raged all around it, but Ukraine itself maintained its political and social unity despite being comprised of very different communities. With the exception of Western Ukraine, which never forgot that it had been captured by the Bolsheviks from the crumbling Austro-Hungarian empire, Russian and Ukrainian speakers lived in peace.

Now it is divided forever, scared by a civil war from which it will never recover. Ukraine will never regain its lost unity, and for that, Brussels is as much to thank as the bully boys from Moscow.

The new cold war

Then there is China. Pivoting eastwards surely did not mean ending one Cold War and starting a new one with China, but that too is inexorably happening. Biden cannot decide whether to calm President Xi down or confront him, but doing each in sequence will not work. 

To get a measure of what mainland China feels when British warships sail through the Taiwan Strait, how would Britain react if Chinese warships appeared in the Irish Sea and sailed between Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The game of "managing" competition has human consequences as devastating as the superpower triumphalism of the 1990s, and those can be observed in Afghanistan today. The Afghanistan of the ousted Afghani president Ashraf Ghani truly was a Potemkin village, a facade of independent statehood. 

An astonishing 300,000 troops and soldiers on its government's books did not exist. "Ghost soldiers" were added to official lists so that generals would pocket their wages, Afghanistan’s former finance minister Khalid Payenda told the BBC. The black hole of the former corrupt regime's finances was an open secret long before Biden set a date for withdrawal. 

A report for the US special inspector general for Afghanistan (SIGAR) warned in 2016: "Neither the United States nor its Afghan allies know how many Afghan soldiers and police actually exist, how many are in fact available for duty, or, by extension, the true nature of their operational capabilities."

Now that the tap of US income has been turned off, Afghanistan is on the verge of a nationwide famine. But, incredibly, the US is blaming this situation on the Taliban. It withholds money on the grounds of human rights, the night-time revenge killings on former state employees, or the suppression of education for women.

Much of the Afghan central bank's $10bn in assets is parked overseas, including $1.3bn in gold reserves in New York. The US Treasury is using this money as a lever to pressure the Taliban on women's rights and the rule of law. It has granted a licence to the US government and its partners to facilitate humanitarian aid and it gave Western Union permission to resume processing personal remittances from migrants overseas.

But the US does not hold itself to account for having nurtured a state that cannot function without the money that it is now withholding. The US has direct responsibility for the famine that is now taking place in Afghanistan. To withhold money from the Taliban because they took power militarily, rather than negotiate their re-entry with other Afghan warlords, also wears somewhat thin. 

Same story

The Taliban walked into Kabul with barely a shot fired because everything crumbled before them. The speed of the collapse of Afghan forces blindsided everybody - even Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who are accused by India and western governments of running the Haqqani network of the Taliban. The only country that really knew what was happening was Iran, because officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were with the Taliban as they walked in, according to Iranian sources close to the IRGC.

Even the ISI were blindsided by the speed of this collapse. An informed source told me in Islamabad: "We had expected the NDS [National Directorate of Security] to put up a fight in Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Kunduz. That would have produced a stalemate and the possibility for negotiation a more inclusive government."

But we are where we are. "There were some improvements in the last 20 years. There was a middle class in Kabul, women's education. But if you want to lose everything, this is the way to do it. The Taliban will go hardline if the place runs out of money. If you want to protect the liberal elements, you have to make Afghanistan stable."

The Pakistani source listed 10 jihadi groups, as opposed to the one jihadi group, al-Qaeda, that was around in 2001. And the ISI do not know what happened to the arms the Americans left behind.

"We simply don't know in whose hands they have ended up," he said. When they pressed the Taliban on forming an inclusive government, the Taliban shot back at them: "Do you have an inclusive government? Do you have a government that includes the PML-N? What do you think it would be like in Pakistan if you had to reconcile groups of fighters who had killed each other’s sons and cousins?"

Starved of funds, there is only one way for the breakaway groups to go - into the hands of the jihadists. He ended his analysis with the following thought: is it really in the US interest to stabilise Afghanistan? If they let the money through, it would mean supporting the very axis of China, Russia and Pakistan that they were now determined to push back. The faltering talks in Vienna, the crisis on Ukraine's border, renewed tension and military posturing in Taiwan, are all part of the same story.

Strategic mistakes

Washington would do well to look at the map of the world and think before it makes its next move. A long period of reflection is needed. Thus far it has obtained the dubious distinction of getting every conflict it has engaged with in this century wrong. 

The chance of a global conflict involving real armies and real arms has never been higher and the tripwire to using weapons of mass destruction has never been strung tighter. Nor have all the world's military powers been better armed, able and willing to start their own inventions.

Biden should bear this in mind.

It is now in the US' strategic interest to staunch any more bloodletting in the battlefields it created this century. That means the US should come to a deal with Iran by lifting the sanctions it imposed on Tehran since the 2015 JCPOA. If it wants to balance the growing Chinese and Russian influence in the Middle East, that is the surest way to do it.

