The Nature of Foxes

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Re: The Nature of Foxes

Post by blindpig » Fri Apr 05, 2024 1:11 pm

Hyper-Imperialism: A Dangerous Decadent New Stage

Our latest study explores how the decline of Global North hegemony has shifted the geopolitical landscape and opened new possibilities for emergent organisations of the Global South.
JANUARY 23, 2024


Research for this document has been conducted collectively for over a year and has received contributions from many scholars and socialist practitioners. This document was compiled with data and charts provided by Global South Insights (GSI), with editing and coordination by Gisela Cernadas, Mikaela Nhondo Erskog, Tica Moreno, and Deborah Veneziale. The data and charts for Part IV of the document rely heavily on published research by economist John Ross.

It has been a scant 30 years since the ‘end of history’ was declared by bourgeois ideologists in pantomimes of wish-fulfilment for sensing the inviolability of United States imperialism.1Vijay Prashad, Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism (New York: Haymarket Books, 2022); Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, Ten Theses on Marxism and Decolonisation, dossier no. 56, 20 September 2022, ... onisation/.

For peoples’ struggles and movements feeling the boot of imperialism on their necks, no such end was in sight.

In the face of violent repression, such as Brazil’s Carajás Massacre in 1996, the Landless Workers’ Movement led the reclamation of land for popular agrarian reform through occupation and production, challenging agribusiness behemoths, such as the US multinational Monsanto.2Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, Popular Agrarian Reform and the Struggle for Land in Brazil, dossier no. 27, 6 April 2020,
A ‘soldier who shook the continent’, Hugo Chávez won the popular vote in 1999, a sharp left turn that was followed by others in Latin America. This included a wave of mass mobilisation of millions of workers, peasants, Indigenous, women, and students that defeated the proposed US Free Trade Areas of the Americas in 2005, a direct challenge to nearly 200 years of the US Monroe Doctrine.3Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, The Strategic Revolutionary Thought and Legacy of Hugo Chávez Ten Years After His Death, dossier no. 61, 28 February 2023,; Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, A Map of Latin America’s Present: An Interview with Héctor Béjar, dossier no. 49, 7 February 2022, ... n-america/; Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, The US Ministry of Colonies and Its Summit, red alert no. 14, 25 May 2022, ... -americas/.

In 2002, Nigerian women gathered at the gates of Shell and Chevron to protest environmental destruction and exploitation in the Niger Delta. Haitians refused the centuries of denigration in mass demonstrations following the US ousting of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and US occupation in 2004. Millions of Nepalese celebrated the toppling of the monarchy through armed resistance under the leadership of the communists in 2006. When fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in 2010, the Tunisian people revolted against the neo-liberal system that had caused him to take such extreme measures.

In subsequent years, changes – sometimes small and imperceptible, at other times volatile and explosive – unfolded. These involved both popular movements and state actors, in some cases extremely powerful ones. The US was confronted by a rising economic powerhouse in China, growing economies in the Global South (which overtook the Global North’s GDP in PPP terms in 2007), years of domestic capital investment neglect, the financialisation of the economy, and the loss of manufacturing superiority.

The rise of the Tea Party in 2009 signalled internal fracturing of US domestic politics. Internationally, the US failed to achieve soft regime disruption in China and de-nuclearisation or regime change in Russia. After a temporary reduction in military spending with the end of the disastrous war on Iraq (2003–2011), the US shifted to the use and threat of military power as a central pillar of its response to these changes.

Hegemony is historically lost in three stages: production, finance, and military.4Immanuel Wallerstein, ‘The Three Instances of Hegemony in the History of the Capitalist World-Economy’, ed. Lenski, Current Issues and Research in Macrosociology, 1 January 1984, 100–108,

The United States has lost hegemony in production, though it still has some remaining areas of technological hegemony, including those related to the military. It is seeing its financial hegemony challenged, though still in the very early stages and revolving around the status of the US dollar. Even though the economic and political aspects of its decline might be accelerating, it still retains military power – creating a temptation for the US to attempt to overcome the consequences of its economic decline by military or military related means.

The US has defined China as its strategic competitor. The minimum programme of the US is the containment and economic diminishment of China, sufficient to guarantee the US’s own perpetual future economic hegemony.

From its own point of view, US capitalism is rational in its attempts to limit China’s rise. Failure to do so would erode the relative advantage the US has in controlling higher levels of productive forces and the resulting monopoly privileges that control entails. There is almost complete alignment amongst the US state actors to continue to manage decoupling from China (despite the near impossibility of fully re-modernising US productive forces domestically) and to advance military preparations against China.

The February 2022 movement of Russian troops into Ukraine – a result of the continued violations of US assurances on the non-expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the continuing civil war between Kyiv and Donbas – marked an explicit new phase in world military alignment for the US. In a series of rapid-fire moves, the US openly subordinated all the Global North countries and, in so doing, further subordinated the military apparatus of those states. It established itself as the open military hegemon of what is euphemistically called NATO+, which includes all but three members of the former Eastern Bloc. Those who attended the 2023 NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, as a member or observer – including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the Republic of Korea – are de facto members of NATO+. Only Israel (excused from attendance for political expediency) and a few smaller countries of the Global North did not attend.

Beginning in October 2023, Israel began a campaign of displacement, ethnic cleansing, collective punishment, and genocide of Palestinians with the full and shameless support of the United States government. The developments in Ukraine followed by the recent escalations in Gaza are significant markers reflecting that there has been a qualitative change within the imperialist system. The US has now completed its economic, political, and military subordination of all the other imperialist countries. This has consolidated an integrated, militarily focused imperialist bloc. It aims to maintain a grip on the Global South as a whole and has turned its attention to dominating Eurasia, the last area of the world that has escaped its control.

It is not a matter of exaggeration to say that the Global North has declared a state of open hostility and war on any section of the Global South that does not comply with the policies of the Global North. This is seen in the joint declaration on EU-NATO Cooperation published on 9 January 2023:

We will further mobilise the combined set of instruments at our disposal, be they political, economic, or military, to pursue our common objectives to the benefit of our one billion citizens.5Jens Stoltenberg, Ursula von der Leyen, and Charles Michel, ‘Joint Declaration on EU-NATO Cooperation’, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, 10 January 2023, ... 210549.htm.

The Palestinian people in Gaza are certainly feeling the palpable barbarity of NATO+ and the forced ‘mass consensus’ of which the Global North is capable. As Palestinian liberation leader Leila Khaled put it recently:

We know that they speak about terrorism, but they are the heroes of terrorism. The imperialist force everywhere in the world, in Iraq, in Syria, in different countries… are preparing to attack China. All of what they say about terrorism turns to be about them. People have the right to resist with all means to it, including the armed struggle. This is in the Charter of the United Nations. So, they are violating the rights of people for resistance because it’s their right to restore their freedom. And this is, and I say it always, a fundamental law: where there is repression, there is resistance. People will not live under occupation and repression. History taught us that when people resist, they can keep their dignity and their land.6Leila Khaled, ‘Where There is Repression, There is Resistance’, Capire, 27 October 2023, ... esistance/.


Imperialism has begun its transformation to a new stage: Hyper-Imperialism.7Vladimir I. Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism: A Popular Outline (New York: International Publishers, 1939); Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (London: Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications, 1972); Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, Reprinted (London: Panaf, 2004).

This is imperialism conducted in an exaggerated and kinetic way, whilst also subject to the constraints that the declining empire has foisted on itself. The spasmodic quality of its exertion is felt by the millions of Congolese, Palestinians, Somalis, Syrians, and Yemeni living under US militarism, whose heads instinctively jerk for cover at sudden sounds.

Yet, this is not the full-blooded march across the globe that the Cold War initiated, fought in proxy battles that were followed by economic imperialism through the World Bank and other development institutions. It is the imperialism of a drowning billionaire who firmly believes he ought to be back on his yacht. It flexes the muscles of power that are still strong – the military. However, absent productive power and knowing that financial power is at a tipping point, the full suite of imperial technologies of control that the US once had is no longer at its disposal. It, therefore, channels its efforts through the mechanisms it has most at hand: culture (the control of truth) and war.

The tactics of Hyper-Imperialism are shaped partly by the modernisation of hybrid warfare, which includes lawfare, hyper-sanctions, seizure of national reserves and assets, and other manners of non-military warfare. New technological tools of surveillance and targeted communication characterising the digital age are deployed to wage imperialist control of the battle of ideas. This has involved implementing more perverse and covert methods against the truth, such as the political imprisonment of WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange, who exposed numerous crimes against the Global South.8Julian Assange, When Google Met WikiLeaks (New York: OR Books, 2014).

The Global North is an integrated military, political, and economic bloc composed of 49 countries. These include the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, and secondary Western and Eastern European countries. In the military arena, Turkey (as a NATO member), the Republic of Korea and the Philippines (de facto militarised colonies of the US) are included in our definition of the ‘US-led Military Bloc’, even though they are part of the Global South.

Over the last twenty years, the Global North has endured a significant relative economic decline, along with a political, social, and moral decline. Its false ‘moral’ claims of civil rights and ‘press freedom’ are now complete mockeries as they seek to make illegal the public (including online) support for Palestinian rights. This full-on support for the humiliation and destruction of the darker peoples of the world is reminiscent of past centuries, exposing what can be described as collective ‘white fragility’.

The Global South countries comprise former colonies and semi-colonies, a few non-European independent states, and current and former socialist projects. The struggles for national liberation, independence, development, and total economic and political sovereignty still need to be completed for most of the Global South.

Despite the limitations of the terminology, we will use the term ‘Global North’ and occasionally ‘the West’ (an often-used hollow phrase) interchangeably with the more accurate term of the ‘US-Led Imperialist Camp’. We will analyse the Global North in four ‘Rings’. The rest of the world is currently known as the ‘Global South’, much of it was previously called the ‘Third World’. We will analyse the Global South in six ‘Groupings’ that are determined by the relative degree to which a country is a target of regime change and the role its government plays in publicly advancing international, anti-imperialist stances (both in Figure 1). The Global North is engaged in much higher levels of generalised conflict with the rest of the world, the Global South.


PART I: The Rise of a Complete US-Led Global North Military Bloc
Shifts and Consolidation
The US-Led Military Bloc has had two internal changes in the last three decades:

The further expansion of the bloc to include all Eastern Europe countries (only missing Belarus).
The challenge to retain the full subordination of the Western European capitalist states, which abandoned any fundamental, and in many cases even the pretence of, independence.
The latter became evident in 2018 by the Western European states’ genuflection to Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal – a significant blow to their economic interests. Further down, we will discuss the history of this process.9Donald Trump, ‘President Donald J. Trump Is Ending United States Participation in an Unacceptable Iran Deal’, The White House, 8 May 2018, ... iran-deal/.

The centre of the ‘US-Led Military Bloc’, as we call it, is NATO. It also includes Japan, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, three Global South countries, and the few other European countries who are not NATO members.

The US-Led Military Bloc is the world’s only bloc, a de facto and de jure military alliance with a central command. There is no other bloc of its kind. Its clarity and unity of purpose are sharply evident. The US has abandoned many important anti-nuclear proliferation treaties over the last ten years (Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, and Open Skies Treaty in 2020).10‘US Completes Open Skies Treaty Withdrawal’, Arms Control Association, December 2020, ... withdrawal; C. Todd Lopez, ‘US Withdraws From Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty’, US Department of Defence, 2 August 2019, ... es-treaty/; George W. Bush, ‘Statement by the President’, The White House, 13 June 2002, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives ... 613-9.html.

This has allowed military planners to potentially prepare for the placement of intermediate-range nuclear missiles capable of obliterating Moscow in minutes.

Military Spending


In the November 2023 issue of Monthly Review, a well-researched paper by Gisela Cernadas and John Bellamy Foster, using only US official economic statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), revealed that the actual US economic military spending is over twice that acknowledged by the US government or even the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).11Gisela Cernadas and John Bellamy Foster, ‘Actual US Military Spending Reached US$ 1.53 trillion in 2022 – More than Twice Acknowledged Level: New Estimates Based on US National Accounts’, Monthly Review, 1 November 2023, ... -accounts/.

The actual 2022 US military expenditure was US$ 1,537 billion.12The Quincy Institute and other authors have also published significantly higher US military spending estimates. Andrew Cockburn, ‘Getting the Defense Budget Right: A (Real) Grand Total, over $1.4 Trillion’, Responsible Statecraft, 7 May 2023, ... -trillion/.

To calculate the world total military expenditure, we have selected SIPRI’s published numbers as our primary source for all countries, except for the US.13‘SIPRI Military Expenditure Database’, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, accessed 20 December 2023,

For the US alone, we use the figures from Monthly Review. In 2022, SIPRI adjusted the Chinese government reported national defence budget number of $229 billion to $292 billion, a 27.5% increase.14Chen Zhuo, ‘Explainer: Prudent Chinese Defense Budget Growth Ensures Broad Public Security’, Ministry of National Defence, People’s Republic of China, 6 March 2022, ... 06180.html; National Bureau of Statistics of China, accessed 20 December 2023, ... uery&cnC01.

