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ISIS to U.S.: It’s on

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 5:54 pm - November 14, 2014.
Filed under: Economy,Iraq,National Security

As noted today on Zero Hedge and The Telegraph, ISIS has released some details of its plans for a gold-backed currency:

What does this mean? As I’ve tried to explain before, the U.S. dollar has been the center of world trade and finance since the end of WW2. Oil, among other things, has been traded in dollars. So other countries need dollars (e.g., before they can buy oil). When they invest in bonds, they also like U.S. Treasury bonds.

All that has let the U.S. get away with running large deficits (both trade deficit and fiscal deficit). Other countries send us real goods in exchange for our paper (or electronic) dollars and Treasury bonds. That is why Walmart and Target have been able to supply cheap goods to Americans, all these years.

ISIS is saying, forget that! ISIS will exclude the dollar from its own financial system, and probably from its dealings with other countries. Remember, if these guys are successful, they will sell (or control) a lot of oil. If successful, they will be wealthy and important. Now they’re saying that their financial system will be founded on precious metals – i.e., NOT on the U.S. dollar or the U.S. Treasury bond. I feel certain that, if they aren’t doing so already, ISIS will also be trading oil only in non-U.S. currencies like the Euro or yen, and/or in gold.

If ISIS succeeds as a country, then, it’s another step in the world’s process of “de-dollarization”, or removing the U.S. dollar as the centerpiece of the world system. Although it is arguably an understandable and well-justified act, it is not a friendly act: ISIS is taking aim at (what they perceive to be) the heart of U.S. prosperity and power in the world.

I expect that the alarm bells in Washington are ringing a bit louder. At a minimum, look for President Obama to escalate his rhetoric against ISIS, with bipartisan support. (Which will mean, in the Democrats’ case, going against their own anti-U.S. / pro-Islam instincts; but they will.)

Too clever for anyone’s good

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 9:45 am - October 17, 2014.
Filed under: Bush-hatred,Iraq,National Security,Republican Embarrassments

To follow up on V’s post about chemical weapons found in Iraq: Guess Who, in the Bush administration, didn’t want anyone talking about the weapons?

Theories vary, but according to Eli Lake’s article, it would have been Karl Rove:

Starting in 2004, some members of the George W. Bush administration and Republican lawmakers began to find evidence of discarded chemical weapons in Iraq. But when the information was brought up with the White House, senior adviser Karl Rove told them to “let these sleeping dogs lie.”

The issue of Iraq’s WMD remnants was suddenly thrust back into the fore this week, with a blockbuster New York Times report accusing the Bush administration of covering up American troops’ chemically induced wounds…

Dave Wurmser—who served at the time as a senior adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney on national-security issues—remembers…“In 2005-6, Karl Rove and his team blocked public disclosure of these findings and said, ‘Let these sleeping dogs lie; we have lost that fight so better not to remind anyone of it.’”

Rove’s reasons make sense. Except they don’t.

It’s true that a lot of politics is about Controlling The Narrative, and you want people talking about the narratives that work for your side. So you talk up the narratives that do, and you shut up about the ones that don’t. It is sometimes called “message discipline” or “staying on message”.

Except in one important case: WHEN YOU’VE BEEN LIED ABOUT. When someone (the Left) has lied about your integrity or key issue maliciously, you don’t pass up chances to air the exculpatory evidence – also known as The Truth – which will expose your opponents as liars. Especially when those chances to air the truth aren’t going to cost you much.

If Lake’s story is accurate, Rove was so clever about Controlling The Narrative that he lost sight of the most important narrative of all: Spreading the truth. Getting the real story out.

Rove may also have lost sight of the next most important narrative, Obeying the law:

After the U.S. found thousands of the old chemical-weapons shells, Wurmser and others at one point argued that they had an obligation to declare the stocks of chemical weapons under the Chemical Weapons Convention and destroy them. The United States was, after all, the occupier of Iraq and had assumed the country’s sovereign responsibilities as a signatory to the convention.

“It was all for nothing; Rove wanted the issue buried,” Wurmser said.

The law being the Chemical Weapons Convention, in this case.