Iran is not going to give up its missiles any more than Israel is going to ground its air force. But a deal in Vienna could be a precursor to regional Gulf security negotiations. The Emiratis, Qataris, Omanis and Kuwaitis are all ready for it. If Washington wants to apply rules, let it do so first with its allies, who have extraordinary impunity for their brutal actions.

If Washington is the champion of human rights it claims to be, start with Saudi Arabia or Egypt. If it is the enforcer of international law, let's see Washington make Israel pay a price for its continued settlement policy, which makes a mockery of UN Security Council resolutions, and the US' own policy for a resolution to the Palestinian conflict. 

The Abraham Accords were devised to establish Israel as America's declared and open regional surrogate. Had Donald Trump secured a second term, such a policy would have been a disaster for US strategic interests in the Middle East. Already Israel thinks it has a veto on US decision making in the region. With this policy fully in place, it would have been in charge of it, which would have meant permanent conflict created by a military power that always strikes first.

Israel acts with ruthless logic. It will use any opportunity to expand its borders until a Palestinian state becomes an impossibility. It probably has already succeeded in that aim. However, this is not US policy. But this expansion continues, almost week in, week out, because no one in Washington will lift a finger to stop it. Doing nothing about armed lynch mobs of settlers attacking unarmed Palestinian villagers in the West Bank is the same as agreeing to them. 

If you want to be a champion of rules, apply those rules to yourself first.

This is the only way to regain lost global authority. The US has entered a new era where it can no longer change regimes by force of arms or sanctions. It has discovered the uselessness of force. It should drop the stick and start handing out bucket loads of carrots. It should get on with the urgent task of deconfliction.

After the damage done this century by conflicts ordered, created and backed by US presidents - Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya - that is not only a responsibility but a duty. 

Another US strategic mistake would be its, and Western Europe's, last. 

David Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was The Guardian's foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.

  Read  America's 'Suez moment': Another strategic mistake would be its last
  January 01, 2022
Putin and Xi Plot Their SWIFT Escape
by Pepe Escobar, Information Clearing House,

The Cradle" - - Vladimir Putin got straight to the point. At the opening of his one hour and fourteen minute video conversation with Xi Jinping on 15 December, he described Russia-China relations as “an example of genuine inter-state cooperation in the 21st century.”

Their myriad levels of cooperation have been known for years now – from trade, oil and gas, finance, aerospace and the fight against Covid-19, to the progressive interconnection of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

But now the stage was set for the announcement of a serious counter-move in their carefully coordinated ballet opposing the relentless Hybrid War/Cold War 2.0 combo deployed by Empire.

As Assistant to the President for Foreign Policy Yuri Ushakov succinctly explained, Putin and Xi agreed to create an “independent financial structure for trade operations that could not be influenced by other countries.”

Diplomatic sources, off the record, confirmed the structure may be announced by a joint summit before the end of 2022.

This is a stunning game-changer in more ways than one. It had been extensively discussed in previous bilaterals and in preparations for BRICS summits – mostly centered on increasing the share of yuan and rubles in Russia-China settlements, bypassing the US dollar, and opening new stock market options for Russian and Chinese investors.

Now we’ve come to the crunch. And the catalyzing event was none other than US hawks floating the – financially nuclear – idea of expelling Russia from SWIFT, the messaging network used by 11,000+ banks in over 200 countries, as well as financial institutions, for rapid money transfers worldwide.

Cutting off Russia from SWIFT would be part of a harsh new sanctions package developed in response to an ‘invasion’ of Ukraine that will never happen – mainly because the only ones praying for it are professional NATO warmongers.

Profiting from a strategic blunder

Once again, an American strategic blunder offers the Russia-China self-described “comprehensive strategic partnership” the chance to advance their coordination.

Ushakov put it very diplomatically: it’s time to bypass a SWIFT mechanism “influenced by third countries” to form “an independent financial structure.”

That amounts to a serious game-changer for the entire Global South – as scores of nations yearn to be released from a de facto US dollar dictatorship, complete with recurring Fed quantitative easing circus packages.

Russia and China have been experimenting with their alternative payment systems for quite a while now: the Russian SPFS (System for Transfer of Financial Messages) and the Chinese CIPS (Cross Border Interbank Payment System).

It won’t be easy, as the most powerful Chinese banks are deep into SWIFT and have expressed their reservations about SPFS. Yet, they will have to inevitably integrate prior to the launch of the new mechanism, possibly in late 2022.

Once the most important Russian and Chinese banks – from Sberbank to the Bank of China – adopt the system, the path opens for other banks across Eurasia and the Global South to join in.