Starting in 2021, SIPRI began a new methodology for revising China’s military spending.15The 2022 SIPRI adjustment are expenses related to (a) spending on the paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP); (b) soldiers’ de-mobilisation and retirement payments from the Ministry of Civil Affairs; (c) additional military research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) funding outside the national defence budget; (d) additional military construction expenses; (e) commercial earnings of the People’s Liberation Army (zero as of 2015); (f) subsidies to the arms industry (zero as of 2010); (e) Chinese arms imports (zero as of 2020); and (g) the Chinese Coast Guard (since 2013). The new series remains internally consistent over the period 1989–2019. See Nan Tian and Fei Su, ‘A New Estimate Of China’s Military Expenditure’, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, January 2021, ... diture.pdf; ‘Sources and Methods’, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, accessed 20 December 2023, ... -for-china.

SIPRI changed their calculations for China’s military spending both for previous years and current years.16SIPRI figures for China 2021 were on average about 1.36 times larger than China’s official national defence budget, though reducing the estimates made in the past. For instance, for the year 2019, the new SIPRI estimate is 1,660 billion yuan or US$ 240 billion, slightly lower than the old estimate of 1,803 billion yuan or US$ 261 billion. Under the previous estimates, SIPRI increased China’s official 2021 defence budget by 48.6%. Under the new estimates, China’s 2021 budget was increased 36.8% by SIPRI. With the new adjustments China’s military spending corresponds to 1.6% of GDP, compared to 1.3% that the official budget represents. Calculations for GDP are based on IMF WEO GDP CER data.

SIPRI adjusted the US annual military budget reported by the OMB for the year 2022 by 14.5% up from US$ 765.8 to 876.9 billion.17Office of Management and Budget, ‘Historical Tables. Table 3.2. Outlays by Function and Subfunction: 1962–2028’, The White House, accessed 20 December 2023, ... al-tables/.

This was about half of the percentage increase added to China.

SIPRI’s treatment of China’s military spending is quite different from how it deals with the US, as it adopts a much more circumspect approach to US calculations.

Even if SIPRI doubled the military spending reported by China itself to US$ 458 billion, it would represent 2.6% of its GDP. This is significantly below the actual 6% spent by the US and, even then, China’s military spending would be only 29.8% of that of the US, with a population over four times greater than the US .18Calculations based on the estimates of actual US military spending for the year 2022 by Gisela Cernadas and John Bellamy Foster. See note 11.

Additionally, unlike the US, China does not have 902 overseas foreign bases.19‘USA’s Military Empire: A Visual Database’, World Beyond War, accessed 27 November 2023,

US bases and interventions create a drain not only on the annual budget but also on long-term economic debt. Additional details can be found in the endnote.20For decades, it has been recognised by independent researchers that actual US military spending is approximately twice the officially acknowledged level. The independent research is not restricted to left-wing circles, but it includes the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, funded by the right-wing billionaire George Soros, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), and the ‘liberal’ Centre for American Progress. See Lawrence J. Krob and Kaveh Toofan, ‘A Trillion-Dollar Defense Budget? – Centre for American Progress’, Centre for American Progress, 12 July 2022, ... se-budget/; Cockburn, ‘Getting the Defense Budget Right: A (Real) Grand Total, over $1.4 Trillion’; William Hartung and Mandy Smithberger, ‘Making Sense of the $1.25 Trillion National Security State Budget’, Project on Government Oversight, 7 May 2019, ... ate-budget.

What emerged from our analysis was a series of clear findings. The first is that the US controls, through NATO and other means, an astounding 74.3% of all military spending worldwide (Figure 2). This amounts to over US$ 2 trillion.21Our worldwide military spending figures use current exchange rates (CER). PPP conversion factors to measure military spending are necessarily less reliable than currency exchange rates. PPP rates are statistical estimates, calculated on the basis of collected price data for baskets of goods and services for benchmark years. No such price data is collected for military expenditure. Therefore, the nature of military spending lacks this information for international comparisons. Thus, the calculation of the military spending applying PPP rates through GDP conversion factors is methodologically invalid since it’s based on the implicit assumption that the ratio of military prices equals the ratio of relative prices of GDP for which no evidence is presented. SIPRI recognises that using the PPP adjustment for military spending is inaccurate and therefore it is less reliable than using currency exchange rates. See Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, accessed 25 November 2023, ... stions#PPP.


Figure 3 shows that imperialist countries account for 12 of the top 16 military budgets in the world.


Figure 4 shows the 16 highest military per capita spending by Global North countries versus the three largest Global South military spenders. The United States spends 21 times more on its military per person than China does on its military.22Since China’s military spending is focused on only Chinese territory, there are clear limits to China’s military expansion, The country does not have significant military bases abroad, unlike the US with 902 in 2022. This idea is supported by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft: ‘China has thus far established only one actual, operating overseas military base, on the horn of Africa, in Djibouti, and is probably establishing a naval facility in Cambodia. But there are real limits to how far China can go in duplicating such places. As Isaac Kardon of the Carnegie Endowment has pointed out, China has no formal military alliances (beyond the dubious case of DPR Korea) and is unlikely to acquire any in the foreseeable future, a fact that imposes major constraints on its ability to establish serious military bases. Few if any countries wish to commit to housing full-fledged, sizeable military facilities that could project Chinese military power across their region and, in the process, invite an American response.’ See Michael D. Swaine, ‘Actually, China’s Military Isn’t Going Global’, Responsible Statecraft, 8 September 2023,

There can be no doubt as to the significance of these findings.

Countries with military spending exceeding 20 billion USD
Global North and Global South, 2022

Country Name (GSI) Military Spending
US Dollars (mil.)
Percentage of
GDP (CER) Per Capita
>world avg. (times)
US-Led Military Bloc
United States 1,536,859 6.0% 12.6
United Kingdom 68,463 2.2% 2.8
Germany 55,760 1.4% 1.9
France 53,639 1.9% 2.3
Rep. Korea 46,365 2.8% 2.5
Japan 45,992 1.1% 1.0
Ukraine 43,998 27.4% 3.1
Italy 33,490 1.7% 1.6
Australia 32,299 1.9% 3.4
Canada 26,896 1.3% 1.9
Israel 23,406 4.5% 7.2
Spain 20,307 1.4% 1.2
Global South
China 291,958 1.6% 0.6
Russia 86,373 3.8% 1.7
India 81,363 2.4% 0.2
Saudi Arabia 75,013 6.8% 5.7
Brazil 20,211 1.1% 0.3
Source: Global South Insights elaboration based on IMF, UN, SIPRI & Monthly Review

Figure 5 lists all countries that have military budgets exceeding US$ 20 billion, 11 of which are in the Global North compared to six (out of 145) countries in the Global South. For this chart, Republic of Korea is listed under the US-Led Military Bloc.

It is clear that the Global South, in contrast to the Global North, is not a bloc and certainly not a military bloc. The Global South thus faces the extreme monopoly of military spending by the US-Led Military Bloc. This represents a clear and present danger to all countries of the Global South; it presents an imminent danger to the continued existence of humankind and the planet.

In turn, the single most important aspect of state power – that is, military power – the absolute central danger to the working classes of all countries, especially to the darker nations of the world, lies in the US-Led Imperialist Camp. Objectively, there is no such thing as sub-imperialism or non-Western imperialist powers (such concepts are subjective deceptions that cloud over the factual realities).

US and UK Military Bases
In March 2002, Monthly Review published an article with a list and map of countries with known US military bases, arguing that the extent of the US empire could be depicted by its bases.23The Editors, ‘US Military Bases and Empire’, Monthly Review, 1 March 2002, ... nd-empire/.

This created a storm in some US military circles. Others have expanded on this work in subsequent years, including David Vine and World Beyond War (which has made an interactive map publicly available). 24‘USA’s Military Empire: A Visual Database’, World Beyond War, accessed 27 November 2023,

The information about the location of these bases opened a window onto the absolutely pervasive nature of US military hegemony. The location and number of bases is valuable for understanding the shape and trajectory of imperialism by illuminating its frontiers and showing its role in policing them.

There are 902 known US military bases and 145 known UK military bases described below.25The Military Balance 2023, International Institute for Security Studies, 15 February 2023, ... y-balance/.

Due to the secrecy of the US military and government, there is a lack of data on US military functions that occur inside these bases and the actions launched from US military forces located there. This makes a full qualitative analysis of US foreign military activities incomplete. Some of the analytical deficiencies include that:

Listed bases exclude the facilities and locations of the many privatised military functions that the US has created over the last 40 years. Companies such as DynCorp International, Fluor Corporation, AECOM, and KBR, Inc. run operations worldwide, including in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia.26Sally Williamson ‘Logistics Contractors and Strategic Logistics Advantage in US Military Operations’, Logistics In War, 4 June 2023, ... perations/.

They do not include ‘unofficial’ projects by the US military like the commandeering of Terminal 1 in Kotoka International Airport in Ghana’s capital city, in which US soldiers do not need passports or visas to enter (only their US military ID) and US military aircrafts are ‘free from boarding and inspection’.27‘Agreement Between the United States of America and Ghana’, Treaties and Other International Acts, series 18–531, US Department of State, ... Forces.pdf.

Terminal 1 is thus a de facto US military base. Ghana has ceded national sovereignty to the US.28Vijay Prashad, ‘Why Does the United States Have a Military Base in Ghana?’, Peoples Dispatch, 15 June 2022, ... -in-ghana/.

They exclude essential projects for the US military-industrial-digital communications complex. Many undersea cable terminus locations are controlled by US intelligence-cleared officials only. Control of the undersea cable communications of the world is one of the key US intelligence priorities.29 Matthew P. Goodman and Matthew Wayland, ‘Securing Asia’s Subsea Network: US Interests and Strategic Options’, Centre for Strategic International Studies, 4 April 2022, ... ic-options.

This is part of the NSA ‘Collect It All’ program to gather all communications of the world and store them in places like the Bluffdale Utah Data Centre (code-named ‘Bumblehive’), the first Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative data centre.30‘Utah Data Centre’, Domestic Surveillance Directorate, accessed 27 November 2023,

They exclude secret military projects and locations (including host-nation facilities known as ‘lily pads’), although some have been exposed and included.31Nick Turse, ‘Pentagon Misled Congress About US Bases in Africa’, The Intercept, 8 September 2023, ... -military/.

There is little information regarding US military movements between locations, the nature of the activities carried out (such as troop movements or targeted assassinations), and the volume of goods, planes, and vessels.
Not all bases are equal in scale or function, assessing relative importance is near impossible. Sometimes a single building is classified as a base because it is discontiguous from other buildings a kilometre away. Some bases are massive and destructive to everything in their path – like the military facilities in Guam, destroying the natural environment and the lives of people living there. Others are known as small spy network installations.
The result of these limitations is a tendency to report on what is measurable, not what is unknown but strategic.


First, we provide a map using World Beyond War data that shows which countries have bases without showing the exact number in each country. This helps to reduce possible incorrect comparisons. The existence of even one US base within a country means that the country has already ceded some national sovereignty to the US. Second, for completeness, we include below two charts (one for the Global North and one for the Global South) that list countries with known bases as per World Beyond War.

Figure 6 shows the US has at least 902 foreign military bases. They are heavily concentrated in bordering regions or buffer zones around China and seriously undermine the sovereignty of Global South countries.32‘USA’s Military Empire: A Visual Database’, World Beyond War, accessed 27 November 2023,

United States military bases in Global North countries and territories

Number of bases Country/territory
50+ Germany (171), Japan (98)
20-49 Italy (45), United Kingdom (25)
5-19 Australia (17), Belgium (12), Portugal (9), Romania (9), Norway (8), Israel (7), Netherlands (7), Greece (5), Poland (5)
1-4 Bulgaria (4), Iceland (3), Spain (3), Canada (2), Georgia (2), Hungary (2), Latvia (2), Slovakia (2), Cyprus (1), Denmark (1), Estonia (1), Greenland (1), Ireland (1), Kosovo (1), Luxembourg (1)
Total 445
Source: Global South Insights elaboration based on World Beyond War
US foreign military bases not only exist in the Global South, but also have a significant presence in the Global North (Figure 7). More than two-thirds of known bases are concentrated in the two countries defeated in World War II: Germany and Japan.