I should acknowledge here that, if Lake’s story is accurate, then the rise of ISIS isn’t 100% the Obama administration’s fault. Oh yes, it’s largely their fault: the Obama administration was quite negligent in letting the Islamists in Iraq make a comeback. But apparently, the Bush administration may have been negligent in its failure to declare-and-destroy Saddam’s WMD stockpiles.

What to make of these items?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 11:54 am - October 10, 2014.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Media Bias,National Security

I come across items from time to time, of which I don’t know what to make. Conspiracy theorists make something of them. Not tending to be one, I file them in the back of my mind and await more information.

The latest is, a prominent German journalist discussing how intelligence agencies manage the media, whether by perks, bribes, help in writing stories (which are thus ‘planted’ stories), or harassment and retaliation on journalists who don’t co-operate. The implication is that our biased media is managed, not only by the political Left, but by the U.S. and other governments.

Another is this year’s spate of deaths among mid-level bankers (previously mentioned here). Most of them are officially suicides, but it’s an odd cluster; the more so as the last few years have been great for the financial sector. Whether these deaths are murders (to cover up something) or genuine suicides by the despondent, either way they would suggest a banking system much worse off than is generally believed.

Finally, there’s this chart:

The first implication is that, while the Taliban’s rule of Afghanistan in 2001 was repressive, at least they shut down heroin production. The darker-minded might also suggest that wealthy narcotics interests (and by extension, banking interests?) were particularly offended by the Taliban and eager to see them go. Which, if true, could make Afghanistan at least partly (apart from the al Qaeda/9-11 aspect) a modern-day Opium War.

P.S. If you want to help make sense of any of these in the comments, be my guest!

Wait…Who underestimated ISIS?

Obama says US ‘underestimated’ rise of ISIS, admits ‘contradictory’ Syria policy:

President Obama acknowledged Sunday that U.S. intelligence officials “underestimated” the threat posed by the Islamic State and overestimated the Iraqi army’s capacity to defeat the militant group…

Let’s be clear: Officials who were chosen and supported by Obama. The administration of Barack Hussein Obama underestimated ISIS.

Or else, we can make this entry #39,422 in the files of “Obama pretends that he hasn’t been president all these years”. In the interview, Obama goes on to also blame Iraq’s PM al-Maliki for the problems; never himself.

One more thing. Does Obama still have the U.S. backing the world’s evil dictators? It seems so:

Obama also acknowledged that the U.S. is dealing with a conundrum in Syria, as the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State is helping Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom the U.N. has accused of war crimes.

“I recognize the contradiction in a contradictory land and a contradictory circumstance,” Obama said…

Bush practically would have been impeached, for saying that. (And Bush wouldn’t have said it because Bush did what he could, to push U.S. policy in the direction of overthrowing the world’s evil dictators.)

One more thing. Has Obama made it a thing of the past, that the U.S. might strike its enemies pre-emptively (or perhaps unilaterally, as the Left calls it)? Not so much:

Obama called the threat from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and other terror groups a more “immediate concern that has to be dealt with…” “…in terms of immediate threats to the United States, ISIL, Khorasan Group — those folks could kill Americans,” he said…

Both groups have been targeted by U.S. airstrikes in recent days…

Barack Obama: Just what the Left always *accused* Bush of being. And of course, the media lets him get away with it.

UPDATE: Some Democrats agree that it was the Obama White House, more than the U.S. intelligence community, which underestimated ISIS.

Former Rear Admiral Joe Sestak, a two-term Democratic member of the House of Representatives…appeared to surprise his MSNBC interlocutor when he noted that the only people who got ISIS wrong work in the Obama administration.

“If you remember back in January and February, the head — the general, the Defense Intelligence Agency, actually testified before the House and Senate that in 2014, ISIS would take over large swaths of territory,” the Navy veteran asserted. “In fact, at the time he testified, they had already seized Ramadi and Fallujah — 35 miles from Baghdad.”

A decade ago, Fallujah was a crucial victory for the Marines (some of whom gave their lives) against an earlier version of ISIS. I guess Obama threw it back.

UPDATE: A report that Obama was warned about ISIS in 2012. As Ed Morrissey puts it:

…the US intelligence community told him of the danger at the same time Obama ridiculed Mitt Romney during the presidential debates…for wanting a residual force in Iraq to prevent exactly what Romney warned would happen.

