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Please note: This Letters page is intended primarily for readers to comment on ATol articles or related issues. It should not be used as a forum for readers to debate with each other. The Edge is the place for that. The editors do not mind publishing one or two responses to a reader's letter, but will, at their discretion, direct debaters away from the Letters page.

We have to ask why Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the green light to his troops to penetrate IS-held Syrian territory to claim the remains of Suleyman Shah, who was was grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman empire, Osman I? Defying the toothless protests of Damascus and the threat of IS confronting Turkish troops, Ankara has scored a political point by "evacuating" the tomb of Suleiman Shah to a spot close to the Turkish border.

It seems pressure on Turkey from the US is prodding Erdogan to take a more active role in the fight against IS, such as allowing the US to use NATO air bases on Turkish soil to carpet bomb IS and ultimately closing the border to the endless stream of young Muslims rushing to fill the group's ranks.

Internally, Erdogan is facing stiffening criticism. So he is taking the standard route of buying popularity with acts of strength abroad.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Feb 24, '15)

[Re Netanyahu betrays what's best for Israel, Feb 2, '15] Kudos to Alon Ben-Meir for exposing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wrong-headed policies, which are threatening relations with the United States and isolating Israel further from the rest of the world. It would be well to remember, for those who suffer from convenient amnesia to further their own agendas, the Prime Minister has been predicting since the early 1990s, that the next year, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. This is for almost a quarter century and his predictions have proven to be false. Time and time again, his national security people have told him to stop this tall tale and his demonization of Iran and yet, he continues. Perhaps the Prime Minister knows that if he repeats a falsehood loud enough and long enough, people will believe him. Fear is a great motivator to drive people to the polls. And, in the six years as Prime Minister, by crying wolf constantly (as in nuclear armed Iran), the Prime Minister has found this also a good distraction from the hard work of making peace with the Palestinians. Then, egged on by his Republican cheerleaders and Israel-can-do-no-wrong crowd in the US, there is his audacity, and his abhorrent, shameless, self-serving attitude toward the President of the United States. No American president has done more for the security of Israel than President Obama. And should the President succeed in engaging Iran, it will make Israel more safe, not less. Surely, the Prime Minister knows this, and yet, he obsessively persists in his behavior which is endangering Israel's national security. The question must be asked: Is it not about time for the electorate in Israel to say that they treasure their special relationship with the United States and no longer care to listen to anyone who would jeopardize that relationship and with it, the national security of Israel?
Fariborz S Fatemi
McLean, VA (Feb 23, '15)

[Re STD's and strategy in Iran, Jan 30, '15], I see that Spengler is still obssessed with sex and the Iranians. Anyone else remember when he was claiming that most of the world's prostitutes were Iranian? Given his usual level of scholarship (sub-basement low), I hope no one takes this article too seriously.
Lester Ness
China (Feb 23, '15)

[Re Candid talks with North Korean officials, Feb 3, '15] Joseph R DeTrani proposes a sensible tack towards North Korea: talking with Pyongyang. And yet his boss, President Barack Obama has said he won't. In Obama's view North Korea will fall on its own, so there is no need for talks. And this is followed up by the UN special investigator on human rights calling for regime change in North Korea. So we have to wonder whether America's policy toward the DPRK has gone far off the pier not knowing where to go. Or is it a two-prong policy going in opposite directions?
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Feb 6, '15)

[Re Old Kim pins make 'currency' return, Feb 2, '15] Amid the ongoing going sport of mocking North Korea, a recent exhibit at New York's John Jay Shiva Galley on "Agitprop from North Korea" revealed a thriving collector's market of North Koreana. Like art from China's Cultural Revolution, foreigners have found a way of turning North Korean collectables into a profitable niche market. The old Kim pins are simply the latest commodity to arouse investors appetite.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Feb 2, '15)

[Re Lebensraum in Palestine, Jan 20, '15] Here we go again with the olive trees. Next will be the water, then the trained sharks that Israel unleashes on Egyptian beaches. Of course Palestinians lighting fires in Israeli forests is never commented on, in fact excused on the basis that the Jews made them do it. Then there are the Palestinian olive trees that are dug up by the Palestinians themselves so as to blame the Jews. Unfortunately, there are videos that show this idiocy, alas never to see the light of day because they are stuck firmly and permanently in the nether regions of Israel's critics.
Larry Shapiro
USA (Dec 30, '14)

[Re Charlie Hebdo and Fredou: Who's awake, who's still in bed?, Jan 16, '15] By now, it has become absolutely clear to more people that the "free press'" is the "presstitute press" (I steal that phrase).

The Charlie Hebdo "operation" was either a false flag or a real event planned and executed as reported. But does it matter which? Either would have delivered the same results: a swelling of mass approval for anti-Islam political movements throughout Europe and the continuation of reinvigorated campaigns of murder, killings, bombings, tortures, evisceration, assassinations and wars of genocidal proportions delivered to the peoples of the mid-east.

Of course, Charlie Hebdo is the quintessential example of "freedom of speech" and the "free press". So said the politicos who quickly appeared on TV reviling the "terrorists". So said the brave, objective, investigative press while exercising their freedom to be gagged, their freedom to self-censor, their freedom to be propagandists in order to retain their free seats at free press briefings held by freedom-loving officials of governments in the "free world".

Insofar as Charlie, a weekly feast of taunts, insults, degradations and provocations against Islam, I ask: If a Western newspaper were to caricature, degrade, mock, ridicule and profane Jesus Christ or Jews on a regular basis, how many would justify it on the grounds of "free speech" and "freedom of the press" as they did Charlie? If Charlie is permitted, then isn't the door open to publish similar incendiary diatribes and provocations against Christians and Jews as well?

Furthermore, did the Western media ever question the impropriety of such a newspaper in civil society or connect the dots between its editorial platform and the consequent violence inflicted?

"You can't provoke, you can't insult the faith of others, you can't make fun of faith," said Pope Francis while condemning the Paris killings. "You can't make a toy out of the religions of others," he added. "These people provoke and then (something can happen). In freedom of expression there are limits." On the other hand, "you can't kill in the name of God. That is an aberration." [1]

I deplore the violent deaths of others and pity their survivors, but I also know that every action has a reaction. Sowing-and-reaping, karma and blowback are not mere superstitions of cavemen.
Michael T Bucci (Dec 30, '14)

[Re Netanyahu shatters Israel's image, Dec 19] Dr Alon Ben-Meir places the failure of the Mideast peace talks on the shoulders of Prime Minister Netanyahu. This blame is not shared by the Israeli people, a large majority of whom support Netanyahu to remain leader of the next government. The Israelis now understand that the Palestinian Arabs do not want to live side by side with a Jewish state that they refer to as the Nakba (catastrophe). Palestinian rejection is expressed by demands that Israel absorb 6 million Arabs considered by the Palestinian Authority as refugees. This influx will destroy Israel which is not an outcome acceptable to Israel’s negotiators.

Ben Meir avoided discussing the demilitarization of a Palestinian country that is essential for Israel’s security. Hamas that is committed to destroying Israel is poised to take over the West Bank and when it does will have rockets within yards of Israel’s cities. The Palestinians refuse to discuss Israel’s security concerns. No security, no peace.

Blaming Netanyahu for refusing to ask Israel to commit national suicide is pathology, not reason.
Larry Shapiro
CA. USA (Dec 23, '14)

[Re Netanyahu shatters Israel's image, Dec 19] Prime minister Netanyahu has fractured the Israeli mirror of self-aggrandizement. But he is the latest if not the more radical purveyor of the Zionist goal of eating up territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. It was the left of center and liberal Zionist Israel that began setting up illegally Jewish settlement in Palestinian territory on the West Bank in particular.

Now the chickens have come to roost in a Messianic Zionism that has more in common with IS and Islamic fundamentalism. Former Times journalist Judith Miller, when she was bureau chief in Cairo, wrote a prescient chapter on the rise of Zionist fundamentalism in her "God has 99 Names." Israel is a "democracy" today only in a formal sense and for that Zionism has betrayed its mission of the justice and quality the Prophets had called for.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Dec 23, '14)

Gareth Porter's incisive article ("Nuclear compromise fuels hopes of deal," October 29, 2014) needs further elaboration.

There are many in US foreign policy circles, so-called "Iran experts," and those who cover Iran in the media who parrot the view that the major obstacle to a deal continues to be technical issues and transparency. They tend to get lost in the technical weeds of negotiations. The real obstacle has been, and continues to be, the general lack of trust on both sides built over the many years of estrangement.

For example, there are vociferous voices in the US Congress, the media, discredited neo-cons and the Israel-can-do-no-wrong crowd who rant and rave against any agreement unless it is one that totally fits their agenda. They claim that Iran cannot be trusted to keep any agreement, despite all assurances of full transparency from Iran. And, to muddy the water further, to name a few, Iran's support for the government of Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, previous nuclear work and work on missile technology, are cited as issues that must also be dealt with before any agreement. In Iran, the Supreme Leader's position in all negotiations has been to tell the negotiating team "I will support you, but know the US agenda is one that wants to get rid of all of us. Regime change is what they are after."

The Iranians do not believe the US can deliver sanctions relief. And they cite continued efforts by the US to use cyber warfare, promote instability by inciting disgruntled tribes such as the Baluchies and terrorist gangs like the Jundullah. Further, they cite the US$400 million presidential finding of the Bush/Cheney Administration signed in 2008 to undermine the Iranian government as some of the things that continue today to bring about that regime change.

It is this mistrust that hangs over the negotiations that both sides are trying to overcome. President Obama and President Rouhani of Iran have determined that a deal on the nuclear issue is in the best national security interest of both countries. And, they have both acted accordingly to reach an agreement. After 35 years of enmity, will these leaders have the perseverance and strength to overcome the aforementioned obstacles and, to take this moment, to trust and start an engagement that benefits the national security interests of both countries? If they fail, the region and the world will pay a heavy price.
Fariborz S Fatemi
VA, USA (Nov 25, '14)

[Re: Turning tables on North Korea, Nov 17, '14] The US has been trying to turn tables on Pyongyang without much success. Mr DeTrani, however, remains hopeful this will be done with the help of China.

If anything, his is an exercise in wishful thinking: President Xi Jinping's haughty treatment of US President Barack Obama during the recent summit in Beijing should indicate that China is not interested in boxing in North Korea, climate change agreement, visa regulations, notwithstanding. China always acts in its own interests when it suits it.

And then Russia will, in its own way, champion North Korea in the light of US's aggressive policy towards Mr Putin.

If Pyongyang had its druthers, it should have brought the US before the International Court of Justice for incarcerating millions of its black and brown citizens where they labor under cruel and unusual punishment.
Junzo Nakamura
Guam (Nov 21, '14)

[Re The Sino-American comedy of errors, Nov 10, '14] Speaking on Sino-US relations last week in preparation for President Barack Obama’s participation in the APEC summit, Secretary of State John Kerry offered: "When [the US and China] are pulling in the same direction on any issue, we can bend the curve in a way that few other nations on Earth can accomplish."

Let’s hope the secretary actually believed in his own words and wasn’t merely lending pomp to circumstance, because his statement holds true now and far into the future. The truth is, America isn’t nearly as dominant as it was just two decades ago and hasn’t really demonstrated true leadership on the world stage during the intervening years.

For one thing, had the US left China alone, the Middle Kingdom would have been content to develop economically and more or less endeavor to maintain the US-centric world order. Now, three years into the famous Asia Pivot, not only has China gained significantly more clout globally, but America finds itself pulled in too many different directions.

As we speak, humanity isn’t all that far from the advent of a multi-decades period of continual prosperity, with the US and China being the two nations that stand to benefit the most from that outcome. It truly would be a tragedy if this development path were derailed by careless/thoughtless handling of US-China relations going forward.
John Chen
United States (Nov 21, '14)

[Re First Lady oils North Korean gravy train
, Nov 7, '14)] Jung Woo park has taken some leaps in speculating on the role of Kim Jung-eun's wife as a power behind the throne. The plain truth is that we simply do not know. The speculation mills nonetheless continue to push into the spotlight tidbits of second guessing without conclusive evidence. North Korean intellectuals in exile in Seoul have the time to chase shadows to satisfy their discontent and isolation.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Nov 12, '14)

[Re: The Sino-American comedy of errors, Nov 10, 2014] I rarely see eye to eye with Spengler. However, as avid students of history, we have come to similar conclusions both about the monumental blunder of throwing Russia back to Asia and also by letting the Chinese to wonder if the Americans are idiots or their mistakes are just pretentious policies to hurt China.

We are watching a new civil war among the West for anyone who counts Russia as a part of it. In the mean time we have no inkling of what may happen in the Middle East and the Islamic world trying to untangle a web of wasps, vipers and tarantulas in religious and barbaric frenzy. As the Chinese projects about Central Asia and a Maritime Silk Road are trying to get off the ground the US is trying to thwart it with nonsensical policies: Pitting Japan against China, India against China and so on.

Are US policy planners stupid? Are they stymied by the complexity of problems and conflicting interests of allies and business calculations? On the other hand Spengler's observation that the Chinese are also at a loss for any meaningful new policies for the Middle East is correct and at the same time it points to a disturbing wide gap in the international arena.

At this critical juncture of history the Americans have a free hand to do anything in the MENA area. Europe, as usual, is squabbling about the British exit from the EU. The lack of a meaningful policy by China in an area which is so vital for its economy may have disastrous consequences both for the area and for China. America either by mistaken perceptions of by the use of "creative destruction" may pave the road to a catastrophe.
Nicholas A Biniaris
Hellas (Nov 12, '14)

I enjoyed the contribution by Paula Gutlove and Gordon Thompson Ebola and Security Opportunities Lost" [Oct 21]. Of course we can all agree, "A fraction of the trillions of dollars spent ... on military activities ... could achieve far more for human security if properly directed to areas such as public health". Most money spent on aggressive wars is wasted by the US and the EU. The people of the world must demand a stop to this madness, and must insist upon a redirection in foreign policy to benefit humanity, and to secure the world by re-distributing the wealth of a few to the many.

Ebola and other epidemic patients should be treated in special, state-of-the-art hospitals set up by the US and EU in African nations already infected. All animals and persons who come into contact with Ebola patients should be held in quarantine for 30 days. It is a crime against humanity to transport Ebola patients out of Ebola-infected nations to infect the entire Earth.

According to any text in wildlife biology, when a species becomes overpopulated, nature generates a disease that kills a large percentage of the population, which brings back ecological balance among the species. The right genetic mutations survive, and reproduce to make the species stronger. Ebola virus is such a disease generated by nature against human overpopulation, poverty, and congestion.

In the long-term, the best method to stop epidemics coming out of Africa is to impose a "one-child policy". This has been very effective in preventing such epidemics in China, while at the same time improving quality of life.
Daniel N Russell,
Willow, Alaska (Oct 29, '14)

Last October 11, an alleged murder involving a Filipino transgender and a US military personnel took place in the Philippines. The military man’s presence made possible by a recently signed 10-year security agreement between the two governments, was a response to China’s aggressive policies in the Southeast Asian region in particular towards the Philippines.

This bilateral agreement has become a lightning rod of sort precipitating public demonstrations calling for its revocation and simultaneously, justice for Mr. Laude.

Based on several news reports, one could easily be led to speculate that the gender-identity of the victim and the reaction of the alleged perpetrator upon that discovery may have provoked the violent reaction that ultimately led to the former’s demise.

Such deed, often characterized as driven by “temporary insanity” seems a fitting description since the alleged offender; US Marine Pfc Joseph Scott Pemberton must have assumed the victim to be; what she was not.

In that moment of realization, one could only speculate the primal response of a mind, conditioned to believe in oneself as the embodiment of masculinity and manhood.

But as sad and tragic as this was, it is a crime committed by an individual against another.

Not a violation of the country’s sovereignty exemplified by China’s occupation of Scarborough Shoal the Philippines considers part of its territory.

If blame even remotely were to be assigned, it would seem more appropriate to direct it to the church as an institution, for its propagation of pseudo morality.

The schools, for emphasizing rote learning at the expense of critical thinking and lastly, the society at large, for embracing an insular mind that made intolerance for gender dysphoria and similar gender-variants unacceptable, forcing those individuals to acts of desperation in an effort to live normal lives.

And desperate people resort to desperate things.

Why else would millions of Filipinos seek work abroad; risking physical and sexual abuse even torture just so they could put rice on the table for their families at home?

Similarly, recall the construction of the nuclear reactors in an earthquake prone area in Batangas that was never put in operation; to the more recent Malampaya oil exploration that allocates 90% share to the 2 oil companies doing exploration, quite amenable with the minuscule 10% share for the Filipinos.

Or the 10 year-10 pages long EDCA treaty with the US government, which makes one wonder: if a personal Power of Attorney document typically requires more than 10 pages in legal stationary; how could an agreement composed in a 10 page 8.5” x 11” stationary involving the security of 98 million lives be that acceptable?

With a list of self-proclaimed “elite” schools including alumni’s of US Ivy League universities, purporting superior education; how could such an incongruity happen?

Why would a rational mind, given its colonial past be silent facing such an affront?

But with a cultural mindset attuned to “divine intervention” indoctrinated to view crimes as sins that could be “forgiven”, the answer is best described in Bob Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind”.

And that weakness, but viewed as strength inside a bubble, has been the country’s undoing.

To say it needs a fundamental change would be an understatement but one it sorely needs that has to come from the outside, not from within.
Oni Sioson
12 Wilkenda Av
East Haven, CT. (Oct 29, '14)

[Re The Tao of North Korea, Sept. 19] John Feffer’s undiked gush of absurd irony floods any concern for workers’ rights in his comment about South Korean investments up north. He casually jots down that laborers are under paid; however, he - deliberately? - omits the figure: about 25 cents per hour. Feffer then wades clumsily into the alibi that it exceeds what other North Koreans earn.

Doesn’t he reprise the Dickens era of pitiless capitalism? Managers tossed a few coins into the dirty, gnarly hands of human cogs. As the wastrels struggled, the managers hissed that other factories offered less pay and worse conditions. Maybe, but doesn’t that jet of cold factoids douse the fiery question of workers’ welfare? Plus, experts accuse northern panjandrums of scoffing the wages. That diminishes men and women to 19th century chattel slaves. North Korea, which promises socialism, drowns in the fetid water of hypocrisy.

Then Feffer, metaphorically flailing his arms, splashes into the awful argument that he spurns McDonalds because of, umm - its low wages. I called the largest Big Mac outlet in Toronto. Its spokesman confirms that the law here mandates that all green horn workers start at $11.25 cents per hour. Managers receive over $30,000 per year and double or more as they shinny to the top of the golden arches. Feffer can call 1-800-244- 6227 toll free to confirm.

So Feffer’s economic and moral accounting approbates insulting an impractical pay but not remuneration at least 45 times higher? He needs a new calculator and ethical code, too.
Victor Fic
Canada (Oct 29, '14)

[Re Ideological dilemma grips Hong Kong, Oct 24, 2014] Thank you to Crystal Lin for condensing this complex situation into a short front page article where anyone can understand the current "Umbrella Protest" status in Hong Kong in a glance. I could not agree with her more from what she wrote.

I would like to say/believe our young Hong Kong generation do know that they are Chinese (not as accused by Chief Executive C Y Leung that these youngsters think they are NOT Chinese) , but with a Chinese with hybrid Western culture in their blood because of the British colonial rule for so many years; and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

As for a little history from my perspective, Hong Kong was sparsely populated with fishermen when the British took over. As the communist government stole and robbed from women and children of laborers slaving in the Unite States where they were working on gold mining and railroad construction; these Chinese families from the southern provinces are forced to escape to Hong Kong with little or no money. This group of settlers partly formed the early addition to the population in Hong Kong. Furthermore, this group of settler hated the communist party almost as much as they hated the Imperial Japanese because of the beatings and confiscation of their properties and house(s) at home.

For these new Hong Kong settlers, they continued to received support from their husbands, fathers and grandfathers working hard in the Sates. The coming generations from this group did benefited from the British even though we know that the British were mostly interested in the own well being. However, there were relatively good support in education and public health and other social supports.

As time passes, these Hong Kong citizens continued to learn the Western ways and passed on the mistrust of the Chinese government to their children.

Hong Kong is like a Chinese child adopted by a British parent. Now the child is grown and returned home with an "Oxford" training. The parent can not use the traditional ways of discipline for an adult child because he didn't act the way the parent wanted. If the parent shows love; in time, the child will show love too. Allowing a true free election in 2017 for the top seat is a good start.
David Kwan (Oct 27, '14)

[Re Scarier than '07, Sep 22, 2014, and Get on with it, Sep 24, 2014.] In one of his apopemptic interviews earlier in the year, former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke quipped that Quantitative Easing works in practice but not in theory. For the sake of the US and global economies, let's hope the good doctor's (and his successor Janet Yellen's) understanding of and appreciation for sound monetary policy is as sharp as his wit and sense of humor, because few people will be laughing when a scarier version of the 2007 financial/economic crisis is replayed.
John Chen
United States (Sep 25, '14)

[Re Obama's 'stupid stuff' turned upside down, Sep 18, 2014] Just five days after Pepe Escobar penned "Obama's 'stupid stuff' turned upside down", President Obama's strike on Syria began and not a whisper of dissent was heard between the restive shores of Empire. On that day (23 Sep), a quick check of comments to the story at Reuters revealed argument wasn't over war but over how better to fight it.

Feeling like the last pacifist in America I will inherit the mantle of a fool (if not traitor or terrorist) by stating the obvious: What the Pentagon, White House and neocons couldn’t achieve last year at the U.N. when Russia and China blocked a Syrian invasion is now being accomplished OUTSIDE of international law and the United Nations.

If a majority of Americans approve and support these invasions (Iraq and Syria in less than two weeks); approve of Congress funding these wars; approve of goading and demonizing Russia (and soon Iran and China), then they are responsible - along with President Obama, Congress, the media and Pentagon - for acts committed by Empire and for any and all subsequent consequences (massive karma).

To think the heads of three journalists provoked a soon-to-be-caldron of ravaging revenge that will, no doubt, sprawl forth from the mid-east to all points east begs the question: What amount of revenge - commensurate and proportional - is just for America and her "allies" for the deaths accumulated already in the mid-east? For by 1996 their hands were already soaked in the blood of half-a-million Iraqi children (lambs) when Madeleine Albright decreed, "we think the price is worth it." What future tribunal will judge Barack Obama ahead of George Bush and the Generals? What price will America and Americans pay?

As more U.S. bombs fall, more sovereign leaders are assassinated, more hundreds of thousands are killed or become refugees; as more nations are forced into submission when not from a hegemonic parasitic financial system then by coercion from the U.S. military, the reign of this Empire - one convinced it is above the laws of both God and Man – will reciprocally fall alongside them. If February 22, 2014 marked the day of decline of Europe in her embrace of fascism in Kiev, then September 10, 2014, the day Mr. Obama announced the invasion of Iraq, marked the day that began the decline of the American Empire.

America acted outside of international law and the United Nations; is acting above the laws of both God and Man; and has become a thoroughly amoral nation drunk on its own arrogance and megalomania.

God help the pacifists.
Michael T Bucci
United States (Sep 25, '14)

[Re The Tao of North Korea, Sep 19, 2014] South Korea, and more importantly, the US really don't want to talk to North Korea, as the public record shows. They prefer recrimination and, at times, dubious propaganda.

If as John Feffer writes that opening for a thaw is possible, in citing the example of a burger restaurant in Pyongyang, run by a Singaporean company, it will may long fire since it doesn't square with US diplomacy.

Singapore is strategically placed for an opening towards North Korea. It has long served as venue for meetings and negotiating between North and South Koreas even in days of extreme tension. It might serve well as a bridgehead for US business and diplomacy.

In the New York-based podcast of an interview with Australian filmmaker Anna Broinowski speaking of her documentary "Aim High in Creation," she reveals a North Korea with an more recognizable human face. (You can see her on YouTube.)

There opportunities of opening to North Korea, but the US remains unmoved. As the US prepares for war against ISIS, any move for ending the 64-year-old Korea War is delayed for the Greek Kalends.