United States military bases in Global South countries and territories

Number of bases Country/Territory
50+ Rep. Korea (62)
20-49 Guam (45), Puerto Rico (34), Syria (28), Saudi Arabia (21)
5-19 Panama (15), Turkey (12), Philippines (11), Bahrain (10), Iraq (10), Marshall Islands (10), Bahamas (9), Belize (9), Honduras (9), Niger (9), Guatemala (8), Jordan (8), Kuwait (8), Oman (8), Pakistan (8), Egypt (7), Colombia (6), El Salvador (6), Somalia (6), Northern Mariana Islands (5), Peru (5), Qatar (5)
1-4 Cameroon (4), Costa Rica (4), Virgin Islands (U.S.) (4), Argentina (3), Central African Republic (3), Chad (3), Kenya (3), Mauritania (3), Nicaragua (3), Palau (3), Thailand (3), United Arab Emirates (3), American Samoa (2), Brazil (2), Diego Garcia (2), Djibouti (2), Dominican Republic (2), Gabon (2), Ghana (2), Mali (2), Singapore (2), Suriname (2), Tunisia (2), Uganda (2), Yemen (2), Antarctica (1), Aruba (1), Ascension (1), Botswana (1), Burkina Faso (1), Burundi (1), Cambodia (1), Chile (1), Cuba (1), DR Congo (1), Indonesia (1), Netherlands Antilles (1), Samoa (1), Senegal (1), Seychelles (1), South Sudan (1), Uruguay (1), Wake Island (1)
Total 457
Source: Global South Insights elaboration based on World Beyond War

Figure 8 lists the locations of US foreign military bases in Global South countries and territories. The Republic of Korea hosts 62 permanent US military bases.

United States foreign military structures
No. of buildings, building area, land area, and no. of bases

Country/territory Building Internal
total number
Military Bases
total number
Japan 10,339,000 12,079 41,715 76
Germany 9,135,000 12,537 2,682 93
Rep. Korea 5,631,000 5,832 12,262 62
Italy 2,011,000 2,032 945 31
Guam 1,382,000 2,807 25,322 45
United Kingdom 1,364,000 2,883 3,253 14
Kuwait 676,000 1,503 2,549 6
Qatar 661,000 663 2
Cuba 588,000 1,540 11,662 1
Turkey 478,000 817 1,356 8
Spain 419,000 889 3,802 2
Puerto Rico 411,000 794 7,042 29
Bahrain 390,000 468 83 9
Belgium 362,000 479 10
Marshall Islands 286,000 633 551 6
Greenland 220,000 197 94,306 1
Djibouti 171,000 379 459 2
Netherlands 151,000 150 5
United Arab Emirates 128,000 400 5,059 3
Portugal 114,000 170 532 6
Honduras 92,000 336 1
Singapore 86,000 120 3
Romania 70,000 179 177 4
Bahamas 62,000 179 219 6
Greece 61,000 85 41 4
Saint Helena 43,000 124 1,402 1
Australia 41,000 83 8,124 5
Bulgaria 39,000 93 2
Virgin Islands (U.S.) 26,000 29 5,964 5
Jordan 17,000 31 3,978 1
Cyprus 16,000 38 1
Israel 13,000 19 2
American Samoa 11,000 10 2 1
Niger 11,000 45 1
Poland 11,000 20 3
Curaçao 9,000 15 17 1
El Salvador 6,000 14 14 1
Northern Mariana Islands 5,000 17 6,499 10
Peru 5,000 7 1
Norway 3,000 4 1
Iceland 2,000 7 425 1
Kenya 2,000 5 1
Canada 91 1
Total 35,548,000 48,712 240,533 468
Source: Global South Insights elaboration based on the Dept. of Defense

Figure 9 shows the scale of the US military footprint: 36 million square metres in 49,000 buildings covering 245,000 hectares. Ranked by number of buildings, the three Axis powers are in the top four.


Whilst the sun now happily sets without concern for the British Empire, Figure 10 shows how large the UK network of bases remains, with its focus on West Asia and Africa.

US and UK Military Invasions, Interventions, and ‘Deployments’
NATO countries conduct extensive military deployments and interventions worldwide, supported by their vast network of bases.


Figures 11 and 12 are for the year 2022 only. Imperialist forces deployed 317 military operations in Global South countries and 137 in Global North ally nations, totalling 454 (45 of which are not UN member states). The imperialist nations who carried out the highest number of military deployments include the US (56), the UK (32), France (31), Italy (20), Germany (17), Spain (15), Canada (13), and the Netherlands (13) (Figure 11).33The Military Balance 2023.


Figure 12 shows how Africa and West Asia remain the focal points of Western schemes, with the following five nations suffering the most military deployments in 2022 alone: Mali (31), Iraq (30), Lebanon (18), the Central African Republic (13), and South Sudan (13).34The Military Balance 2023.

Looking at the geography of US and UK bases and Global North deployments, it is clear where the frontiers of US policing lie and how Eurasia and regions that buffer it are the battlegrounds of our time.



The US and its Global North allies, especially the UK, have had centuries of interventions as indicated in Figures 13 and 14. Since Congressional Research Services (CRS) is an official US government publication, it serves as a primary source of data on US military intervention. It is used to demonstrate the scale and historical longue durée of US military intervention. However, it must be noted that CRS does not include secret missions and does not aggregate its data to differentiate between various types of US Armed Forces’ overseas interventions. The data is not organised based on the qualitative and quantitative nature or scale of the instances. The listed instances (over 480) vary greatly in size, duration, legal authorisation, and significance.35Barbara Salazar Torreon and Sofia Plagakis, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798–2023, Congressional Research Service, 7 June 2023,

The Military Intervention Project (MIP) uses a more comprehensive definition of military intervention that encompasses ‘united instances of international conflict or potential conflict outside of normal peacetime activities in which the purposeful threat, display, or use of military force by official US government channels is explicitly directed toward the government, official representatives, official forces, property, or territory of another state actor’.36Kushi and Toft, ‘Introducing the Military Intervention Project’, 4.

MIP has not published their database, so exact instances of all the military interventions they identify are not yet publicly available. As such, this report has only accessed summary data from the publication ‘Introducing the Military Intervention Project’ (2023) and could not produce a map based on MIP.

As seen in Figure 13, as of June 2023, the acknowledged data from the US Congressional Research Service shows that the US Armed Forces have been deployed to 101 countries between 1798 and 2023.37Salazar Torreon and Plagakis, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798–2023.

Figure 14 exposes the UK who has militarily invaded 170 countries and territories between 1169 and 2012.

According to MIP, between 1776 and 2019, the US carried out over 392 military interventions worldwide.38Sidita Kushi and Monica Duffy Toft, ‘Introducing the Military Intervention Project: A New Dataset on US Military Interventions, 1776–2019’, Journal of Conflict Resolution 67, no. 4 (2023): 752–779. ... articles.1.

Half of these operations were undertaken between 1950 and 2019, and 25% of them occurred in the post-Cold War period.39The Military Intervention Project (MIP) has a slightly lower estimate than the larger lists from sources such as the Congressional Research Services (CRS), whose figures are more frequently cited by researchers. MIP uses a range of all known published databases. However, due to its more comprehensive definition, their aggregation process results in a slightly lower total figure due to reclassification. MIP and CRS, therefore, have incomparable data sets and incomparable raw numbers based on the different way they treat dating, scale, duration, legality, and intent. MIP and CRS have incomparable methodological approaches. We use CRS as it is the largest published data available. See Kushi and Toft, ‘Introducing the Military Intervention Project’.

The pace of US military interventions has clearly accelerated since 1991.

On International Working Women’s Day in 1950, Claudia Jones, a black communist and immigrant woman, addressed a rally of activists in the US. In different circumstances but with the same spirit, we share this report with the aim, to quote Jones, of ‘heightening [our] consciousness of the need for militant united-front campaigns around the burning demands of the day, against monopoly oppression, against war and fascism’.40

(Much, much more at link. Sorry about those tables, view them at link.) ... perialism/
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Re: The Nature of Foxes

Post by blindpig » Sat Apr 06, 2024 1:30 pm

The Mechanism: how the “order” based on made-up rules is descending into savagery

Pepe Escobar

April 5, 2024

The Europeans will never be able to replicate the time-tested Hegemon money laundering machine, Pepe Escobar writes.

The awful shadow of some unseen Power
Floats tho’ unseen amongst us, -visiting
This various world with as inconstant wing
As summer winds that creep from flower to flower.-
Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower,
It visits with inconstant glance
Each human heart and countenance;
Like hues and harmonies of evening,-
Like clouds in starlight widely spread,-
Like memory of music fled,-
Like aught that for its grace may be
Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery.

Shelley, Hymn to Intellectual Beauty

As the de facto North Atlantic Terror Organization celebrates its 75th birthday, taking Lord Ismay’s motto to ever soaring heights (“keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down”), that thick slab of Norwegian wood posing as Secretary-General came up with a merry “initiative” to create a 100 billion euro fund to weaponize Ukraine for the next five years.

Translation, regarding the crucial money front in the NATO-Russia clash: partial exit of the Hegemon – already obsessing with The Next Forever War, against China; enter the motley crew of ragged, de-industrialized European chihuahuas, all in deep debt and most mired in recession.

A few IQs over average room temperature at NATO’s HQ in Haren, in Brussels, had the temerity to wonder how to come up with such a fortune, as NATO has zero leverage to raise money among member states.

After all, the Europeans will never be able to replicate the time-tested Hegemon money laundering machine. For instance, assuming the White House-proposed $60 billion package to Ukraine would be approved by the U.S. Congress – and it won’t – no less than 64% of the total will never reach Kiev: it will be laundered within the industrial-military complex.

Yet it gets even more dystopic: Norwegian Wood, robotic stare, arms flailing, actually believes his proposed move will not imply a direct NATO military presence in Ukraine – or country 404; something that is already a fact on the ground for quite a while, irrespective of the warmongering hissy fits by Le Petit Roi in Paris (Peskov: “Russia-NATO relations have descended into direct confrontation”).

Now couple the Lethal Looney Tunes spectacle along the NATOstan front with the Hegemon’s aircraft carrier performance in West Asia, consistently taking its industrial-scale slaughter/starvation Genocide Project in Gaza to indescribable heights – the meticulously documented holocaust watched in contorted silence by the “leaders” of the Global North.

UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese correctly summed it all up: the biblical psychopathology entity “intentionally killed the WCK workers so that donors would pull out and civilians in Gaza could continue to be starved quietly. Israel knows Western countries and most Arab countries won’t move a finger for the Palestinians.”

The “logic” behind the deliberate three tap strike on the clearly signed humanitarian convoy of famine-alleviating workers in Gaza was to eviscerate from the news an even more horrendous episode: the genocide-within-a-genocide of al-Shifa hospital, responsible for at least 30% of all health services in Gaza. Al-Shifa was bombed, incinerated and had over 400 civilians killed in cold blood, in several cases literally smashed by bulldozers, including medical doctors, patients and dozens of children.

Nearly simultaneously, the biblical psychopathology gang completely eviscerated the Vienna convention – something that even the historical Nazis never did – striking Iran’s consular mission/ambassador’s residence in Damascus.

This was a missile attack on a diplomatic mission, enjoying immunity, on the territory of a third country, against which the gang is not at war. And on top of it, killing General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon, his deputy Mohammad Hadi Hajizadeh, another five officers, and a total of 10 people.

Translation: an act of terror, against two sovereign states, Syria and Iran. Equivalent to the recent terror attack on Crocus City Hall in Moscow.

The inevitable question rings around all corners of the lands of the Global Majority: how can these de facto terrorists possibly get away with all this, over and over again?

The sinews of Liberal Totalitarianism

Four years ago, at the start of what I later qualified as the Raging Twenties, we were beginning to watch the consolidation of an intertwined series of concepts defining a new paradigm. We were becoming familiar with notions such as circuit breaker; negative feedback loop; state of exception; necropolitics; and hybrid neofascism.

As the decade marches on, our plight may at least have been alleviated by a twin glimmer of hope: the drive towards multipolarity, led by the Russia-China strategic partnership, with Iran playing a key part, and all that coupled with the total breakdown, live, of the “rules-based international order”.

Yet to affirm there will be a long and winding road ahead is the Mother of All Euphemisms.

So, to quote Bowie, the ultimate late, great aesthete: Where Are We Now? Let’s take this very sharp analysis by the always engaging Fabio Vighi at Cardiff University and tweak it a little further.

Anyone applying critical thinking to the world around us can feel the collapse of the system. It’s a closed system alright, easily definable as Liberal Totalitarianism. Cui bono? The 0.0001%.

Nothing ideological about that. Follow the money. The defining negative feedback loop is actually the debt loop. A criminally anti-social mechanism kept in place by – what else – a psychopathology, as acute as the one exhibited by the biblical genocidals in West Asia.

The Mechanism is enforced by a triad.

1.The transnational financial elite, the superstars of the 0.0001%.

2.Right beneath it, the politico-institutional layer, from the U.S. Congress to the European Commission (EC) in Brussels, as well as comprador elite “leaders” across the Global North and South.

3.The former “intelligentsia”, now essentially hacks for hire from media to academia.

This institutionalized hyper-mediatization of reality is (italics mine), in fact, The Mechanism.

It’s this mechanism that controlled the merging of the pre-fabricated “pandemic” – complete with hardcore social engineering sold as “humanitarian lockdowns” – into, once again, Forever Wars, from Project Genocide in Gaza to the Russophobia/cancel culture obsession inbuilt in Project Proxy War in Ukraine.