Update: China-Russia’s open dollar bypass

While China, Russia and Iran may not be natural allies, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and they’re getting together to oppose the U.S. I’ve suggested before that President Obama’s efforts to isolate Russia are only goading these countries in their ongoing efforts to create a non-U.S. system for world trade and finance, a system that other countries (Germany, other BRICs, etc.) would come to do business with. Eventually bringing about the decline (or overthrow) of the U.S. dollar as the world’s key currency.

For my earlier posts on this, see here, here, here, here and here. The last was six weeks ago. What’s happened since?

The non-U.S. dominated world: bit by bit, it’s coming.

Hat tip to Zero Hedge, which has long covered this story and furnished several of the above links.

Obama administration blows a CIA station chief’s cover

Recall how in 2003, a massive scandal erupted when Richard Armitage, a State Department official under then-Secretary Colin Powell, happened to leak Valerie Plame’s name to a journalist. Plame was a CIA Stateside employee (arguably NOT under cover). Armitage was basically gossiping, and he never underwent any prosecution because it was no big deal. Except, of course, the Left/media had a field day pushing the scandal complete with the darkest possible allegations against President Bush, lionization of Plame and her partisan-liar of a husband, a federal prosecutor and a ‘gotcha’ conviction of Scooter Libby (a Bush staffer who was not the key leaker; Armitage was).

Recently, the White House leaked the name of a top CIA officer in Kabul, Afghanistan. His name was really a secret. He does serve abroad (and in a danger zone), and he is endangered by the leak. As the Washington Post puts it:

The Post is withholding the name of the CIA officer at the request of Obama administration officials who warned that the officer and his family could be at risk if the name were published…

The CIA officer was one of 15 senior U.S. officials identified as taking part in a military briefing for Obama…Their names were included on a list…circulated by e-mail to reporters…

It is unclear whether the disclosure will force the CIA to pull the officer out of Afghanistan…The identities of at least three CIA station chiefs in Pakistan have been exposed in recent years. In one case, a CIA officer became a target of death threats after his cover was blown, forcing the agency to rush him out of the country.

Should we expect any big scandal, Left/media outrage, federal prosecutors or trumped-up convictions over this?

Views of Edward Snowden

Hillary thinks he’s a traitor. She recently said:

When he emerged and when he absconded with all that material, I was puzzled because we have all these protections for whistle-blowers. If he were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate, he could have been…It’s sort of odd that he would flee…I don’t understand why he couldn’t have been part of the debate here at home. He could have quit, he could have taken whistleblower protection…

But to high school kids, he’s a hero:

[GWU admissions officer] Freitag skimmed the extracurriculars, read the first essay, rated it good. GW also asks students to list a role model and two words to describe themselves. As for herself, Freitag said, she would list “Martha Stewart/Tina Fey” and “sassy/classy.” This year, she’s seeing a lot of Edward Snowden citations.

So whose view is right? Hillary’s, or the schoolkids’?

I must say this much: I don’t believe Hillary for one second when she talks about “whistleblower protections”, like she always honors them. I think that Snowden may have been right to fear for his life (not only his freedom), if should stay in the U.S. and try to play that game. And after seeing the U.S. government grow hideously out-of-control in the last 6-8 years, I would rather know about the NSA spying, than not.

So, on present information, I think it’s possible for Snowden to be both traitor (on foreign payroll?) and hero.

UPDATE: Meant to blog on these items sooner. They speak to the losses of liberty and privacy that we have suffered, in the last few years.

The Ukraine crisis – and the dollar’s decline

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 11:18 am - April 14, 2014.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Economy,National Security,Obama Incompetence

We know the Ukraine crisis is hot, with Ukraine and Russia accusing each other of terrorism and east Ukraine basically expecting a Russian invasion. But what interests me is the larger backdrop: the erosion of the U.S. dollar as the world “reserve currency” (or centerpiece of global finance and trade).

You see, the more President Obama tries to isolate Putin, the more he pushes Russia and its trading partners – such as China, India, Germany, Iran – to speed their efforts to integrate their economies and financial systems, to the exclusion of the U.S.

Consider the following news items. None are earth-shattering, but each reveals a bit of the picture.