So much the pity for the two Koreas and the US.
Junzo Nakamura
Guam (Sep 22, '14)

[Re Will NATO liberate Jihadistan?, Sep 5, 2014] For all the sound and fury on ISIS, the sword aims to decapitate Bashar al-Assad in Syria and legitimize Kurdistan in the disunited Iraq. By using anti-terrorists war on ISIS as an excuse, US does not need a vote in the UN and can easily topple Assad unilaterally.
Wendy Cai
United States (Sep 22, '14)

[Re How Washington made Islamic state, September 3, 2014] Everyone needs to get real, take a deep breath and calm alarmist tendencies. The media talking heads and the "wise experts" they feature, the op-ed writers and the chattering classes all need to stop spreading myths and nonsense about Islamic State (IS).

Fact: IS is not populated by 12-foot tall, invincible people and it is not going to be in our neighborhoods tomorrow. Fact: IS is a bastardized version of Salafism (Saudi version of Islam), which, with Wahhabism, is near and dear to the hearts of the ruling monarchy and for decades, has been promoted and propagated by the Saudis across the world. Fact: IS has nothing to do with true Islam despite what the haters say. IS is anti-Islam.

Islam is a religion of peace, not backwardness and madness. Myth: IS happened because President Obama did not drop bombs all over the Middle East (as per John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Dick Cheney, etc.) It is just the opposite. The seeds of IS were sown by the Bush/Cheney Administration's two wars, and for decades nurtured by Saudi and Pakistani money. Fact: Six months ago, IS was a rag tag group of cutthroats and brigands.

It was only after the surviving remnants of Saddam's army, including former generals and colonels, joined IS that they became an effective fighting force using captured American heavy weapons that were given to the Iraqi army. In order to defeat IS and the ideological cancer they are spreading, their source of funding must be eliminated, their captured American heavy armor destroyed by precision bombing, and neighboring countries brought in for a regional response. President Obama's judicious use of wise diplomacy and American power, and his policy of not doing stupid things is the right way forward.
Fariborz S Fatemi
McLean, VA
USA (Sep 10, '14)

I enjoyed reading NATO's Attacks! [September 3, 2014]. Since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO has been searching for a purpose for its continued senseless existence. It aggressively acted outside of it's charter-mandated borders when it illegally and savagely attacked Yugoslavia in 1999, which never threatened any NATO-member nation. NATO armed and encouraged Georgia to viciously attack the South Ossetians and Abkhazians in 2008 (right on Russia's border).

NATO has sought to construct a defensive shield on Russia's borders, and has now been involved in plotting the overthrow of Ukraine's democratically-elected government (vis a vis Victoria "Fxxx the EU" Nuland) and encouraging and training the illegal Ukrainian government to attack the pro-Russian rebels which has resulted in thousands of civilians deaths (war crimes).

Despite promises to the contrary made in 1989, NATO has been marching aggressively Eastward just as Hitler did a mere 70 years to break up and conquer the world's largest nation by area to remove one of the remaining stumbling blocks to enforcement of the "new" world order on all of humanity.

By provoking Russia in its border regions, NATO has created its bogeyman, Vladimir Putin, and has thus resurrected the Cold War. NATO has gotten back its "mojo" by finding a new purpose which will further bankrupt NATO-member nations starting with the US. It may also bring us WWIII very soon.

The Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times", has never been more relevant than now.
Dr Michael Pravica
Henderson, NV
USA (Sep 10, '14)

In Sherman's 300,000 and the Caliphate's 3 million [Aug 12, '14] "Spengler" writes, "I predicted in 2006 that the George W Bush administration's blunder would provoke another Thirty Years War in the region." Wow! He was only three years behind all the New York City and DC taxi drivers.

What a dreamer. Classic "Spengler", it has all the ingredients: inapplicable historical anecdotes, the mention of Iran and Hitler in the same breath, and wistful dalliance with fantasies of changing the past. " It could have been avoided..." he muses, "by the cheap and simple expedient of bombing Iran's nuclear program and Revolutionary Guards bases, followed by an intensive subversion effort aimed at regime change in Teheran." (Really, so simple?) "Former Vice President Dick Cheney advocated this course of action..." (That simple!)

Well hell. If only Cheney had been president, Spengler the VP, with Cardinal Richelieu as his defense minister, all our troubles would have been solved long ago, and those 3 million superfluous young Muslim men would not have to be thrown into the meat grinder of history. And if Superman were a true Arian, Iran would have no fear of Spengler.

That's right. "There is no way to rewind the tape" as "Spengler" says, so why go round and round with fantastic statements and grim prognostications? If ISIS operates in terrain in which "aerial reconnaissance can identify every stray cat" as he claims, then US intelligence clearly saw them coming; and Halliburton's promise to continue servicing ISIS vehicles might give us a clue as to who provides them with combat support services, as well.

However, Spengy does admit that "Ultimately, ISIS is a distraction." Israel's crimes in Gaza appear minor compared to the insanity of ISIS British rappers beheading Americans, Yazidis, and Shiites. Obama is no less obliged for the boost he will get in his popularity among hoi polloi. And whatever happened to the black box from Malaysian flight MH17 that was turned over to British intelligence? Hey, look! A pink elephant ! "ISIS is overrated" he says, they can easily be taken care of. So, ISIS are just sitting ducks for any nation with air forces. Hmmm.

Finally he admits, "The grim task of regional security policy is to channel the butchery into areas that do not threaten oil production or transport." Unless, of course, those areas are Iran and Syria. This is where we are today. So, the idea was what - to use Saudi funding and American weapons to lure European Salafists and jihadis to wage unending war, or to be US proxies in Syria and Iraq, or simply be targets of US bombing whenever Americans need a distraction from the theft of their treasury? Killing religious fanatics is not a bad thing. Is it? Ask Israel.

What else could we expect of our past four presidents? What can we expect of the next one? No one would listen to Spengler when he was screaming about Iran in 2006. So, now that middle eastern civil society has been destroyed by 30 years of war, and General Petraeus has armed and funded millions of useless Muslim fighters, and the oil fields must be protected – what else is there to do, but bomb them, “channel the butchery” towards Iran and Syria, and allow the golem to play across the Tigris and Euphrates whenever its master allows.

So, there is no need to reference General Sherman of the American Civil War, because there was no Confederate golem and no super-power with unparalleled air power bent on overthrowing a quarter of the governments in the Americas. No need to mention any of those other wars either, because the turmoil began in 1991 with The First Bush War in Iraq nearly 34 years ago, and if all the "Richolovian" pundits have their way it will last another two or three generations. If this is going to be a genuine war of civilizations, it has to last at least a hundred years. When dealing with Muslim rage you have to think in terms of centuries.

"Spengler" blames it all on an ideologically rigid and feckless George Bush, but actually he was the only one honest enough or prescient to use the word "crusade" the day after September 11, 2001. Perhaps the failure was in the timidity of his staff in understanding the golden goose being given them by the televangelist gods of the apocalypse, via his Zionist angels. A quick surgical strike on Riyadh would have solved everything. But then again... every taxi driver in Tehran would have told Spengler the same thing.
Solomon Irfan
USA (Sep 3, '14)

[Re Some of my best friends are Straussians, Aug 26, '14] This essay requires a host of remarks. I need to make only one: "nature herself is flawed and requires frequent correction." This is the conclusion of the essayist. It is an astute view which is supported in other essays of his as well.

How is nature flawed? Is it because man experiences death, pain due to physical causes: scarcity, earthquakes, and illness? Nature does cause suffering to humans as well to all living beings. Since man is the only self-conscious being he knows that he is going to die. This is the dividing line, the fear the dread of personal existential extinction.

So man improves nature, builds dams to control flood, canals, research laboratories, antibiotics, and prevents the spread of deadly diseases. What does this have to do with God, faith, morality ancient Hellenic philosophy and political theory?

But it does have a crucial significance for the essayist's beliefs. An Abrahamite God, the creator of a flawed nature cannot be a creator of a flawed universe. So man's mission is to turn this object to an obedient, passive environment conducive to man's design. This is what man had done: turned nature to an object, the flawed "otherness" which must be subjugated to his purposes.

This is the fault line between ancient Hellenic philosophy and the Abrahamite conception of the universe. The Hellenic universe had no God as creator of the material universe. The world was always there uncreated, chaotic, indeed a hostile but also a hospitable environment for man's existence. Our presence does verify this fact.

The ancient Hellenic philosophy does not view nature as an object to be perfected. It is the bedrock upon which we live and act morally, immorally, criminally, inhumanly, but also with friendship, empathy and reason.

Indeed the ancients, who actually include all traditions, could be viewed as fatalists or as chained in a pre-determined natural order which was the controlling power over their lives. The Abrahamite conception offers man a dynamic faith in himself and almost sanctifies his abilities to interfere in nature's work for his own existential security.

This is exactly the predicament we reached today trying to reconcile our view of nature as an object which must be subjugated and an environment which is turning exactly where we started from: totally hostile for man's existence on this planet.

So for Hellenic philosophy what is most crucial after the physikoi or the pre-Socratics is man's well-being in the polis, the civilizational and the political as the environment where man can flourish. An Abrahamite conception of the universe has no use for the political; it needs to converse with God and exclaim to Him either the faithful's sorrows or joys.

The argument that man supplants or completes God's plan (whatever that may mean) is a pointing towards the implicit acceptance of the mission and the purpose of an Abrahamite tribe: Israel. Philosophical thought had been used for many purposes even for this!
Nicholas A Biniaris
Hellas (Sep 3, '14)

[Re Obama hails 'promising step' in Iraq, August 12, 2014] Once again the president steps in to handle a difficult problem in the Middle East by the use of wise diplomacy and not doing something stupid.

At the same time his former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in an interview is criticizing the president for not doing something that certainly would have been stupid concerning Syria and ISIS. In the same interview she exhibits selective memory. For example, she forgets that, as a Senator, she voted for the Iraq war which was something stupid, creating the seeds for ISIS. Further, she says she is against Iran having a nuclear enrichment program.

But in 2010, the then secretary of state was the first high ranking official in the Obama Administration to say that Iran has every right to enrichment. Then she blames the president for not bombing Syria, creating ISIS. When did not bombing Syria create ISIS? In her interview, the former Secretary again fails to point out that the President wanted to bomb Syria but the Congress, by failing to authorize it, prevented him from doing it.

Had he bombed, after Bush/Cheney Administration's two wars how do you think the people of the US and the Middle East would have reacted? Also, by not bombing, and with the use of wise diplomacy, the president successfully brought the chemical weapons out of Syria. She also forgets to mention that. Furthermore, is it believable that bombing Syria and arming the "invisible" moderates would have made a difference? Contrary to her comments, they were armed.

If the past and present events are any guide, most of the weapons given to the opponents of President Assad (during her tenure) have fallen into the hands of the most extremist elements of that opposition. Could it be that the former secretary of state, US's premier diplomat, did not learn that wise diplomacy is the best way forward? Also, her "peace, progress and prosperity" statement as an organizing principle in foreign policy is a slogan and not an organizing principle. And yes, after eight years of Bush/Cheney Administration foreign policy, "not doing stupid things" is an organizing principle in foreign policy.
Fariborz S Fatemi McLean, VA
USA (Sep 3, '14)

[Re The 'non-state' solution, Aug 4, '14] Let's face it, the US is a dishonest broker in the Israel/Palestine question. Brenner is under the illusion that strengthening Arab regimes will lead to a solution - a two-state or a unitary nation.

We know the American record for the last 60 years or more on the matter at hand. By branding Hamas a terrorist organization, Washington leaves no wiggle room to negotiate, having to rely on states who have uneasy relations with Israel like Qatar and Turkey or like Egypt who finds Hamas distasteful. Israel has lied to achieve the whipping out of Hamas and leveling Gaza to the year zero. Like the proverbial elephant stomping on ants, to slip in to General Giap's metaphor, in the end Israel will fail in establishing a Greater Israel from the sea to the Jordan.
Abraham Bin Yiju (Aug 6, '14)

[RE: Why Obama’s Russia sanctions are doomed, Jul 30 '14] We are indebted to Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar for reminding us the Obama-Romney debate. But still there is a crucial question to be answered by historians and international relations professionals: what was the cause for this monumental reversal of Obama's foreign policy?

There are many theories which are summed up as follows: a) the doctrine of one and only superpower which wants to keep its dominance over the world; this spurns a host of conspiracy theories about the control of gas and oil supplies, b) the decline of the US which turns to a more aggressive policy as it realizes its failures to assert its will over a host of states (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Egypt and its monumental failure to persuade Israel to sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians as well as the war on terror which after the rise of ISIS is a matter of ridicule), c) the economic problems (QE, banks, 4.5 trillion dollars printed by the Federal Reserve, a declining manufacturing sector and a possible threat to the dollar as a as the most important reserve currency d) the reversal of Obama's personal legacy as a weak president, e) a wavering EU distancing itself from the US's views and interests as it becomes more involved in Russia's and Asia's economy in general. This last theory heralds the first phase of a complete annexation of Europe to the US. Finally but not far-fetched is the high-jacking of Obama's foreign policy by other centers of power, as lobbies, the CIA, the State Department and possibly a cabala of the discredited neo-cons who are still influencing these centers of power and consider Obama a failure.

The consequences: a) contrary to the assessment of the Ambassador's analysis Russia will be hurt economically, b) European business will be hurt, d) depending upon the depth of the economic hardship in Europe the EU will be split in squabbling factions. e) Germany must take a decision about its place between Russia-Asia and Europe. This isn't easy but it is a possibility which may bring the center of Europe to a head-on collision with the US. European states, besides former members of the Soviet bloc, will not be easily persuaded to start a new "Cold War" with Russia over the debts of Ukraine. For the hard fact is that Ukraine is bankrupt and the one million dollar question to answer is: who is going to pay?

Finally, the assessments of the Ambassador about the fall-out of this reversal of Obama's policy over the BRICS and other emerging states, is the most important part of his analysis. If these states perceive this reversal as a threat to their own policies, aspirations and relations with other states, then the USA's foreign policy is in shambles. This will have dire consequences for world security and peace. A lot will become clearer when American-Indian discussions start this fall. If India keeps its distance from American overtures about pivots in Asia and a Russian quarantine, then this reversal will be monumental indeed. It may actually lead to an inconspicuous isolation of the US instead of Russia.
Nicholas A Biniaris
Hella (Aug 6, '14)

[Re The 'non-state' solution, Aug 4, '14] The newspapers are full of criticism of Israel regarding the situation in Gaza as you might well imagine. For those who love and support the Jewish state it may seem like defending the indefensible, but a lot of truth gets left out in the media reports both in the press and on television. It is said that a picture speaks more than a thousand words, and with the images of women and children killed or injured being shown on our TV screens every night, is it any wonder people are appalled by what they see, perceiving it to be Israeli hatred or aggression?

Israel, however, does not wish for civilian casualties, nor does it ever target such in any of the campaigns to rout out Hamas terrorists and those responsible for firing rockets into Israeli towns in southern Israel. Hamas, on the other hand, make it quite clear that any Jew or Israeli is a legitimate target and seeks to kill as many of their Jewish cousins as is possible. The oft-quoted observation that Israel is being disproportionate due to the higher death toll among the Palestinian Arabs hides the fact that if Hamas had its way it would obliterate far more than the 60 Israelis who have died thus far. It's charter still calls for the destruction of Israel as a nation.

The Jews have lived in their Promised Land for over 3,000 years and the Biblical story of the Exodus clearly points out that God gave this small piece of land to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, whereas the sons of Ishmael settled in the vast territory surrounding the Land of Canaan. Was God being unfair? With anti-Semitism raising its ugly head in countries like France and Hungary just as it was before the Holocaust in Germany, surely the Land of the Hebrew Bible would seem the natural place for refuge and safety? The Arabs, however, say "No" and that the Jews are not entitled to any territory, but prefer to expand Muslim-dominated states that treat both Christians and Jews as second-class citizens or "dhimmis". Jihad, or 'holy war,' has been viewed as an acceptable way to achieve that aspiration.

If we look at the bigger picture with its historical and Biblical ramifications we must understand why Israel takes a tough stand in a very tough neighbourhood. Every rocket lobbed by Hamas is a threat to Israel's existence by the very defiance which teaches its children to hate the Jews and to take up arms in their "struggle" to murder innocent Israelis on buses, in cafes and in markets all across Israel. This is the legacy of Hamas, a very different outlook to that of the State of Israel which is a democratic country.

Whatever your views on the current conflict, be aware of Hamas's tactics of using their women and children as 'human shields' which makes the job of the Israeli Defence Forces extremely difficult, and their arsenals bought with money from humanitarian aid are hidden in schools and hospitals, explaining the reason why Israel has to target near these places at all.

There will always be faults on both sides in any conflict, but don't be too quick to judge Israel for every action she takes in a situation we are fortunate enough never to face here in the comfort of the West.
Colin Nevin UK (Aug 6, '14)

The recent hubbub here in the Empire over that quadrennial orgy of international futbol, the FIFA World Cup, has precipitated something akin to a panic amongst the right wing flag-waving reactionaries. The surprising enthusiasm of hordes of Wonderlanders about our USA heroes' adventure in Brazil has revealed a passion for a sport traditionally demeaned, ignored and disrespected by "real 'merikans," whose devotion to Anything-Invented-Here and antipathy for Everything Else has almost been a definition of Red, White and Blue patriotism.

This visceral, almost innate hatred of the world's most popular sport has many roots, of course, among them the exceptionalist religion that Amerikans worship at devoutly, but more to the point, true blood 'merikans hate soccer because the game provides a forum of true democratic equality that nothing the Empire has ever pontificated over could ever match. Being big, an Amerikan obsession about everything ranging from genitalia to GDPs, means little on the football pitch, which automatically puts it beyond the WonderPale.

The ability of smaller Third World nations (you know, the kind that sends illegal brown skinned immigrants to our besieged shores) to beat larger First World white countries on the soccer field makes the sport racially egalitarian, another philosophy anathema to an Empire that likes to routinely bully, intimidate and subvert such non-WASP pissants. Worse, Amerika's favorite pastime, the excruciatingly dull baseball, is finding its fanbase eroded exponentially by soccer. And to top it all off, the sport has the effrontery to call itself by the same name as our home grown gridiron game, a sport we all know can only be played by rough tough big macho Wonderlanders. So imagine the horror when the blonde blue eyed "reporters" in the WonderWhoreMedia's favorite right wing pandering network were faced with two simultaneous events that put into doubt the Empire's self image as a soccer-hating, immigrant bashing nation. While the Amerikan fans were reveling in the drama of the World Cup, hordes of children escaping the murderous hellholes in Central America were finding sanctuary in the Empire.

The outcry against these kids' "invasion" was shrill and hysterical, in other words the usual anti-human overreaction of the right winger nutjobs, exceeded only by the decrying of America's newfound love for soccer as a sure sign of moral decay. (One does wonder how loud the protests would have been if these were blonde Canadian kids fleeing ravenous wolves and polar bears.) Compounding these converging indications of the Apocalypse was the knowledge that many of the US soccer teams' players were born of Third World immigrant stock themselves.

The underlying fear of these white supremacist types is that the miscegenation and de-Whiteization of the Empire proceeds apace, the same kind of racist eugenicist drivel that has inspired anti-immigrant laws for the last 200 years. So soccer-football-futbol represents much more than a sport that threatens the supremacy of Pure Blooded 'merikan Sports; it represents a truly democratic pan-racial endeavor that denies the overwhelming edge routinely given here to the White Man. Nothing could be more hateful to "real 'merikans."
H Campbell
USA (Jul 28, '14)

[Re: The fall of a superpower, Jul 10, '14] An interesting (and perhaps also wittingly prophetic) parable. Unfortunately, national anosognosia seems an all-too-prevalent affliction enervating not just individual countries, but entire continents.
John Chen
USA (Jul 15, '14)

[Re How Israel turned tragedy into opportunity, Jul 8, '14] Israel has gladly embraced an identity as a pariah country. It doesn't care what the world thinks of it as it pursues the goal of a Greater Israel on Palestinian lands.

Contrary to what Justin Schwegel posits every initiative it undertakes is an opportunity. In its lexicon, tragedy does not exist. The killing of the three hitch hitchers, horrific as it may be, has allowed the Zionist establishment to throw the onus on Hamas, even though the kidnapping took place on Israel military's turf. And then there's the time line in finding the bodies, among other factors.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows who committed the crime, but the true culprits do not square with his aim to crush Hamas. Cynical as Zionist aims are, truth will out, for already Israel is as lawless and irresponsible as the American Far West was. Where are the honest sheriffs?
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Jul 10, '14)

The sky fell on Hawaii last month, all because carbon dioxide levels peeped above the much-hyped 400 ppm hurdle. Chicken Littles all over the world squawked into their friendly media megaphones about numerous imminent global warming disasters. One warned: "the fate of the world hangs in the balance." (Similar alarms were rung when the 350 ppm level was passed).

But nobody else noticed anything scary.

Four pieces of well-established evidence say that 400 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not a concern.

Firstly, there has been no increase in global temperatures since 1998 despite 16 years of rising carbon dioxide levels and heavy usage of carbon fuels. Clearly, CO2 is not the main driver of global temperatures.

Secondly, the ice core records show clearly, with no exceptions, that all recent ice ages have commenced when the atmosphere contained relatively high levels of carbon dioxide. The temperature fell first, and then carbon dioxide levels fell. This proves that high carbon dioxide levels do not guarantee a warm globe, but could suggest that they may be a harbinger of a coming ice age. Ice will cause far more damage to the biosphere than the even the worst warming forecast.

Thirdly, current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are not extreme or unusual. Carbon dioxide reached 2,000 ppm in the luxuriant era of the dinosaurs, and ten times current levels (4,000 ppm) when the great Devonian coral reefs were flourishing. There is no tipping point into runaway global warming, or we would have tipped eons ago.

Finally, current carbon dioxide levels are just above starvation levels for plants. All vegetation would grow stronger, faster, and be more drought resistant and heat resistant if carbon dioxide levels trebled to 1,200 ppm. Such levels are no threat to humans – US submarines operate at up to 8,000 ppm for cruises of 90 days. Topping 400 ppm should be a cause for celebration - it shows that Earth is emerging from the cold hungry years of the ice ages.

Climate Cassandras have blown false trumpets once again.
Viv Forbes
Rosewood, Australia (Jul 10, '14)

Call me an iconoclast (I'm routinely called worse) but here's a lone voice singing the praises of World War One and Two (which in reality were the same war with a 20-year truce in between). Don't get me wrong; the millions who died from the stinking quagmires of Flanders to the fetid jungles of Guadalcanal were terrible tragedies.

But contrast the tragedy of megadeath with the inevitable historical results of the war, namely the destruction of anachronistic medieval dynasties that had no business surviving into the 20th century, the decolonization of Empires founded on racism and capitalist exploitation, the dismantling of segregation laws in the USA, the tender shoots of gender equality poking through the mire of centuries old chauvinism and the double edged sword of nuclear weapons that ensured no third act to the first two acts of World War. One would like to argue that all these positives could have evolved independently of mass violence and genocide, but does any Jew believe they would have achieved their own homeland in Palestine without Auschwitz, or that without the specter of communism Jim Crow would have meekly surrendered its white supremacy?

While the Cold War can legitimately be called the denouement of the World War that started on July 28, 1914, its relatively light casualty list and often ambiguous strategies and objectives has made that silent conflict a hard sell in the collective memories of its protagonists, with the Manichaean black-and-whitness of World War II so much easier to commemorate. Let's face it; Hitler is the quintessential villain that no Fidel Castro or Nikita Khrushchev could match as a caricature of evil, which explains why his name is still invoked in an infinite stream of books and TV documentaries.

We like our Devil, thank you very much, and don't confuse us with stories of bloodthirsty right wing dictators supported by Wonderland, oppressed nations struggling to be independent of Wall Street or civil wars sold as global struggles of freedom versus tyranny. The sad truth is that wars change status quos that are untenable but stubborn and purge accepted evils through the blood sacrifice of the innocent.

Yes, the civil disobedience campaigns of Gandhi and King serve as beacons of hope, but the former could not have succeeded without the War bankrupting Britain, and the latter depended on the Cold War's propaganda struggle for the decolonizing colored peoples' hearts and minds. All roads lead back to Sarajevo.
H Campbell (Jul 10, '14)

Open letter of The Collective of Vineyardsaker.fr and Vineyardsaker.ru Publishers to the Russian and Russian Speaking People

Russian and russian speaking friends, welcome to you all!