That’s the essence of Totalitarian Normality: the Project for Humanity by the appallingly mediocre, self-appointed Great Reset “elites” of the collective West.

Killing them softly with AI

A key vector of the whole mechanism is the direct, vicious interconnection between a tecno-military euphoria and the hyper-inflationary financial sector, now in thrall with AI.

Enter, for instance, AI models such as ‘Lavender’, tested on the ground in the Gaza killing field lab. Literally: artificial intelligence programming the extermination of humans. And it’s happening, in real time. Call it Project AI Genocide.

Another vector, already experimented, is inbuilt in the indirect assertion by toxic EC Medusa Ursula von der Lugen: essentially, the need to produce weapons as Covid vaccines.

That’s at the core of a plan to use funding of the EU by European taxpayers to “increase financing” of “joint contracts for weapons”. That’s an offspring of von der Lugen’s push to roll out Covid vaccines – a gigantic Pfizer-linked scam for which she is about to be investigated and arguably exposed by the EU’s Public Prosecutor Office. In her own words, addressing the proposed weapons scam: “We did this for vaccines and gas.”

Call it Weaponization of Social Engineering 2.0.

Amidst all the action in this vast corruption swamp, the Hegemon agenda remains quite blatant: to keep its – dwindling – predominantly thalassocratic, military hegemony, no matter what, as the basis for its financial hegemony; protect the U.S. dollar; and protect those unmeasurable, unpayable debts in U.S. dollars.

And that brings us to the tawdry economic model of turbo-capitalism, as sold by collective West media hacks: the debt loop, virtual money, borrowed non-stop to deal with “autocrat” Putin and “Russian aggression”. That’s a key by-product of Michael Hudson’s searing analysis of the FIRE (Finance-Insurance-Real Estate) syndrome.

Ouroboros intervenes: the serpent bites its own tail. Now the inherent folly of The Mechanism is inevitably leading casino capitalism to resort to barbarism. Undiluted savagery – of the Crocus City Hall kind and of the Project Gaza Genocide kind.

And that’s how The Mechanism engenders institutions – from Washington to Brussels to hubs across the Global North to genocidal Tel Aviv – stripped down to the status of psychotic killers, at the mercy of Big Finance/FIRE (oh, such fabulous seafront real estate opportunities available in “vacant” Gaza.)

How can we possibly escape such folly? Will we have the will and the discipline to follow Shelley’s vision and, in “this dim vast vale of tears”, summon the transcending Spirit of Beauty – and harmony, equanimity and justice? ... -savagery/
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Re: The Nature of Foxes

Post by blindpig » Sun Apr 14, 2024 2:40 pm

Will the American Oligarchy Accept Limits or Choose World War Three?
Posted on April 14, 2024 by Conor Gallagher

I recently came across this piece from the Century Foundation titled “A Bolder American Foreign Policy Means More Values and Less War.” Its central argument is that the US must “recenter values” like “multilateralism and human rights that are core to its identity.”

The Century Foundation calls itself a “a progressive, independent think tank,” and this particular piece appears to mean well but is just as disconnected from reality than all the neocon think tanks’ war mongering policy papers saying Washington will prevail as it takes on Russia, China, Iran, and whoever else it feels like.

The Century Foundation authors possess a Hollywoodized idea of America that isn’t a land filled with brutal class struggle but virtue, which flow out into its foreign policy that stands for international humanitarian or human rights law. I think anyone with a basic understanding of current events or recent history knows how ridiculous this is, and yet it is repeated ad nauseam by every purported think tank. I suppose this is a classic example of Upton Sinclair’s saying that “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it,” but I think the Century Foundation is onto something with its focus on values. It’s just that it has it backwards. The problem is that values are what has the US on the brink of starting World War III in multiple locations.

So what are the core values that do have it such a position – and whose are they?

I think the story of former US President Herbert Hoover is instructive. He had interests in mines in Russia until they were seized by the Bolsheviks. [1] Hoover never forgot about it and remained terrified of Communists for the rest of his life – and for good reason considering how much he stood to lose.

Though Hoover got booted out of office in 1932, he played a central role in organizing capitalists to counter worker organization both in the US and abroad. His legacy lives on at Stanford’s neocon Hoover Institution. Throughout his life, he remained a major admirer of pre-Soviet Russia: “At the top was a Russian noble family and at the bottom 100,000 peasants and workers with nobody much in between but the priesthood and the overseers.”

That pretty much sums up the capitalist class’ enduring vision not just for Russia, but everywhere. Ownership of Russian mines or Opium Wars in China might not factor much into my or your everyday life, but you can bet it’s an important part of American ruling class ideology. Whose values? The dominant value at play there is a belief that as Western capitalists they have a right and a duty to exploit and profit off of every corner of the globe. Just like capital must dominate labor, it must expand and find new sources of revenue. If governments in Russia and China impede that progress, they must be destroyed.

Rather than bromides like more American “values,” the following are some questions or thought exercises for think tanks to consider – whether they want to win another war or maybe even quit starting so many of them.

Can You Practice Realpolitik with Gangsters?

The US is a market state that is dominated by and run for transnational capital. Its foreign policy and the military are a tool of the American oligarchy. Therefore, any serious policy discussion needs to deal with the fact that national interests as they’re expressed today are not in any real sense national but representative of the interests of a small cohort of the super wealthy.

When US officials go on about spreading “freedom,” they’re not lying. It’s just their idea of freedom is a state devoted to high profits – free from the political whims of local populations that could degrade an investment’s expected return.

Let’s remember there likely wouldn’t be any problem with Russia had Putin not put an end to the 1990s shock therapy administered by the Western finance capitalists who were making a killing by pillaging Russian resources. Like Bert Hoover, they’re haunted by that opportunity snatched away from them, and they’ve been trying to get it back for a quarter century now.

The question is will American capital ever voluntarily give up? Will it ever say “okay, we’re satisfied with what we’ve got here, you do your thing in your sphere of influence”?

It’s not like Moscow and Beijing haven’t tried. Russia for example floated the idea of joining NATO or working out some other security arrangement. For decades after the end of the USSR, Russia tried to be accepted into the West’s club to no avail.

China, too, constantly repeats the refrain that the world is big enough for both Beijing and Washington. It invited the US to join it in its Belt and Road Initiative. The US could have helped steer projects that would have benefited both countries. While such cooperation between the two big powers wouldn’t be a panacea for all the world’s problems, it would likely mean a lot better spot than current one. Instead the US wanted the whole pie and instead we got the TPP, sanctions, export bans, a new Cold War, a spy balloon scandal, the disastrous effort to weaken Russia before taking on China, the successful effort to sever Europe from Eurasia to disastrous effect for Europe, and the desire to see a Ukraine sequel in Taiwan and/or the South China Sea.

There is a lot of confusion over why the West keeps escalating in a losing effort. Why, for example, are Western governments going around begging for shells to send Ukraine rather than accepting the L? The desperation seems to stem from the creeping realization that their system is coming undone. The entire post-WWII elite American mindset is built on the foundation of worldwide profit expansion via silicon and fire, and if they throw everything at Russia and lose, well a whole new domino theory could come into play – one where parasitic Western finance capital is driven back. (Granted it might in most cases be replaced by a more local form, but it’s nonetheless frightening for the Western honchos.) Just look at what’s happening to France in Françafrique! And the US in the Middle East!

The fact that the West can no longer even manufacture enough weapons to supply its proxy wars almost certainly means that the dominoes will keep falling. This is a jolt to the system – described here by Malcolm Harris in his 2023 book Palo Alto:

War Capitalism could put on a blindfold and run into a maze of horrific, absurd plans with confidence because it had class power echolocation for a guide: As long as the rich strengthened and the working class weakened, then things had to be going in the right direction. It didn’t matter that capitalists were investing in finance sugar highs, monopoly superprofits, and an international manufacturing race to the bottom rather than strong jobs and an expanded industrial base. The twenty-first century was going to be all about software anyway, baby. The robots will figure it out. Silicon Valley leaders sat on top of this world system like a cherry on a sundae, insulated from the melting foundation by a rich tower of cream.

They likely still feel insulated from the consequences of their actions, which fall most heavily on their proxy fighters and the working class dealing with inflation and declining living standards, but the panic over this system’s implosion is real – and with good reason. The idea that the US can just spend more money and develop more wonder weapons is breaking down in humiliating fashion.

The great danger is that a Western capitalist class with no memory of a world war views the fight against Russia or China as more than just an effort to strategically weaken them. To evoke Hoover, they must regain access to their mines in Russia or risk losing them everywhere, which would make this an existential fight for Western governments and the capital they serve. On the opposing side, Russian officials have already said its military operation against the West in Ukraine is an existential one. Well, then we have opposing nuclear-armed sides both viewing this as an existential fight.

The Great Irony in the West’s Predicament Is That Finance Capital’s Own Greed Has Eroded Its Ability to Satiate Its Greed Around the World.

They hollowed out the West in order to make a quick buck. Where the manufacturing isn’t completely gone, it’s entirely degraded (Boeing). Government has been reduced to a collection of worthless sycophants only looking to cash in on their servitude.

It was American elites’ greed that caused the American working class to lose 3.7 million decent paying jobs from 2001-2018 – and that’s only from shipping jobs to China.

Les Leopold in his book Wall Street’s War on Workers calculates that Wall Street strip mining of the US (including China, NAFTA, stock buybacks, etc.) has led to 30 million laid-off Americans since 1996. No wonder they’re desperate for new markets. But let’s focus on China for a moment, which vies for the number one spot on the enemy list with Russia.

The wilful decimation of the US’ manufacturing over recent decades destroyed its research capacity. It means the US relies on components made in China for aircraft carriers and submarines. It means a trillion dollars in defense spending helps enrich China – the very country which is supposedly behind the increased defense spending in the first place.

It was impossible to know this would happen, they say, despite warnings at the time that this very situation would arise. Workers knew. Here’s a piece from the New York Times back in 2000 titled “Unions March Against China Trade Deal”:

Thousands of steelworkers, truck drivers, auto workers and other union members rallied on Capitol Hill and swept through the halls of Congress today in a show of muscle intended to block a trade agreement with China.

Their message, conveyed by union leaders and rank-and-file members who came from as far away as Michigan and Nebraska, was that trade was working for American corporations but not for American workers.

…[the union members] said, they are only opposing a deal with a country that does not respect workers’ rights and would stop at nothing, in their view, to steal the jobs that are the backbone of the American middle class.

Not surprisingly, when Politico did a 20-year-anniversary story on China’s accession to the WTO, most US lawmakers didn’t want to talk about their vote to normalize trade relations with China in 2000 (which paved the way to the WTO). But four American “experts” who did the planning and negotiating of the normalization of trade ties with China are described in the POLITICO piece as having zero regrets. Why would they? They were rewarded with better positions.

It’s entirely unclear how exactly the US would conduct this war it wants so much with China considering it’s so reliant on it for minerals and components crucial to the American military. As Army Technology points out:

The US Department of the Interior released a list of 35 minerals it deems essential to the economic and national security in 2018 (updated in 2022), amongst them many [rare earth elements]. The problem for the US is that the local production of these materials is hugely limited.

The extent of reliance on imports varies from mineral to mineral. Beryllium is mainly used to create lightweight material used in fighter jets, lithium is essential for modern battery production and tin is used in electronics, including soldier semiconductors, a sector that is projected to reach a value of $17.5bn by 2030.

Whereas the US produces some of the minerals mentioned above, it entirely relies on China and other countries for many other supplies. Cerium is used in batteries and in most devices with a screen and magnets forged from neodymium and samarium are impervious to extreme temperatures that are used in fighter jet fin actuators, missile guidance, control systems, aircraft and tank motors, satellite communications and radar and sonar systems.

Here again, it was Wall Street that moved rare earth and other mineral processing to China, that sold off mining operations to Chinese companies, and reaped the rewards for doing so. Matt Stoller and Lukas Kunce tell the story in a 2019 piece at The American Conservative:

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Defense Department invested in the development of a technology to use what are known as rare-earth magnets. The investment was so successful that General Motors engineers, using Pentagon grants, succeeded in creating a rare earth magnet that is now essential for nearly every high-tech piece of military equipment in the U.S. inventory, from smart bombs and fighter jets to lasers and communications devices. The benefit of DARPA’s investment wasn’t restricted to the military. The magnets make cell phones and modern commercial electronics possible.

China recognized the value of these magnets early on. Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping famously said in 1992 that “The Middle East has oil, China has rare earth,” to underscore the importance of a rare earth strategy he adopted for China. Part of that strategy was to take control of the industry by manipulating the motivations of Wall Street.

Two of Xiaoping’s sons-in-law approached investment banker Archibald Cox, Jr. in the mid-1990s to use his hedge fund as a front for their companies to buy the U.S. rare-earth magnet enterprise. They were successful, purchasing and then moving the factory, the Indiana jobs, the patents, and the expertise to China. This was not the only big move, as Cox later moved into a $12 million luxury New York residence. The result is remarkably similar to Huawei: the United States has entirely divested of a technology and market it created and dominated just 30 years ago. China has a near-complete monopoly on rare earth elements, and the U.S. military, according to U.S. government studies, is now 100 percent reliant upon China for the resources to produce its advanced weapon systems.