So, Russia annexing territory (the Crimea) is not really a big deal to Washington; it triggers token U.S. sanctions. But Russia trading with its own neighbor (Iran), in a way that bypasses the dollar-based financial system and thus the U.S. ability to eject little countries from world trade – that gets Washington’s attention. That tells you where the sore spot is.

To continue:

Do you see where this is going? Not toward Russia being isolated. Maybe, in time, toward the U.S. being isolated.

UPDATE: Ordinary Russians are only annoyed, not frightened, by U.S. sanctions.

Sunday cartoon

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 4:42 pm - April 13, 2014.
Filed under: cartoons,Democrat incompetence,National Security

Kerry the Magician:

U.S influence goes Poof

Courtesy of ZH.

The dollar’s removal proceeds apace

Like aging, the overthrow of the U.S. dollar (as the key world currency) is a gradual process. In the last month, I’ve blogged on Russia as a U.S. financial opponent, growing ties among the BRICS nations, and growing Germany-China ties, all tending toward the decline (or eventual elimination) of the dollar from those countries’ relationships with each other.

Today it’s growing Russia-Iran ties (that remove the U.S. dollar from their partnership):

(Reuters) – Iran and Russia have made progress towards an oil-for-goods deal sources said would be worth up to $20 billion, which would enable Tehran to boost vital energy exports in defiance of Western sanctions, people familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.

In January Reuters reported Moscow and Tehran were discussing a barter deal that would see Moscow buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods…

[A] source said the two sides were looking at a barter arrangement that would see Iranian oil being exchanged for industrial goods including metals and food…

The Iranian official said missiles would also be part of the deal, together with Russia providing assistance with building two nuclear plants in Iran…

Missiles? Yikes! But this is what you can expect, with Jimmy Carter President Obama at the helm. He should have assisted Iran’s (aborted) Green Revolution back in 2009-10, when he had the chance.

Hat tip, ZH.

As Russia and China Flex Their Muscles, Obama Guts the US Military

Posted by V the K at 6:21 pm - March 24, 2014.
Filed under: National Security

Russia is well-along in its plan of gobbling up Ukraine and its plan to deploy bombers and warships in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. And East Asia in 2014 looks more and more like Europe in 1914, with China in the role of Germany (rising power), Japan in the role of Great Britain (declining power), and the Koreas in the role of Austria-Hungary (just one crazy event away from igniting the whole powderkeg).

And what is Obama doing? Gutting the American military to Great Depression levels.  The latest budget also eliminates three of the military’s most vital weapons systems — the A-10 Warthog attack fighter, the Hellfire missile, and the Tomahawk missile.

The cost of the Tomhawk missile program is less than $200 million per year. In perspective, that cost is less than 1/3 the cost of the hopeless Obamacare website. It is less than the cost of two foreign vacations for Michelle Obama. It is less than half the amount of money that was flushed into Solyndra. It is less than half of the taxpayer dollars given to Planned Parenthood every year.

There can be no doubt that the despicable man in the White House is bound and determined to reduce the United States to a bankrupt, ineffectual, third-rate power. And the Congress will do nothing to stop him. We have in this country a “Let it burn” Congress and a pyromaniac in the White House.

This will not end well.

Related (from Jeff): A legitimate question, What would a Republican president do about Ukraine? “At this point, the GOP is split among hawks, realists and libertarians.”

How the wheel turns!

We’ve gone from liberals who’d make fun of former GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney (on Russia), to…well…Russians openly mocking President Obama.

Now being remembered, a typical example of liberals who made fun of Romney:

Arianna Huffington
@ariannahuff

So I guess if Romney is elected we can get ready for a new cold war with Russia.
#justwhatweneed
8/31/12, 8:56AM

Romney got in his (well-justified) “I told you so” last weekend:

Why, across the world, are America’s hands so tied?

A large part of the answer is our leader’s terrible timing. In virtually every foreign-affairs crisis we have faced these past five years, there was a point when America had good choices and good options. There was a juncture when America had the potential to influence events. But we failed to act at the propitious point; that moment having passed, we were left without acceptable options….