In the long run, SWIFT, prone to non-stop American political interference, will be increasingly marginalized, or restricted to Atlanticist latitudes.

Bypassing the US dollar, on trade and all sorts of financial settlements, is an absolutely central plank of the ever-evolving Russia-China notion of a multipolar world.

The road will be long, of course, especially when it comes to offering a solid counterpoint to the US-controlled global financial system, a maze that includes the humongous investment houses of the BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street variety, with their interlocking shareholding of virtually every major multinational company.

Yet a SWIFT escape will rapidly gain momentum, because it is inextricably linked to a series of developments that Putin-Xi touched upon in their conversation, the most important of which are:

1. The progressive interconnection of BRI and EAEU, offering expanding roles to the BRICS-run New Development Bank (NDB) as well as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

2. The increasing geopolitical and geo-economic reach of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), especially after the admission of Iran in October.

3. And crucially, the upcoming Chinese presidency of the BRICS in 2022.

China in 2022 will invest deeply in BRICS+. This expanded BRICS club will be linked to a development process that includes:

1. The consolidation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – a massive East Asia trade deal uniting China, the ASEAN 10 and Japan, and South Korea, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

2. The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).

3. And the memoranda of understanding signed between the EAEU and MERCOSUR and between the EAEU and ASEAN.

Anchoring West Asia

Yaroslav Lissovolik, one of the world’s leading experts on BRICS+, argues that it’s now time for BRICS+ 2.0, operating in a system that opens “the possibility for bilateral and plurilateral agreements to complement the core network of regional alliances formed by BRICS countries and their respective regional neighbors.”

So if we’re talking about a major qualitative jump in terms of economic development across the Global South, the question is inevitable. What about West Asia?

All these interconnections, plus an escape from SWIFT, will certainly profit the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), arguably the flagship BRI project, to which Beijing plans to annex Afghanistan.

CPEC will be progressively connected to the future Iran-China corridor via Afghanistan, part of the 20 year Iran-China strategic deal in which BRI projects will be prominently featured. Iran and China already trade in yuan and rials, so settlements between Iran and China in a non-SWIFT mechanism will be a given.

What happened to Iran is a classic example of SWIFT becoming hostage of imperial political manipulation. Iranian banks were expelled from SWIFT in 2012, because of pressure from the usual suspects. In 2016, access was restored as part of the JCPOA, clinched in 2015. Yet in 2018, under the Trump administration, Iran was once again cut off from SWIFT.

None of that will ever happen with Iran joining the new Russia-China mechanism.

And that leads us to the interconnection of China’s BRI expansion in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The reconstruction of Syria may be largely financed via the non-SWIFT mechanism. Same for China buying Iraqi energy. Same for the reconstruction of a Yemen possibly hosting a Chinese-owned port, part of the “string of pearls.”

Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Israel may remain in the US financial sphere of influence, or lack thereof. And even if there is no BRICS nation anchoring West Asia, and no regional integration economic agreement on the horizon, the role of the economic integrator is bound to be eventually played by China.

China will play a similar role to Brazil anchoring MERCOSUR, Russia anchoring the EAEU and South Africa anchoring the SADC/SACU.

Both BRI and the EAEU will get a tremendous boost by bypassing SWIFT. You simply can’t go multipolar if you trade using (devalued) imperial legal tender.

BRI, EAEU and those interlocking economic development agreements, combined with digital technology, will be integrating billions of people in the Global South.

Think of a possible, auspicious future spelling out cheap telecom delivering financial services and world market access, in a non-dollar environment, to all those who have been so far cut off from a truly globalized economy.

Pepe Escobar is correspondent-at-large at Asia Times. His latest book is 2030. Follow him on Facebook.

  Read  Putin and Xi Plot Their SWIFT Escape
  January 02, 2022
Pentagon Fails Audit (Again!)
by Dave Lindorff, Information Clearing House,

Instead, the story, which broke on November 17, was largely ignored or buried. The nation’s two main newspapers, the Washington Post and the New York Times, have simply ignored it. Other news organizations stenographically quoted Pentagon officials as admitting that they “failed again” but saw “progress,” and as promising that they would achieve a “clean” audit by… get this … 2027.

The Pentagon, with some $3 trillion (give or take a trillion but who’s counting?) in assets and a record current 2021 budget of $738 billion, has for the third year in a row failed its audit. An army of 1400 auditors hired by us taxpayers for $230 million and borrowed from some of the biggest auditing firms in the country, spent the past year poring through the books and visiting hundreds of operations of the government’s largest and geographically vastest single agency, and came back with word that they couldn’t give it a pass.

They couldn’t even figure it out.