Can the US expect its proxy warriors to keep enlisting if they’re armed with sticks and kitchen knives going up against hypersonic missiles?

A 2020 Bank of America study found that it would cost American and European firms $1 trillion over five years to shift all the export-related manufacturing that is not intended for Chinese consumption out of China. Has there been any movement on this or is there just an assumption that AI will figure it out?

Let’s say, for arguments sake that the US ponied up $1 trillion tomorrow to help firms bring back this manufacturing, what other problems would arise? There’s at least one, which is already evident from the CHIPS Act and Inflation Reduction Act. According to this tracker, $263 billion has been invested and 113,400 jobs have been created, but a major problem has arisen. There aren’t enough workers with the necessary skills.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company had to delay the production start date of its Arizona plants to 2025 due to a lack of workers, and a major shortage is expected to continue in coming years. The shipyard building the US Navy’s new frigate can’t find workers, leading to a three-year delay – at least. Apply that to other industries, add in the country’s crumbling infrastructure, and the price keeps climbing.

There’s also the issue of how to check the power of parasitic finance capitalists that would immediately start to erode any efforts to improve the national situation.

Reining In US Finance Capitalism

This brings us to another great irony.

Anyone in the US government with a few marbles left and a desire to make the US a strong nation state again should be looking to an unlikely source for advice on how to rein in the US oligarchy; they should talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin who successfully tamed the oligarchy in his country – at least at points where it would impede national interest.

The American system has failed to reform even slightly on its own, which means the hollowed out imperial force is now being repeatedly exposed and driven back by force abroad. There are parallels to Russia during the First World War when industrial and bureaucratic shortcomings, economic hardship, and a government lacking legitimacy led to the rise of the Bolsheviks.

I have yet to see a think tank recommend that yet, but at the rate the US keeps starting wars, they’d better think of something fast.


[1] It’s interesting to note that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s great grandfather had a textile empire in Russia. He had one of the biggest fortunes in the country, but the enterprises were nationalized following the 1917 revolutions. ... s-war.html

Capital cannot be 'reined in', those horses refuse and must be shot. And that ain't no great irony, it is an inevitable result, The Old Man explained it a while back.
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Re: The Nature of Foxes

Post by blindpig » Wed Apr 17, 2024 3:21 pm

he United States—A Nation of Law (Breaking)
By Jack Gilroy - April 16, 2024 0

Binghamton University graduate students march in Upstate New York in solidarity with Veterans For Peace and Students for Palestine. [Source: Photo courtesy of Jack Gilroy]
Terry Lodge of Ohio, an aw
ard-winning environmental and nuclear accountability attorney, spent weeks researching U.S. and international laws broken by the U.S. through its involvement in the Gaza genocide.

Lodge had his work reviewed by Marjorie Cohn, a respected American legal scholar working as a professor of law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. She is also a former president of the National Lawyers Guild.

The Lodge document is now a letter being delivered to U.S. State Department field offices in the U.S. (29) and to every U.S. embassy and consulate worldwide.

Terry Lodge [Source:]

Veterans For Peace wants every working member of the U.S. State Department to understand that the export of weapons of mass destruction to a known human rights abuser is illegal.

The VFP letter documents six specific laws being broken by the United States. VFP wants to inform all U.S. State Department workers to avoid participation in activities that aid and abet the violation of law to expedite U.S. weapons of destruction to Israel.

The most striking evidence of caution was set by the former director of U.S. military arms transfers, Josh Paul, who resigned knowing his U.S. leaders were breaking the law.

The New York Times reported in an interview: “Mr. Paul said that Israel’s cutting off of water, food, medical care, and electricity to the Gaza Strip, a region of two million people, should prompt protections in federal laws intended to keep American weapons out of the hands of human rights violators. But those legal guardrails are failing, he said.”

Josh Paul, left. [Source:]

School history textbooks inform young readers that the United States is a nation of laws. Yes, it is and we are thankful for many laws that assist justice-making.

The crimes of murder and child abuse immediately come to mind. Our society does not tolerate murder or child abuse. Criminal law comes down hard on murderers and child abusers and those who aid in the committing of those brutal criminal acts.

Why then are United States leaders not held accountable for assisting in tens of thousands of murders in Gaza? Well over 30,000 Palestinian women, men, and mostly children have been murdered by Israeli terrorists since the murderous Hamas attack of October 7, 2023, that left 1,200 Israelis dead.

The Israeli terror of genocidal revenge has come mostly from sophisticated U.S.-made weapons. Bunker buster bombs and Maverick missiles from Raytheon of Texas, Lockheed Martin’s Hellfire missiles from Florida and Paveway bombs from Pennsylvania, and the most desired projectile of all, 155mm artillery shells from General Dynamics in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Texas.

Weapons for Israel to commit slaughter in Gaza. [Source:]

The Veterans For Peace letter has been hand-delivered (or attempted hand delivery) to 17 U.S. Department of State offices in the United States and electronically delivered to all U.S. State Department field offices internationally.

Workers are warned of U.S. and international laws being violated. Will all Department of State workers be offered to read the Veterans For Peace letter? Not likely, but Veterans For Peace is not intimidated by the State Department’s suppression of the truth.

Jack Gilroy of Binghamton VFP offers message at St. Patrick’s Day parade. [Source: Photo courtesy of Gary Ingraham]

The most common response from U.S. State Department offices in the United States has been their refusal to accept the Veterans For Peace letter. In two instances, the letter was first received at a State Department office and, minutes later, returned noting the office does not accept letters.

Trying to make an appointment with Department of State offices is nearly impossible. Just one example was this response to a phone call for an appointment to deliver the letter: “We are a secure agency. How did you get our office number?” Told the number is available online, the individual who identified himself as a supervisor, warned the caller to not call the office again.

Veterans For Peace dismisses threats from Department of State bureaucrats, the President or the U.S. Congress. If we are truly a nation of laws, laws must be obeyed. The U.S. government is aiding and abetting the genocidal acts of the Government of Israel breaking multiple U.S. and international laws.

Veterans For Peace will not be silent and asks all U.S. citizens to hold their law-breaking government officially accountable. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and cooperating members of the Department of State must be held accountable for their criminal role in breaking U.S. and international law by expediting weapons of mass destruction to Israel, a gross human rights violator. ... -breaking/
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Re: The Nature of Foxes

Post by blindpig » Fri Apr 19, 2024 3:51 pm

Get rich or cry trying. (Photo: Vox)

The billionaire ‘nepo baby’ boom
Originally published: Red Flag on April 13, 2024 by Edward Cahill (more by Red Flag) | (Posted Apr 18, 2024)

In every country and culture, capitalism depends on an ideological mirage of equal opportunity and reward for effort, to conceal, as much as possible, the reality of brutal exploitation and inequality. In the U.S. it’s the “American dream”—the idea that every person has the “equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination and initiative”, as defined in the Oxford Dictionary.

Here in Australia, we are more familiar with the “fair go”—a term beloved by Labor and Liberal politicians alike. It fits neatly with the myth of Australia as the “lucky country”: a land of promise and opportunity where, with the right work ethic and a bit of gumption, anyone can get ahead.

Last week Forbes magazine unveiled its rankings of the richest billionaires on the planet. An annual sycophantic tradition, this year the billionaires’ club ballooned to a record 2,781 members, collectively owning US$12.7 trillion—seven times the annual product of the entire Australian economy.

Beneath the headline figures was concealed a particularly galling fact. Of the fifteen billionaires who made up the “under 30” cohort, none amassed their fortunes through anything resembling actual work, investments or so-called entrepreneurialism. All of them received their vast wealth through inheritance from their families.

This phenomenon is just the latest consequence of a decades-long global neoliberal assault, involving privatisations, deregulations and attacks on workers’ wages and rights. What we’ve seen in this time is a massive transfer of wealth to the super-rich, to the point where today—according to the UBS Global Wealth Report 2023— the richest 1 percent of the population own 45 percent of the world’s total wealth.

The trend is clear here in Australia. According to data released by Oxfam in January, “the wealth of the three richest Australians, Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest and Harry Triguboff, has more than doubled since 2020 at a staggering rate of $1.5 million per hour”. And a 2023 report by the Australia Institute, Inequality on Steroids: The Distribution of Economic Growth in Australia, found that in the decade from 2009 to 2019, 93 percent of new wealth created through economic growth flowed to the richest 10 percent of households, while the bottom 90 percent got just 7 percent.

Amid the windfall being enjoyed by the billionaire class and their ultra-privileged and pampered spawn, it seems the “self-made” types—those like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who can lay claim (in capitalist terms at least) to having built their fortunes for themselves—are not being replenished. Where are the new, young faces of innovation and entrepreneurship? You won’t find them among the under 30s in Forbes’ billionaires list.

We are now witnessing the beginnings of what has been described as the “great wealth transfer”. Over the next two decades, 1,000 or so ageing capitalists are set to pass on more than US$5.2 trillion to their heirs. Among them is 75-year-old Bernard Arnault, the world’s richest person, who has more than $233 billion, and 88-year-old Charles Koch, one half of the infamous Koch brothers, with $58 billion.

The children of these ageing tycoons will, in the coming years, be joining the billionaires’ club at an increasing rate. As with the film industry, so is it with the super-rich: instead of any new ground being broken, all we’re getting, increasingly, are sequels and remakes of existing franchises.

Who makes up the rogues’ gallery of beneficiaries? There’s Remi Dassault, who has $2.5 billion—grandchild of Marcel Dassault, the founder of Dassault Aviation. Remi’s wealth fell into his lap in 2021, when his father Olivier died in a helicopter crash. The Dassaults amassed their wealth, among other things, by manufacturing warplanes for the French military. Dassault Aviation also maintains cosy relations with the brutal el-Sisi regime in Egypt, its biggest international client.

Then there are the Mistry brothers, Zahan and Firoz, who each possess $4.9 billion thanks to having been born into a family with a significant stake in one of India’s largest conglomerates, Tata Sons. The company, which got its start wreaking devastation through the opium trade under British occupation, now spans 29 subsidiaries ranging from engineering to automotives, energy and hotels.

Or take the youngest member of the billionaires’ club, Livia Voigt. She’s only 19 years old and is studying at university. That hasn’t stopped her amassing a fortune of $1.1 billion, which might seem impressive until you learn that it was through being given that much in shares in the Brazilian electrical equipment giant WEG, which her grandfather was a co-founder of.

If you’re a 19-year-old in Australia starting university and hoping that—in accordance with the myth of the “fair go”—hard work and gumption will get you to the top, the chances that you’ll ever see your name among the members of Forbes’ billionaires list are approaching zero. More likely your hard work and gumption will, like the vast majority of other students, leave you with a gigantic HECS debt and lifetime of struggle just to attain the basics like a secure roof over your head.

To the extent that the myth of the “fair go” was ever a reality, it has long since died. If you’re a young aspiring billionaire, you’d better hope you’ve got a billionaire family to give you a leg-up. In today’s economy, that’s the only real path to success. ... baby-boom/

A knowledgeable guy I was talking to at the ancient Mayan city of Palenque said that one of the reasons for the swift decline of the city was that Pacal the Great lived to a great age and spawned a huge royal family which was a great strain on resources. Just sayin'.
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Re: The Nature of Foxes

Post by blindpig » Sat Apr 20, 2024 2:37 pm

By Tarik Cyril Amar, RT, 3/30/24

William J. Burns has published a long piece in Foreign Affairs under the title ‘Spycraft and Statecraft. Transforming the CIA for an Age of Competition’. This is an essay likely to be read with great attention, maybe even parsed, not only by an American elite audience, but also abroad, in, say, Moscow, Beijing, and New Delhi, for several reasons. Burns is, of course, the head of the CIA as well as an acknowledged heavyweight of US geopolitics – in the state and deep-state versions. [ ... liam-burns]

Few publications rival Foreign Affairs’ cachet as a US establishment forum and mouthpiece. While Burns’ peg is a plea to appreciate the importance of human intelligence agents, his agenda is much broader: In effect, what he has released is a set of strategic policy recommendations, embedded in a global tour d’horizon. And, last but not least, Burns is, of course, not the sole author. Even if he should have penned every line himself, this is a programmatic declaration from a powerful faction of the American “siloviki,” the men (and women) wielding the still gargantuan hard power of the US empire.

By the way, whether he has noticed or not, Burns’ intervention cannot but bring to mind another intelligent spy chief loyally serving a declining empire. Yury Andropov, former head of the KGB (and then, for a brief period, the whole Soviet Union) would have agreed with his CIA counterpart on the importance of “human assets,” especially in an age of technological progress, and he would also have appreciated the expansive sweep of Burns’ vision. Indeed, with Burns putting himself so front-and-center, one cannot help but wonder if he is not also, tentatively, preparing the ground for reaching for the presidency one day. After all, in the US, George Bush senior famously went from head of the CIA to head of it all, too.