Meanwhile, Obama’s sanctions on a few individual Russians, and calls to try to make their stock market go down and stuff, have provoked their contempt:

“The US and EU sanctions against Russia are absurd and unreal,” State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Deputy Chairman Alexander Romanovich told Itar-Tass…“This is an operetta, and we can only laugh…”

Ordinary Russians are none too impressed, either.

UPDATE: Russia and China drawing closer together. “The worse Russia’s relations are with the West, the closer Russia will want to be to China. If China supports you, no one can say you’re isolated.” It’s just like Obama, to not get that.

New lingo for you: BRICS Development Bank

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 2:56 am - March 16, 2014.
Filed under: Anti-Americanism Abroad,Economy,National Security

Did you know that since 2009, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) have had a summit each year where, basically, they plot a new world financial system with a greatly reduced role for the West, and the U.S. dollar?

This will be a long explanation. I’ll keep it as neutral as I can (not expressing outrage in any direction).

The dollar is (or has been) the chief currency of international trade and finance. The international oil trade, for example, is settled almost entirely in dollars. This is part of why America has gotten away with decades of trade deficits.

A trade deficit means, among other things, that other countries want to give us real goods (produced by their workers) in exchange for our paper money. That’s intuitively unfair; it gives us extra goods from other countries’ production. Why would other countries do it? Because, up to now, they’ve liked getting the dollars. They have wanted to have dollars in their back pocket (say for buying oil, etc.).

And that’s part of the reason (just one part!) why U.S. inflation statistics have stayed moderate, in the face of the Federal Reserve’s policy of massive “QE” or money-printing. Other countries have absorbed some of our excess dollars. To the extent that such a country wants to keep its currency’s value in line with the (declining) dollar, it must create more of its own money, sort of matching its dollar inflows. That inflicts inflation on its people. In effect, the U.S. has been able to export inflation to other countries.

It’s a cushy arrangement for the parts of the U.S. that live off the Fed’s money-creating machine (or get effectively bailed out by it). In other words: cushy for the U.S. Big Government – Big Banking complex.

Those Americans who know about it, often take it for granted. They’ll say things like “Oh, of course we can get away with it. The dollar is too entrenched for other countries to get rid of it. Of course other countries want our dollar, and they will keep wanting it, no matter if we keep over-printing it.”

But history shows that no country stays at the center of world trade and finance (enjoying exorbitant privileges) for more than 50-80 years. This post is about the fact that America is, in historical terms, nearing the end of its run.

The first BRIC summit was in 2009. As The Guardian puts it:

…Brazil, Russia, India and China expressed mounting dissatisfaction with the inertia in [current world financial] institutions (the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) and agreed to “advance the reform of international financial institutions, so as to reflect changes in the global economy.” Russia’s president, Dmitri Medvedev, said the main point of the meeting was to show that “the Bric should create conditions for a more just world order.”

“A more just world order.” Get it?

It’s code for knocking down Western influence, including the U.S. dollar. Thus ending the privileges just described; the privilege of the U.S. endlessly bailing itself out by creating new money and then exporting the inflation (or some of it) to other countries via trade deficits, which give Americans cheap foreign goods. Or the privilege (for Europe) of an IMF that bails out profligate European countries, such as Greece, and helps buy Ukrainian revolutions on Russia’s doorstep.

The BRICS countries know they can’t change things overnight. But each year, they move the ball forward a little. Last year’s summit (2013) saw an announcement that they would create a BRICS Development Bank, designed to duplicate the functions of the IMF and World Bank on the BRICS’ terms. The 2014 summit should see the announcement of some progress. For example, in September, they agreed on how the bank should be capitalized at $100 billion.

Some Westerners think the duplication-of-effort is stupid (for example, see Laurson and Pieler, at Forbes). Or they scratch their head over why it’s happening and whether the 5 BRICS countries will keep it together. Such criticisms miss the point.

The point is that the IMF and World Bank serve Western interests; and the BRICS countries, who are the up-and-coming powers, are tired of it. They will create duplicate institutions in some form, so as to be able to leave the Western-oriented ones or at least bypass them. Not surprisingly, non-Western observers get it.

We are moving to a world which increasingly rejects Western influence, especially American financial and political influence. For example, last October, Chinese media openly called for a “de-Americanized world”.