Think about that for a minute. The US military, which each year sucks up close to half of the nation’s now $1.6-trillion discretionary budget, is a financial black hole! Nobody in the White House Budget Office, the Congressional Armed Services or Budget Committees, the General Accounting Office, or in the Pentagon itself, can say with a straight face how much the Pentagon spends of all the funds it is allocated by Congress each year, where that money gets spent, of even where all the equipment it buys — planes, ammunition, bombs, ships, etc. — are currently.

Perhaps more important in the long term, nobody anywhere in the government can honestly say how much the Pentagon actually needs each year, even according to the trumped up claims made in each year’s proposed Pentagon budget.

That in itself explains why the Pentagon budget just keeps growing. Look at this year, for example, where Congress actually handed an extra $53 billion to the nation’s military, over and beyond the $715 billion that the Pentagon and the Biden Administration asked for. The just adopted FY 2022 budget, called the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) is, incredibly, larger in constant dollars than any year since World War II. That is to say, it is greater adjusted for inflation than it has been for any year during the Korean War, the entire Cold War, or the Vietnam War (when the US at one point had over 500,000 troops in battle, a huge US Navy Pacific fleet in the South China Sea and half the US Air Force, including a large portion of the Strategic Air Command’s B-52s, busy with carpet bombing and napalming attacks halfway around the globe). Meanwhile, the US at present is not, in any significant way, involved in an actual war anywhere.

In 2019, when I exposed in a Nation MagazIne cover story the incredible $21-trillion fraud that has been going on at the Pentagon for over two decades of deliberate budget obfuscation, I wrote that if this kind of scandalous behavior were occurring in any other government department (with the possible exception of the sacrosanct CIA and National Security Agency, which of course have actual “black” budgets not seen by either press or Congress), it would be huge news in the media, and would prompt angry hearings in Congress. Imagine, for example, if the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, or perhaps the Department of State couldn’t pass an audit! Even though the amount of money at issue would be orders of magnitude lower, there’d be hell to pay. Department secretaries or agency directors would lose their posts and their reputations, and members of Congress would be demanding prime time opportunities denounce the scandal on the floor of the Capitol, and the media would be all over it.

But the fact that the Pentagon can’t explain what it is doing with the 50 cents on every dollar of taxes that American’s pay to the Treasury each year from their hard-earned paychecks, and has made it so that no government office can figure it out, either, and the reality that Congress keeps on shoveling more and more money into the five-sided black hole across the Potomac River, year after year, should have the whole nation up in arms.

Right now, the US is midway through spending $1.7 trillion buying and upgrading “on the fly” thousands of F-35A allegedly stealth fighter-bombers which can’t do what they’re supposed to do, aren’t needed for any kind of war that the US is likely to ever get involved in (that would be with Russia or China, the only countries with advanced aircraft, but which would both end up in an all-out nuclear war with the US if it ever came to direct combat), and which will probably end up being replaced with something more expensive and pointless before they’re all built.

The US is also well into another $1.5-trillion pointless and destabilizing program begun during the Obama administration to “upgrade” and “modernize” the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

That is, instead of sitting down with the world’s other eight nuclear powers and seriously negotiating a denuclearization of all our nuclear arsenals, and eventually signing on to the UN ban on nuclear weapons just approved a year ago by a huge majority of the nations of the world and made a part of the laws of war, the US is working on developing and pre-positioning around the globe bombs that are considered small enough to be “useable” in non-nuclear conflicts.

I’m talking about bombs that are downsized from megatons to anywhere from 0.3 kilotons (just 300 tons of dynamite equivalent) to 50 kilotons (about three times the size of the bomb that leveled Nagasaki).

“Useable” nukes they call them!

Instead of looking for ways to pull the US out of provocative locations around the globe where all it has been able to do since the end of WWII with its awesome weapons, enormous Navy and huge standing military is sow instability, support violent coups, invade countries that don’t do the US’s bidding and drop bombs, drone-fired rockets and send in Special Forces troops in countries that the US has no right to be in (think Syria, Somalia, Niger, Haiti, Yemen, Iraq, etc.), President Joe Biden is now considering sending weapons and trainers to Ukraine, missile-carrying destroyers into the Black Sea off Russia’s coast, attacking Iran (or allowing Israel to do the dirty work), provoking China in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, and who knows what else.

Biden can do this because, for the Pentagon, money is no object. The Pentagon gets whatever it wants even though it cannot tell anyone, and probably doesn’t itself know, where the money all goes.

My computer screensaver image is a photo of a sea of young people, mostly young men, myself included, seated on the Mall of the Pentagon in October 1967, confronting a double line of rifle-toting federalized troops. Back then we were demanding an end to what we in the US still call the Vietnam War (the Vietnamese call it the American War, which, like the Taliban in Afghanistan, they ultimately won). That protest and others that followed it made a hell of a lot more sense and would be vastly more appropriate and important if reprised today, than the bunch of fascist yahoos who busted into Congress a year ago on January 6 trying to hang Vice President Mike Pence and install presidential election loser, Donald Trump, as the nation’s Major Domo.