There is no doubt that this CIA director is a smart and experienced man principally capable of realism, unlike all too many others in the current American elite. Famously, he warned in 2008, when serving as ambassador to Moscow, that “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin).” That makes the glaring flaws in this big-picture survey all the more remarkable.

Burns is, obviously, correct when he observes that the US – and the world as a whole – is facing a historically rare moment of “profound” change in the global order. And – with one exception which we will return to – it would be unproductive, perhaps even a little churlish, to quibble over his ideologically biased terminology. His mislabeling of Russia as “revanchist,” for instance, has a petty ring to it. “Resurgent” would be a more civil as well as more truthful term, capturing the fact that the country is simply returning to its normal international minimum status (for at least the last three hundred years), namely that of a second-to-none great power.

Yet Burns’ agenda is more important than his terminology. While it may be complex, parts of it are as clear as can be: He is eager (perhaps desperate) to prevent Washington from ending its massive aid for Ukraine – a battle he is likely to lose. In the Middle East, he wants to focus Western aggression on Iran. He may get his will there, but that won’t be a winning strategy because, in part thanks to multipolar trend setters, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS, Iran’s escape from the isolation that the US has long imposed on it is already inevitable.

Regarding China, Burns’ real target is a competing faction of American hawks, namely those who argue that, bluntly put, Washington should write off its losses in Ukraine and concentrate all its firepower on China. Burns wants to persuade his readers that the US can have both its big fight against China and its proxy war against Russia.

He is also engaged in a massive act of CIA boosterism, clearly aiming to increase the clout of the already inordinately powerful state-within-a-state he happens to run himself. And last but not least, the spy-in-chief has unearthed one of the oldest tricks in the subversion and destabilization playbook: Announcing loudly that his CIA is on a recruiting spree in Russia, he seeks to promote a little paranoia in Moscow. Good luck attempting to pull that one on the country that gave us the term “agentura.” Moreover, after the horrific terror attack on Crocus City Hall in Moscow, it is fair to assume that Burns regrets having boasted about the CIA expanding its “work” in Russia. Not a good look, not at all.

What matters more, though, than his verbal sallies and his intriguingly straightforward, even blunt aims, are three astonishingly crude errors: First, Burns insists on reading the emerging outcome of the war in Ukraine as a “failure on many levels,” for Russia, revealing its, as he believes, economic, political, and military weakness. Yet, as the acknowledged American economist James K. Galbraith has recently reiterated, the West’s economic war on Russia has backfired. The Russian economy is now stronger, more resilient, and independent of the West than never before.

As to the military, Burns for instance, gleefully counts the tanks that Russia has lost and fails to note the ones it is building at a rapid rate not matched anywhere inside NATO. In general, he fails to mention just how worried scores of Western experts have come to be, realizing that Moscow is overseeing a massive and effective expansion of military production. A curious oversight for an intelligence professional. He also seems to miss just how desperate Ukraine’s situation has become on the ground.

And politics – really? The man who serves Joe Biden, most likely soon to be replaced by Donald Trump, is spotting lack of popularity and fragility in Moscow, and his key piece of evidence is Prigozhin and his doomed mutiny? This part of Burns’ article is so detached from reality that one wonders if this is still the same person reporting on Russian red lines in 2008. The larger point he cannot grasp is that, historically, Russia has a pattern of starting wars on the wrong foot – to then learn, mobilize, focus, and win.

Burns’ second severe mistake is his argument that, ultimately, only China can pose a serious challenge to the US. This is staggeringly shortsighted for two reasons: First, Russia has just shown that it can defeat the West in a proxy war. Once that victory will be complete, a declining but still important part of the American empire, NATO/EU-Europe will have to deal with the after-effects (no, not Russian invasion, but political backlash, fracturing, and instability). If Burns thinks that blowback in Europe is no serious threat to US interests, one can only envy his nonchalance.

Secondly, his entire premise is perfectly misguided: It makes no sense to divide the Russian and the Chinese potentials analytically because they are now closely linked in reality. It is, among other things, exactly a US attempt to knock out Russia first to then deal with China that has just failed. Instead, their partnership has become more solid.

And error number three is, perhaps, even odder: As mentioned above, Burns’ language is a curious hybrid between an analytical and an intemperate idiom. A sophisticated reader can only wince in vicarious embarrassment at hearing a CIA director complain of others’ “brutish” behavior. What’s worse: the tub-thumping or the stones-and-glasshouse cringe? Mostly, though, this does not matter.

Yet there is one case where these fits of verbal coarseness betray something even worse than rhetorical bravado: Describing Hamas’ 7 October assault as “butchery,” Burns finds nothing but an “intense ground campaign” on Israel’s side. Let’s set aside that this expression is a despicable euphemism, when much of the world rightly sees a genocide taking place in Gaza, with US support. It also bespeaks an astounding failure of the strategic imagination: In the same essay, Burns notes correctly that the weight of the Global South is increasing, and that, in essence, the great powers will have to compete for allegiances that are no longer, as he puts is, “monogamous.” Good luck then putting America’s bizarre come-what-may loyalty to Israel first. A CIA director at least should still be able to distinguish between the national interests of his own country and the demands of Tel Aviv.

Burns’ multipronged strike in the realm of elite public debate leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. It is genuinely disappointing to see so much heavy-handed rhetoric and such basic errors of analysis from one of the less deluded members of the American establishment. It is also puzzling. Burns is not amateurish like Antony Blinken or a fanatic without self-awareness, such as Victoria Nuland. Yet here he is, putting his name to a text that often seems sloppy and transparent in its simple and short-sighted motivations. Has the US establishment decayed so badly that even its best and brightest now come across as sadly unimpressive? ... ppointing/

The difference between Burns and George I is that Bush was a blue-blood of the ruling class with very deep pockets and Burns is an employee.

First time I heard Blinken speak I heard 'corporate tool'. Oh boy, right again.
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Re: The Nature of Foxes

Post by blindpig » Sun Apr 21, 2024 5:35 pm

The Myth of the Marshall Plan and US Imperialism

One of the signal events of the post-World War II era-- an event that helped shape the subsequent course of US imperialism-- was the implementation of the European Recovery Act of 1948, the so-called Marshall Plan. Not only was the Marshall Plan a maneuver to tie Western Europe economically to the US-- though Europe would play a subordinate role-- but it also served in the early days of the Cold War as a massive propaganda triumph for the US ruling class. Every US school girl and school boy marveled at the generosity and selflessness of the US government’s assistance to the impoverished people of Europe. The fact that the Eastern European people’s democracies refused US magnanimity only underscored the stubbornness of the Cold War antagonists.
Of course, there have been alternative accounts of the intent and efficacy of the Marshall Plan from its very beginning-- skeptical accounts that challenged US motives, questioned attached terms and conditions, and offered alternative schemes for European recovery. As early as 1947, Henry Wallace, former US Vice-President, for example, sought to remove aid to Europe from Cold War politics by creating a UN-administered reconstruction fund, prioritizing financial aid according to the recipient countries’ war-related needs regardless of ideology before or after the war, guaranteeing that no political or ideological strings were attached, and ensuring that aid not be used for military or aggressive intent. His proposals were met hostilely in the escalating confrontational climate pursued by the Truman administration.
Genuflecting to ‘victory’ in the Cold War, Western commentators have largely accepted the Marshall Plan as the profound act of sacrifice and generosity portrayed by its creators.
Thus, an alternative perspective on the Marshall Plan is both essential and welcome. A new book by French Communist historian Annie Lacroix-Riz, Les Origines du Plan Marshall: Le Mythe de “l’Aide” Américaine promises to address that shortcoming.
Thanks to a thorough and well-argued appreciation of Lacroix-Riz’s book by Jacques R. Pauwels in Counterpunch, those of us with rusty French reading skills do not have to sit with our copy of Collins Robert French Dictionary in our lap and struggle through a translation.
Pauwels is a discerning critic of the many myths that abound in the history of the US, including the Marshall Plan. He describes the myth thusly:

… after defeating the nasty Nazis, presumably more or less singlehandedly, and preparing to return home to mind his own business, Uncle Sam suddenly realized that the hapless Europeans, exhausted by six years of war, needed his help to get back on their feet. And so, unselfishly and generously, he decided to shower them with huge amounts of money, which Britain, France, and the other countries of Western Europe eagerly accepted and used to return not only to prosperity but also to democracy.

Simplistic as it reads, this is certainly the prevailing understanding of the 1948 European Recovery Act and its motivation. But as Pauwels acknowledges, the Marshall Plan was actually a door opener for US capital, US products, and US political influence.

Pauwels credits Lacroix-Riz with explaining US imperialist outreach as a long process, rooted in the late-nineteenth-century scramble for colonies by the great powers, as described by Lenin in his pamphlet, Imperialism. He writes: “The imperialist powers thus became increasingly competitors, rivals, and either antagonists or allies in a ruthless race for imperialist supremacy, fueled ideologically by the prevailing social-Darwinist ideas of ‘struggle for survival.’” (It should be noted the US was the first economic power to attempt to acquire colonies in an already divided world, according to prominent Soviet economist, Eugen Varga).

Thanks to war-time loans to belligerents, exploding military production, and immunity to invasion, the US economy leap-frogged ahead of its European counterparts after World War I. As a result, US economic ascendency was rewarded with new markets, new targets for investment, and a strong commitment to open doors and free markets: “...American industrialists were henceforth able to outperform any competitors in a free market. It is for this reason that the US government… morphed into a most eager apostle of free trade, energetically and systematically seeking ‘open doors’ for its exports all over the world.”

With all its industrial might, the late-to-the-colonial-game US pioneered a new form of imperialism: neo-colonialism. The former first president of independent Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah-- himself a victim of imperialist intrigue-- conceived of neo-colonialism this way:

Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about ‘freedom,’ which has come to be known as neo-colonialism.

With the world already divided among great powers, it was natural for the US to fight to loosen the stranglehold of its rivals by advocating national self-determination (Woodrow Wilson), decolonization, and free trade after World War I (I have written about this “new” imperialism here). This was the US answer to a world divided into colonial empires and it became the template for the future of imperialism.

This US neo-colonial offensive in the interwar period gives the lie to the popular impression of an indifferent, isolationism fostered by many historians. As Calvin Coolidge boasted at his 1928 Memorial Day address at Gettysburg: “Our investments and trade relations are such that it is almost impossible to conceive of any conflict anywhere on earth which would not affect us injuriously.”

Pauwels confirms this offensive:

In the 1920s, the unprecedented profits generated by the Great War had allowed numerous US banks and corporations such as Ford to start up major investments in [Germany]. The “investment offensive” is rarely mentioned in history books but is of great historical importance in two ways: it marked the beginning of transatlantic expansion of US capitalism and it determined that Germany was to serve as the European ‘bridgehead’ of US imperialism.

This “new” imperialism allowed the US to dominate other economies without the immense costs of stationing troops, administrators, and overseers in restive colonies or bearing the responsibility for infrastructure in dependencies. Also, without formal colonies, the US could continue to laud its commitment to Wilsonian self-determination. This proved to be an enormous propaganda asset during the Cold War. Quoting historian William Appleman Williams referencing our ruling elites, “These men were not imperialist in the traditional sense.…” But they were imperialist nonetheless.

The “new” imperialism engaged the historical great powers. Pauwels notes the interwar US investment in Nazi Germany: “The United States had no desire to go to war against Hitler, who proved to be so ‘good for business.’”

Likewise, Britain was as much an investment target as an ally:

The first country to be turned into a vassal of Uncle Sam was Britain. After the fall of France in the summer of 1940, when left alone to face the terrifying might of Hitler’s Reich, the former Number One of industrial powers had to go cap in hand to the US to loan huge sums of money from American banks and use that money to buy equipment and fuel from America’s great corporations. Washington consented to extend such “aid” to Britain in a scheme that became known as “Lend-Lease”. However, the loans had to be paid back with interest and were subject to conditions such as the promised abolition of “imperial preference”, which ensured that Britain and its empire would cease to be a “closed economy” and instead open their doors to US export products and investment capital. As a result of Lend-Lease, Britain was to morph into a “junior partner”, not only economically but also politically and militarily, of the US. Or, as Annie Lacroix-Riz puts it in her new book, Lend-Lease loans to Britain spelled the beginning of the end of the British Empire.