We, people who are living in the west, we salute you. And we are delighted, really delighted, to at last be able to say to you, "NO, NOT EVERYONE FROM US IS AGAINST YOU."

And it is very important to us that you get to know it, that you are convinced of it, that you understand that here, for example in France, but not only in France, there are many of us, and increasingly, that are in complete disagreement with what our "leaders" say and do "in our name." Which may sound but normal course to you, but think of it though, is for many around here quite a small feat, considering what has been the massive propaganda of our Western media – of all, absolutely all the mainstream media – for several decades. Considering that your president and other leaders of Russia we are presented only – and systematically, and repeatedly –as undemocratic monsters and calculating ones, as attackers only motivated by evil intentions towards us.

YES, THE CAUSE OF DONBASS AND UKRAINE WE CARE ABOUT. And much more than that: we tremble every day for Novorossia; oftentimes we are overcome with anger and sorrow when contemplating the atrocities committed there, when hearing such lies as our "politicians" utter to absolve them even if they do not encourage them. Another small feat actually, given that Novorossia does not exist, at least neither for our media nor for our leaders, but only the eastern Ukraine, a place where everything would be fine, we are explained, if it were not that some fierce separatists keep being rife there in a maliciously inclined way towards Europe. And given also that it happens almost nothing in that country (I say almost because, if we believe our newspapers, or our radios, or our TV channels, it reads and sounds like it is simply a matter of one single Putin, a new Hitler, who is deceitfully intriguing to impose on the poor Ukraine as on the entire world an unjustified aggression and a tyrannical Russian domination).

Did you say a war? In the Ukraine? That can’t be: our official media do not mention anything like that. A total blackout. Except a threat of a Russian military aggression (nothing new, indeed) and of course some measures being taken (nothing out of the ordinary) only to restore order threatened by virulent separatists in some provinces. That's how things are presented to us.

Many of us actually have no idea what is happening there. Word-of-mouth progresses though. And sites like the Saker’s one increasingly contribute to open the eyes and minds of those who seek, those who bother to go and have a look behind the official information, to get around such propaganda and brainwashing as are imposed on us.

This is primarily the reason why the mirror site in French language was wanted, and why we chose to contribute voluntarily: to provide information that is missing; to sound a different story; to refute the lies that our compatriots are showered with day after day.

And this is also why we welcome the birth of this Russian-speaking site. And the possibility that we are (finally!) given to assure you – despite the efforts of those who govern us (and the efforts of their masters, even more to the west), despite all those who are struggling to try to establish and consolidate between us and you a kind of enmity that has no reason to be - not only that we are not against Russia or against the Russians, but that we instead understand that your enemy is also our enemy. To this enemy we refuse to associate. And we do not accept the present situation by which it seeks to impose lie and antagonism.

Our institutions and many other things unfortunately are under its control. But our minds are not. And, most of all, our hearts are not either!

The collective of vineyardsaker.fr and vineyardsaker.ru publishers
Via The Saker

[Re Hong Kong nears tipping point with Beijing, Jul 2, '14] My question for Kent Ewing: In its 150 years of colonial rule, was any Hong Kong governor elected directly by the people?

My questions for [pro-democracy activist] Benny Tai Yiu-Ting and his folks: Have you or your parents protested for direct suffrage in the selection of Hong Kong governor?

Why did you fight against the teaching of patriotism in Hong Kong schools when the city is under the "one country, two systems" policy? Doesn't one country refer to China? If the US can ask their citizens to pledge the oath of allegiance and no one has a qualm, why can't Hong Kong schools be taught to be patriotic to their country China.
Wendy Cai
USA (Jul 3, '14)

Wolfgang Pomrehn [letter, Jun 16, '14], has shared with us his superficial critique of the earlier article by Noureddine Krichene - [Re Havenstein and the Fed, Asia Times Online, Jun 12, '14].

Wolfgang by your own admission, "I stopped reading after having seen such a nonsense" - you lend weight to my claim of your comment being "superficial". Here I offer no argument about history, but you also don't throw the baby out with the bath water and dismiss an entire article. Noureddine Krichene was offering us an opinion piece, read the whole article.

I also am no trained economist - beyond high school level economics - yet I did quickly learn three important things about economics. Firstly we were taught Wilkins Micawber's observations on financial success and misery from Charles Dickens's 1850 novel, David Copperfield. Secondly we were taught economics was an "inexact science", and thirdly in economics no one can dispute your own personal opinion and conclusions, provided your underlying facts and data are correct.

Wolfgang, it was simply an opinion piece, alluding to history repeating itself, as it always has a regular habit of doing. Substantially, the article's main historical chain of events are not in dispute, and I found the article to be a refresher. Just my own opinion, which is always free.
Ian C Purdie
Sydney Australia (Jun 23, '14)

Straightaway, the US venture into Iraq on false premises left American spookdom, if not congress and the White House, flatfooted. A pertinent example is the questioning of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange, when not one senator on either side of the aisle raised the matter of jihadists with strong Sunni tribal support grabbing significant territory.

Wasn't the author Peter Galbraith at the time of the Bush invasion of Iran strongly suggesting that it was best to split Iraq into three zones - Sunni, Shiite and Kurd? Well he might prove spot on.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Jun 16, '14)

[Re Havenstein and the Fed, Jun 12, '14] Noureddine Krichene wrote: "Prodded by Havenstein's super-money helicoptering, the socialist-communist dominated government expanded its expenditure; unable to keep pace, taxes represented only 0.7% of expenditure in 1923".

So, Germany had a "socialist-communist dominated government" in those days? And it "prodded" Havenstein? I wonder, who then suppressed so bloodily the workers armies in the Ruhr area or in the Leuna district or who smashed the worker's republics in Munich and Bremen.

Hopefully the author knows more about monetary theory then German history but I can't tell because I stopped reading after having seen such a nonsense.

But I scrolled down and saw that the author holds a PhD of the UCLA. That reminded me of an American movie I saw these days, in which a high ranking NSA official was referring to Vladivostok as a small city in the south of Russia with hardly any strategic significance.
Wolfgang Pomrehn (Jun 16, '14)

Reverend Dr Vincent Zankin's recent [June 6] letter has raised some good issues. However, in the context of Muslim-Christian relations, he has missed the Bigger Picture. Fundamentally, what he and virtually everyone else in the Judeo-Christian West have failed to recognize is that, for the true believer in Allah and the Holy Koran, Christianity is a pagan polytheistic faith whose essential doctrines mock the One God in their idolatry, image worship and multiple deities.

Now, I realize that statement will first impress the typical Judeo-Christian reader as merely being a confirmation of Islam's hysterical overreaction to any non-Islamic faith. On closer examination, though, one can come to appreciate why the pious Muslim will believe these claims, regardless of Islam's own veneration of Jesus as a prophet and Mary as a holy woman. Firstly, the central pillar of the Christian faith is the Holy Trinity, a confusing theological tenet that has been rigorously disputed for the last 1700 years and, despite what many may think, is today far from a universally accepted equation of Jesus as God Himself even by nominally Christian sects.

The Muslims from the inception of their conflicts with ancient Christians condemned this doctrine as being an acceptance of three gods. Islam certainly revered Jesus as a holy man but considered making him divine a blasphemy. The proliferation of saints just further cemented the conviction that Christianity added gods at the drop of a bishop's hat. As the ideological dynamic between expansive Islam and a defensive Christian Byzantine Empire progressed, the issue of Christian iconography became yet another verification to the Muslim mind of Christianity's pagan character.

The Mosaic prohibition of graven images was a bedrock of Muslim orthodox belief in the God of Abraham, and the observation that Christian churches abounded with pictures, statues and relics of saints and Biblical figures seemed yet another confirmation that the believers in the Triune God were worshipping a panoply of prohibited gods. Indeed, the Empire was rent for a period by those pious Christians that agreed with this opinion and endeavored to destroy and forbid all such imagery in churches.

The theological distinctions that Christian churchmen made to refute such iconoclastic arguments were, er, Byzantine and highly technical, to say the least, and if lost on the average Christian churchgoer were virtually invisible to the devout Muslim bent on abolishing such heresy.

Ultimately, those efforts to make churches image-free failed, as any visit to a Roman or Orthodox rite church can testify (interestingly, the Protestant Reformation shared these concerns which is why their churches are today relatively image-free by comparison).

This is not to deny that militant Islam in the early centuries of its existence was not also motivated by things other than theology, but make no mistake that ideology was a highly satisfactory justification for wars of conquest, just as it was in the West in its periods of imperial expansion. But what I hope I've made clear here is that the basic roots of cultural disconnect that persist to this day make "reconciliation" a difficult prospect at best.

If all the issues that made Christianity appear as a pagan religion back then persist today (and to some extent are even more greatly exacerbated by the highly secular nature of Western society), then it is unrealistic to expect any kind of mutual recognition of theological validity. In short, Muslims are convinced Christians have abandoned the One True God long ago, and negotiating with pagans is the fastest road to the inferno.
Hardy Campbell
Texas (Jun 12, '14)

We are lectured monotonously about the "consensus" that carbon dioxide produced by human activities is "highly likely to cause dangerous global warming". The alarmist computer models are all based on this assumption, with predicted warming multiplied by also assuming strong positive feedbacks.

A consensus of opinion never determines a scientific question - real proof depends on evidence and logic. Consensus is a tool of politics and a guidepost for lemmings.

The so-called "Greenhouse Effect" depends entirely on the known property of carbon dioxide gas to intercept radiant heat in certain wavelengths. This process starts operating as soon as the extra gas enters the atmosphere.

If this influence is strong enough to drive "dangerous global warming", its effect should be noticeable even in the short term, with Earth's surface temperature increasing in step with increasing carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing for over a century, but global temperatures have fluctuated in broad cycles decades long, and there has been no warming for the last 17 years.

This evidence suggests that increasing carbon dioxide is not a major driver for dangerous global warming, no matter what the consensus says - even if a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.

We may still get natural global warming, as the vast restless oceans roll over or the solar cycles change, but man-made carbon dioxide is not driving these processes. Moreover, a bit of warming is not our greatest risk - history shows that ice ages extinguish more species and habitats than warm eras.

The consensus of alarmists is trying to lynch an innocent party.
Viv Forbes
Australia (Jun 12, '14)

The fire was rapidly burning the forest down and the only salvation was crossing the river and reaching the safety of the opposite bank. Mr Scorpion reached the river's edge but, unable to swim, seemed to have run out of options. The flames rapidly approached. Suddenly Mr Frog swam by en route to the other side. Mr Scorpion begged the amphibian to stop and help him. "How do you propose I help you, Mr Scorpion? If I carry you on my back, you will sting me to death. No, no help from me." Mr Scorpion had dispatched many a frog himself in his time, so the frog's words seemed irrefutable. "Wait, wait! Yes, normally you would be correct, but if I were to sting you while we were crossing the water, you would sink and I would drown as well. That makes no sense. Why would I commit suicide?" Mr Frog paused and considered the arthropod's logic.

"Yes, I suppose you're right. Hop on then." Halfway across the river the frog felt a sharp sting in its back. In horror, he looked up at the scorpion as it retracted its stinger from his benefactor's flesh. 'Why, why?" stuttered the frog as paralysis set in. Before the water submerged both of them, the invertebrate shrugged and said, "It's my nature."

In similar fashion, despite Obama's recent proclamation of his latest foreign policy doctrine, the nature of the Empire will not deter it from aggressive imperialism.

Regardless of how much Obama blathers about diplomacy and not relying on military force to impose Amerikan will on sovereign brown nations, Wonderland can no more refrain from forceful coercion of weaker nations than the fable's scorpion could avoid killing its helper, even though in both cases the impact of such behavior is distinctly negative and counterproductive. The Empire's addiction to such warmongering is hardwired into Amerikan DNA, the result of frustrated machismo, inherent racist xenophobia, deep seated insecurity, the evangelical disease called millenarianism, imperial capitalism and a society which has lost the moral will, ability and desire to define patriotism in any other manner. The synergy of these diverse factors has forced the Empire to resort to violence as a first resort, not because diplomatic options were not available (they always were), but because our perverse Old Testament interpretation of our God's preordained mission for us has demanded this course. Any shirking of war with which to smite the Philistines would be betrayal.

But the O'Bombingnator has to say the things he says in order to stake his claim to history, the "Doctrine Thing". It's like of you don't have a doctrine with your name in front of it you can't have been much of a prez, right? Yeah, sure, there's the declining Empire recognition, the bankrupt economy and the impending social revolution looming on the horizon, and his pathetic attempt at a "doctrine" is intended to mask these all too obvious road marks on the Road to Perdition. By trying to appear like the US is taking some sort of moral high road after 200 years of treaty violations, genocide, illegal interventions and flagrant flaunting of international law, Obama makes a virtue out of necessity, but aside from Mr Frog, who is he kidding?
H Campbell
Texas (Jun 9, '14)

[Re: Pope applies universal salve to Middle East, May 29, '14] Does the Pope's foray into Middle Eastern politics really represent a "dilution of [the Catholic church's] self-understanding and a deviation from its mission"? Or is it a necessary preparation for putting new wine into new wineskins?

Spengler fails (or refuses) to read the full doctrinal implication of Pope Francis inviting the leaders of a Jewish state and a potential Islamic state to "pray" together for peace. For the Pope to endorse Jews to pray to Yahweh and Muslims to pray to Allah, where does this place his own faith in "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"? Does his unprecedented exhortation mean all three Abrahamic faiths share not only a belief in the one God, but possibly in the same God?

Early Christianity in the New Testament similarly worked its way from particulars to universals: from the historic Jesus of Nazareth to the risen Christ, and then finally to the Logos. In his 1998 encyclical letter on Faith and Reason, in which he calls for a renewal of metaphysics, Pope John Paul II declares: "Such a ground for understanding and dialogue is all the more vital nowadays, since the most pressing issues facing humanity - ecology, peace and the co-existence of different races and cultures - may possibly find a solution if there is a clear and honest collaboration between Christians and the followers of other religions and all those who, while not sharing a religious belief, have at heart the renewal of humanity."

Theologians such as Hans Urs Von Balthasar, and especially Frithjof Schuon, as in his groundbreaking works The Transcendent Unity of Religions and Understanding Islam, dare to explore our understanding of an all-inclusive God. For without this renewal in teaching and doctrine among all faiths, no other basis exists upon which all adherents will agree to building a democratic future.
Reverend Dr Vincent Zankin
Canberra, Australia (Jun 6, '14)

The environmental debate today is so corrupted by politics and propaganda that facts are too often distorted, and exaggeration of risk is commonplace.

The vicious war on hydro-carbon fuels is a good example where certain substances are labelled "poison" or "pollution" when associated with coal utilization, but blithely ignored in other areas.

For example, climate alarmists have labelled carbon dioxide produced by carbon fuels as a "pollutant" and the US Supreme Court even declared it to be so. But that ignores the simple truth that 100 times more carbon dioxide exists in the lungs of every animal on earth than in the air; it is an ingredient in beer, bread and champagne; it is essential nutrition for all plant life on earth; and this plant life supports all animal life - hardly a pollutant.

With their "CO2 pollution" propaganda failing, alarmists are now accusing coal of filling the air with mercury "poison", which sounds really scary. Their aim now is to use supposed mercury dangers to force the closure of more coal-fired power stations. This is just another aspect of the war on carbon fuels - they want to kill coal by fair means or foul.

However if tiny traces of mercury are so dangerous, why do millions of people allow dentists to put silver amalgam (with 50% mercury) in their teeth? And why does the EPA ignore all the mercury waste that dentists flush down their sinks every day?

And why does the US FDA allow mercury compounds to be used in flu vaccines? And the people attacking the minute amount of mercury in coal are the same people promoting dangerous mercury-laden compact fluorescent lights.

Traces of mercury occur widely in rocks and minerals and it gets taken up in minute amounts by plants, water and animals living near those sources. When those plants form coal, tiny traces of mercury may be there too. In rare places the mercury content of rocks is so high that dangerous quantities may get into nearby plants and sea life. In other places, bushfires release more mercury to the atmosphere than coal-fired power stations. Mercury has been circulating in the biosphere for far longer than man has been burning coal. Whether it is poison or harmless depends on the dose.

So, let us take care with mercury, but let's not lose track of where our biggest risks occur. Every human faces risks every day just staying alive. But emissions from modern pollution-controlled power stations using washed coal are not one of our major health hazards, especially where Australian coals are being used because their content of mercury is so extremely low. For many people in the world, lack of electricity, starvation, drought, floods and death from exposure pose far greater dangers than the risk that there may be from miniscule traces of mercury occurring naturally in all plant and animal material, including coal.

For those worried about possible over-consumption of mercury, another trace metal, selenium, provides natural protection. Today, the real health problem is more often a deficiency of selenium in the diet.
Viv Forbes
Australia (Jun 5, '14)

[Re The future visible in St Petersburg, May 29, '14] Yes, yes, yes - and afterwards the world will forever live in peace and harmony. The Utopia formed by the Middle Kingdom will eliminate all war and power politics will become a thing of the past! Idiots! Especially you, Escobar, behind the cool sunglasses of fascism. Fight the Nazi in yourself before all.
Joseph Giramma (Jun 3, '14)

Alarmists see a man-made calamity in every change in the Antarctic ice cap. There is nothing unusual about ice caps melting, ice sheets splitting, icebergs calving or glaciers advancing or retreating. This has been happening naturally for eons.

In 1513, a Turkish sea captain, Piri Reis, using ancient maps, produced an accurate chart of the coastline of Antarctica which is now covered by a kilometer of ice. Geological evidence suggests it was ice-free just 6,000 years ago. Several past eras of icing and melting follow the natural cycles of the solar system, totally ignoring man's puny activities.

It is not surprising that most glaciers and ice sheets show melting and calving while snow is being added at their source. If this did not occur, much of Earth's water would eventually become tied up in the ever-growing ice sheets, as happened in the ice ages. And when land-based ice caps melt during periodic warm eras, the sea level inevitably rises and all life-forms must adapt to the new shoreline.

Sea levels rose swiftly by some 130 meters as ice sheets melted at the end of the latest ice age just 13,000 years ago. This made islands out of many coastal hills. We are all descendants of a long line of survivors who had the sense to adapt to these dramatic sea level changes without needing edicts from climate witch-doctors prohibiting camp fires and ordering villagers to abandon their seaside settlements.

There is no evidence that man's production of carbon dioxide is having any effect in Antarctica. Despite rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, global surface temperatures are steady, global sea levels are rising very gently and the Antarctic Ocean is cold because the sea-ice surrounding Antarctica has increased to record levels.

Examination of ice cores suggests that it takes several hundred years for Earth's vast oceans to fully adjust to cycles of global warming and cooling. Thus today's oceans may be still warming, expanding and degassing in gradual adjustment to the medieval warm era which peaked about 700 years ago.

Ice caps grow and shrink naturally, depending mainly on the relative temperatures of the atmosphere and the surrounding oceans. A warm ocean with a cold atmosphere is a recipe for rapid accumulation of snow and ice on adjacent land. Moisture evaporates rapidly from the warm ocean, and then the cold air over the land triggers precipitation. A warm atmosphere and a cool ocean will reverse that process and see the ice caps return to the ocean. It is all about the ratio of precipitation vs outflow and melting.

The Arctic is a totally different story, because here there is no land - just the Arctic Ocean. Floating sea ice comes and goes, depending on the temperature and direction of winds and ocean currents, but the melting of floating ice has no effect whatsoever on global sea levels.

Undersea volcanism is adding warmth to oceans at both poles and under-ice volcanoes may well be melting and undermining ice sheets in the West Antarctic.

Someday the huge Antarctic ice cap may melt, or large slabs of ice may slip off the continent into the sea. When that happens, the seaside homes of Al Gore and Tim Flannery will be submerged and other shore-dwelling humans must evacuate or drown.

These are all un-stoppable natural events. There is no chance that polar ice will be affected in the slightest by carbon taxes in Australia, wind turbines in the North Sea, or solar panels plastered all over California.
Viv Forbes
Rosewood, Qld
Australia (May 27, '14)

[Re Koreas united by rule-breaking spirit, May 14, '14] It is tempting to suggest to North Korea that it take a leaf out of the German solution to a divided Korea. From Pyongyang's standpoint, breaking the rules in this way would equal self-immolation.

Something has happened recently which has not hit the Western media: ad hominem attacks against US President Barack Obama by North Korea. As is its wont, the North reacts strongly when threatened.

Let's look at an example of North Korea's prickly response. When a special envoy from the State Department was on his way to discuss the matter of detained US citizen Kenneth Bae, the US sent B-52s over North Korea. The US diplomat's trip was immediately cancelled by Pyongyang.

So, its easy to see why North Korea won't "break the rules", when neither the US nor South Korea are willing to negotiate on a level playing field - nor give up some of their own intransigent conditions.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (May 19, '14)

[Re Modi, BJP sweep to power in India, May 14] The huge majority gained by the Bhartiya Janata Party-led alliance in the 2014 parliamentary elections in India has created gory liability on the BJP to fulfill election manifesto promises, including: (i) Construction of Ram Temple in place of Babri Mosque (which was demolished in 1992 by BJP and Sangh-Parivar; namely RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajarang dal etc); (ii) Removal of Article370 of the constitution from the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) which will allow Hindus from rest of India to go and purchase land and landed properties in Muslim-majority Kashmir in order to transform demographic composition of J&K in favor of Hindus (without solving the Kashmir problem); and (iii) Creation of a Common Civil Code where Muslims will not be able to marry as per sharia law (which as per Hindu propaganda allows Muslims to marry four wives).

In politics what matters is who brings people to vote at polling stations. For other political parties it is their cadre but for BJP it is mainly Sangh-Parivar. Hence Sangh-Parivar has huge influence on BJP and its members of parliament and state legislative assemblies. It was not a coincidence that Sangh Parivar during the prime ministership of even Atal Bihari Vajpayee (who did not have a parliamentary majority and got support to form the government on the basis of secularism) could get the Gujarat massacre of thousands of innocent Muslims in 2002, but that Vajpayee (except giving sermons to Modi on "Raj Dharma" (state religion) could not do any thing to stop the pogrom during the chief ministership of Modi (who will be prime minister of 1.2 billion India).

Now with such huge majority in parliament (thanks to Sangh-Parivar) if people think that Sangh-Parivar will not extract its pound of flesh from BJP and will not constrain a Modi-led government to immediately implement all said three promises of the Hindutva agenda of the BJP manifesto, then they are living in a fool's paradise.

What amount of bloodshed, looting and killing of innocent people - and even rape of helpless Indians - this will lead to, is any body's guess.
Hem Raj Jain
United States (May 19, '14)

[Re: Pitfalls in PPP undercut China's size, May 12, '14] As the Chinese themselves have repeatedly stressed, the per capita GDP would represent a more telling/meaningful statistic. Though China no doubt deserves much kudos for the impressive economic strides achieved during the last decades, squalid human living conditions in many parts of the country serve as a useful reminder that the Middle Kingdom has a long way to go before it can be rightly included among the world's wealthy nations.
John Chen
USA (May 13, '14)

The Cinco de Mayo celebrations here in MaravillosoLand are over, with the usual accusations of racist stereotyping of Mexicans, tequila-besotted fights, taco eating contests, etc. For those unfamiliar with the occasion, it's a national day of celebration in Mexico for one of their rare victories over white invaders (in this case, the French.) And Mexico has had a few of them, most conspicuously and least forgettably, the Empire to the north. Beginning with the invasion of Mexican Texas by greedy slave owning Anglo-Saxons in the 1820s, white Amerikans have made a cottage industry of conquering, annexing, subverting, undermining and destabilizing our southern neighbor.

The War of 1846 was a prototype for the kind of falsely fabricated provocation and preemptive war of land acquisition Dumbya Bush attempted to recently emulate in Iraq, with vastly less success. (I suspect Vlad Putin read about that little war and took careful notes on how to conjure up an excuse to annex a weak neighbor's land.) Of course, the prizes in question, Texas and and the west, fell like ripe plums into the grasping hands of the imperialists, leaving Mexico to lurch from internal crisis to revolution to borderline chaos up to the present day.

Today the burning issues are illegal immigration and drug trafficking, with all the pressure from Washington being on interdicting illegals Mexicans before they arrive and stopping the drug shipments before they cross the border. Mexican requests for the Amerikans to make efforts at stopping demand for both drugs and cheap labor as well as impeding unrestricted gun running into Mexico are met with indifferent ears in Wonderland. Evidently the US business community that depends on that cheap labor for their profits exerts more influence, not to mention the NRA's delight in having no boundaries with which to prevent Mexico's drug gangs from equipping their own armies.