I blame 20 years of bad U.S. policies which have debauched the dollar, abandoned freedom, and given America a phony economy of endless deficits and debts, welfare, bubbles and bailouts. Policies which President Obama has obstinately made much worse. But however that might be, the “de-Americanized world” is coming. It is no surprise to see India and China tilting Russian in the Ukraine crisis.

In the bigger picture, it will mean foreigners needing a lot fewer U.S. dollars. When that happens, America’s inflationary chickens will come home to roost. As foreigners return their dollars to America in contempt, we won’t be able to run trade deficits anymore, and the dollar’s international buying power will go down. The cost of imported goods will skyrocket, and U.S. inflation with them. America will face some tough times.

Potluck

These items have been all over, and deserve to be noticed here at GayPatriot.

Liberal bias, in media & academia? Why, yes.

More people seeing that the Emperor Has No Clothes? Thankfully, yes.

  • Obama is under water on the Ukraine crisis. 42% approve his handling, 43% disapprove.
  • While a bipartisan majority support sanctions against Russia, they’re mainly older people, because younger people say no. Among the Obama-voting 35-and-under, 55% are against it.

IRS / Tea Party scandal as real as ever? Yup.

  • Great, daily coverage at TaxProf Blog.
  • Yes, Lerner targeted the Tea Party, and even what she called “organizations woven by the fabulously rich and hugely influential Koch brothers”. More Koch Derangement Syndrome. Some people are on too much Koch!
  • Lerner continued last week to plead the 5th. The IRS will give up all her emails, supposedly; I put it that way because enough time has passed that only God knows what they may have scrubbed.

FROM THE (OTHER) COMMENTS: In the other Koch Derangement Syndrome thread, some fine comments are relevant here.

  • runningrn says “The Koch brothers didn’t even crack the top 10 when it came to the top political donors. In fact they are way the heck down the list at number 59…The 6 biggest union donors in American politics gave 15 times more to mostly Democrats…”
  • And Annie gives us the WSJ link.

One should ask why the IRS doesn’t target all that union money? Or target, to coin a phrase, “organizations woven by the fabulously rich and hugely influential George Soros”?

AND SOME FOLLOW-UPS:

  • Rep. Alan Grayson (D – FL) won’t be charged after allegations that he physically abused his wife. GP talked about it here. The video evidence – which was incomplete (having gaps in it) – did not support Lolita Carson-Grayson’s story. Nonetheless, a judge granted her a restraining order against Rep. Grayson. We’re still waiting for the new feminist campaign, “I BELIEVE YOU, LOLITA!”
  • Gary Lyngar answers his son, who had made a splash by claiming “I lost my dad to Fox News”. Hint: The son was about as real and honest with us as you’d expect from a writer who whines about his parent’s politics. As the elder Mr. Lyngar puts it, his son was “dead wrong” and “a lot of it’s his perception of what’s going on and not reality”.

Did the U.S. seek trouble in Ukraine?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 2:02 pm - March 9, 2014.
Filed under: National Security,Obama Incompetence

To be clear: Putin is a tyrant, and I condemn him. I condemn Russia’s military actions against Ukraine, and I support the people of Ukraine in being free and determining their own government. (Should it still be called the Ukraine, in English? Some say no.)

Having said that: As human beings, Obama and Kerry tend to be hypocrites who overplay their hands. And they strike me as surprised that Putin has offered military resistance to their wishes in the Ukraine crisis. Which raises the question: What are their real wishes? Did U.S. agencies organize the most recent Ukrainian revolution?

If so, the U.S. security apparatus would have motive in plenty. Russia supplies Europe’s oil and gas via pipelines that go through Ukraine. Putting those pipelines under control of an anti-Putin, anti-Russia government would be payback for a lot of Russian moves, not limited to Russia’s harboring of Edward Snowden (of the NSA surveillance revelations).

As to evidence of U.S. meddling: first, the Voice of Russia claims to have revelations about it, including a story that Ukrainian protestors had been murdered by their new government as a ‘false flag’ operation to foment the revolution. But Voice of Russia isn’t good enough. After all, the KGB (Putin’s first career) specialized in putting out disinformation. Is there other evidence?