Eugen Varga, in his 1960 Twentieth Century Capitalism, makes the same point, but in the context of inter-imperialist rivalries:

The struggle between the imperialists of each of the belligerent blocs did not cease during the war. Italy, Hitler’s chief European ally, practically did not take part in the war before the defeat of France, she carried on “her own” war with Greece for the conquest of Albania. Japan had “her own” war in East Asia and against the U.S.A.; although Japan had been a party to the “anti-Comintern pact”, she concluded a non-aggression treaty with the Soviet Union. The chief U.S. aim in the anti-fascist alliance was to defeat Japan and, parallel, to defeating Hitler, to weaken Britain and abolish the British colonial empire. With this aim in view the U.S.A. at first supplied Britain with war materials for cash (i.e., for gold), thus taking away from Britain her gold reserve and her American securities. The U.S.A. went over to the lend-lease system only when Britain’s reserves were exhausted and then stopped the lend-lease at the end of the war without any warning. During the war Roosevelt took advantage of every opportunity to demand the abolition of the British system of preferential tariffs, one of the main economic supports of the British Empire, the granting of political independence to India, and so on. (p. 49-50)

So, by the end of World War II, the US had an established policy and practice of using its economic strength and free-trade advocacy to impose its dominance over weaker, vulnerable countries-- a form of streamlined, but opaque neo-colonialism suited for the post-colonial era to come. Would it come as a surprise that the US continued, refined, and expanded its imperial designs?


Pauwels spells out the architecture for the US postwar neocolonial advance: the Bretton Woods agreement, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank-- all supportive of US economic interests and designed to create subordination to US political and economic goals.

For a detailed look at how these policies were implemented, we have Lacroix-Riz’s account of their French application. We learn that the US threw its support behind corrupted, thoroughly anti-Communist Vichy officials, rather than the London-based exiles around Charles de Gaulle, a strongly nationalist, independent figure untarnished by collaboration. Pauwels writes: “[T]he Americans understood only too well that these former Pétainists [Vichyites] would be agreeable partners, ignored or forgave the sins the latter had committed as collaborators, labelled them with the respectable epithet of ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal,’ and arranged for them, rather than Gaullists or other leaders of the Resistance, to be placed in positions of power.”

Establishing Vichy Admiral Darlan, a born-again anti-fascist, as the leader of a provisional French government served US purposes. As Pauwels retells:

The American “appointment” of Darlan paid off virtually immediately, namely on September 25, 1943, when the French provisional government signed a Lend-Lease deal with the US. The conditions of this arrangement were similar to those attached to Lend-Lease with Britain and those that were to be enshrined one year later at Bretton-Woods, namely, an “open door” for US corporations and banks to the markets and resources of France and its colonial empire. That arrangement was euphemistically described as “reciprocal aid” but was in reality the first step in a series of arrangements that were to culminate in France’s subscription to the Marshall Plan and impose on France what Lacroix-Riz describes as a “dependency of the colonial type.”

As matters developed, the Vichyite-heavy government was too much for anti-fascist French and the active Resistance to stomach, and the sufficiently anti-Communist de Gaulle became acceptable to US elites. The problem with de Gaulle, however, was that he agreed with the Soviets that reparations should be extracted from Germany, contrary to the wishes of the US. US industrial and financial interests were too deeply embedded in Germany to force them to pay for their aggression. Quoting Pauwels:

Thus we can understand the stepmotherly treatment Washington meted out in 1944-1945 to a France that was economically in dire straits after years of war and occupation. Already in the fall of 1944, Paris was informed that there were to be no reparations from Germany, and it was in vain that de Gaulle responded by briefly flirting with the Soviet Union, even concluding a “pact” with Moscow that would prove to be “stillborn”, as Lacroix-Riz puts it… As for France’s urgent request for American credits as well as urgently needed food and industrial and agricultural supplies, they did not yield “free gifts” of any kind, as is commonly believed, …but only deliveries of products of which there was a glut in the US itself and loans, all of it to be paid in dollars and at inflated prices. Lacroix-Riz emphasizes that “free deliveries of merchandise to France by the American army or any civil organization, even of the humanitarian type, never existed....”

Foretelling the future of US-France relations, the Blum-Byrnes Agreement of 1946 “was widely perceived as a wonderful deal for France… and was proclaimed by Blum himself as ‘an immense concession’ from the Americans.”

Instead, it was a surrender to US demands, involving agreement to purchase left-over military equipment and other products that US capitalists were anxious to get off their books. Payment for these goods were to be in dollars, hard to acquire without bargain-basement prices for French goods exported to the US. The French were made to compensate US corporations for their losses on French soil (ironically, losses most often the result of US bombing). Lacroix-Riz maintains that, in fact, lend-lease loans were not forgiven and that the Agreement “produced no credits whatsoever.”

When de Gaulle left the government in early 1946, his successors followed the US lead in attacking the French Communist Party, the most popular political group in the immediate aftermath of the war. With their expulsion from the French government in 1947, the road ahead was cleared of a powerful obstacle to the further penetration of US capital, exports, and culture.

The conclusion to be drawn, according to Pauwels and Lacroix-Riz:

That France’s postwar economic recovery was not due to US “aid” is only logical because, from the American perspective, the aim of the Blum-Byrnes Agreements or, later, the Marshall Plan, was not at all to forgive debts or help France in any other way to recover from the trauma of war, but to open up the country’s markets (as well as those of her colonies) and to integrate it into a postwar Europe — for the time being admittedly only Western Europe — that was to be capitalist, like the US, and controlled by the US from its German bridgehead. With the signing of the Blum-Byrnes Agreements, which also included a French acceptance of the fact that there would be no German reparations, that aim was virtually achieved. The conditions attached to the agreements did indeed include a guarantee by the French negotiators that France would henceforth practice free-trade policy and that there would be no more nationalizations like the ones that, almost immediately after the country’s liberation, befell car manufacturer Renault as well as privately owned coal mines and producers of gas and electricity…

The Marshall Plan repeats the template established with the Blum-Byrnes Agreement, which itself was a consistent development of the US neo-colonial program created in the aftermath of the First World War. Thus, we see the continuous development of a US imperialist strategy. What was unique at each step was the growing scale of the project. Later elaborations of this initiative, like the Point Four Program, the Alliance for Progress, USAID, and a host of other agencies and plans spread US corporate tentacles throughout the rest of the world.

As I wrote in 2015: “In the post-World War II era, the Marshall Plan and The Point Four program were early examples of neo-colonial Trojan Horses, programs aimed at cementing exploitative capitalist relations while posturing as generosity and assistance. They, and other programs, were successful efforts to weave consent, seduction, and extortion into a robust foreign policy securing the goals of imperialism without the moral revulsion of colonial repression and the cost of vast colonies.”

Pauwels and Lacroix-Riz add to our understanding of this critical juncture in the elaboration of US neo-colonial policies. Puncturing the Marshall Plan myth, Pauwels concludes:

The integration of France into a postwar (Western) Europe dominated by Uncle Sam would be completed by the country’s acceptance of Marshall Plan “aid” in 1948 and its adherence to NATO in 1949. However, it is wrong to believe that these two highly publicized events occurred in response to the outbreak of the Cold War, conventionally blamed on the Soviet Union, after the end of World War II. In reality, the Americans had been keen to extend their economic and political reach across the Atlantic and France had been in their crosshairs at least since their troops had landed in North Africa in the fall of 1942. They took advantage of the weakness of postwar France to offer “aid” with conditions that, like those of Lend-Lease to Britain, were certain to turn the recipient country into a junior partner of the US. This became a reality, as Lacroix-Riz demonstrates in her book, not when France subscribed to the Marshall Plan, but when her representatives signed the agreements that resulted from the unheralded Blum-Byrnes Negotiations. It was then, in the spring of 1946, that France, unbeknownst to the majority of its citizens, waved adieu to her status of great power and joined the ranks of the European vassals of Uncle Sam.

One can hope that Lacroix-Riz’s important book will find an English translator and publisher.

Greg Godels ... nd-us.html
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Re: The Nature of Foxes

Post by blindpig » Mon Apr 22, 2024 2:03 pm


The integral crisis in the U.S. and the purity fetish
Originally published: Midwestern Marx on April 12, 2024 by Carlos L. Garrido (more by Midwestern Marx) | (Posted Apr 22, 2024)

Lecture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico

The United States tells the world and its citizens that it is the greatest country on the planet, where freedom and democracy reign, and where there is an American dream that gives everyone the opportunity to live flourishing “middle class” lives with white-fenced houses and two cars. For the American working masses, however, as the great critical comedian George Carlin noted, “it’s called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” When they are awake, what the American masses experience is the American nightmare; lives plagued by stagnant wages, inflation, and various forms of crippling debt. In the era of a decaying empire, the inhabitants of the belly of the beast find their conditions increasingly unbearable. What the U.S. working class is experiencing is an era of comprehensive crisis that has infiltrated all spheres of the capitalist way of life.

Objective Conditions in the U.S.
There are a host of factors that, when analyzed exhaustively, point to the existence of objectively revolutionary conditions in the U.S. In no state in the country is the federal minimum wage ($7.25) enough to survive; even if it is raised to $15, as social democrats and other progressives have called for, it still wouldn’t be enough for a working-class family to survive anywhere in the country. With wages stagnating and inflation at a 40-year high, nearly 60% of Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck. Many of these people are a lost paycheck away from joining the 600,000 homeless people roaming a country with more than 17 million empty homes. It is not surprising, in a country where there are 33 times more empty homes than homeless people, that 34 million people, including one in eight children, go hungry while 30-40% of the country’s food supply is wasted each year.

As it becomes harder for working-class Americans to survive, more and more have been forced to resort to borrowing. Currently, the average American “has $53,000 in debt in home loans, home equity lines of credit, auto loans, credit card debt, student loan debt, and other debt.” Moreover, because the U.S. is the only developed country in the world without universal health care, the commodification of medicine has left more than half of Americans with medical debt so crippling that many have been prevented from “buying a home or saving for retirement.” Marx called this phenomenon of indebtedness of the poor secondary exploitation, which occurs beyond the moment of production. With a working class experiencing, in general, both types of exploitation (i.e., the one that occurs at the moment of production and the one that occurs later, taking the form of debt), for the first time in history the working class of the empire is being, in its entirety, super-exploited—a phenomenon that previously occurred only on the periphery and within the oppressed peoples of the empire (e.g., African-American and Indigenous communities).

The decadence of the American empire can be seen on the horizon of its cities and towns, where what one finds is decrepit infrastructure rated ‘D’ (here it would be a 6), and cities frequently inhabited by the drug-addicted zombies that the medical-pharmaceutical industrial complex has created. While more than half of federal spending goes to maintaining the world’s most expensive military (spending more than the next 10 countries combined), many U.S. cities, inhabited by millions of Americans, lack access to clean drinking water. In addition, the U.S. has been experiencing a “historic decline” in life expectancy; So much so that today the average Cuban, despite six decades of illegal blockades and hybrid wars against their socialist project, lives about three years longer than the average American.

The hardships faced by the American people are intensified by the experience of living in one of the most economically unequal societies in human history, where even by conservative figures, the “richest 0.1% have roughly the same share of [the] wealth as the poorest 90%.” In the United States, the 59 richest Americans own more wealth than the poorest half of the population (165 million people). While most working-class Americans struggle to meet their daily needs, the country’s wealthiest monopolists–those who control what we watch, buy, and eat–have become richer than ever. In the midst of this abundance of wealth in the elite, more than 60,000 Americans die annually from lack of health insurance.

However, the crisis facing most Americans is not limited to their economic conditions. It is, instead, an integral crisis that has spread to all spheres of life, expressing itself through deep psychological and social ills. These can be seen in the millions affected by the opioid epidemic (which kills 70,000 Americans annually); rising rates of violent crime and school shootings; and in the mental health crisis in which nearly one-third of U.S. adults struggle with depression and anxiety.

For more than a decade, studies of bourgeois institutions have confirmed what Marxists have known since the mid-nineteenth century—that “the modern state is nothing but a committee for administering the common affairs of the bourgeoisie.” The United States, which spreads its blood-soaked hands around the world looting in the name of democracy, has proven to be a place where the dēmos (ordinary people) have anything but power (kratos). As the empirical study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page shows,

In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not govern, at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When the majority of citizens disagree with economic elites or organized interests, they usually lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when a fairly large majority of Americans are in favor of policy change, they usually don’t welcome it.

Far from being the ‘beacon of democracy’ it purports to be, what the U.S. has is a “democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich”, which is the essence of bourgeois democracy. Or, in the words of López-Obrador, in the U.S. what dominates is the oligarchy with a façade of democracy. However, the American people, burdened by the conditions of moribund imperialism, have been catching up with the lies spread by pundits and ideologues to sustain bourgeois hegemony. The United States has some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the developed world; about 40 per cent of the eligible population does not participate in presidential elections, and in local elections this number rises to around 73 per cent. More than 60% of Americans are dissatisfied with the two-party system and ready for third-party alternatives, and only about 20% approve of what Congress does. Naturally, it is difficult to participate in a political process in which one does not feel represented. However, both of our imperialist parties have reacted to this public discontent by cracking down on voting rights and the possibility of third parties being on the ballot. In addition, only 11% of Americans trust the media, 90% of which have been consolidated under the control of six companies. Considering the state of the American people, it is not surprising that despite the countless resources devoted to propagandizing the population against socialism, more than 40% of adults have a favorable view of socialism, and among millennials, polls show that 70% would vote for a socialist candidate.