I hope people will ponder this question.

Why are we allowing this outrage to continue?

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective. Lindorff is a contributor to "Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion" (AK Press) and the author the author of “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press). He can be reached at dlindorff@mindspring.com

  Read Pentagon Fails Audit (Again!)
 January 02, 2022
The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare.
by Thomas Homer-Dixon, Information Clearing House,

The U.S. is becoming increasingly ungovernable, and some experts believe it could descend into civil war. What should Canada do then?

 "Globe and Mail" -- By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship.

We mustn’t dismiss these possibilities just because they seem ludicrous or too horrible to imagine. In 2014, the suggestion that Donald Trump would become president would also have struck nearly everyone as absurd. But today we live in a world where the absurd regularly becomes real and the horrible commonplace.

Leading American academics are now actively addressing the prospect of a fatal weakening of U.S. democracy.

This past November, more than 150 professors of politics, government, political economy and international relations appealed to Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which would protect the integrity of US elections but is now stalled in the Senate. This is a moment of “great peril and risk,” they wrote. “Time is ticking away, and midnight is approaching.”

I’m a scholar of violent conflict. For more than 40 years, I’ve studied and published on the causes of war, social breakdown, revolution, ethnic violence and genocide, and for nearly two decades I led a centre on peace and conflict studies at the University of Toronto.

Today, as I watch the unfolding crisis in the United States, I see a political and social landscape flashing with warning signals.

I’m not surprised by what’s happening there – not at all. During my graduate work in the United States in the 1980s, I sometimes listened to Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing radio talk show host and later television personality. I remarked to friends at the time that, with each broadcast, it was if Mr. Limbaugh were wedging the sharp end of a chisel into a faint crack in the moral authority of U.S. political institutions, and then slamming the other end of that chisel with a hammer.

In the decades since, week after week, year after year, Mr. Limbaugh and his fellow travellers have hammered away – their blows’ power lately amplified through social media and outlets such as Fox News and Newsmax. The cracks have steadily widened, ramified, connected and propagated deeply into America’s once-esteemed institutions, profoundly compromising their structural integrity. The country is becoming increasingly ungovernable, and some experts believe it could descend into civil war.

How should Canada prepare?

In 2020, president Donald Trump awarded Mr. Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The act signalled that Mr. Limbaugh’s brand of bullying, populist white ethnocentrism – a rancid blend of aggrieved attacks on liberal elites, racist dog-whistling, bragging about American exceptionalism and appeals to authoritarian leadership – had become an integral part of mainstream political ideology in the U.S.

But one can’t blame only Mr. Limbaugh, who died in early 2021, and his ilk for America’s dysfunction. These people and their actions are as much symptoms of that dysfunction as its root causes, and those causes are many. Some can be traced to the country’s founding – to an abiding distrust in government baked into the country’s political culture during the Revolution, to slavery, to the political compromise of the Electoral College that slavery spawned, to the overrepresentation of rural voting power in the Senate, and to the failure of Reconstruction after the Civil War. But successful polities around the world have overcome flaws just as fundamental.

What seems to have pushed the United States to the brink of losing its democracy today is a multiplication effect between its underlying flaws and recent shifts in the society’s “material” characteristics. These shifts include stagnating middle-class incomes, chronic economic insecurity, and rising inequality as the country’s economy – transformed by technological change and globalization – has transitioned from muscle power, heavy industry, and manufacturing as the main sources of its wealth to idea power, information technology, symbolic production and finance. As returns to labour have stagnated and returns to capital have soared, much of the U.S. population has fallen behind. Inflation-adjusted wages for the median male worker in the fourth quarter of 2019 (prior to the infusion of economic support owing to the COVID-19 pandemic) were lower than in 1979; meanwhile, between 1978 and 2016, CEO incomes in the biggest companies rose from 30 times that of the average worker to 271 times. Economic insecurity is widespread in broad swaths of the country’s interior, while growth is increasingly concentrated in a dozen or so metropolitan centres.

Two other material factors are key. The first is demographic: as immigration, aging, intermarriage and a decline in church-going have reduced the percentage of non-Hispanic white Christians in America, right-wing ideologues have inflamed fears that traditional U.S. culture is being erased and whites are being “replaced.” The second is pervasive elite selfishness: The wealthy and powerful in America are broadly unwilling to pay the taxes, invest in the public services, or create the avenues for vertical mobility that would lessen their country’s economic, educational, racial and geographic gaps. The more an under-resourced government can’t solve everyday problems, the more people give up on it, and the more they turn to their own resources and their narrow identity groups for safety.

America’s economic, racial and social gaps have helped cause ideological polarization between the political right and left, and the worsening polarization has paralyzed government while aggravating the gaps. The political right and left are isolated from, and increasingly despise, each other. Both believe the stakes are existential – that the other is out to destroy the country they love. The moderate political centre is fast vanishing.