In February, the Financial Times leaked a phone conversation allegedly between US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland and the US envoy to Ukraine (Geoffrey Pyatt) wherein they explicitly plan who will be in Ukraine’s next government. The ZH link provides audio; the Nuland voice famously says “F**k the EU”, near the end.

That’s still not hard evidence, because Nuland/Pyatt might have been fantasizing or delusional about the extent of their influence. Overall, although motive abounds for the U.S. to have brought about the Ukraine revolution, the evidence for it is still weak.

Regardless of the answer here, my feelings are mixed. It would be nifty if President Obama really cared about promoting freedom in Ukraine and/or U.S. interests, especially after he failed to support them in Iran’s aborted Green revolution of 2009-10. On the other hand, I’m against murdering protestors; and the U.S. shouldn’t be making trouble on Russia’s doorstep without a very compelling U.S. security interest. It would be just like Obama to overplay his hand with something like that. Containing Putin is one thing; aggressive (and losing) games of brinksmanship with Putin are another.

Speaking of the U.S. possibly losing the game: Russia is keeping up the the financial threats I mentioned a few days ago. Russia’s foreign minister, Lavrov, affirms that sanctions would “hit the U.S. like a boomerang”. And yes, China is siding with Russia against Obama’s threat of sanctions (so China may join Russia in dumping U.S. Treasury bonds). FWIW, India also seems to lean toward Russia. It is not at all clear that, in a diplomatic contest between Obama and Putin, Putin would be the one who ends up isolated.

Obama in Fantasyland, summed up

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 10:37 pm - March 8, 2014.
Filed under: National Security,Obama Incompetence,War On Terror

From Stephen F. Hayes:

For five years, the Obama administration has chosen to see the world as they wish it to be, not as it is. In this fantasy world, the attack in Fort Hood is “workplace violence.” The Christmas Day bomber is an “isolated extremist.” The attempted bombing in Times Square is a “one-off” attack. The attacks in Benghazi are a “spontaneous” reaction to a YouTube video. Al Qaeda is on the run. Bashar al-Assad is a “reformer.” The Iranian regime can be sweet-talked out of its nuclear weapons program. And Vladimir Putin is a new, post-Cold War Russian leader.

In the real world, it was a pen pal of the late jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki who opened fire on soldiers at Fort Hood. The Christmas bomber was dispatched from Yemen, where he was instructed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Times Square bomber was trained and financed by the Pakistani Taliban. Benghazi was a deliberate attack launched by well-known terrorist groups. Al Qaeda is amassing territory and increasing its profile. Assad is a brutal dictator, responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 Syrians. The Iranian regime is firmly entrenched as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror and remains determined to lead a nuclear state. And in Russia we face a Cold War throwback willing to use force to expand Russian influence.

And Vladimir Putin, it turns out, is who we thought he was. Unfortunately, so is Barack Obama.

Russia threatens financial retaliation if Obama proceeds with sanctions

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 3:25 pm - March 4, 2014.
Filed under: Economy,National Security,Obama Incompetence

I’m amazed to see financial threats being made this openly. Like real military threats, real financial threats are usually made via backchannels. But, then again, President Obama has threatened Russia openly with sanctions.

MOSCOW, March 4 (RIA Novosti) – An adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that authorities would issue general advice to dump US government bonds in the event of Russian companies and individuals being targeted by sanctions over events in Ukraine.

Sergei Glazyev said the United States would be the first to suffer in the event of any sanctions regime…

Glazyev noted that Russia is a creditor to the United States.

“We hold a decent amount of treasury bonds – more than $200 billion – and if the United States dares to freeze accounts of Russian businesses and citizens, we can no longer view America as a reliable partner,” he said. “We will encourage everybody to dump US Treasury bonds, get rid of dollars as an unreliable currency and leave the US market.”

Is it just bluster? As recently as last year, the answer would be yes. But China holds approximately $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds; and if Russia ‘goes there’, China will not want to be left behind.

And for several years now, China has been working with its partners (including Russia, Japan, Brazil, the UK, France and Germany) to set up facilities for trade & finance that would enable them, collectively and at long last, to be independent of the U.S. dollar. Even before this crisis, some experts were predicting that 2014-15 would see those efforts bear fruit.

Leave it to John F.-n Kerry and Barack Obama to be just stupid enough to push Russia and China further along a road that they are already well-and-gladly on.