The resultant carnage in Mexico caused by US supplied weapons and ammunition seems to have no effect on US congressmen usually so quick to jump on human rights issues elsewhere on the planet. As for stopping demand for all those goodies flooding into the Empire, the anti-corollary to the old adage about prevention and cures certainly fits the Empire; "An ounce of addiction is worth a pound of DEA funding, a ton of DHS equipment and lotsa greased politician's palms."

So no incentive exists for the US to do anything to stem demand for a product that acts like a form of foreign aid to Mexico, in the form of drug money, US supplied training, equipment and funds, increased employment for "border security" personnel, businesses in border towns flush with drug money and willing smugglers, mules and drivers. On this side, despite all the rhetoric about border controls, "Great Walls" and undocumented workers, the truth is that many industries would dissolve without the Mexican labor. Ironically, many of these industries are run by good Republicans who publicly jump on the anti-illegal bandwagon with gusto but behind the scenes work diligently to neuter immigration-restricting legislation.

The Mexicans say "Poor Mexico! So far from God and so close to the United States." It doesn't take a theological genius to figure out what makes the US in Mexicans' eyes.
H Campbell
Texas (May 12, '14)

[Re How Putin is re-inventing warfare, May 7, '14] The sanctioning of Russia is just about the only arrow left in the Empire's depleted quiver with which to "punish" the Kremlin for its Ukrainian adventures. But if there are any locoweed smokers still out there that think Amerikan sanctions, embargoes and punitive trade measures are intended to do anything other than enrich smugglers, security forces, organized crime bosses and bankers, let us consider how Amerika was, is and will be for the foreseeable future a country that profits from illegal "trading with the enemy". Like everything else here in the Empire, following Deep Throat's dictum ("Follow the Money") will lead one to True Wisdom.

Take our revolutionary war for instance. Ostensibly fought over "taxation without representation", freedom from tyranny and independence, it actually was an economic struggle over Amerikan smugglers depriving the Crown of customs revenues. One of the most famous episodes of alleged patriot defiance was the Boston Tea Party, which was actually perpetrated by Amerikan tea smugglers worried about cheaper British tea eating into their profits. During the war itself colonials profited by selling to the Brits as well as the "patriots".

The tradition of Amerikans never letting patriotism get in the way of making a buck began at the beginning. This trend continued with the war of 1812, to the point that the British blockaded all of the Amerikan coastline, with the exception of the New England ports, since the New Englanders eagerly traded with "the enemy".

The Civil War profited smugglers on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line, with banks providing the financing of ships and cargoes. Whites regularly traded guns and ammo with the red man during Amerika's genocidal neocolonial wars, often with the US Army's connivance. Perhaps most notoriously, Amerikan industry made profits from German subsidiaries operating during WW 2, though this had to come in the form of Congressional dispensation after the conflict ended.

During the entire Cold War, Amerikan industries profited from selling prohibited technologies to the USSR, using shell companies, cooperative laundering banks and CIA middlemen. Likewise, embargoes against so-called "rogue" nations like Iran have been easily circumvented by profit seeking entities using these same labyrinthine connections worldwide, the same kind of network that facilitated AQ Khan's Nuke Walmart operations with the assistance and profit skimming of the CIA, DIA and NSA.

In this light, can anyone imagine that embargoes against a country like Russia amount to anything other than fattened back accounts for smugglers worldwide? It might be worth pointing out that a goodly chunk of the international smuggling biz is already run by Russians, who have been in the trade for a lot longer than Amerika was even a name. As far as Russia is concerned, the more sanctions, the better. The only way any sanctions imposed on anyone by O'Bomber makes any sense is that he's getting his beak wet on the smuggling action also. Which many explain a lot.
H Campbell
Texas (May 9, '14)

When the history of the failed Empire is written by some trepidatious cockroach historians in the post-apocalyptic future, the role of economic boondoggles must loom large, if not decisive. While the Depression of 1929 and the Meltdown of 2008 will be prominent in such a retelling, these will be undermined in importance by the hideous spending abysses created by the US Pentagon in striving for Full Spectrum Dominance, the delusion of military supremacy over any and all potential and theoretical challengers to US hegemony.

And of these multitudinous spending sprees, which will involve every absurdity from $600 toilet seats to showers that electrocute soldiers (unintentionally, so I hear), one will stand out for its megabudget excesses, its technological buffoonery, and its long lasting geopolitical impact.

That winner of Most Chimerical Pentagon Project Ever is the Ballistic Missile Defense system, an idea born with the V-2 attacks on London in the 1940s, exacerbated by Sputnik in 1957, played with by the US and USSR in the early 1960s and eventually limited and neutered by the 1967 ABM Treaty because of the extant technology's inability to guarantee anything like effective defense against strategic nuclear missile attack. Amerikan's never ending love affair with technology and necessity to one-up the Russkies demanded that a superpatriot like Reagan conjure up his Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") scheme to create an iron-clad "dome" of missile intercepting satellites.

He didn't let a little thing like the ABM Treaty's severe limits on such systems deter him from seeking such a destabilizing first strike-enabling capability, an idea that scared Moscow bleepless. So he poured billions into seeking such "defensive" technologies, despite scientists telling him over and over that even if he could get his nascent systems to pass the US military's scripted, controlled and very low-bar standard tests (which they failed routinely, despite the Pentagon;'s constant fudging of the numbers), in real world nuclear war conditions, inevitable missile "leakage" would kill hundred of millions of Amerikans, hardly an endorsement of SDI's existence, let alone cost.

But at least the Reaganauts had standards to set for testing such wild eyed projects. His philosophical godson "Dumbya" Bush needed no high falutin' fancy dancy requirements; when Bush decided to deploy BMD systems after he unilaterally withdrew from the sacrosanct ABM Treaty, he forsook successful testing as a prerequisite for purchasing equipment.

Consequently, billions were spent deploying BMD facilities, launchers and software that failed virtually every post-construction test they were subjected to. But that was OK; Bush and his stooges were "reasonably confident" that even such a truncated and impotent system was better than nothing for preventing the likes of Iran and North Korea from striking the homeland; this despite the fact his own National Intelligence Estimates pooh poohed the idea of either pissant state developing even rudimentary capabilities in the near term.

And the fact that Putin became convinced that this Pissant rationale for such BMDs was merely window dressing for Amerikan resolve to have first strike capability against Russia, impressed Bush not a whit, convinced that we was that the Cold War was over, Russia's worries could be wistfully ignored, and the same wisdom that turned Iraq and Afghanistan into bleeding wounds would make BMDs ensurers and deliverers of peace. Not to mention China's deep skepticism about Bush's motives.

Now, of course, the chickens are roosting in the ruins of the Bush II tyranny, and defecating on Obama's efforts to out-Bush Bush. Once again, as with almost everything Obama promised the US voter in 2008, he has reneged on his campaign pledges to curb and minimize BMD; indeed, he has decided on expansion into East Europe, thus convincing Russia of the Empire'e evil intent all along to surround the Motherland with threats.

So, as a result of the suspicion and distrust engendered by the chimerical pursuit of BMDs, now the world is back into the Cold War cycle of action-counteraction loops; the US abrogates the ABM Treaty recognized for decades as a geopolitical stabilizer, Russia emulates backyard-defending US by invading pissant neighbor Georgia, Obama authorizes more BMDs in Europe, Russia responds to a CIA sponsored coup in Ukraine by annexing the Crimea, Obama invoked sanctions and more military preparedness in Europe, Russia masses troops on Ukraine's borders. etc. Look forward to Russian bombers parking in Havana and Caracas next.

The billions still being spent on Amerika's BMDs are perhaps the most counterproductive monies ever expended in an Empire now controlled exclusively by corrupt politicians and organized crime (which includes the Pentagon, CIA and NSA). No security has been provided in the least, billions have been added to the national debt, social programs are being destroyed, the middle class is soon to join the Dodo, international suspicion and mistrust is at the highest level since the Cold War's alleged demise, a new arms race is underway and ain't it grand to be living in 1955 again? Can't wait for those tail-finned Caddies to make a comeback!
H Campbell
Texas (May 5, '14)

[Re No hegemonic peace in Cyprus, Apr 17, '14] This well-researched and accurate essay about the Cyprus drama by professor Marios L Evriviades needs to be supplemented with the dire and incredible ramifications of the Turkish invasion and occupation of the island for the international community.

In the first place, the invasion of the island was an episode of the Cold War. After the Zurich Agreement, 1960, the president of the new state, Archbishop Makarios placed Cyprus in the Non-Aligned Movement. A pre-condition for independence was the establishment of two military bases by colonial Great Britain. These bases, which still operate as a sovereign territory of Great Britain, plus the geostrategic location of the island, controlling most of the Middle East area, were the root causes of the tensions and conspiracies against the two communities, Hellenes and Turks.

The presence of a strong communist party, AKEL, which supported Makarios' non-aligned policy in Cyprus, painted the Archbishop as the Fidel Castro of the Mediterranean and Cyprus as the Cuba of the area. Turkey's invasion and occupation redressed this threat. During that period president Richard Nixon resigned, it was the aftermath of the Yom-Kippur war, as well as an internal struggle in the Politburo. These historic "black holes" permitted this military intervention to proceed without a major East-West spat.

Invasion and occupation, as was very astutely observed by John Locke, denies the right of property for the people conquered. Since property rights are the first condition for liberty, the West has abrogated its own principles of a distinct civilizational paradigm. Have a look at the similar plight of Palestinians.

Moreover, Cyprus, as Palestine, is a place where all UN resolutions have been taken by the wind of realpolitik and become worthless paper. No UN resolution has been implemented. International Law forbidding the colonization of an occupied territory has gone overboard with the Turks having moved about 200.000 mainland Turks on the island in an attempt to bring the population equation between Turks and Hellenes to parity.

The violation of an independent state under the pretext of protecting the Turkish population from Hellenes "in homicidal rampage" as Turkish newspapers described the coup against Makarios by the hardline anti-communist second junta of Athens could be used by President Vladimir Putin for protecting the Russians of East Ukraine. Turkey tried to achieve geopolitical control of eastern Mediterranean and the containment of Hellenic Seabed and Exclusive Economic Zone rights. Russia could achieve strategic depth vis-a-vis NATO.

The "sacred cow" view of Turkey by both the US and Europe as an indispensable ally in the Middle East, as is the case with Israel, has resulted in overturning all concepts referring to statehood and sovereignty. The EU made a reasonable move to accept Cyprus in the Union as an enticement for Turkey to normalize the situation on the island together with the carrot of Turkey joining the EU.
Nicholas A Biniaris
Hellas (Apr 28, '14)

Only in Wonderland. Some grizzled old rancher in Nevada pretending to be a rough tough "independent" cowboy makes headlines and oodles of fawning neocon pundits because he refuses to pay government grazing fees on federal land. Basically, he's mooching off the US taxpayer, like he accuses blacks of doing through welfare cheating, which is really the only kind of welfare cheating neocons acknowledge, because , you must understand, only black Democrats can "cheat" the Amerikan taxpayer; by definition, white Republicans can never cheat, rob or steal.

You see, in Wonderland, those rough tough "stand alone" patriot lily white cowboys like Old KKKoot NutJob suck at the government teat constantly, relying on tax breaks, subsidies, bailouts, handouts, regulation waivers and the more than occasional threat/bribe/"lobby" to avoid paying their fair share. Instead, they rape, denude, deforest, pollute, toxify, poison, exploit and destroy their supposedly prized western "pristine" environment in order to make their capitalist profits, which they plow back into lobbying, hiring armies of lawyers, funding political campaigns and avoiding any repercussions for their crimes.

But since irony is a kissing cousin of the ridiculous here in BizarroWorld USA, the flip side of this tale is that, after all the adulation and praise feted on this so-called clone of the Founding Fathers, he proceeded to stuff his cowboy-boot shod foot into his faux cowboy mouth and pontificate on camera on how blacks were probably better off as slaves than being government dependent welfare queens.

That new round of unwelcome publicity caused all his cryptoracist neocon politician and journalist fans to flee like cockroaches surprised by kitchen lights, distancing themselves in thinly concealed efforts to differentiate "their" brand of neoconjobbing from Old KKKoot's version.

In fact, there is no difference, except Old KKKoot is not up for elected office nor has to satisfy advertisers on broadcast news. Indeed, his transparent and proud embrace of racism should make him the poster boy for your average Amerikan Neoconservative; racist, imperialist, militarist, terrorist, capitalist and monstrous hypocrite. God Save Amerika from such Amerikans.
H Campbell
Texas (Apr 28, '14)

Perhaps the author of "Obama runs China's pivot gauntlet" [April 22, 2014] is suggesting that exercising might with restraint creates "ugly Chinese" and "goonish behavior".

The Republic of China, referred to but not recognized as Taiwan, has very similar claims in the East and South China Seas as the PRC. Can one suggest that a major power using water cannons and cutting cables constitutes "ugly Chinese" and "goonish behavior", while a much weaker Taiwan having similar claims, as good Chinese and fine behavior? A claim is a form of assertive behavior.

That facts that Taiwan has similar claims, and that South Korea has the same bitterness against Japan, are very important in East Asia, and will be more and more so as the PRC's power grows but also with demonstration of restraint. These factors will have greater and greater role in framing the thought process of the USA, declared or not.

It is presumptive to conclude that the US even now considers China having thrown down the gauntlet. The fact that the US has long protected a Chinese government, separated by a civil war, that has very similar claims as the PRC's, will be salient to the US, so is Japanese behavior that causes caustic reaction in South Korea. In the East China Sea, by greater and greater necessity, Chinese claims will likely be seen as more and more valid due to the South Korea factor. In the South China Sea, Taiwan's claims suggest the limited scope of the PRC's ambition. Such necessity derives from a powerful China that still exercises restraint and continues to work with the USA in other matters of global importance. Note also that overt retraction of position is not needed to dictate ultimate American response or non-response.

By say 2035, with a much more powerful China that still does not opt for brute force, the USA will be compelled to view its role in the world less of a policeman in East Asia but more as a great power that seeks a workable relation with another great power, for the generations of Americans to come; thus, such Taiwan and South Korea factors will become more and more salient due to reality, and what is best for Americans in the coming generations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to understand the crux. As he greeted Michelle Obama unexpectedly in Beijing recently, he touted friendship and good working relations with her husband - even rhetoric and rituals have a fundamental cause.
Jeff Church
USA (Apr 24, '14)

The weather at any spot is usually defined by maximum/minimum temperatures, humidity, precipitation and wind strength/direction. Weather varies hourly, daily, season-to-season and place-to-place. These weather measurements at any place can be averaged over various time periods.

Climate is defined as the average of 30 years of weather. Mark Twain explained the difference: "Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get".

Weather statistics can be averaged over larger areas, such by region, state, continent or the globe. This is a mathematical abstraction, becoming less accurate and less meaningful as the time or area covered increases. A global average annual temperature which (after debatable adjustments) includes winter in the Antarctic and summer in the Sahara is irrelevant. No one lives in the global average temperature.

Weather and climate have been so politicized that most commentaries are now merely propaganda.

In the brave new world of global warming alarmists, a long frigid winter is "just weather", but one stinking hot summer day is "clear evidence of dangerous man-made climate change".

And despite an unpredicted 17 years of stable global temperature trends, their prophets still chant their doleful dirge: "Unless we have a carbon tax, extreme weather disasters are coming your way soon."
Viv Forbes
Rosewood, Australia (Apr 24, '14)

[Re: The promise of deflation, Apr 17, '14] "No, deflation is not heading our way anytime soon." With the Federal Reserve printing money like gangbusters in the last few years, generalized inflation certainly seems the most logical outcome - in the short and longer run. However, in the intermediate term, it just seems all the outsize gains in the equity and housing markets effectuated not based on sound economic fundamentals but rather by the Fed's monetary largesse will simply have to be corrected. In that sense, and much to Martin Hutchinson's delight, a burst of deflation in the form of wrenching stock/housing markets collapse probably isn't that far off, I think.
John Chen
USA (Apr 23, '14)

[Re: Ukraine and the grand chessboard, April 21 2014] A further analysis of the Ukraine mess reveals some of the most irrational aspects of Western policy.

Firstly, if the EU goes to a deep recession, this means that the US will too. Secondly, Euroskeptics of all hues from the black and silver (SS Waffen) to purple, red and pink, would then get a hefty percentage of votes in all kind of elections. Europe's unemployment would become a nightmare of Weimar Republic-era proportions.

The Ukraine will become a basket case creating mass migration into the EU. When taken together with Syrians, African, Pakistanis, and Christians from across the Muslim World, this will become a further boost to fascists and a real political destruction of Europe from the inside. Neither France's President Francois Hollande, Britain's David Cameron or even Germany can withstand the pressure of such a number of economic immigrants.
Nicholas A Biniaris
Hellas (Apr 22, '14)

OK, ATol readers, here's a confession from an Amerikan you're sworn to keep to yourself. A little known secret here in Wonderland is that, at birth, we're assigned imaginary patriotic buddies. These life-long allies/friends/enablers (mine's a flying pig named The Red Winger (RW) accompany us throughout all our travails, journeys and experiences, available and eager to to tell is what we want to hear about Amerika, reinforce our nationalistic delusions and aggressively advocate even greater self-serving hallucinations about global reality.

I recently had this conversation with The Red Winger:
RW: "These Russians, they're monsters, commies, Nazis! War, war!"
Me: "Yeah, Putin, worse than Hitler, isn't he? But war?"
RW: "Yeah, of course, just like we had no choice with Saddam Hussein and Iraq."
Me: "Uhh, but Saddam hadn't invaded anyone when we invaded Iraq."
RW: (with contempt in his high-pitch pork voice): 'But he had, 12 years earlier, when he attacked Kuwait. That's within the US statute of invasion limitations. And he gassed his own people. And he had WMDs all over the place. What more did we need?"
Me: "Uhh, OK, but there were no WMDs, remember?"
RW: "Your memory is too good. Are you sure you're an Amerikan, Hardy? I wanna check your passport again. Besides, we've won the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so we need someone else to beat in a godly crusade. Russia, they should be easy to take down. They've just got tons of nuclear missiles, jet planes, submarines, tanks, soldiers, battleships, oil, gas, minerals. Meaningless stuff compared to the US military."
Me: "Ivan, they could blow us to kingdom come. Over a country most Amerikans couldn't find with a flashlight, mirror and a map of Ukraine tattooed on their derrieres. Do you really think destroying the world is worth this pissant country that's vital to Russia's national security?"
RW (rather heated now): "National security! You can't invoke that for the Russkies! Only Amerika can use that as a defense of its actions. It's like 15 minute car insurance; everybody knows that."
Me: "So if a US friendly president was overthrown in favor of a Russia friendly president in either Canada or Mexico, you wouldn't want us to do what Russia's doing?"
RW (more hesitant): "That's...different, dude. That would be a threat to OUR national security. That would mean we could everything necessary to stop that invasion of our backyard. That's written in the constitution too."

I ended the discussion with The Red Winger, as he was becoming increasingly agitated. He told me he was thinking about resigning as my imaginary patriotic buddy. He said I would be better off with The Warped Burrito, a well known liberal phantom who supports ObamaCare, a minimum wage and chipotle hot sauce.
Hardy Campbell
Texas (Apr 22, '14)

[Re North Korea needs 'strategic shaping', Apr 8, '14] Dr John Bradshaw's suggestions are not new. The alpha and omega of the Obama administration's approach relies less on diplomacy than on repeated military exercises with South Korea to "force" North Korea to bend to its goals. It won't work; it's never worked, short of war, and then not so successfully. North Korea won't talk about the nuclear issue unless the US talks to them as equals and with substantive trade-offs - a peace treaty, diplomatic relations, economic advantages, so on and on.

A recent example should tell us the US has no stomach to talk to Pyongyang. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the sending of two warships to Japan, as a warning to China and North Korea over territorial claims on the high seas. North Korea is the wrong Korea to blame - it's South Korea who claim the same territory of rocks that Japan does. So, the intelligence is at best cloudy and without a diplomatic goal other than confrontation. With a paranoid policy it is little wonder US approaches to North Korea remain full of mould and cobwebs.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Apr 11, '14)

Hardy Campbell writes often and at length to the letters column of Asia Times Online. The editor ought to do Campbell the honor of inviting him to write a regular column. If Campbell accepts this, then a bonus would be that there would be more room in the letters column for other readers to write in. I wonder how many other readers agree with me.
Lou Vignates
USA (Apr 11, '14)

[Re Hardy Campbell's Letter, Apr 4, '14] "But Kapitalism will survive, sustained on life support as it always has with war, corruption and, of course, socialism. Without the latter, in the form of government bailouts, subsidies for unprofitable companies and inefficient industries, and the militarization of society, WonderKapitalism would have died long ago."

Absolute, total class Hardy - you can also add Australia's own corporate socialists to your list.
Ian C Purdie
NSW Australia (Apr 7, '14)

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If so, the Empire should consider itself immensely complimented by Russia's Vladimir Putin. He has merely taken US history for the last 175 years, read about our multiple illegal, criminal and immoral invasions, interventions and subversions of foreign countries, absorbed the lessons and reconfigured them to fit Russia's peculiar 21st century geostrategic position. And why not use us as a template? One would be hard pressed to find a country that has attacked so many small countries with such flimsy excuses for so many decades with so little repercussion.

But Putin's emulation had to start slow. He began his political career when Russia was in debt and in precipitous decline, reeling from the USSR's collapse and needing to bide his time while the US-led NATO vultures hovered over the rich carcass of the Soviet empire. To this end, aligning Russia with post-9/11 Amerika made good sense, and he bit his tongue while NATO ate away at the periphery of what had been the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. But a funny thing happened on the US's road to global hegemony; the potholes of Iraq and Afghanistan were bigger and deeper than anyone imagined, the US economy tanked, Al Qaeda not only did not disappear but became global and more daring in scope than ever before, the energy requirements of a voracious planet drove the price of Russian energy into the stratosphere, Russia's economy took off and an apprehensive China edged closer to Moscow because of Amerika's barely concealed hegemonic designs.

And after Bush punished Putin's anti-terror loyalty in 2005 by unilaterally abrogating the ABM Treaty of 1972 that Russia desperately wanted to hold on to, Putin said, "Basta. Enough is enough. All my efforts to cooperate with the West have been rewarded with human rights accusations, undermining Russian influence amongst our neighbors, building military bases and ABM sites all around us, subverting my allies, breaking treaties and isolating Russia." So he silently adopted the Putin Doctrine; if I catch your hunting dogs sniffing around in my backyard, better get some new hounds, 'cuz yours ain't coming home.

And so when Georgia flirted with NATO and stupidly backed Ossetian rebels with Washington's green light, those Georgian dogs did not return home to Tbilisi. Putin's model for action spanking the upstarts was modeled after so many similar US invasions of obstreperous neighbors, where needed to be reminded who was Numero Uno in our hemisphere. But NATO had a new pack of eager beaver dogs ready for NATO-maniacal Ukraine, an even bigger prize and one with infinitely more political, ethnic and religious meaning to the Russians.

So the CIA financed the overthrow of Putin's stooge in favor of an Amerikan stooge, and thus provoked the Putin Doctrine in Crimea, a demonstration by which Putin has finally put to rest any silly notions that the West has ever been interested in anything like equitable relations with Moscow. Putin has drawn a line in the sand in Ukraine, Syria, Iran and Central Asia and announced that from now, Russia will take offensive action to defend its interests, using the same paper-thin rationalizations the US has used for its criminal endeavors overseas. Imagine how happy Tehran, Damascus, Havana and Caracas are now. What really ticks Amerikans off so much about Russia is how similar they are to us.
H Campbell
Texas (Apr 7, '14)

What's going on in Taiwan? [Apr 2, '14] by Peter Lee, ends anticlimactically with "the day that Taiwan declares de jure independence has probably crept a little closer". No more creeping is needed. It should be obvious that by repeatedly applying for membership at the United Nations where statehood is required, Taiwan has in fact declared independence repeatedly. What really is the significant difference between declaration of independence and application for independence? What alternative medium, venue, or manner of declaring independence would bring about Taiwan independence, more effectively than applying for UN membership? None

Most Western countries already informally consider Taiwan independent but none will ever recognize Taiwan statehood no matter what Taiwan declares. All, including the US, are decent enough to not push Taiwan into the inferno of war, and most, especially the US, view relation with China as paramount. Even if Taiwan really is resolute enough to intend to endure the inferno of war for the mere chance of independence (if China loses), the West will still be decent enough to never recognize Taiwan. Recognition is the kiss of death that the rest of the world will never deliver.