And, oh yes, the population is armed to the teeth, with somewhere around 400 million firearms in the hands of civilians.

Some diagnoses of America’s crisis that highlight “toxic polarization” imply the two sides are equally responsible for that crisis. They aren’t. While both wings of U.S. politics have fanned polarization’s flames, blame lies disproportionately on the political right.

According to Harvard’s renowned sociologist and political scientist Theda Skocpol, in the early 2000s fringe elements of the Republican party used disciplined tactics and enormous streams of money (from billionaires like the Koch brothers) to turn extreme laissez-faire ideology into orthodox Republican dogma. Then, in 2008, Barack Obama’s election as president increased anxieties about immigration and cultural change among older, often economically insecure members of the white middle-class, who then coalesced into the populist Tea Party movement. Under Mr. Trump, the two forces were joined. The GOP became, Dr. Skocpol writes, a radicalized “marriage of convenience between anti-government free-market plutocrats and racially anxious ethno-nationalist activists and voters.”

Now, adopting Mr. Limbaugh’s tried-and-true methods, demagogues on the right are pushing the radicalization process further than ever before. By weaponizing people’s fear and anger, Mr. Trump and a host of acolytes and wannabees such as Fox’s Tucker Carlson and Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene have captured the storied GOP and transformed it into a near-fascist personality cult that’s a perfect instrument for wrecking democracy.

And it’s not inaccurate to use the F word. As conservative commentator David Frum argues, Trumpism increasingly resembles European fascism in its contempt for the rule of law and glorification of violence. Evidence is as close as the latest right-wing Twitter meme: widely circulated holiday photos show Republican politicians and their family members, including young children, sitting in front of their Christmas trees, all smiling gleefully while cradling pistols, shotguns and assault rifles.

Those guns are more than symbols. The Trump cult presents itself as the only truly patriotic party able to defend U.S. values and history against traitorous Democrats beholden to cosmopolitan elites and minorities who neither understand nor support “true” American values. The Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. capitol must be understood in these terms. The people involved didn’t think they were attacking U.S. democracy – although they unquestionably were. Instead, they believed their “patriotic” actions were needed to save it.

Democracy is an institution, but underpinning that institution is a vital set of beliefs and values. If a substantial enough fraction of a population no longer holds those beliefs and values, then democracy can’t survive. Probably the most important is recognition of the equality of the polity’s citizens in deciding its future; a close runner up is willingness to concede power to one’s political opponents, should those equal citizens decide that’s what they want. At the heart of the ideological narrative of U.S. right-wing demagogues, from Mr. Trump on down, is the implication that large segments of the country’s population – mainly the non-white, non-Christian, and educated urban ones – aren’t really equal citizens. They aren’t quite full Americans, or even real Americans.

This is why Mr. Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him – a falsehood that nearly 70 per cent of Republicans now accept as true – is such potent anti-democratic poison. If the other side is willing to steal an election, then they don’t play by the rules. They’ve placed themselves outside the American moral community, which means they don’t deserve to be treated as equals. There’s certainly no reason to concede power to them, ever.

Willingness to publicly endorse the Big Lie has become a litmus test of Republican loyalty to Mr. Trump. This isn’t just an ideological move to promote Republican solidarity against Democrats. It puts its adherents one step away from the psychological dynamic of extreme dehumanization that has led to some of the worst violence in human history. And it has refashioned – into a moral crusade against evil – Republican efforts to gerrymander Congressional districts into pretzel-like shapes, to restrict voting rights, and to take control of state-level electoral apparatuses.

When the situation is framed in such a Manichean way, righteous ends justify any means. One of the two American parties is now devoted to victory at any cost.

Many of those with guns are waiting for a signal to use them. Polls show that between 20 and 30 million American adults believe both that the 2020 election was stolen from Mr. Trump and that violence is justified to return him to the presidency.

In the weeks before the November, 2016, U.S. election, I talked to several experts to gauge the danger of a Trump presidency. I recently consulted them again. While in 2016 they were alarmed, this last month most were utterly dismayed. All told me the U.S. political situation has deteriorated sharply since last year’s attack on Capitol Hill.

Jack Goldstone, a political sociologist at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., and a leading authority on the causes of state breakdown and revolution, told me that since 2016 we’ve learned that early optimism about the resilience of U.S. democracy was based on two false assumptions: “First, that American institutions would be strong enough to easily withstand efforts to subvert them; and second, that the vast majority of people will act rationally and be drawn to the political centre, so that it’s impossible for extremist groups to take over.”