Russia’s threat also comes via its Foreign Ministry: (more…)

Obama in Fantasyland

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 9:13 pm - March 3, 2014.
Filed under: National Security,Obama Incompetence

V picked up on the Obama Fantasy aspect of the Ukraine crisis earlier; consider this part 2.

President Obama thinks he can hit Russia with economic sanctions but, as they did last summer in the Syria crisis, Britain is siding with Russia for practical purposes.

Of course the Telegraph article tries to make it sound nice, in the lede:

Britain is preparing to rule out trade sanctions against Russia amid fears that the Ukraine crisis could derail the global economic recovery.

Further down is the truth:

…the capacity of European leaders to react decisively has been hampered by the dependence of much of the European Union on Russian oil and gas…

On Monday, Mr Obama…said he had warned Russia that if it continued on its “current trajectory”, it would face “a whole series” of economic and diplomatic steps that would leave it isolated.

However, there was little sign that the increased pressure was doing anything to deter Mr Putin…

It is not a foregone conclusion that Russia is the one facing isolation. This is a measure of how much American influence has been lost on Obama’s watch.

True conspiracies?

It’s healthy to be skeptical of conspiracy theories; especially ones whose truth would require bad science, illogical motives, the implausible silence of thousands of people, etc. For example, the Rosie O’Donnell form of 9-11 Trooferism, in which absurd claims are made that fire somehow can’t melt nor weaken structural steel, that employees spanning vast security agencies of multiple nations conspired in vast deceptions, etc.

But occasionally, a conspiracy might be real, or partly so. I recently web-surfed to this interesting video from the folks at list25.com. They claim to list 25 true conspiracies.

Note: I DO NOT AGREE with, or vouch for, their entire list. For example, their item 18 (the Nayirah al-Sabah war propaganda case) specifically asserts a CIA connection that Wikipedia does not mention at all. Or their item 15 (about polio vaccine containing a cancer-inducing agent) appears to be weakly sourced.

Still, here are three of their items which were new to me – and which did seem to be supported, when I did quick Google searches for them. If true, they would be historically interesting. If untrue, please feel free to say so in the comments (hopefully with links).

25. Did the NSA in the early 1960s propose to foment war with Cuba, by means of false terrorist incidents that would kill Americans? Search for Operation Northwoods. Again, if this story is false, please let us know in the comments. ABC News reported it as true. If it was a real proposal, then President Kennedy deserves kudos for rejecting it.

24. Did technology exist, as early as the 1970s, to assassinate people ‘trace-free’? A senate.gov page says that:

At the first televised hearing [of the 1975 Church Committee]…Chairman Church dramatically displayed a CIA poison dart gun to highlight the committee’s discovery that the CIA directly violated a presidential order by maintaining stocks of shellfish toxin sufficient to kill thousands.

Some say the point was to deliver a tiny dart, and a toxin, that would decay on impact and become undetectable, after having induced a massive heart attack. I (Jeff) would add that, if the CIA had it in the 1970s, then surely others must have it in the 2000s; which must be why some people wonder about the sudden heart attack of Andrew Breitbart. (more…)

Must be that smart diplomacy about which we’ve heard tell

Screen shot 2013-10-22 at 9.42.39 AM

The article, Saudi spy chief says Riyadh to ‘shift away from U.S.’ over Syria, Iran

To be sure, the Saudis have their own problems, but if our diplomats were a bit more, shall we say, deft in the dealings with our allies, we might have been able to avoid this.

UPDATE (from Jeff): Lots of irony here. First, the article sort-of-implies that Saudi Arabia was behind Kerry and Obama’s sudden, urgent push in August for a Syria war. (Once again, the Left *is* what it accuses the Right of.) Second, if the Saudis are shifting ‘away from’ U.S. protection, the article ought to state whose protection they are shifting ‘to’. I’ll say it: either Russia or China. Which is not good. Apart from the implied failure of the U.S. to contain Iran, it brings us a step closer to the world’s eventual rejection of the U.S. dollar as the basis of international trade. Whether through policies of insane spending/deficit/debt at home, or flailing incompetence abroad (no grand scheme), Obama is getting the U.S.’ world position to unravel. “Thanks, Obama!”