If the Chinese mainland considered Taiwan's informal declaration of independence vastly different from application for independence, even when the world does not recognize Taiwan statehood, would Taiwan be safer or more prosperous? Chances are that the Chinese mainland leadership understands the insignificance of any Taiwan declaration, and the Taiwan leadership understands the futility and risk of any declaration.

After another 20-30 years of building up to even more intimidating advantages, the Chinese mainland will likely just start the gradual process of breaching Taiwan's immigration with unarmed human waves. Taiwan will have no means to avoid reunification. The US will be powerless when an ever more devastating war is ever more possible not has not happened; basic American decency will prevail.

Even if Taiwan becomes plucky when pressured, the Chinese mainland still will not need to start any major military retaliatory offensive. Taiwan's energy exposure is very vulnerable to very limited use of force. When the worst has not happened but could easily happen due to US actions, the US war initiative will be paralyzed.
Jeff Church
USA (Apr 4, '14)

Kapitalism here in the Empire is the kind of institution that Karl Marx could make a fat living on. Time after time it demonstrates its callous disregard for human beings in preference of fat profits. Recently two events have exhibited the yin and yang of Kapitalism's alleged devotion to spreading prosperity amidst the masses.

Amerika's largest car manufacturer and recipient of socialist bailout largesse, General Motors (GM) has recently had to recall 800,000 plus cars with defective ignition systems that had resulted in at least 13 deaths and many more injuries. Due to a loophole crafted into their bailout package from the US government, GM is not legally liable for these deaths incurred, even though documents clearly show GM was aware of the problem as far back as 2001.

The reason the problem wasn't fixed way back then was, of course, because of the expense involved. It appears that decision was sound one, thanks to Washington and its horde of political whores, who were certainly rewarded come campaign funds trolling time. Of course, this kind of ruthless logic is inherent in Amerikan-style Kapitalism and is displayed over and over again, such as in the BP Deep Horizon blowout, the Bhopal mass gassing, the Ford Pinto fuel tank debacle, ad Kapitalisum.

At the other end of the spectrum comes a recent labor board decision to allow Amerikan college football players at an elite university to form a union for the first time. Such an action is unprecedented in a sport routinely accustomed to treating its "student-athletes" as indentured servants working to pay off their scholarships on the lucrative gridiron, lucrative for the university-plantation owners, that is.

The reverberations of this decision are just beginning to be felt, especially in the pocket books of all those universities who have neglected providing health insurance for these sharecropping athletes, who have hypocritically persecuted these athletes for using their athletic fame to make modest incomes while they reap obscene profits, who have bent, deformed and broken their own academic rules to allow the star players to stay in school despite subpar grades just because they bring in the TV revenue.

Like everything else in Wonderland, this university-plantation greed has spawned nothing but corruption, double standards and wink-wink-nod-nod collusion between the fans, the media and corporate Amerika. Hopefully this unionizing action will spread like wildfire, though in union-phobic Amerika it remains to be seen how long they could survive before being branded "un-Amerikan" and "socialist".

The idea of big institutions sharing the fruits of their employees' labor smacks way too much of income equalizing wealth re-distribution, a philosophy fundamentally at odds with Amerikan Kapitalism's central creed of strip-mining the middle class down to penury.

But Kapitalism will survive, sustained on life support as it always has with war, corruption and, of course, socialism. Without the latter, in the form of government bailouts, subsidies for unprofitable companies and inefficient industries, and the militarization of society, WonderKapitalism would have died long ago.
H Campbell
Texas (Apr 4, '14)

The subject matter in “Why China can grow without democracy" [Apr 1, '14] by Lisbeth Moeller is inherently imprecise and nebulous. One could also easily have asked why China can't grow without democracy. The link between growth and democracy is itself a presumption. Western authors like the ethnic/cultural tangent; they pry into the subjective Chinese value ascribed to democracy and various facets of democracy (the right to vote in elections and the acceptance of pluralism in opinions are rather different facets of democracy), but there are non-cultural factors.

First, economically speaking, the modern world is dominated by two classes. Class I is the advanced, formerly aggressive and racist but now repentant and socially progressive West. Class II are the once prosperous victims, of the aggression of Class I, now having both the advantage of backwardness and yet advanced enough ability to exploit such advantage of backwardness. Most in Class II are the East Asians, who are not hindered by stifling religiosity.

Second, there is globalism (with technology transfer) and information explosion that erodes the advantage of distinct innovation and the advantage of being the first to know. What are the explicitly stated twin purposes of patents? They are to promote novelty and also, after the period of patent protection, to catalog and disseminate technology for the benefit of the consumers; thus, the advantage of backwardness is explicit if only one has the ability to exploit it.

Third, the politically oriented have the tendency to repudiate science. The way the electron spins is not governed by democracy or innovation; neither is necessarily the way to exploit it if possible.
Jeff Church
USA (Apr 2, '14)

Of the many legacies of death and destruction that the US military has bequeathed an unsurprisingly ungrateful planet earth, the one that gets less the least publicity will doubtless be the most long lasting and lethal. The Pentagon and its 1,000-odd military bases and installations distributed around the globe constitute the biggest polluters in world history.

The storage of toxic metals, chemicals and ammunition in virtually every one of these sites has resulted in massive groundwater contamination and increased disease rates for the unfortunate surrounding indigenous populations. When these bases remain in a host country, all the natives can do is organize protests that the Amerikans and the stooge politicians in their back pockets can ignore with arrogant impunity. However, when these bases do close, the departing imperial troops assume no responsibility for cleanup of their poisonous garbage, leaving it to the normally poor third world countries to struggle with making the ravaged environment livable again.

The irony, of course, is that one of the justification for these bases is to "protect" the native peoples from aggression, just evidently not aggression of the environmentally degrading kind the Pentagon is so good at inflicting on our "friends". The dangerous materials linger for decades, condemning generations of children with birth defects, cancers and an assortment of diseases.

This insult to any nation is compounded by the routine abuses of Amerikan military personnel overseas, including rape, murder, theft, gun running and drug dealing, activities that few in the WonderWhore media ever deem worthy to inform the WonderFools back home about, lest they be accused of "not supporting the troops.". Typically US soldier's crimes against natives are not prosecutable by these host states, instead leaving it to US military "justice" to administer punishment, which almost always consists of either outright dismissal of charges or token wrist-slaps.

No wonder protest movements have sprung up around the globe, in some cases achieving noteworthy victories over the imperialists, such as the closing of the Vieques naval base in Puerto Rico. But by and large the US military, supreme overlords of everything, can blithely ignore things like EPA rules, since the Bush-Cheney Mafia saw to it that the Pentagon was exempted from most domestic environmental laws, thus putting even home grown Wonderlanders in the same contempt category as Third World brown people.

Of course, even in the US, these military bases are usually not located next to a Beverly Hills, so the third world logic is still very much in evidence stateside also. The tentacles of the Empire wrap around the globe like some slimy monster out of a Grade-B sci-fi flick, leaving a gooey toxic ooze, sucking dignity, health and humanity out with vampiric greed.
H Campbell
Texas (Apr 2, '14)

Poor Obama. He's probably a chess player, while, ironically, his adversary Vlad "The Embarrasser" Putin, is, at heart, a poker player. So here they are, sitting at a game of geopolitik Texas hold'em poker, and Obama's staring at his community cards with consternation.

There's a sanctions card, a Syria card, an Iran card, a China card and finally, a climatic change card. Obama is sweating profusely, because he knows just how weak his hand is. Sanctions against small pissant countries like Cuba or Iran are one thing, but against Russia? Obama knows that even four of those sanctions cards won't make Putin blink. The Syria and Iran cards are Putin's cards; he can make or break any US initiative on either country with a wave of his KGB hand.

The China card could go either way, though Beijing is making noises about challenging US global supremacy. But most depressing of all for the tanned Clone of Bush Dumbya is the climate change card. Obama's CIA masters have already briefed him on the scary future; the US is already suffering horrific droughts, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes with the onslaught of the effects of warming, and the prospect of coastal cities being inundated permanently is very real, with catastrophic effects on the fragile, brittle Amerikan economy.

Russia, on the other hand, has few coastal cities of import, and the warming of Siberia and the Arctic will at last permit the successful colonization and exploitation of unheard of riches in minerals and oil in these previously frozen frontiers. The future is Russian, while the Empire is tottering, creaking, leaking, and most indicative of decline of all, sanctioning. Obama should fold his hand now, of course, but instead he'll double down and raise, while steely eyed VP ponders new ways to humiliate the imperialists.
H Campbell
Texas (Mar 28, '14)

[Re Russia 1, Regime Changers 0, Mar 17, '14] Whether it's frustrating imperial designs over Iran and Syria or giving sanctuary to Amerikan politically persecuted refugees, Putin absolutely delights all us anti-imperialists who had become depressingly accustomed to the Empire's tyrannical whims prevailing worldwide.
Hardy Campbell
USA (Mar 18, '14)

[Re Strategic impatience on North Korea, Mar 17, '14] Strategic (im)patience is a road to nowhere. Neither the Bush nor the Obama administrations wanted to enter into serious negotiations with North Korea. Instead you've have Secretary of State John Kerry issuing ukases that may play well in the US but don't advance one whit serious talks on substantive issues with the DPRK.

Instead the US and its ally South Korea commit dangerous policy moves such as war exercises and more importantly reconnaissance flights over a North Korea with keen memories of B-52s bombing North Korea back to the Stone Age during the Korean War.

The regime of sanctions isn't working. Look at the oil Libyan rebels are willing to supply North Korea with, for example. The UN Human Rights Commission report won't go anywhere soon since the information contained within has been on the record for years now, and the Congressional Record has pages of testimony by North Korean refugees going back to the 20th century.

A wag might observe that the US has no spine to deal directly and intelligently with Kim Jong-eun.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Mar 18, '14)

[Re Russia 1, Regime Changers 0, Mar 17, '14] Putinmania has officially struck Wonderland. No news media has been immune to this obsession with all things Putinesque. Comics adore the fodder he has provided them. "Serious" geopolitical experts dissect his every pronouncement, gesture, wardrobe choice and facial expression. The Pentagon has funded a body language study of the Kremlin boss, evidently of such earth-shaking import that its results are classified.

There hasn't been this much fuss about a Russian since Gorby tore down the Iron Curtain. Of course, for that last Secretary of the Soviet Communist party, that allure was the prospect of imminent WonderVictory in the Cold War, whereas with Putin it's exactly the opposite; a rising Russia treading on the rotting Empire with Cold War vengeance on its mind. But the obsession is understandable; with its collection of anodyne politically-correct image-conscious puppets, the West's so-called leaders cannot match Putin for charisma, charm, virility, machismo, decisiveness or any other trait that the Western Whore Media now wants to denigrate or sneer at, traits that not so long ago were considered political catnip by these communication prostitutes (how soon they forget Reagan's faux cowboy-on-a-horse image.)

And believe me that the WonderMedia is apoplectic with Putin vitriol; he's a nut, a cartoon character, a throwback to the Cold War, a brute, etc, all the familiar demonization for anyone who not only doesn't kiss Amerika's derriere but actually has a suggestion what Amerika can do with itself and the horse it rode in on (presumably Reagan's?)

The MediaWhores here are desperately trying to editorialize ways we can make Russia and Putin pay for defending Russia's interests, and the roll call is pathetical if not laughable; we'll become "energy independent" and deprive Russia of energy blackmail, we'll embargo Hollywood movies, western banks will stop loaning money, ad ridiculum. The arrows left in the imperial quiver are getting smaller, rarer and more amusing all the time.

What makes Putin exceptional is the casual and confident way that he thumbs his nose at the once all-powerful Westerners. Whether it's frustrating imperial designs over Iran and Syria or giving sanctuary to Amerikan politically persecuted refugees, Putin absolutely delights all us anti-imperialists who had become depressingly accustomed to the Empire's tyrannical whims prevailing worldwide. And try as Wonderlanders might to throw human rights abuses in his face, Putin, cool as a Russian cucumber salad, tosses us a fastball right back, reminding us of our huge prison population, overwhelmingly minorities, our slaughters of innocent civilians in the Middle East and our torture gulags in Cuba, Poland, et al.

That Putin's a small guy too also gets under Anglo-Saxon skins, used as they are to their heroes, leaders and fictional villains being six foot something. A Russian shrimp kicking Amerikan butt and taking names? Unthinkable!

Putinmania (or perhaps more aptly, Putinphobia) will be around for awhile, even if he doesn't get another term in office. He's made himself and Russia not only respected but feared, just the way the Empire has had its way for decades, and the Russian people love him for it.
Hardy Campbell
USA (Mar 18, '14)

[Re Crimea and Western 'values', Mar 14, '14] I don't know Pepe Escobar's private thoughts or what his deepest intuition reports to him about the coming months and years, but I can't believe he is convinced the aggressive - some say "reckless" - actions of Empire (the United States) will continue to be patiently tolerated and counterbalanced solely through political solutions, as they have been to date by China, for example.

Under the surface, world power shifts continue to transform a unipolar globe into a multipolar one - this is obvious. Citing the "Grand Chessboard" game to explain the Ukrainian imbroglio, for example, is valid but is almost a cliche that throws analysts into Brzezinski's generational time-warp when newer technologies for war and mind control exist today. Terms such as Cold War, McCarthyism, Evil Russia, Ukrainian revolutionaries, Allied (the West) victory over Hitler (Putin) force new wines into old bottles.

The present bottle is world dominance - "full spectrum": planet, space, and inner-space (mental, mind-control), no exceptions. The applied sciences have given to technologists drones and "push button" wars; the social sciences have given to them tools to shape and predict human behavior; tools that can and have leveraged an entire public into "war fever" within one week (ie, US media propaganda targeting Russia to conceal Washington's alliance with neo-fascist Ukrainians); American citizens have given the Pentagon and intel community carte blanche with unlimited funds - if only through public silence.

Physical wars aren't new to humankind, but wars where a principal component is "mental saturation bombing" (beyond propaganda) are new; where military maneuvers are mapped and assigned by impersonal algorithms; seamlessly monitored from space; analyzed by CIA and NSA; wherein lie square Skinner boxes filled with huddled masses networked and programmed by an omnipresent and omniscient "grid" controlled somewhere in deep space, or somewhere in the "deep state". The latter (cyber totalitarianism) is, in my view, far more threatening than physical combat, and will remain with us long after the smoke on any battlefield dissipates.

What is more deadly than losing an arm or a leg in war, even worse than physical global combat itself? It is losing one's mind and soul!

Caveat: We are half-way there.
Michael T Bucci
USA (Mar 17, '14)

"The wages of imperialism are death," some sage may have said. If so, they were merely reflecting a fact multiplied a hundredfold every day here in the decaying rotting putrefying carcass of Empire. The relentless and brutal suicide/murders of veterans and their families is a mounting concern and cost, of course, one that the military and politicians whose hands are stained with so much blood are futilely trying to cope with.

That the wars these vets are returning from were gross violations of international and moral law probably had little to do with these tragic deaths of young people, since most of them retained imageries of patriotism and "defending their nation" and all sorts of associated jingoistic nonsense when they joined the military. But the horribly criminal things Amerikan aggression foisted on these service people turned them into subhumans who had no compunction in murdering children and helpless adults with impunity.

Such brutality is fine in war, if not required, but the problem is, despite all efforts to the contrary, the US cannot afford to stay in a perpetual state of imperial war with the rest of humanity. Thus, when these subhuman monsters return to a country that demands human non-monsters to function in a nonviolent way, the transition is shattering. Bereft of any way to gradually diminish their bloodlust and forced to go "cold turkey", these vets shatter into a million pieces of debris that no one in government has the slightest interest in helping.

The psychs call it PTSD but in reality it's more accurate description is Post Imperial Adjustment Disorder. It's a problem the whole country will shortly face as its irrelevance to the world increases. But these lives, essentially KIAs in their respective theaters of operation, are write offs in any case to the cold calculus of capitalism; their utility used up in combat, their continued drain on resources back in the Empire justifies writing them off anyway.

It is as if they were "outsourced" to Amerikan imperialism's desires one way overseas, but upon returning their "jobs" and usefulness to Empire have come to an end. Less easy to ignore is the trillions in dollars that Congress has cleverly concealed form the public by putting such expenses "off budget", as if war could be segregated into a cost-free exercise. The justification is the supremacy of the PIgMEN complex (Political Intelligence government Military Espionage and Narcotics), which has created the greatest socialist experiment in history, tying virtually all aspects of Amerikan society to the perpetuation of war as a normal state of affairs.

The maintenance of PIgMEN has so warped, perverted and sullied very moral, ethical and religious sentiment in this country that the very definition of patriotism is symbolized by images of service people blowing away brown people in foreign lands. The fates of these brown people is of absolutely non concern to the cheering WASPs, so long as there's more to kill down the road. Indeed, PIgMEN has gone a step further than intended by creating a virtual parallel government that has turned the "I" and "E" components into very large capital letters subsuming all the others, especially the very small, impotent and just-for-"democratic"-show "g".

The unknown and probably non-existent proverb-spouting sage (OK, I confess; it's really me) is merely elucidating an obvious fact of history; in its ever expanding need to assure dominance and imperial control, dissipation and over reach are inevitable and not just a precursor of imperial death but an accelerator. Despite all the gadgets and thingamagigs the Pentagon is contriving for its hallowed Full Spectrum Dominance, their very creation is a guarantee that their intent will be irrevocably defeated.
H Campbell
Texas (Mar 17, '14)

[Re Confusion deepens over Flight 370, Mar 14, '14] If anything proves that after 67 years in power United Malays National Organization-dominated regime should step down, the amateurism shown in handling the matter of Flight 370 is proof positive.

It is time for renewal in a Malaysia that has grown lazy, corrupt ands incompetent.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Mar 17, '14)

[Re C'mon baby, light my (Crimean) fire, Mar 7, '14] The US strategic plan, at least in its military aspects, would seem to be to attempt to transmogrify the Russian naval base at Sevastopol into a version of the US Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo. But today's Russia is not the same country as that 'led' by Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin two decades ago, and Mr Obama - and for that matter Ms Nuland and her neocon ilk - are playing with fire. Alas, if the conflagration comes, it will affect us here in Europe long before it comes home to roost in Washington.
M Henri Day
Stockholm, Sweden (Mar 10, '14)

The talking head "experts" on Russia here in the Empire prattle on endlessly about Russian imperialism,thuggery and disregard for international law in the Crimean crisis. What they have all failed to do is connect the dots of Russian history vis-a-vis the Black Sea, the Bosphorus Straits and the important port of Sevastapol. The seizure of the Crimean peninsula from the Ottoman Empire's proxies, the Tatars, was a giant step towards Moscow's realization of its messianic mission to regain Constantinople for Orthodox Christianity and acquire access to the Mediterranean, while dealing a death blow to its main rival in southeast Europe, the tottering Ottoman Empire. Sevastapol was the strategic fortress city that made Russia's only all-year warm weather port an impregnable projection of Russian power, but the western Europeans, fearful of Russia acquiring vast swathes of Ottoman territory and becoming a juggernaut superpower, conspired to ensure the Russian's confinement to that Black Sea bastion.

In 1853, they even resorted to war in the Crimea to frustrate Russian designs to this end, and twenty five years later acted to further frustrate Russia's ambitions after they defeated the Ottomans in the Balkans. The Christian western Europeans ganged up on Christian Orthodox Russia to protect Muslim Turkey and guarantee a precarious "balance of power" in Europe, a ridiculous plan that fell apart one summer day in Sarajevo in 1914.

This brief sketch has, I trust, demonstrated that the Russians have every right to be suspicious of western Europe and its New World progeny, Amerika, and their so-called interest in Ukrainian democracy. The Soviets, however, didn't do themselves any favors when they ceded the Crimea to Ukraine, an administrative adjustment made by Khruschev, but how were they to know that Boris Yeltsin would conspire with Ukraine and Belarus to dump the USSR into the trash bin of history?

So now Russia wants to correct what they perceive as a historic wrong that will re-affirm Russia's preeminence as a Black Sea power, despite the fact that their current arrangement with Ukraine provides this as a de facto situation. But Putin is trying to make a point to the West that Washington and the Empire, of all nations, should understand very well. Its own possession of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is the Amerikan analogue to Sevastapol, a vital strategic port that gives imperial Wonderland hegemonic control over our "backyard" in the Caribbean. The Cubans were coerced by the "liberating" Amerikans in 1898 to provide Guantanamo as a permanent leased base, a deal that that the revolutionary government of the Castro brothers have refused to acknowledge (since 1959 Cuba has not cashed any of the checks the US is obliged to issue for leasing Guantanamo, even when they were desperate for hard currency.) In terms of international law, Amerika's possession of this port is dubious at best, but try suggesting to Obama that we give it up to Raul.

And for the same reason do not expect Russia to stop making efforts in acquiring its Black Sea "Guantanamo." Who knows, Putin may start sending illegally detained people there in imitation of our own Caribbean black hole of "democracy".
H Campbell
Texas (Mar 10, '14)

[Re: Ukrainian blood on Kerry's hands, Mar 3, '14] So let's see here. A large rich powerful country has a smaller neighbor. That neighbor's citizenry revolts against the ruling government because of its corruption and repression of democratic peaceful dissent. The larger country disagrees with the rebels aims and sends a military contingent to intervene in repressing the rebellion.

Question: A) Does the US protest this gross violation of sovereignty? Question: B) Who are these countries? If you answered A) Yes and B) Russia and Ukraine; ZONK! You lose. The hip cognoscenti will know the answers are A) No and B) Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Indeed, we can go further and state the US tacitly gave Riyadh the green light for this intervention, including CIA and DIA assistance in quelling the disturbances in a strategically located country the US has major intelligence and military facilities in.

This gross interference evidently passed Washington's smell test for intervention, since Obama's olfactory glands are keenly sensitive to Saudi oil, cash and powerful lobbyists. So despite all the rhetoric about supporting Arab democracy and freedom blah blah blah during the Arab Spring of 2011, in the end, Obama gladly accepted suppressing the legitimate complaints of the Bahraini Shia majority against the elite Sunni minority in order to satisfy the Saudis and Sunni Gulf States that democracy for Arabs only applies to countries that don't have oil or whose leaders don't kowtow to imperial desires. Naturally, that explanation is suitable only for private digestion; publicly Obama used the specter of Iranian "control" over Bahrain's Shias as the pathetic fig leaf used to cloak his two-faced imperial nudity.

On the other hand, Putin, who has already rubbed the Empire's nose in the geopolitical merde of Syria and Iran, is definitely on Obama's merde list, making this latest brouhaha of Washington's the latest in a series of machismo exercises. While the pundits and comics in Wonderland make hay about Putin's ostentatious displays of his manhood, secretly, Wonderlanders admire a man who backs up such displays with political resolve and cool geocalculus, while deploring their own hemming-and-hawing, on-again-off-again wannabe tough guy sitting in the White House.

So while the Empire weakly wags its finger at Russia and howls at the moon like a frustrated puppy dog, it knows that Putin successfully called its bluff about making Ukraine the easternmost bastion of Western influence and he is holding all aces. And for all the WonderTalk about Russia being a "bully" while conveniently forgetting its own 54 years of bullying tiny Cuba for no other reason than pure mean spirited spite, the fact is Russia is constantly having to defend its backyard from invasion-by-stealth by the Empire and its minions in Western Europe. Somehow that is bad, whereas NATO somehow is justified in attacking and occupying Afghanistan, a country that committed no aggression against any of its members and oh by the way is nowhere near the "A" in NATO. Unless of course NATO's main puppy dog the Empire considers the whole planet its "backyard".