But especially after the 2020 election, Dr. Goldstone said, we’ve seen that core institutions – from the Justice Department to county election boards – are susceptible to pressure. They’ve barely held firm. “We’ve also learned that the reasonable majority can be frightened and silenced if caught between extremes, while many others can be captured by mass delusions.” And to his surprise “moderate GOP leaders have either been forced out of the party or acquiesced to a party leadership that embraces lies and anti-democratic actions.”

Mr. Trump’s electoral loss has energized the Republican base and further radicalized young party members. Even without their concerted efforts to torque the machinery of the electoral system, Republicans will probably take control of both the House of Representatives and Senate this coming November, because the incumbent party generally fares poorly in mid-term elections. Republicans could easily score a massive victory, with voters ground down by the pandemic, angry about inflation, and tired of President Joe Biden bumbling from one crisis to another. Voters who identify as Independents are already migrating toward Republican candidates.

Once Republicans control Congress, Democrats will lose control of the national political agenda, giving Mr. Trump a clear shot at recapturing the presidency in 2024. And once in office, he will have only two objectives: vindication and vengeance.

A U.S. civil-military expert and senior federal appointee I consulted noted that a re-elected president Trump could be totally unconstrained, nationally and internationally.

A crucial factor determining how much constraint he faces will be the response of the U.S. military, a bulwark institution ardently committed to defending the Constitution. During the first Trump administration, members of the military repeatedly resisted the president’s authoritarian impulses and tried to anticipate and corral his rogue behaviour – most notably when Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley, shortly after the Capitol insurrection, ordered military officials to include him in any decision process involving the use of military force.

But in a second Trump administration, this expert suggested, the bulwark could crumble. By replacing the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs with lackeys and sycophants, he could so infiltrate the Department with his people that he’ll be able to bend it to his will.

After four years of Mr. Trump’s bedlam, the U.S. under Mr. Biden has been comparatively calm. Politics in the U.S. seems to have stabilized.

But absolutely nothing has stabilized in America. The country’s problems are systemic and deeply entrenched – and events could soon spiral out of control.

The experts I consulted described a range of possible outcomes if Mr. Trump returns to power, none benign. They cited particular countries and political regimes to illustrate where he might take the U.S.: Viktor Orban’s Hungary, with its coercive legal apparatus of “illiberal democracy”; Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil, with its chronic social distemper and administrative dysfunction; or Vladimir Putin’s Russia, with its harsh one-man hyper-nationalist autocracy. All agreed that under a second Trump administration, liberalism will be marginalized and right-wing Christian groups super-empowered, while violence by vigilante, paramilitary groups will rise sharply.

Looking further down the road, some think that authority in American federalism is so disjointed and diffuse that Mr. Trump, especially given his manifest managerial incompetence, will never be able to achieve full authoritarian control. Others believe the pendulum will ultimately swing back to the Democrats when Republican mistakes accumulate, or that the radicalized Republican base – so fanatically loyal to Mr. Trump – can’t grow larger and will dissipate when its hero leaves the stage.

One can hope for these outcomes, because there are far worse scenarios. Something resembling civil war is one. Many pathways could take the country there – some described in Stephen Marche’s new book The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future. The most plausible start with a disputed 2024 presidential election. Perhaps Democrats squeak out a victory, and Republican states refuse to recognize the result. Or conversely, perhaps Republicans win, but only because Republican state legislatures override voting results; then Democratic protestors attack those legislatures. In either circumstance, much will depend on whether the country’s military splits along partisan lines.

But there’s another political regime, a historical one, that may portend an even more dire future for the U.S.: the Weimar Republic. The situation in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s was of course sui generis; in particular, the country had experienced staggering traumas – defeat in war, internal revolution and hyperinflation – while the country’s commitment to liberal democracy was weakly rooted in its culture. But as I read a history of the doomed republic this past summer, I tallied no fewer than five unnerving parallels with the current U.S. situation.

First, in both cases, a charismatic leader was able to unify right-wing extremists around a political program to seize the state. Second, a bald falsehood about how enemies inside the polity had betrayed the country – for the Nazis, the “stab in the back,” and for Trumpists, the Big Lie – was a vital psychological tool for radicalizing and mobilizing followers. Third, conventional conservatives believed they could control and channel the charismatic leader and rising extremism but were ultimately routed by the forces they helped unleash. Fourth, ideological opponents of this rising extremism squabbled among themselves; they didn’t take the threat seriously enough, even though it was growing in plain sight; and they focused on marginal issues that were too often red meat for the extremists. (Today, think toppling statues.)

To my mind, though, the fifth parallel is the most disconcerting: the propagation of a “hardline security doctrine.” Here I’ve been influenced by the research of Jonathan Leader Maynard, a young English scholar who is emerging as one of the world’s most brilliant thinkers on the links between ideology, extremism and violence. In a forthcoming book, Ideology and Mass Killing, Dr. Leader Maynard argues that extremist right-wing ideologies generally don’t arise from explicit efforts to forge an authoritarian society, but from the radicalization of a society’s existing understandings of how it can stay safe and secure in the face of alleged threats.