In the end, Putin will prevail and the West will fret and fume and apply its hypocritical double standards while warning about new "Cold Wars." In fact, the Cold War never ended, just like World War One did not end in 1918 or World War Two in 1945. All we had were pauses and rearmament breaks in the ongoing struggle between West and East.
H Campbell
Texas (Mar 5, '14)

[Re: Ukrainian blood on Kerry's hands, Mar 3, '14] Not exactly sure what the US was thinking on this one, perhaps that NATO could bring chaos to the doorstep of Russia and President Putin would just pretend nothing was happening? As the commander-in-chief, who other than President Barack Obama ultimately bears responsibility for this careless geopolitical judgment - even though the whole thing might not have been planned/orchestrated by him? If the US president is striving to build a positive legacy, it is not quite yet discernible at the moment. And let's not forget, the economy isn't exactly brimming with confidence, either.
John Chen
USA (Mar 5, '14)

[Re Morality should matter in US' Gulf policy, Feb 28, '14] The US should use its own constitution as a standard by which it judges its relationships with the various democratic movements in the Mediterranean and Gulf of Persia. If the US is to be sincere in its support of these movements, it should set the standards very high and demand that each of these nations afford the same sort of human and civil rights that it has for its own people.

In this way we would have policy much more amenable to the sentiments of the American people, not the paranoid military-industrial complex. At least we would have a clearer indication of our will projected into the region. The public and private institutions in the US that are involved should consider a way to clear their conscience of any doubt of being true to the interests of the people in the region. If the United States wants to be perceived as fair in its projection of power, the US must have a fair metric by which to measure the validity of each of these nations in relation to some ideals that are just.

Many of these nations are very suspicious of the motivations of the US, and at the same time hold the US in low esteem due to its inconsistent and incoherent policies towards Saudi Arabia and Iran, and their dynamics in relationship to Israel. As such its relationships with these nations would have to be re-established along some other paradigm. These nations have a very special status in US foreign policy and we should take a closer look at the consequences of these peculiar policies, and measure them against our future interests in this predominantly Muslim region.

As a predictive science of disruptive social movements is nascent at best, there is no guarantee of the outcome, or even the paths of these revolutions so we cannot have any expectations but can only give guidance to the protagonists and personalities that lead the movements. France gave support to an independence movement in America over 200 years ago. If that revolution is a portent, then we should be prepared for chaos until equilibrium is established and a new homeostasis achieved. Preconceived notions will only lead the US to further complications..

In the Summer 1990 edition of the journal Foreign Affairs, Theodore Sorenson wrote, "The US leaders and experts who coolly stressed geopolitical realities throughout the Cold War - the reality of Moscow's ruthless treatment of its neighbors, its drive to export and exploit revolution around the globe, its desire to expand its ideological and military reach into the affaires of others and, above all, its capability to inflict unacceptable damage upon this country - must now face a new reality. The Soviet threat has not only been contained; it has collapsed. The Soviet empire has disintegrated. Its long time ideology has been repudiated... Neither America, nor America's allies will believe any longer in a US national security policy based primarily on a Soviet military threat."

So began the path to a new security policy arrangement, culminating with the war on terror, based primarily on a radical Islamic threat with al-Qaeda driving "to export and exploit revolution around the globe". This so called revolution, or insurgency, had to be countered with COIN in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a siren's call for democratic revolutions throughout North Africa and the Middle East.

Sorenson, in the same article mentioned above, titled "Rethinking National Security", urged the US to pursue a policy of "the peaceful enhancement of democracy around the world..." He wrote that "[H]istory tells us that governments that respect the rights of their citizens ... are less likely to generate the kind of regional, racial, and religious conflicts, terrorist tactics and conventional, chemical or nuclear arms build-ups that threaten the pace and unity of the world, on which our own long range security rests."

In light of his argument and the recent analysis of people familiar with such matters, a fresh look at US security policy, in regards to the disruptive role of al-Qaeda and their wealthy sponsors among the sheikdoms of the Maghrib and Persian Gulf states, is long overdue. In this context an evaluation and realignment of US policy in relation to Iran makes perfect sense. The US's call for the spread of democracy through the region rings hollow, if it continues to support the radical, al-Qaeda infiltrated rebel groups fighting the government of Syria and the anti-democratic monarchies that lend technical, material and moral support to them.

Meanwhile China has become the second greatest economy by incorporating capitalist systems controlled by PRC state apparatus. The US shift to China demonstrates the gravity and magnitude of the consensus that the 10 years spent in fruitless crusades for the sake of misguided religionists of the Saudi and Israeli type and their "amen corner in the US Congress", as Pat Buchanan called them. This was a grand policy failure - a miscalculation of the iron will of the old Soviet elites and a misunderstanding of Chinese economic and historic imperatives.

Such a shift towards trust in the democratic sentiments and aspirations of the people takes a great deal of faith in the people themselves and the US may not have such a faith as was necessary for its very own independence. This in itself may be the greatest impediment to the long-term goals of peace in the region, and a grave admission of the dominance of antidemocratic groups and their politics within the US government. Many things in American society and government indicate just such a crisis.

Power is concentrated within corporations and their relationships to government are conspicuous. The US government now monitors all communications of private citizens, but the work is often contracted to private firms. Private banks have demanded the people bail them out of financial failures, though it was their greed and their collusion with the federal government that led to the crisis.

The American people have so far not protested much, because it is assured that the diminution of its constitution is for the security and defense of the nation; however, the public's confidence in its government and financial institutions has been permanently ruined. Such tendencies of suspicion, calumny and malfeasance on the part of some officials in US government betray both the American people, who still hold dearly to the principles of this nation, and the people in those countries attempting to depose their despots and oligarchs in the tradition of great democratic movements. Such tendencies are reflected in US foreign policy and lay bare the truth of the motivations of very powerful elements working in contradiction to both the will of the American people and the greater interests of the nation.
Suleiman Fetrat
USA (Mar 4, '14)

"US creates a power vacuum in Asia" by Nakayama Toshihiro [Feb 26, '14] is a convoluted exercise in denial. The ending, "We are now witnessing the creation of a type of power vacuum in international politics as well as an increase in instability", is misplaced from many perspectives.

First, the US is simply exhausted emotionally and materially, and its ethos of interference for democratic ideal is significantly subdued. Any presumptively suggested power vacuum is not a creation of the US. Any US creation, by dereliction of obligation, was in the blunder of giving Japan administrative rights to the disputed islands. (Such was tied to white guilt, the stigma of occupying Asian land, in an era of fervent decolonization and Civil Rights Movement.) The US has otherwise little obligation in Asia so the implication of US creation is presumptive; otherwise, matters in Asia are mostly Asian creations.

Second, the implication of a power vacuum that leads to instability is simply denial. The power will be filled by China and thus does not lead to a vacuum. Such Chinese superior power will be, to the upper most limitation, hindered by US position of defense for Japan if war were to break out - thus remote control is and will be still practical and viable for the exhausted US. As much as China is not the only power in Asia, would the author be writing such article if China were one-tenth its size and/or has been growing at mere 2% a year in the past three decades? The situation in Asia is stable by design (absent accident) because it should be obvious that China is winning gradually, and will lose if it loses patience for gradualism.

In East Asia, hard national power comes more from nationalism than ideals. Nationalism often appears stronger than it actually is. An apparently nationalistic Japan is reluctant to pay even a few% more in personal income for increased military spending. Even tiny increase in defense spending was a fight; Japan will need several hundred% increase in military spending to be competitive with China for a significant period of time. The talk of Japan re-militarization is hindered by pocket book considerations in an anemic economy. Equally ludicrous, many if not most apparently nationalistic Chinese are still buying Japanese goods while Japan is believed to be occupying Chinese territory. Personal interests are still paramount while nationalism is mystically gratifying display.

What is the crux then? China will have the decisive advantage it seems. China will make nationalism decisive by revving up animosity of the Chinese consumers'; thus fear of vandalism by the Chinese public will cause Japanese export to China to dwindle. Comes 2035, China would just send out unarmed Chinese to attempt to land on the islands. What will Japan do then to avoid economic suicide? On the other hand, the Japanese reality seems to be that even if Japan were to increase military spending by 200%, inevitable Chinese dominance will only be delayed, never avoided. China is simply too large and the Chinese are just capable enough individually; such, and an exhausted but still powerful US, is the East Asian crux, not any US creation, not any power vacuum.
Jeff Church
USA (Feb 28, '14)

The ongoing civil war in Syria and the Empire's discombobulated strategy is reminiscent of a similar conflict 20 years ago that occurred in Angola. Back then, in the frigid bowels of the Cold War, the imperial press painted its usual black-and-white version of things; Angola was in the grips of a tyrannical communist Cuban and Soviet occupation, South Africa supported the freedom fighters of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA forces because they both loved democracy, capitalism and freedom, and Ronald Reagan rode in on a white charger to liberate all of southern Africa from the forces of evil.

The reality was that the Marxist government of Angola asked for Cuba's help to repulse apartheid South Africa's attempt to turn Angola into a puppet state via the unscrupulous Savimbi, while Reagan only saw the universe in zero sum terms; Cubans bad, no Cubans good, while ignoring Savimbi's atrocities and South Africa's brutal repression of its own black inhabitants and repeated invasions of its black neighbors.

The end result of all that treasure and blood was the preservation of the Marxist regime in Angola, the liberation of neighboring Namibia, the withdrawal of Cuban troops, the strangling of the South African economy by sanctions that Reagan fought every step of the way and the eventual fall of the racist apartheid regime Reagan struggled so hard to preserve. The outcome was an amazing achievement for the forces of socialism and national liberation against the reactionary imperialist policies of the West, led by the Empire's decadent dictator Reagan. No wonder Angola's and Cuba's victory over US imperialism got so little play in the WonderWhore media.

Fast forward to Syria, another state surrounded by actors with widely divergent interests in preserving the status quo and changing it. The analogues to Savimbi are the numerous so-called "moderate" rebel forces that the US desperately want to transform into Western style democrats, ignoring their ties to Islamic movements, the Iranians and organized crime. Of course, as with Savimbi, the US turns a Nelson's eye to all the contradictory evidence that shows these "anti-Assad" rebels for what they are, opportunistic power-grabbers. For Washington, Assad is the analogue to Angola's Marxist MPLA (still in power, by the way), ie, someone we don't like and need to get rid of, not because he's better or worse than any of the other bloodthirsty tyrants the US has coddled and supported over the last 70 years but because we don't like who supports him (the analogue to Angola's Cuban and Soviet sponsors being Syria supporting Putinite Russia.)

The interesting wild card is the analogue to South Africa, the Islamic Republic of Iran. LIke South Africa, Iran surreptitiously (and sometimes less so) delivers military aid to the embattled Assad regime while establishing just enough deniability of involvement. Like apartheid South Africa, Iran is a pariah state, but in a switch from the Angolan analogy, it's pariahship status is a direct result of the Empire's ill will to its anti-hegemonic strategy. Part of that strategy involves preserving a Syrian state beholden to it for support and acting as a further bulwark against imperialist designs.

Whereas South Africa's Grand Strategy consisted of putting the stooge Savimbi in control of Angola as part of a constellation of surrounding pro-apartheid southern African black states, Iran's similar strategy makes Syria part of the Iraq-Afghanistan "buffer zone" around the Islamic Republic to shield it from the Empire and its masters, the Zionists. South Africa's ploy failed, because Reagan failed. While the denouement of the Syrian War remains to be seen, my crystal ball tells me Obama's increasingly chaotic plan to isolate Iran will also fail.
H Campbell
Texas (Feb 28, '14)

"US creates a power vacuum in Asia" by Nakayama Toshihiro [Feb 26, '14] is a convoluted exercise in denial. The ending, "We are now witnessing the creation of a type of power vacuum in international politics as well as an increase in instability", is misplaced from many perspectives.

First, the US is simply exhausted emotionally and materially, and its ethos of interference for democratic ideal is significantly subdued. Any presumptively suggested power vacuum is not a creation of the US. Any US creation, by dereliction of obligation, was in the blunder of giving Japan administrative rights to the disputed islands. (Such was tied to white guilt, the stigma of occupying Asian land, in an era of fervent decolonization and Civil Rights Movement.) The US has otherwise little obligation in Asia so the implication of US creation is presumptive; otherwise, matters in Asia are mostly Asian creations.

Second, the implication of a power vacuum that leads to instability is simply denial. The power will be filled by China and thus does not lead to a vacuum. Such Chinese superior power will be, to the upper most limitation, hindered by US position of defense for Japan if war were to break out - thus remote control is and will be still practical and viable for the exhausted US. As much as China is not the only power in Asia, would the author be writing such article if China were one-tenth its size and/or has been growing at mere 2% a year in the past three decades? The situation in Asia is stable by design (absent accident) because it should be obvious that China is winning gradually, and will lose if it loses patience for gradualism.

In East Asia, hard national power comes more from nationalism than ideals. Nationalism often appears stronger than it actually is. An apparently nationalistic Japan is reluctant to pay even a few% more in personal income for increased military spending. Even tiny increase in defense spending was a fight; Japan will need several hundred% increase in military spending to be competitive with China for a significant period of time. The talk of Japan re-militarization is hindered by pocket book considerations in an anemic economy. Equally ludicrous, many if not most apparently nationalistic Chinese are still buying Japanese goods while Japan is believed to be occupying Chinese territory. Personal interests are still paramount while nationalism is mystically gratifying display.

What is the crux then? China will have the decisive advantage it seems. China will make nationalism decisive by revving up animosity of the Chinese consumers'; thus fear of vandalism by the Chinese public will cause Japanese export to China to dwindle. Comes 2035, China would just send out unarmed Chinese to attempt to land on the islands. What will Japan do then to avoid economic suicide? On the other hand, the Japanese reality seems to be that even if Japan were to increase military spending by 200%, inevitable Chinese dominance will only be delayed, never avoided. China is simply too large and the Chinese are just capable enough individually; such, and an exhausted but still powerful US, is the East Asian crux, not any US creation, not any power vacuum.
Jeff Church
USA (Feb 27, '14)

The ongoing civil war in Syria and the Empire's discombobulated strategy is reminiscent of a similar conflict 20 years ago that occurred in Angola. Back then, in the frigid bowels of the Cold War, the imperial press painted its usual black-and-white version of things; Angola was in the grips of a tyrannical communist Cuban and Soviet occupation, South Africa supported the freedom fighters of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA forces because they both loved democracy, capitalism and freedom, and Ronald Reagan rode in on a white charger to liberate all of southern Africa from the forces of evil.

The reality was that the Marxist government of Angola asked for Cuba's help to repulse apartheid South Africa's attempt to turn Angola into a puppet state via the unscrupulous Savimbi, while Reagan only saw the universe in zero sum terms; Cubans bad, no Cubans good, while ignoring Savimbi's atrocities and South Africa's brutal repression of its own black inhabitants and repeated invasions of its black neighbors.

The end result of all that treasure and blood was the preservation of the Marxist regime in Angola, the liberation of neighboring Namibia, the withdrawal of Cuban troops, the strangling of the South African economy by sanctions that Reagan fought every step of the way and the eventual fall of the racist apartheid regime Reagan struggled so hard to preserve. The outcome was an amazing achievement for the forces of socialism and national liberation against the reactionary imperialist policies of the West, led by the Empire's decadent dictator Reagan. No wonder Angola's and Cuba's victory over US imperialism got so little play in the WonderWhore media.

Fast forward to Syria, another state surrounded by actors with widely divergent interests in preserving the status quo and changing it. The analogues to Savimbi are the numerous so-called "moderate" rebel forces that the US desperately want to transform into Western style democrats, ignoring their ties to Islamic movements, the Iranians and organized crime. Of course, as with Savimbi, the US turns a Nelson's eye to all the contradictory evidence that shows these "anti-Assad" rebels for what they are, opportunistic power-grabbers. For Washington, Assad is the analogue to Angola's Marxist MPLA (still in power, by the way), ie, someone we don't like and need to get rid of, not because he's better or worse than any of the other bloodthirsty tyrants the US has coddled and supported over the last 70 years but because we don't like who supports him (the analogue to Angola's Cuban and Soviet sponsors being Syria supporting Putinite Russia.)

The interesting wild card is the analogue to South Africa, the Islamic Republic of Iran. LIke South Africa, Iran surreptitiously (and sometimes less so) delivers military aid to the embattled Assad regime while establishing just enough deniability of involvement. Like apartheid South Africa, Iran is a pariah state, but in a switch from the Angolan analogy, it's pariahship status is a direct result of the Empire's ill will to its anti-hegemonic strategy. Part of that strategy involves preserving a Syrian state beholden to it for support and acting as a further bulwark against imperialist designs.

Whereas South Africa's Grand Strategy consisted of putting the stooge Savimbi in control of Angola as part of a constellation of surrounding pro-apartheid southern African black states, Iran's similar strategy makes Syria part of the Iraq-Afghanistan "buffer zone" around the Islamic Republic to shield it from the Empire and its masters, the Zionists. South Africa's ploy failed, because Reagan failed. While the denouement of the Syrian War remains to be seen, my crystal ball tells me Obama's increasingly chaotic plan to isolate Iran will also fail.
H Campbell
Texas (Feb 27, '14)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is just killing the WonderMedia whores. His charm offensive in Sochi, which has him drinking wine with American athletes and blithely accepting a ref's call that gave the US a hockey victory over his country, has the Amerikan propaganda machine apoplectic. All their efforts to conjure up Putin as a blood sucking tyrant who crucifies gays ands dissident feminists seem to be falling apart, even with Ukraine's civil unrest being blamed on the invisible paw of Russia's Alpha Dog.

Instead, "Putin's Games" seem to be doing rather well, despite the petty jibes about tea-colored tap water, shoddy accommodations and surreptitious security personnel. Oh how us 'merikans are missing the Cold War and those dour, gray Soviet leaders with one foot in the grave. Putin positively discombobulates all our precious imageries of what dictators should act like. Instead of being a Madison Avenue cartoon villain, Putin has become the gracious host we desperately want to hate. What the media hookers would give for a mass beating of gay demonstrators by knuckle dragging KGB throwbacks.

But never ignore the Wonder Media's capacity to focus on what's really important to the Empire. The constant drumbeat of stories about Amerikan athletes, their medals, their adorable life back home and their marketability as sexy and hip continues apace, with scarcely a word mentioned about other nations except as pitiful foils or embittered losers. The opportunity to inform Amerikans of other nations and cultures participating in this, the greatest forum for winter sports on the planet, is, of course, present.

But who in the Empire cares about other nations unless we're bombing them? Yes, yes, the original Olympic ideal was for the games to be a celebration of individual performances, rather than nations, and the waving of flags and trumpeting of national victory was to be discouraged as promoters of nationalist chauvinism and the mixing of politics with sport.

But a couple of world wars and an ongoing cold version made those ideas quaint dinosaurs, so that the games became the very embodiment of geopolitics, commercialism, rabid jingoism and the ever exploding use of illegal drugs, as evidenced by three major boycotts, the expansion of professionalism in previously amateur sports , the unabashed trumpeting of medal counts, anthem playing and gushing flag wrappings and the selective exposure of druggie medalists.

And no one embodied these than the Empire, that bragged about successfully privatizing the games with good ol' Amerikan entrepreneurship, but nary a word was mentioned about their connivance to conceal positive test results for their star (and very commercial) athletes. Only those steroid soaked Soviet Blocers cheated with illegal substances, not our hard working, freedom-lovin' and squeaky clean heroes.
H Campbell
Texas (Feb 24, '14)

[Re Books, not guns, needed in Pakistan, Feb 20, '14] Syed Fazl-e-Haider has a good point. Yet it goes against the easiest way of governing tribal areas, which has been practiced ever since the Raj. The tradition, it seems, is to leave the tribes to their own devices. Now with war and the falling apart of Pakistan's military elite, there are calls for a heady mix of military, financial and cultural initiatives. Islamabad has little or no stomach for these.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Feb 21, '14)

The recent remake of the sci fi flick, Robocop, appears, on the face of it, just another example of Hollywood's inability to come up with new ideas. The original film was a sardonic, violent comment on 1980s Reagan Era Kapitalism gone as amuck as the rampant crime in a futuristic hollowed-out Detroit it was supposedly combating with its half-human-half-machine protagonist.

But while those central plot elements remain in the 2013 version, many other aspects have subtle differences that reflect historical, technical and social changes of the intervening years. Take the opening sequence; US TV audiences are shown a typical street in a conquered Tehran, with the disgruntled Iranian populace kept under constant surveillance by Amerikan bipedal robots ready to detain or shoot any suspects. A subsequent suicide bombing of these "drone" warriors is used by a jingoistic broadcaster (a less-than-subtle allusion to an actual famous TV demagogue of the airwaves) as an example of how human Amerikan lives can be spared from the messy business of spreading democracy and freedom around an uncooperative globe.

He contrasts that fine demonstration of automated risk-free populace control with a crime-ridden US whose government forbids using robots for such policing duties stateside. He cites Iraq and Afghanistan as examples of how needlessly tragic (in terms of Amerikan lives) such "law enforcement" can be. The message here is below the radar but obvious; using non-thinking, non-feeling machines to do our overseas dirty work is OK, 'cuz "those" people are only brown heathens anyway. But here in Wonderland, our lives are sacrosanct, and only humans can determine life-and-death issues of its citizens. Such a philosophy denies security contractors billions in domestic profits.

Naturally the film provides a classic baddie in the form of a greedy unscrupulous contractor who circumvents this prohibition by putting the brain (and little else) of a human in a robotized suit, in theory permitting the human aspect of the composite to control its computerized half. Whereas in the 80s such ideas were indeed the stuff of sci fi speculation, today the gap between the "sci' and "fi" is as thin as a bulimic atom; the Pentagon is well on its way in developing such concepts already.

Even less fictionish is the film's portrayal of 24-hour block by block, street by street CCTV cameras plugged into central databanks to monitor and track virtually anyone. Perhaps the most fictional part of the movie is the idea that in the future politicians actually listen to their constituents.

In the end, despite the evil Kapitalist's attempt to de-humanize the Robocop completely, humanity prevails and a law permitting robot police is rejected. To this the demagogue TV host launches into a foul mouthed tirade against soft-on-crime politicians, and ends the movie with a proclamation that the US is the greatest country on earth. As if anyone could doubt that.
H Campbell
Texas (Feb 21, '14)

[Re Iran's real 'nuclear' revolution, Feb 18, '14] Pepe Escobar makes the same historical mistake as the Le Monde typology that he condemns: "When Khomeini died - and I vividly remember every newspaper in Europe on June 5, 1989, sharing the front page between that and Deng Xiaoping ordering the Tiananmen massacre - the great philosopher Daryush Shayegan, a former professor at the University of Tehran, published a superb article in Liberation explaining the Big Picture, from the Shah's 'legacy' to Khomeini."

Adhering to the myth that Deng Xiaoping ordered any "Tiananmen massacre" has become the aqua regia test of faith for all media outlets and hacks that want to prove their loyalty to those who rule North Atlantic public opinion. The first step is to believe there was a massacre on Tiananmen Square in Beijing in June 1989. The next step is elevating it to the Portal of Celestial Peace (Tiananmen) which is the national insignia of the "People's Republic of China", thus slandering the state order and people of China.

It now is apparent that there was no mass killing on the square and that elsewhere the provocateurs and some of the demonstrators were rather more violent than the "People's Liberation Army (PLA)".

True, many Pekinese still talk of these happenings as Beijing's "Baptism in Blood", but ever fewer. Beijing Communist Party authorities and censorship are reluctant to discuss what happened (just like Russian/Soviet authorities have always been reluctant to admit the extent of Western Europe instigation of violence in the Ukraine), but thus they also nourish the quasi-religious myths that are being fomented amongst the populace - and most of all amongst the borders and boarders of CIA-manipulated media and opinion.

Pepe Escobar ought to contemplate how Mohammad Mosaddegh was also to a large extent felled through "popular protests" fomented through US- and UK-funded provocateurs. This was partly part of the plans underlying the manipulation and co-option of some leading Peking Protesters of 1989. Don't get duped by the likes of these!
Tollef As
Oslo, Norway (Feb 19, '14)

In War and forgetting on Jeju Island [Feb 13, '14], we are treated to John Pilger's Stalinist take on Korean history. Pilger claims that the base being built on Jeju is to host US missiles aimed at China, which is a complete lie.

The base is for South Korean navy ships and to host cruise ships to improve the Jeju economy. Pilger tells us how much he admires Marxist historian Bruce Cumings - anyone caring to know about Cumings should read the September 2004 Atlantic Monthly (available online) where BR Myers intellectually destroys Cumings. Cumings is to historians what serial killers are to surgeons.

Pilger also claims that US officers commanded the anti-communist troops on Jeju, another lie. Korea was not divided by the US at the 38th parallel; that was the line where Soviet and US troops would take the surrender of Japanese forces.

If Pilger's take on history were correct, South Korea should be a fascist hellhole and North Korea a socialist paradise where the proletarians resist US hegemony and eat bon-bons all day. Is this reality? Well, to John Pilger it is.
Dennis O'Connell
USA (Feb 18, '14)

[Re The new US-Russia Cold War, Feb 14, '14] There is one point that I would like to clarify regarding Pepe Escobar's article. The Western media is not demonizing the Sochi Olympics because of poor preparation and facilities. In part it may be true; however the main attacks have come because of Russia's so called "anti-gay" legislation for which Vladimir Putin has been a vocal supporter. Putin has touched the most intimate cord of Western "journalism": the gay agenda.

The Western media is obsessed with gays, abortions, and sex. Per Western standards, freedom of speech is only permissible as long as it does not criticize homosexuality, the "right" to have abortions, etc. Putin had the "audacity" to support legislation that prohibits homosexual propaganda and curfew abortions. That makes Vladimir Putin the most unpopular guy in Western media after president George W Bush. This subject is so untouchable in the West that even a journalist like Escobar, who tends to say it like it is, was afraid to say it in his column.
Ysais Martinez (Feb 18, '14)

The 50th anniversary of the first visit to America by that famed musical quartet, the Beatles, was recently celebrated with nostalgic fanfare. The music of the Fab Four had a profound impact on American youth culture and its music, of course.

Rock n' Roll (R&R) took the US by storm in the 60s, the vanguard being the "British Invasion" that followed in the Beatles' wake, followed by a revival of America's own stultified music scene in the 70s and 80s. Less acknowledged is the confluence of events that made this revolution in culture possible, events that speak loudly of the profound influence of racism in every nook and cranny of the WonderLife. The irony of the Beatles and their conquest of the Colonies is that their music was heavily inspired and influenced by the R&R genre that sprang from US soil in the 50s.

Black rockers like Little Richard and Chuck Berry were pioneers in the new music sound that had white audiences boppin' and hoppin', with white performers like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly soon riding the wave of this popularity. But while enormously popular with the youth, R&R, with its roots in black rhythm and blues, soon became the bane of the white establishment, especially in the south, where it was frequently described as "jungle music" (the "jungle" part being a thinly concealed reference to the black influence). The equation of "that" music with loose sexual mores was also a common southern code for blacks.

At that time, in the 50s, civil rights for blacks was becoming a simmering issue of potential discontent, and the last thing southern whites wanted was their music having "liberalizing' effects on their soon-to-be-racist-adult children dancing to those devil sounds. The popularization of the white Elvis Presley was an acknowledgment of the music's staying power while at the same time an effort to whitewash away its black roots. To a certain extent this ploy worked, as R&R in the Empire continued in Elvis' shadow, under the race radar and morphing into a banal, staid, boring sound that lost its earlier innovative style, beats and syncopations.

But as the 60s commenced, two things were happening; the previously timid civil rights movement accelerated in pace, scope and intensity, and four boys in Liverpool, England, were taking those 1950s R&R sounds they heard from American musicians and not just reviving the genre but taking it to an entirely different level. So by the time the Beatles stepped off their plane in New York in February 1964, Amerika had already been shocked to see on their TVs the results of racism, the killing of children and activists, police beatings of peaceful crowds, denying American citizens the right to vote, and KKK burning crosses in front yards.

By the time the Fab Four electrified the nation on TV, the listening public's attitudes about race had had to acknowledge some ugly truths, truths that compelled the country to pass the first effective civil rights legislation in 99 years only five months after the Beatles' performance. "Jungle" music was OK now (it helped that the four were WASPs), all that pelvis twisting and hip shaking wasn't going to send kids to perdition, and while that long hair would just have to be cut, white parents were willing to accept that R&R was here to stay.

While their racism remained, it evolved into more subtle forms and nuances, less prone to knee-jerk characterizations but still eager to use codified language to distinguish "us" from "them". It may be coincidental that nine months after the Beatles TV appearance, the GOP's massive defeat in the 1964 presidential election assured that their future strategies would revolve around making such cryptoracism their key to dominating the racist South for the next 50 years.
H Campbell
Rockin' in Texas (Feb 18, '14)

[Re: Park seeds 'peace' in the DMZ, Feb 12, '14] If South Korean President Park Geun-hye is interested in sowing the seeds of peace, she would do well to put a break on joint military exercises with the US; sign the 1953 Armistice Agreement, albeit 61 years later; and allow food shipments, which her predecessor Lee Myung-bak stopped in 2008.

A wildlife preserve on the DMZ is simply a Madison Avenue stunt, no more, no less.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Feb 13, '14)

Comics and pundits in Wonderland are having a field day ridiculing Putin, his anti-gay propaganda laws and his penchant for bare-chested macho displays. More than a few snickers have been generated by allusions to Putin's "suppressed" homoerotic tendencies, thus glibly explaining Russia's rampant homophobia. All this criticism coming from a country that less than 40 years ago routinely fired outed gays and subjected them to ostracism, harassment and even murder. But now Wonderland is supposedly the paragon of gay tolerance and alternate lifestyle acceptance. Or maybe, like so much ballyhooed nonsense about democracy, freedom and equality in the Empire, not.

That most macho of 'good ol' 'merikan sports, professional gridiron football, is about to be faced with the employment of an openly gay college football player. For the first time in Amerikan sports history, a gay male will ply his trade before a testosterone-obsessed audience accustomed to denigrating its opponents in homophobic terms and considering homosexual men to be the antithesis of what rock-'em-sock'em football represents as the last true bastion of manhood here in the Empire.

Of course, the powers that be in the upper echelons of pro football say all the right things about tolerance, acceptance, brotherhood and the like for the proud gay man's entry into their ranks. But there are very good reasons that before today no player has ever come out of the closet while an active player. Indeed, memoirs and tell-alls from players who announced their orientation after their retirement confirm what we all know, that gays are routinely spoken of with contempt if not hatred and will not be widely accepted by any means among players or coaches. This should not surprise anyone who really knows how Wonderland works; plenty of right stuff talking but lots of knowing winks and understanding nods when it comes to real life.

So while Amerika continues to put down all things Putin and Russian (just listening to the US commentators for the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics tells you all you need to know about our attitudes to both), it may very well be that he and they may have the last chortle when hate mail and death threats make the first gay football player's welcome to the pro league a shameful one for all Wonderlanders.
H Campbell
Texas (Feb 12, '14)

This year will be the 40th anniversary of the only presidential resignation in WonderHistory. That event had never happened before and likely will not happen again. That it could happen at all would, had you asked the average 'merikan voter even in the midst of the Watergate scandal, have seemed the dreams of a madman.

For those who care to remember the political atmosphere at the time, rumors about Nixon's involvement in the cover up seemed the stuff of conspiracy theorists run amok. Surely the leader of the Free World would not have engaged in such skullduggery. Certainly only his leftist commie pro-Ho Chi Minh detractors, you know, those hippie traitors smoking loco weed at love-ins, would suggest he was at the center of the web of domestic espionage, political sabotage and financial shenanigans.

So when the vast conspiracy to conceal his crimes was exposed on national TV for all the world to see, imagine the shock when the WonderPublic was shown the extent of corruption that had been rotting the White House for so many years. Yet what went unappreciated by most was how close those crimes came to going scot free, undetected and unpunished, were it not for a series of fortuitous happenstances and some intrepid journalists. And even with all that, the only thing that doomed Nixon was his refusal to have a marshmallow roast in the Rose Garden using audio tapes as fuel.

The Nixon Conspiracy was almost the perfect crime, only to be waylaid by its own arrogance and hubris. Instead, it would take another 27 years for The Perfect Crime to occur. The 9-11 conspiracy to cover up the inconvenient facts that give the Lie to the "Official Conspiracy Theory" of al-Qaeda and ragtag arabs in dark caves masterminding the most audacious raid in history has managed to evade serious debate and investigation for all the reasons the Nixon Conspiracy did not, including a quiescent, compliant media, a nationally televised trauma, a carefully orchestrated campaign of disinformation, a rigged presidential "commission", a outburst of patriotic myopia and deafness and most especially, a deft parrying of "Truther" pro-conspiracy propaganda.

The latter efforts include the simple premise that, how could any conspiracy to cover up such a heinous crime remain concealed with so many people involved? "Watergate" could be the response, the conspiracy that came within a hair's breadth of going undetected.
H Campbell
Texas (Feb 10, '14)

[Re From hope to despair in North Korea, Feb 7, '14] A sense of futility colors this analysis. There is a continual listlessness in Washington at the fact that North Korea manages to eschew US initiatives that would put the Kim Jong-eun government at a disadvantage.

Let's look at Kenneth Bae. His public apology was a signal that Pyongyang was willing to deal. Instead of taking advantage of the moment, the US in its usual hamhandedness sent B-52s over North Korea, knowing full well that it would react, the more especially since the imprint of the total destruction of North Korea by US bombing in the Korean War is wired in the collective North Korean DNA.

As long as the Obama administration favors a "smash 'em in the face" diplomacy, it will meet with failure, as its diplomacy falters shamefully in the Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and revelations of lawless NSA activity. It is time to return to common sense and deal with North Korea on the green carpet without threatening endless military exercises.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Feb 10, '14)

In "Identity complex dogs Japan, South Korea" [Feb 7, '14] by Brad Glosserman and Scott Snyder, the authors' perspective of "national identity" is simply bizarre.

Identity complex exists either as a transitional stage toward assimilation, or due to cultural influence from the dominant and apparently superior when assimilation is not expected due to political reality or sociological reasons. Neither is applicable for the Koreans and the Japanese versus each other. The Koreans and the Japanese know who they are, even after hundreds of years of historical Chinese cultural dominance and decades of concurrent Western influence.

The situation is simply Japanese reluctance to take responsibility for the atrocities they inflicted on China and Korea - and the authors' perspective is simply nonsensical.

Seeing that Japan uses the year 1895, the first stage of Japanese aggression, to justify territorial claims against China and Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, the Koreans are predictably disturbed.

Japan should view the period inclusive of 1895 with profound national regret and with gratitude toward the global community for its forbearance, not one to assert any claim, especially not against a former victim of its atrocities. Regret for a period of history and using it as a means to make claim are simply mutually exclsuive.
Jeff Church
USA (Feb 10, '14)

[Re Turkish financial crisis adds to region's chaos, Feb 5, '14] I always thought you will one day have a section for comics in your pages to brighten our mornings.

I now understand why you never will have one. With his manipulation of basic arithmetic and torturing of economical data, Spengler is the right comic in your pages. We cringe with pleasure on his impeccable syllogisms, cherry picking of numbers to batter Israel's perceived enemies, his occult forecasts and most importantly his wishful thinking.

We are all lucky, his intellect cannot be cured. Thank you ATol.
Christopher H Blackman
Missouri, USA (Feb 7, '14)

The recent death by heroin overdose of an Oscar winning actor has predictably wound up in the arrest of his "suppliers". In true WonderFashion, instead of pointing a finger at the addict for his self-inflicted end, we have to vilify those who provided the instrument by which he committed suicide. We are more than a little two-faced about this sort of thing, though; you don't see car dealers prosecuted for selling someone a vehicle in which they subsequently have an accident and die, but then again, Detroit isn't Afghanistan, is it?

And if the outraged admirers of this junkie thespian were to carry their vilifying logic to its logical conclusion, they would have to prosecute themselves as well, for their tax support of the narcotics-peddling CIA, the war in Afghanistan and the facilitated flow, nay flood, of high grade heroin from that ravaged nation continues to wash across the Empire. And make no mistake about this; the quantity and quality of "horse" has dramatically escalated as the imperial draw down begins, ensuring no disruption in profits to the Pentagon, the tribal warlords the Amerikans have cut crop protection deals with and the distribution networks established around the country by returning "vets".

While the official reason for being in the Imperial graveyard has morphed over the years in order to disguise the real intent, the bottom line for the capitalists is, as always, the bottom line. Now that the Taliban have agreed to divvy up the goodies with the departing invaders, we can exit with a modicum of grace that conceals the tails tucked between scurrying legs.

The irony if all this should not be lost, however. With the decriminalization of marijuana continuing apace here, the H dealers know they have to offer a superior high and lower price to make their highly illegal drug a worthwhile competitor with the increasingly less illegal and commercially viable Mary Jane. Similarly, the availability of "legal" opiates, like Oxycontin, make heroin an even tougher sell unless the invisible hand of the market magically makes it an irresistible alternative to the hard core junkies like the unfortunate actor.

None of the above diminishes the hellish horrors of addiction, but Amerikans' first reaction is to find demons and devils beneath every bed and behind every tree rather than in their own mirrors. Tuning capitalist heroin peddlers, who are merely supplying the Wondermarketplace with what it demands, into villains is just easier than making good ol' 'merikans responsible and accountable for their preposterously irresponsible and self-destructive behaviors.
H Campbell
Texas USA (Feb 7, '14)

[Re Palestine divisions worsen Yarmouk siege, Jan 30, '14] It would appear that the only power capable of confronting Russia over its support for the Bashar al-Assad regime is the United States. The United States has shown a lack of will do to so.
Tyler P Harwell
New London, USA (Feb 5, '14)

The article, "Secret wars and blackops blowback" (Jan 16, TomDispatch) from Nick Turse said, "President Obama ... has overseen 'a vast secret operation of unrivaled proportions', and 'the spread of a secret military ... undergoing... mindless expansion on a gargantuan scale'".

An article, "Obama's spying overhaul proposals too weak" in China Daily USA (Jan 18) said that although the Obama administration promised not to bug phones of "leaders of its close friends and allies. ... Obama did not list which countries fall under that category".

Certainly, Chinese President Xi Jinping would not be wise to assume that he is among President Obama's chosen "leaders of close friends and allies". Indeed, for any foreign leaders to now relax and feel free to speak their minds on the phone would be foolish.

President Obama, as candidate for US president, said that he opposed the unwarranted spying and many other constitutional violations by then president George W Bush, but when he took office, he expanded such spying "on a gargantuan scale", as stated by Nick Turse (above). That we, the people, have been given no guarantee like the one given to those mysterious "leaders of close friends and allies" violates our US constitutional rights. This is a high crime and expands on the high crimes committed by former president George W Bush. Is there any difference between Republicans and the Democrats? Except for the brave revelations by one Edward Snowden, they may have gotten away with fooling us all.
Daniel Russell
Willow, Alaska (Feb 5, '14)

[Re Palestine divisions worsen Yarmouk siege, Jan 30, '14] It is sad and discouraging in the extreme to read of the plight of the poor people of the Yarmouk refugee camp outside of Damascus, as described by your Jordanian correspondent, Ahmad Barqawi. What suffering. What pitiful misery.

What is to be done about this? It is a peculiarly and especially bad place to be at this time. And so this question must have a special urgency. But pause for a moment, and the reader will realize that Yarmouk is simply another instance of what is happening all throughout Syria. The same question arises every time there is news of Syria, whether it be from there, or from Homs, or Aleppo. Or Latakia.

The answer to this question will not come for Yarmouk until it comes for Syria as a whole. Why should we not all look for some fresh answers to that question. No one involved is this conflict seems to have any.

In order to arrive at such a point, consider this fact. Syria does not have a substantial armaments industry. It never has in the modern sense of producing guns, tanks. artillery pieces, war ships and war planes. Rather, it has always imported such things. For this civil war to rage on, such things must come in to Syria from other places. And how they continue to pour in to meet this demand.

In fact, since the people of Syria can no longer afford such "goods", and in large part do not want them, and did not call for them, one might fairly conclude that the civil disturbance that began with six boys with spray paint cans three years ago has become the great proxy war of our time. Pitting one faction against the other, it's a fight that bears some resemblance to what used to go on in the Roman Colosseum.

If the reader will then ask him or herself the question: Who has the power to put a stop to this? An answer will readily come to mind: those who are allowing it to continue by supplying the weapons of war, and by extension, those of potentially decisive influence over their actions. And with the answer comes the realization that the Syrian civil war has become a post-Cold War farce with tragic consequences: a shadow boxing contest between the United States and Russia. It involves a great deal of posturing and heated rhetoric, but no actual contact.

Does this disturb any of the powers that be on the sidelines watching it play out? Does anyone want to see it stop? If so, then the next logical question would be this: why does not some member state petition the United Nations Security Council for a resolution imposing an arms embargo on Syria? In fact, if the United States is serious about its diplomacy, why does it not call for that? Would that be considered a vain exercise, owing to the fact of the veto held by the Russian Federation? And might that be, because the current administration in Washington simply has no desire to do what it can to put a stop to this war?

In that case, one can easily foresee that the Syrian civil war will continue to wear on, and indeed intensify, until the nation and all of its peaceful inhabitants are annihilated. It would appear that the only power capable of confronting Russia, and incidentally Iran, over its support for the Assad regime is the United States. The United States has shown a lack of will do to so.

It would seem that violent extremists of one persuasion or another will eventually win the day in Syria. Pity the poor people of Yarmouk, and of Syria and beyond.
Tyler P Harwell
New London, NH
USA (Feb 5, '14)

Dear Hardy Campbell [letter, Jan 30]. I normally enjoy your comments, but this time, you're missing your target. In the first place, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize is for the Norwegian, not Swedish, Nobel Committee. In the second place, the committee doesn't nominate but receives nominations, from which it selects some for further consideration. I'm not even sure that all the people who say they nominated Edward Snowden are among the select few who are invited to nominate.
Anders Ringstrom
Sweden (Feb 5, '14)

You gotta love it; the Nobel Prize committee nominating Edward Snowden for its 2014 Peace Prize. Yeah, the same prize awarded in 2009 to that certain tawny president who said he would withdraw from Amerika's Twin Debacles in the Middle East but has yet to do so after five years of reneging, dissembling and out-and-out lying.

The irony of making a man Obama wants prosecuted because he exposed the prez's lying for what it was as an international symbol of peace is not lost on anyone. By nominating Snowden for a prize routinely given to political dissidents, it puts the Grand Lie to Amerikan claims that Snowden is not being persecuted for political crimes and puts the Empire in the ranks of other political dissident harassing nations, like China, Russia and Myanmar.

Perhaps this is Sweden's way of making up for its egregious error in 2009, when it knee jerk reacted to the first so-called "black" president who turned out to be every bit the warmonger his cowboy predecessor was. The Swedes insist the nomination is merely to recognize that Snowden's revelations about the NSA's mendacity and illegalities makes the corresponding surveillance "reforms" a contribution to world peace, but, as we say here in Texas, that dog just ain't gonna hunt.

No, it is quite obvious that this is a direct dig at the Empire's predilection for hypocritical double dealing with the rest of the world, spouting paeans about freedom and respect for other nations while doing everything it can to undermine both. The Europeans, in particular, are still seething about the Empire's duplicity, and taking active measures to curtail Amerikan communications megacompanies from selling them out to Uncle Sam in the future, in the meantime costing these giants billions in revenue.

Doubtless an added incentive was just to embarrass the Janus-faced Obama, who will now have to face the prospect of apprehending and prosecuting a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Hardy Campbell
Houston TX USA (Jan 30, '14)

Futureman called last night and started off sheepish and almost apologetic. "Dude, I ... I'm sorry. I didn't know." I was, to say the least , puzzled. "About what?"

"Well, looking back at our historical records for your time, we see that you didn't have access to your own historical records of very recent vintage. Was that because of a terrible war we don't know about?"

I was taken aback. "What are you talking about? What records? What vintage? Have you been drinking future wine or something?"

"Our review of the upcoming Sochi Olympics indicates a flurry of press in the USA about how bad Russia's human rights record is, how they don't respect basic liberties. Our analysts concluded that your media could only say such things if they didn't know what had so recently happened in your own country with respect to human rights. Otherwise, your country would wreck our Hypocrisy Meter, putting you right up there with Stalinist Russia and Maoist China. I know that can't be right; Amerika's the beacon of all that is good and noble in the world. Only ignorance can explain this, right?"

Futureman was always doing this to me - putting me between a historical hard place and a modern day rock. "Uh, hmmm ... how can I say this? Maybe we do have selective cherrypicking memory here. OK, maybe we do adhere to the 'Do as we propagandize, not as we hypocrosize.' philosophy. It's not like we're the only ones."

Futureman took a few seconds to absorb this. "So despite the fact you do know about the Salem witch trials, black slavery, red man genocide, Filipino slaughter, violent suppression of labor, fire and atom bombings of Japanese and German cities, denying opportunities to immigrant Irish, Jews, blacks, Mexicans, east Europeans, Catholics as well as homosexuals, persecuting innocents in a Red Scare, routinely lynching blacks during Jim Crow, now having the highest execution rate in the industrialized white world, not allowing health to care for your neediest citizens, torturing innocent people in your Gitmo concentration camp, and the drone murders of brown colored innocents while their families gather, despite having all that knowledge of the crimes and atrocities Amerika has perpetrated, you still have the temerity to point a finger at Putin's Russia just because he says bad things about gay people?"

Futureman always made me uncomfortable confronting me with our "colorfully" checkered past. "Uh, yeah, I guess the media has to make us feel good about ourselves some way, dude. Right now, times are tough over here. Hundreds of thousands out of work, probably forever, mired in endless wars against made up terrorists that disappear in the desert wind, people getting shot in random multiple shootings, political paralysis, financial collapse, the illegal drug industry exploding in popularity, need I go on?"

"No, not really. We know all that stuff already. But I am ticked off."


"I'm gonna have to pay a lot of money to get that Hypocrisy Meter fixed."
H Campbell
Texas (Jan 28, '14)

[Re Don't cry for ME-Argentina, Jan 27, 2014] Speaking of meritocracies, I had a conversation with a Chinese guest fellow at Princeton University in New Jersey and we spoke at length about education. The way things are going in this country, our top schools will be forced to surrender to the forces of political correctness; in order to grant admission to unqualified folks. Probably in the name of solving poverty or for racial issues. In the top schools of China - as explained by this native of Shanghai - only the best of the best can get in.

There is not affirmative action programs at the top Chinese universities; which guarantees only the best professionals in their respective fields. Contrast that with America. Amazingly enough, schools are cutting budgets on gifted students programs in order to fund programs for the underachievers. Universities are "forced" to meet quotas. And I won't even get into the issue of student athletes. This mentality shows a narrow vision for the future. Every country and every people are different, but some economic and educational principles are the same across the board. And based on what I have heard and read, the Chinese government is doing so well in this area. And soon it will leave behind the Western countries.
Ysais Martinez
United States (Jan 28, '14)

[Re We are all living Pasolini's Theorem, Jan 17, '14] Pepe is going to wonder where he went wrong - Ysais Martinez, on the polar opposite end of the political spectrum from Mr Escobar, wrote that he enjoyed reading "Reliving Machiavelli in Florence" [ATOL, Jan 14, 2014]. Which moves me to admit that I enjoyed Pepe's "We are all living Pasolini's Theorem".

I can enjoy Pepe's writing, divorced from his politics, which is almost quaint in its bygone, ahistorical, if not anti-historical, Marxist bent. In "Pasolini's Theorem", I was drawn not just to the artistry of Pepe's writing, but, for a change, to the message. Who could not root for Pasolini, his art, his searching for something to believe in passionately? Most of us have an internal pendulum that does not swing as wildly as Pasolini's. We want to swing, but we can't.

We trust the calm, reasoned middle, until it's too late. We've seen variations of Pasolini in other settings: The former Trotskyite neo-cons of the George W. Bush administration. And a generation earlier, Whittaker Chambers, the Communist-turned-reactionary darling of Senator Joseph McCarthy's Red-baiting reign of terror. The direction of the rebirth doesn't matter, left to right, right to left. At the core is an ideologue, a true believer. The political persuasion is just a veneer. Pepe wrote that Pasolini "effortlessly switched from word to image", and that he is "something like an UFIO (unidentified flying intellectual object); the total intellectual - poet, dramatist, painter, musician, fiction writer, literary theorist, filmmaker and political analyst." But Pasolini is alive and well, showrunning for American cable TV and Netflix, where writers are undoing the old business models, turning words into images and converting an audience from Hollywood and network television pablum to the new hi-def manifesto.