Hardline conceptions of security are “radicalized versions of familiar claims about threat, self-defence, punishment, war, and duty,” he writes. They are the foundation on which regimes organize campaigns of violent persecution and terror. People he calls “hardliners” believe the world contains many “dangerous enemies that frequently operate in and through purported ‘civilian’ groups.” Hardliners increasingly dominate Trumpist circles now.

Dr. Leader Maynard then makes a complementary argument: Once a hardline doctrine is widely accepted within a political movement, it becomes an “infrastructure” of ideas and incentives that can pressure even those who don’t really accept the doctrine into following its dictates. Fear of “true believers” shifts the behaviour of the movement’s moderates toward extremism. Sure enough, the experts I recently consulted all spoke about how fear of crossing Mr. Trump’s base – including fear for their families’ physical safety – was forcing otherwise sensible Republicans to fall into line.

The rapid propagation of hardline security doctrines through a society, Dr. Leader Maynard says, typically occurs in times of political and economic crisis. Even in the Weimar Republic, the vote for the National Socialists was closely correlated with the unemployment rate. The Nazis were in trouble (with their share of the vote falling and the party beset by internal disputes) as late as 1927, before the German economy started to contract. Then, of course, the Depression hit. The United States today is in the midst of crisis – caused by the pandemic, obviously – but it could experience far worse before long: perhaps a war with Russia, Iran or China, or a financial crisis when economic bubbles caused by excessive liquidity burst.

Beyond a certain threshold, other new research shows, political extremism feeds on itself, pushing polarization toward an irreversible tipping point. This suggests a sixth potential parallel with Weimar: democratic collapse followed by the consolidation of dictatorship. Mr. Trump may be just a warm-up act – someone ideal to bring about the first stage, but not the second. Returning to office, he’ll be the wrecking ball that demolishes democracy, but the process will produce a political and social shambles. Still, through targeted harassment and dismissal, he’ll be able to thin the ranks of his movement’s opponents within the state – the bureaucrats, officials and technocrats who oversee the non-partisan functioning of core institutions and abide by the rule of law. Then the stage will be set for a more managerially competent ruler, after Mr. Trump, to bring order to the chaos he’s created.

A terrible storm is coming from the south, and Canada is woefully unprepared. Over the past year we’ve turned our attention inward, distracted by the challenges of COVID-19, reconciliation, and the accelerating effects of climate change. But now we must focus on the urgent problem of what to do about the likely unravelling of democracy in the United States.

We need to start by fully recognizing the magnitude of the danger. If Mr. Trump is re-elected, even under the more-optimistic scenarios the economic and political risks to our country will be innumerable. Driven by aggressive, reactive nationalism, Mr. Trump “could isolate Canada continentally,” as one of my interlocutors put it euphemistically.

Under the less-optimistic scenarios, the risks to our country in their cumulative effect could easily be existential, far greater than any in our federation’s history. What happens, for instance, if high-profile political refugees fleeing persecution arrive in our country, and the U.S. regime demands them back. Do we comply?

In this context, it’s worth noting the words of Dmitry Muratov, the courageous Russian journalist who remains one of the few independent voices standing up to Mr. Putin and who just received the Nobel Prize for Peace. At a news conference after the awards ceremony in Oslo, as Russian troops and armour were massing on Ukraine’s borders, Mr. Muratov spoke of the iron link between authoritarianism and war. “Disbelief in democracy means that the countries that have abandoned it will get a dictator,” he said. “And where there is a dictatorship, there is a war. If we refuse democracy, we agree to war.”

Canada is not powerless in the face of these forces, at least not yet. Among other things, over three-quarters of a million Canadian emigrants live in the United States – many highly placed and influential – and together they’re a mass of people who could appreciably tilt the outcome of coming elections and the broader dynamics of the country’s political process.

But here’s my key recommendation: The Prime Minister should immediately convene a standing, non-partisan Parliamentary committee with representatives from the five sitting parties, all with full security clearances. It should be understood that this committee will continue to operate in coming years, regardless of changes in federal government. It should receive regular intelligence analyses and briefings by Canadian experts on political and social developments in the United States and their implications for democratic failure there. And it should be charged with providing the federal government with continuing, specific guidance as to how to prepare for and respond to that failure, should it occur.

If hope is to be a motivator and not a crutch, it needs to be honest and not false. It needs to be anchored in a realistic, evidence-based understanding of the dangers we face and a clear vision of how to get past those dangers to a good future. Canada is itself flawed, but it’s still one of the most remarkably just and prosperous societies in human history. It must rise to this challenge.

Thomas Homer-Dixon is executive director of the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University. His latest book is Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril.

  Read The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare

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