Shows like The Wire, House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Sopranos have had an impact like a flame under a fat ass. Netflix has you opening wide for castor oil documentaries like The Square - a gut-wrenching view of the Arab Spring from Egypt's Ground-Zero - Tahrir Square; and Restrepo, which puts you in Afghanistan's Korengal valley with a dozen or so young American soldiers in a hopeless, tragic attempt to do some good.

Their final tally includes a sniper-rifle-splattering of an Afghan who is "acting suspicious"; sending some of our own back home in body bags; and killing and maiming a few villagers. When the GI's take it upon themselves to see the results of their attack on a nearby home, its Afghan patriarch, with a supremely controlled, hate-filled calm, points to the wounded infants and the dead and says "Show me which one is Taliban." After a year of almost daily firefights, the surviving GI's finally get their helicopter ride out of the valley. They don't ask what they've accomplished, or what they've destroyed. To a man, they want to get the fuck out of Afghanistan. I don't know if they want to be in our living-rooms, but here they are, with Pepe, Netflix, and Pasolini.
Geoff Sherwood
USA (Jan 27, '14)

[Re US-Israel alliance strange but stable, Jan 22, '14] With the US striving to become a net energy exporter and with a slew of mammoth oil fields coming online in the next decade, it will be intriguing to see how global geopolitics unfolds when producing nations vie for energy revenues. While today's friends will turn rivalrous tomorrow, quondam bitter enemies will coalesce into new energy blocs. One thing is for sure, we do very much live in interesting times, and are witness to perhaps the most important/dynamic juncture in human history.
John Chen
USA (Jan 24, '14)

[Re Sharon and the art of self-deception, Jan 23, '14] The Chinese thought Stalin had done 70% good, 30% bad. Can the same be said of Ariel Sharon? Perhaps. Yet, his record is open to much criticism. Much criticized for abandoning Gaza, few appreciated his Realpolitik. He withdrew troops that was not only draining resources financial and military to support a "crusader-style" occupation for Israel's comfortable classes, and implanted them in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights in his drive for settlements and the realization of a Greater Israel. As for Gaza, it remains tightly and cheaply in a Zionist vice, dependent as it is for thee basic necessities of life, abetted by Egypt. For him, like Golda Meir, there was no such things as a Palestinian people, let alone a Palestinian state.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Jan 24, '14)

The ongoing scandal of the US Air Force's nuketeers cheating on tests is symptomatic of the decaying empire, where all concepts of ethics, morality and fairness are secondary to career advancement and monetary gain. Corruption is so endemic in every part of Amerikan life that in any fantasy Corruption Olympics, the likes of Zimbabwe, Russia and Myanmar would be scrambling for the lesser medals while the Stars and Stripes would be hoisted with monotonous regularity at the gold medal ceremonies.

Cheating spouses, cheating students, cheating tax payers, politicians being bribed with campaign donations, Pentagoners colluding with defense contractors to fix prices, Wall Street screwing its investors with Washington's blessing, corporations cooking their books to inflate stock prices and CEO compensation, US troops dealing contraband, drugs and weapons to our "enemies", priests molesting kids, schools being turned into free fire zones, infrastructure decaying while tax funds are squandered on boondoggle pork, cops harassing minorities, sports stars using banned drugs to get an edge, evangelicals sleeping with churchgoers, government spying on its citizens, politically persecuting ethical whistle blowers, poisoning its citizens with fracking and industrial waste toxins, allowing defective pharmaceutical drugs to ruin thousands of lives, promoting the flight of manufacturers from our shores, giving tax relief to the wealthy, imposing more tax burden on the increasingly desperate and vanishing middle class, legislative efforts to throw women back to the 1950s, polarizing racism and reactionary politics, pursuing the chimera of al-Qaeda at the expense of civil liberties, capitulating to the Israeli lobby, militarizing society, going ever deeper into debt to our erstwhile adversaries, health care costs skyrocketing (despite ballyhooed ObamaCare), young adults graduating school without the ability to read, write or add, the very fabric of Empire disintegrating day by day in front of our eyes.

The list of injustices, crimes and sins is a long one, longer, in fact, than the Empire itself will survive. The collection of min-confederacies that will follow in its wake will doubtless start squabbling about who is the Empire's "true" successor, and equally doubtless will be that conflict's resort to that most Amerikan of solutions, intervention, invasion and debacle. And I guarantee you that the cheating, stealing and killing will go on without missing a beat in all the little CheatKillStealistans.
H Campbell
Texas (Jan 24, '14)

I am writing about the article "Old ties for Myanmar's new media" posted on Asia Times Online's Speaking Freely column on January 9, 2014. There are many disappointing errors in the report, despite corrections made after you were contacted last week by my colleague, Geoffrey Goddard.

I refer to the following paragraphs in the corrected version of the report:
"In October, formerly exiled dissident media outlet Mizzima News - previously one of the fiercest anti-junta exile news agencies - announced that its majority ownership share had been sold to military-linked businessmen Serge Pun and Sonny Swe.

"Despite a public statement that under new management Mizzima will 'uphold its long tradition of independent journalism', it is clear that things are changing at the organization. In preparation for Mizzima's return to Myanmar - and now, it seems, in preparation for its sale - articles criticizing the former junta and its associates disappeared from Mizzima's online archive."

As the attached press release for the launch of Mizzima Media Group last October makes clear, Serge Pun and Sonny Swe do not have a majority share in the company. As the press release states, ownership in the company is shared equally by Sonny Swe, Editor-in-Chief Soe Myint and Serge Pun.

The claim that Serge Pun and Sonny Swe are military-linked is offensive. I challenge the authors of the report to name any member of the Tatmadaw to whom they are linked. Otherwise I request that this claim be retracted.

Your authors are apparently unaware of the Forbes Asia profile of Serge Pun published on September 2 last year, which includes the following:
"But he's proudest of being called Burma's Mr. Clean, the man who dared to say no to the grasping generals. 'I've never paid a cent. But I've never been short of opportunities,' Pun avers. This reputation set him apart from tainted tycoons like Tay Za, one of dozens of individuals subject to US financial sanctions. Most analysts agree that Pun is scrupulous in his governance and didn't consort with the hated junta that stepped down in 2011."

As analysts, the authors of your report would appear to be in a minority. Perhaps it is because they have based references in the report to Mizzima - and those associated with it - on prejudice rather than on a commitment to reporting the facts.

I am also offended by your claim that articles criticizing the former junta and its associates have disappeared from Mizzima's online archive. I challenge you to name any article that has been disappeared from Mizzima's archive and if you cannot to publish a retraction.

Perhaps the authors of your report have made this ill-informed claim because Mizzima has redesigned its website twice in the last two years and content has been moved from old to new websites. The old websites were hosted on Joomla 1.5 and Joomla 2.5, which have outdated software that could be compromised. The new websites are hosted on Joomla 3.1.5.

It is also ludicrous to suggest, in the erroneous reference to articles having been removed from the archive, that this was done " ... it seems, in preparation for its sale ... ".

Why would the partners want to sell Mizzima Media Group when it has adopted a 10-year business plan which is a reflection of Sonny Swe and Soe Myint's commitment to the group's future? It is because of this commitment that Mizzima Media Group has embarked on an expansionary phase aimed at consolidating its position as a leading and respected member of the media community in Myanmar.

It seems that the authors of your report have brought discredit to Asia Times Online. Please give consideration to publishing this letter in its entirety on the Asia Times Online site.

Fraternal regards,
Phyu Phyu Zin,
English website Editor,
Mizzima Media Group,
Yangon, Myanmar. (Jan 23, '14)

Editor's note: The article in question has been removed from the Asia Times Online web site pending clarification from its authors in regard to the points raised above. The authors have, however, provided a list of Mizzima articles that they could no longer access, for whatever reason. The list notes the following as no longer accessible: "Wikileaks: US scoffed at 'Myanmar Times' pleas after SPDC purge", 09 September, 2011; "NLD Leader: Austrian Embassy Involves in Promoting Defense Firm in Burma", 06 May, 2011; "Former military officer sentenced to 10 years in prison under electronics act", 27 August, 2011; "Burma cuts cable supplying power generated by Kachin rebels", 04 November 2011; "Fighting Erupts Between gov't, KNLA Near Three Pagoda Pass", 06 October 2011; "The Scourge of Corruption, and Necessary Remedies", 26 August 2-11; "Transparency International Says Burma Near Bottom of World Rankings on Corruption", 28 October, 2010. Some headlines may have been reworded on republication by outlets other than Mizzima. Regarding the reference to their inaccessibility being " ... it seems, in preparation for its sale ... ", this phrasing was subsequently corrected regarding tense to remove the ambiguity that suggested Mizzima was in fact for sale at present, when the sale referred to was to the present owners. Some ambiguity nevertheless unintentionally remained in the corrected article this letter refers to, for which we apologize. Regarding any military links, it is widely published that Sonny Swe is the son of former military intelligence officer Brigadier General Thein Swe. See, for example, here and here. Regarding the majority shareholders, we believe the present letter's comments speak for themselves: "Serge Pun and Sonny Swe do not have a majority share in the company. As the press release states, ownership in the company is shared equally by Sonny Swe, Editor-in-Chief Soe Myint and Serge Pun." (Jan 23, '14)

[Re Reliving Machiavelli in Florence, Jan 14, '14] I was perplexed when I read Pepe Escobar's latest article. It was refreshing to read that he refrained from his usual America-bashing, gutter-glowing articles. His glowing over the "high quality" of living of the North Koreans comes to mind. Or how he predicted in an article in 2010 that South Korea would be replaced in quality of life and income by the folks in the north. All because he wanted to be allowed in North Korea again (his words in an email he surprisingly sent to me). Anyways, this article was a cultural gem and I hope that Pepe continues to delight us with such articles. I truly enjoyed reading this piece. The man can certainly write.
Ysais Martinez (Jan 16, '14)

The recent Hollywood film Lone Survivor is the first of what promises to be a flood of post-Afghan debacle rationalizations, excuse makings and justifications for the illegal, stupid and self-defeating war in the aptly named "Graveyard of Empires". While the USA will certainly be added to that list of extinct invaders of Afghanistan, before that empire disappears onto the trash heap of history, it will leave a legacy of lies, distortions and manipulations that even the USSR at its most mendacious would not be able to emulate. Coupled with Robert Gates' latest tell-all memoir about Obama's preposterous Afghan policy, the scene is already being set for a decades worth of recriminations and debates about Amerika's longest and most futile losing war.

Not that it will be spun that way by Washington, no siree. That's why movies like Lone Survivor are a necessary Pentagon-supported palliative for the bitterness to come as thousands of Afghan veterans return to shattered lives. By making their murder of brown people thousands of miles from the homeland they claim to be protecting patriotic, heroic and "uplifting", hordes of moviegoers will be zombified into thinking, "yeah, the billions in treasure and thousands of sacrificed lives was worth it. Look how heroic those white Amerikan boys are fighting off those crazed Taliban."

In the zeitgeist of imperialism, it's blonde blue eyed George Custer's 7th cavalry against those crazy Sioux at Little Big Horn, Davy Crockett and those brave slave-owning protestant Anglos battling hordes of Catholic brown slave-freeing Mexicans at the Alamo, courageous Yanks defying kamikaze Japs at Wake Island and Corregidor, valiant Marines slaughtering commie gooks at Khe Sanh. The imagery of WASP 'merikans fighting to their last breath against hordes of godless colored lunatics is comforting to the WonderSoul, which needs to feel that it is the last best Christian hope for civilization against the satanic forces that are swarthy, non-Christian and defending their homes, culture and dignity.
H Campbell
Texas (Jan 16, '14)

[Re All in play in the New Great Game, Dec 23, '13] Good piece by Pepe Escobar as usual, but no real emphasis on the jingoistic non-adults in the US Congress by mentioning their threat of separate sanctions of Iran and what that will do to the agreement by adults.
Southern California, USA (Jan 14, '14)

[Re: The Whitewashing of Ariel Sharon, Ramzy Baroud, Jan 13, '14] Arabs like Ramzy Baroud can't stand it when Israel is strong. That's why he and his countrymen are working day and night to delegitimize Israel in America.
Larry Shapiro (Jan 14, '14)

Sascha Matuszak in Kim purges for a new economic dawn [Jan 10, '14], lets loose a screed of leftist nonsense to have us believe North Korea is about to embark on serious economic reform. North Korea has been talking about economic reforms since the 1980's and nothing happens. Matuszak thinks all of the North's problems can be traced to "American aggression", now I would like to know what aggression he is talking about.

The 30,000 US troops are in South Korea to protect against a North Korean invasion. The North has a 1.2 million man army giving them a 40 to 1 advantage over US forces. North Korea has violated the armistice over 200 times since the end of the war including the sinking of a South Korean warship and the shelling of a South Korean island in 2010. That does not count the numerous assassination attempts of southern leaders and the hijacking and bombing of planes, along with the kidnapping of over a thousand South Koreans. The UN and US sanctions are in response to the North's testing nuclear weapons and missiles which could carry those weapons.

I find it amusing that many on the left defend a racist Fascist dictatorship that is only interested in the top 1% of society. However the truth is that the left backs North Korea because it opposes the US and anti-Americanism is the only belief that the left has left (no pun intended). Matuszak makes it seem that the brutal murder of Jang was a great patriotic duty and Jang got what was coming to him.

If he really thinks that the North is serious about economic reform he should read the latest issue of Korea Focus where Park Hyeong-jung writes about the half- hearted attempt at reform. The June 28 (2012) directive for reform has fallen flat on it face. The parasitic elite refuse to loosen their hold over the peasants as it would threaten their claim to over 90% of the economic wealth of the nation. As the North spends hundreds of millions on nuclear weapons and silly projects like a ski resort way more then half the population can't get enough food to eat. But as Kim Il-sung told the former East Germany leader Erich Honecker, hungry people are easier to control.
Dennis O'Connell
USA (Jan 14, '14)

U Myat Swe (Sonny Swe) is an owner of the Mizzima News as reported in Old ties to Myanmar's new media'. However, the authors are completely mistaken in writing that Sonny is a majority owner in The Myanmar Times. In fact neither he nor his family own any shares in Myanmar Consolidated Media Ltd, the owner of The Myanmar Times. The Times, published in both languages has been operational since the start of 2000. It has 350 staff and more than 500,000 readers weekly and is the nation's largest media company, run by Ross Dunkley, an Australian, who is a major shareholder representing the foreign side of the nation's only international media joint venture. Dr Tin Tun Oo, a non executive is the local shareholder.
Ross Dunkley (Jan 13, '14)
Editor in chief and chairman of the Myanmar Times

This article was corrected on January 10.- ATol

[Re Kim purges for a new economic dawn, Jan 10, '14] Sascha Matuszak adds a touch of reality to analysis of what's going on in the DPRK. Professional US Pyongyongolists regurgitate the same old same old mantra of instability and impending collapse of North Korea. The old CIA analysts Robert Carlin however is an exception, he, too, sees a new economic dawn and some openness occurring under Kim Jong-eun.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Jan 13, '14)

[Re Japanese premier takes a reckless gamble, Jan 6, '14] The recent visitation of the Japanese prime minister to a shrine that honors the deaths of known war criminals has understandably exacerbated tensions between that nation and China, the country against whom the majority of those war crimes were perpetrated against in the Second World War. The backdrop of this, the simmering disputes over worthless stones in the north Pacific, is merely a canvas upon which the broader historical panorama is painted.

To this day many Chinese view the Japanese as akin to devils, little better than brutish bipedal animals, whose atrocities against China have yet to be punished. Indeed, the fact that Germany's major miscreant warmongerers in the Third Reich were executed by the victorious Allies, while Japan's leader Hirohito, was coddled and protected by the Amerikans, still sticks in the craw of those Chinese whose families were exterminated by the ruthless Japanese Kwangtung Army.

As a corollary to that insulation from prosecution for a war the Emperor was responsible for greenlighting, the Japanese were never forced to confront their aggression in the same manner as the Germans were, even to the extent that their history texts could pretty much whitewash their collective sins. So the arrogant gesture of a Japanese politician honoring his idea of "peace" by equating the deaths of war criminals to their victims naturally appalls a China eager to settle scores.

The blame for this should be laid at the feet of the Amerikans, who failed to adequately prosecute its own war criminals after its brutal civil war in the 1860s. Instead of hanging Robert E Lee, Jefferson Davis and a slew of like-minded southern traitors, and then failing to ruthlessly police the South during Reconstruction, the victorious North simply allowed the defeated Confederacy to evolve into a morphed Jim Crow mutation, every bit as racist and suppressive as its formal and deceased predecessor.

The resultant legacy of racial distrust and recrimination scars the nation to this day. Of course, the rationale for such moderation is the so-called "spirit of reconciliation" that seldom walks a two way street. In similar misguided fashion, and through the prism of Cold War realpolitik, the US reconstructed an unrepentant Japan that could conveniently ignore the "blank spots" in its history, like the Nanking Massacre or Unit 731, at the same time magnifying and exaggerating so-called "morally equivalent" incidents like the atom bombing of two of its cities, all the while becoming an arrogant economic power and capitalist bulwark against communism.

All this makes the Roman idea of a "Carthaginian Peace" appealing in its clean simplicity. While its true that imperial Rome regularly allowed its conquered foes to co-exist as tribute paying satrapies, it is equally true that major disrupters of the pax romana, such as Carthage, had to suffer the ultimate price for their recalcitrance - total eradication as a city and society. For Rome, the proximity and genius of its Carthaginian rivals made reconciliation impossible, for they knew that such a proud people would always be burning for revenge and retribution. Alas, for China, such an outcome was never an option, and having to live with a Japan unwilling and unable to recognize its own moral failures continues to deny justice. But while Japan may think it has a fail safe backup in the Empire, it best think again. After the next economic bubble pops, Wonderland will be scrambling to preserve the remnants of its tattered imperial domains at home.
H Campbell
Texas (Jan 10, '14)

[Re America: Hooked on hegemony, Jan 8, '14] Today's newspaper carries an item which underscores Peter Lee's argument: the US is beefing up its military presence in South Korea.

The Obama administration is moving yet another battalion to the Republic of Korea from the First Cavalry Division at Ft Hood, Texas. A rebalance of force says the Pentagon, to increase combat readiness and war fighting ability. Eyewash! The real motive, some say, is to put some backbone into the Obama Doctrine.

The US presence in the Korean peninsula, Japan and the Philippines - and now the new battalion - add up into overkill to blunt China, and of course, Washington's bugaboo North Korea, no more, no less.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Jan 9, '14)

[Re Asia is vulnerable, Jan 6, '14] It isn't so much that China suffers from excessive liquidity. As a growing and productive (relatively speaking) economy with a massive consumer base, China actually needs more money in circulation. In the past few years, there's been a gross misuse of financial capital, especially at the provincial and more local levels, where corruption is rampant and a healthy understanding of the return-on-investment concept seems appallingly deficient. Moving forward, the new administration of President Xi Jinping and Vice President Li Keqiang appears to have its sights set on tackling this issue, in the process reducing overall economic growth, as discussed in Professor Michael Pettis' blog (China's 'high growth' is a pipedream). Though undoubtedly painful, this adjustment has been long overdue to help rectify economic and social imbalances/misalignments, laying the foundation for the next high-growth spurt.
John Chen
USA (Jan 8, '14)

With the passing of 2013 into the rearview mirror of history, the 10th anniversary of Dumbya Bush's ill-conceived invasion of Iraq likewise passes with hardly a whimper made in the WonderMedia during the entire year. Scarcely a word, commentary or anniversary retrospective has been expressed about the lies, machinations and manipulations that dragged an all-too-willing-to-swallow-bovine-droppings public into an abysmal cesspool. In truth, though, the absence of such self-examination should be little wonder. To be otherwise would be a condemnation of an Amerikan people who blindly followed a war criminal and his gang of murderous hoodlums. Better to let those lying dogs continue to lie and start another illegal war.

Such blinkering of historical vision is a commonplace here, and especially with regards to our wars. Coupled with Amerikan's love of cherrypicking, such selective blindness has created myths about virtually very war we have provoked. You can start with the Amerikan Revolution, which to hear the story told by US history books was solely won by semi-naked 'merikan patriots huddled under rickety tents in snow laden valleys. You will starve to death if your nutrition depends on learning about the vital military, financial and diplomatic support given to those shivering heroes by the King of France, assistance without which we would all be sipping tea and munching crumpets while watching footy on our tellies.

Our wars with the red Indians, when mentioned at all, will likewise only highlight heroic white actions like Custer's death at Little Big Horn against hordes of savage redskins while ignoring the US Army's massacres of Indian women and children at Wounded Knee, Sandy Creek, etc. (and just forget about ever hearing how Washington consistently reneged on its treaties with the sad natives.) My favorite treatment is of The Big One (WW Numero Two). You know, the one we single handedly won by storming the beaches at Normandy against dastardly Hitler, then letting Patton run the Nazis into the ground before they surrendered to us virile, strappin' Yanks. Unfortunately for the myth, it was also the same war the Russians lost 20 million people in and the same war in which the Nazis had 90 divisions on the Anglo-Amerikan front and 250 on the Russian front. It has to be one of history's greatest hypocrisies for the Anglo-Amerikans to claim anything other than a Johnny-Come-Lately tourist's role in the European theater, where the commies did most of the fighting and dying for 4 bloody years. Amerika was, at best, a clumsy amateur by comparison; when the odds were anything like even, the dilapidated remnants of the Nazi army still kicked Yank-Limey tail and took names.

The Korean War, that war where Amerika suffered its worst military defeat to date, has its own cherished myths, like the one about China's "unprovoked aggression." The Chinese Reds gave clear and explicit warnings that they would resist Amerika's attempt to conquer North Korea, and yet Amerikan arrogance and racism ignored the Red flags, much to our subsequent chagrin. But President LBJ remembered that lesson well, which resulted in his Vietnam tragedy, which in turn spawned the Amerikan version of Germany's "stabbedin the back" myth made after WW One. If only the hippies and Walter Cronkite and the Tooth Fairy hadn't betrayed us...

And the preposterous war myth making continues to this day. We allegedly invaded Afghanistan to "get" bin Laden, but stayed well after he was dismissed as inconsequential or even when he was allegedly "killed". Then the reasoning became we invaded to get rid of the Taliban as a terrorist supporting government, all the while Taliban enjoyed cross-border sanctuary under our "ally" and nuke possessing, terrorist supporting Pakistan. And hordes of white trash rednecks will go to their grave insisting Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Laden were kissing cousins on the 9-11 "plot," a lie assiduously nurtured by Bush's neocon flunkies in the WonderWhore Media. Even the latest run up to the pathetic Obama climb down on Syria was replete with CIA manufactured rumor and innuendo about poor little children being mercilessly gassed by Assad's henchmen. So don't be surprised when we hear some more bogus lies about our next hapless Third World victim. Watch out, Yemen and your baby eating, kitten strangling rituals!
Hardy Campbell
USA (Jan 7, '13)

[Re The unraveling of North Korea, Jan 6, '14] The dialogue of the deaf continues. Surely, Joseph DeTrani cannot ignore the glaring fact that the Korean War is not over - it is simply papered over by an armistice agreement signed 63 years ago.

It is astounding that he cannot relate the US military buildup during the Cold War to North Korea's, the more especially since for the DPRK the US and South Korea remain enemies just as much as the US and South Korea view North Korea as an enemy and one that has to be overthrown by any means necessary.
Nakamura Junzo
Guam (Jan 7, '13)

I find right-wing advertisements appearing obtrusively on your website offensive. It is usually found on spurious sites such as Fox News, sites not to be taken seriously. In the past I have found Asia Times Online to be a reliable source of investigative news, but am sad to see such an encroachment on your website is strategically placed to appear legitimate.
Southern California, USA (Jan 6, '14)

[Re God's magic bullet of fate, Dec 23, '13] The whole article is based on flawed reasoning. Reasoning that humans are capable of understanding. There is no believing or faith needed here. A single God, also known as absolute truth, can be described in understood human terms as all and everything. Therefore God can choose not to know the works of the minds of men. And he had to do that if he wanted man to love and in turn, for He to love man. To foreknow is to omit any sort of love between the parties. In other words if God chooses to foreknow what moves man, he has made us a bunch of Charlie McCarthys.
John Anderson (Jan 6, '14)

Apr - Dec 2013 Letters


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