In his pamphlet, “The Collapse of the Second International,” Lenin asks, “What, in general, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation?” And his answer is the following three symptoms: “(1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes”, a crisis in the politics of the ruling class, which leads to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes erupts. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient that “the lower classes do not want” to live in the old-fashioned way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes be incapable” of living in the old way; (2) when the suffering and misery of the oppressed classes have become more acute than usual; (3) when, in consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses…” Lenin concludes that “Without these objective changes, which are independent of the will, not only of individual groups and parties, but even of individual classes, a revolution, as a rule, is impossible.”

These conditions constitute the objective factors that can generally be found in a social revolution. We have seen in the above assessment how the American masses are suffering more than usual, and, moreover, how poll after poll has shown that they are not willing to continue living as before (e.g., immense disapproval of Congress and the two-party system). These conditions are becoming what Gramsci called a “crisis of authority,” that is, the moment of a crisis when the “ruling class has lost its consensus [and] is no longer ‘leader’ but only ‘dominant.'” As he famously argued, “the crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old dies and the new cannot be born; In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

However, the discontent of the masses and their inability to live the old-fashioned way does not, as Lenin pointed out, exhaust all the conditions for an objectively revolutionary situation; firstly, the masses must not only be dissatisfied with the idea of continuing to live as before, but must also show a willingness to act, and, secondly, the ruling class itself must be shaken by the crisis and in a position where it too cannot continue to rule as before.

The willingness of the dissatisfied masses to act can be seen in a variety of places: from the summer uprisings of 2020, where 25-35 million Americans protested the murder of George Floyd; to the ‘Striketober’ wave of 2021 where hundreds of thousands of workers went on strike; to the massive unionization efforts coming from workers at Starbucks, Amazon, and other industries. And, as we’ve seen in recent months, the willingness of leading unions like the Teamsters and United Automobil Workers to strike to meet their demands. While the Teamsters didn’t have to strike against UPS to win a historic contract, the UAW is currently attacking capital’s pressure points with what they call a stand-up strike, one of the most ingenious tactics of militant unionism. It is important to note that in all these struggles there is the working class’s self-consciousness of itself as a class, one that finds itself in an antagonistic position to its bosses and its political puppets. While the old club of the labor aristocracy still exists and is wedded to the Democratic Party, a youth labor militancy is fighting like we haven’t seen them fight since the 1930s, when communists led unions like the CIO. This movement represents the raw material with which a revolutionary organization can form a successful mass struggle for power.

Have any of these conditions shaken the U.S. ruling class? Do they find themselves incapable of governing in the old-fashioned way? Our answer must be a resounding yes! The U.S. empire, with its 900 bases around the world, used to overthrow governments outside its imperial sphere of influence with relative ease. In the international community, especially after the overthrow of the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc of Eastern Europe, it achieved an unparalleled global hegemony, only countered in the 1990s by Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. However, all things in this world are in a constant state of flux, and sooner or later, it was expected that ‘the end of history’ would end and that the imperialist unipolarity of the U.S. and NATO would be challenged. It is our era of a bourgeoning multipolar world that marks the crumbling of the U.S. empire, and with it, the ability of its rulers to ‘rule the old-fashioned way.’

​If the U.S. state, an instrument of U.S. monopoly capital and international finance, is incapable of governing internationally as it used to, that is, if it is incapable of continuing the expropriation and super-exploitation of the peoples of the world, this is not simply a crisis of foreign policy, but a crisis of the integral state.

From the failed coup attempts in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba and other countries; failed proxy wars against Russia and China; the development of BRICS+; it becomes an undeniable fact that the ruling class cannot continue to rule the old way, that the era of U.S. imperialist unipolarity is over. As the world continues to turn to China for mutually beneficial relationships in international trade; as the Patria Grande continues its shift to the left and its hemispheric unity against U.S. imperialism; as moves towards de-dollarization take place across the planet, where the dollar is expected to fall to 30% of world trade by 2030 (a brutal blow to a dollar hegemony that has been crucial to our era of imperialism dominated by sanctions and institutions of global finance capital); and as European citizens continue to protest the exacerbation of their material conditions by the U.S.-NATO proxy war against Russia (which is destroying Germany, the heart of the EU economy and the euro, a power that is in a spiral of deindustrialization because much of its industry depended on cheap Russian oil that they no longer have access to after the U.S. blew up the Nordstream pipeline, in the worst case of environmental (and economic) terrorism in human history). As all these factors continue to accumulate, this crisis in the ruling class will become more pronounced.

Moreover, what better description of this crisis of legitimacy than the fact that both parties, in the last two presidential election cycles, have pledged to challenge the election results? First, with the election of Donald Trump in 2016–a victory, of course, that was won despite having lost the popular vote–Democrats spent the next four years pushing the narrative that Trump colluded with Russia, and even tried to impeach him for this. This, along with a long history of anti-Soviet and anti-Russian propaganda, laid the ideological groundwork—especially among previously “anti-war” liberals—for the anti-Russian hysteria and demonization of Putin that today fuels liberals’ thirst for a Third World War. Then, in 2020, so did a significant portion of the Republican party and most of MAGA’s base, who argued that the election was stolen by Democrats.

As Marxists know, democracy in liberal bourgeois states is limited to the peaceful transfer of power from one faction of the ruling class to another through elections already conditioned by the influence of money and big capital. Today we can say that even this superficial appearance of democracy is crumbling. In doing so, we can see here another symptom that the ruling classes cannot rule in the old way.

In essence, by all the standards that the Marxist tradition uses to assess objectively revolutionary conditions, we can say that the United States is currently in an objectively revolutionary situation that can only become more pronounced in the coming months and years. However, “the social revolution demands the unity of objective and subjective conditions.” As Lenin pointed out, “revolution arises only from a situation in which the above-mentioned objective changes are accompanied by a subjective change, namely, the ability of the revolutionary class to undertake mass revolutionary action strong enough to break (or dislocate) the old government, which never, even in a period of crisis, “falls,” if not knocked down.”

Subjective Conditions*
However, while we find objectively revolutionary conditions in the U.S., we have a deep crisis in the subjective factor, that is, a poverty of revolutionary organizations and their worldviews. Most of the organizations of the socialist left are governed by the professional managerial class, what in the time of Marx and Engels was simply called the intelligentsia. What were supposed to be working-class organizations, vehicles for the conquest of political power by this class, have become centers of petty-bourgeois radicalism, as Gus Hall used to say. This analysis is not new, many theorists have pointed out how, since the late 1970s, along with the State Department’s attack on communists and socialists in the labor unions, and its promotion, through programs such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom, of a compatible anti-communist left, the working-class left has been destroyed and replaced by middle-class “radical recuperators,” as Gabriel Rockhill calls them. The U.S. State Department, as I show in my work, has been effective in creating a “controlled counter-hegemonic left,” a left that speaks radically but in substance always allies itself with imperialism.

This is far from a condemnation of intellectuals in general, but the reality is that, as it currently exists in the U.S., the dominance of the professional managerial class within socialist organizations is deeply alienating to workers, who are less concerned with their middle-class moralism than with surviving in a declining society.

On an ideological level, I have shown that this middle-class left suffers from purity fetish, a worldview that makes them relate to the world on the basis of purity as a condition for support. If something doesn’t live up to the pure ideas that exist in their heads, it’s rejected and condemned. In essence, it is the absence of a dialectical materialist worldview, a flight from a reality governed by movement, contradictions, and interconnectedness, and toward a pure and lofty ideal safe from desecration by the meanness of reality. This purity fetish, I argue in my work, takes three central forms in the United States:

1) Because a bloc of conservative workers are too imperfect or “backward” for the American left, they are considered baskets of deplorables or agents of a “fascist threat.” Instead of raising the consciousness of the so-called backward section of the working population, the purity fetish left condemns them, effectively removing about 30-40% of American workers from the possibility of being organized. This is a ridiculous position which divorces socialists from those working in the pressure points of capital. The purity fetish left, therefore, eschews the task of winning over workers irrespective of the ideas they hold. In doing so, they simply sing to the choir, i.e., the most liberal sections of the middle classes that already agree with them on all the social issues they consider themselves to be enlightened on.

2) The second form that the purity fetish takes is a continuation of the way it is generally present in the tradition of Western Marxism, which has always rejected actually existing socialism because it does not live up to the ideal of socialism in their heads. In doing so, they have often become the leftist parrots of empire, failing to recognize how socialism is to be built, that is, how the process of socialist development occurs under the extreme pressures of imperialist hybrid warfare in a world still dominated by global capital. In its acceptance of capitalist myths about socialism, this left acquiesces to the lie that socialism has always failed, and arrogantly posits itself as the first who will make it work. Instead of debunking the McCarthyite lies with which the ruling class has fed the people, this left accepts them.

3) The third form of the purity fetish is the prevalence of what Georgi Dimitrov called national nihilism: the total rejection of our national past because of its impurities. A large part of the American left sees socialism as synonymous with the destruction of America. Bombastic ultra-left slogans dominate the discourse of many of the left-wing organizers, who treat the history of the United States in a metaphysical way, blind to how the country is a totality in motion, pregnant with contradictions, with histories of slavery, genocide, imperialism, but also with histories of abolitionist struggles, workers’ struggles, anti-imperialist and socialist struggles. It is a history that produces imperialists and looters, but also produced Dubois, King, Henry Winston, and other champions of the people’s struggle against capital, empire, and racism.

This purity fetish left forgets that socialism does not exist in the abstract, that it must be concretized in the conditions and history of the peoples who have won the struggle for political power. As Dimitrov put it, it must socialist in content and national in form. Socialism, especially in its early stages, must always have the specific characteristics of the history of the people: in China it is called socialism with Chinese characteristics, in Venezuela Bolivarian socialism, in Bolivia it means embedding socialism within the indigenous traditions of communalism. etc. Kim Il Sung once wrote “What assets do we have for carrying on the revolution if the history of our people’s struggle is denied.” This is effectively what the national nihilists, rooted in the purity fetish outlook, do.

​To put it in philosophical terms, there cannot be—contrary to the tradition of Western philosophy—abstract universals devoid of the specific forms they take in various contexts. On the contrary, as the Hegelian and Marxist traditions (both rooted in dialectical worldviews) maintain, the universal can only be actual when it is concretized through the particular. In other words, if we don’t take the rational progressive kernels of our national past and use them to fight for socialism, we will not only be doomed to misinterpret U.S. history, but we will fail, as we have, to connect with our people and successfully develop a socialist struggle in our context.

In every instance, the purity fetish of the middle-class left forbids them not only from properly understanding the world, but from changing it. It is no coincidence that the part of the world in which Marxist theoreticians find everything too impure to support is also the one that has failed, even under the most objectively fertile conditions, to produce a successful and meaningful revolutionary movement.

In short, conditions in the U.S. are objectively revolutionary. But the subjective factor is in deep crisis. Processes of social change cannot succeed if these two conditions are not united. For the U.S. left to succeed, it must re-centralize itself in the working masses and dispel its purity fetish outlook, replacing it with the dialectical materialist worldview—the best working tool and sharpest weapon, as Engels pointed out, that Marxism offers the proletariat. It needs a party of the people guided by this outlook, what has been traditionally called a communist party. Although some might bear that name today and tarnish it with decades of fighting for the liberal wing of the ruling, the substance of what a communist party stands for, what it provides the class struggle, is indispensable for our advancement.

It is the only force that can unite the people against the endless wars of empire that not only lead to the deaths of millions around the world, but also to the immiseration of our people and cities, who live under a state that always has money for war, but never any to invest in the people. Only when the people actually come into a position of power and create a society of, by, and for working people, can this fate change. For this we need a communist party, a people’s party.

*This section has been slightly edited from the original lecture. ... ty-fetish/


US Strategy for Great Power Competition: More Graft and Hope for Wonder Weapons
Posted on April 22, 2024 by Conor Gallagher

The problems with the so-called “arsenal of democracy” are well known. It can’t produce enough shells to keep up with its client states’ wars. Elsewhere, there are design issues, delays, massive cost overruns, worker and supply shortages, and the final product is usually inferior to other countries.

In short, US oligarchs’ greed has hollowed out the US industrial base, making it more difficult to enforce their rentier capitalism around the world. Despite that fact, there does not seem to be a plan to do anything about the loss of Western industrial capacity even while the US-led bloc thrashes about and creates more conflicts. In a recent piece on this topic I somewhat sarcastically asked if the plan was for AI to figure it out.

It turns out, that is the plan – as much as it can be labeled as such. A new report from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University titled “How Big Tech and Silicon Valley are Transforming the Military-Industrial Complex” details how the racket is evolving.

At its heart, the plan is to make a lot of people obscenely wealthy and hope that a wonder weapon or two emerges from the bottomless money pit.

Malcolm Harris’ 2023 book “Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World” went into great detail on Silicon Valley’s military-industrial complex and all the eugenics and class warfare that emerge from capitalism’s citadel in the Bay Area. I wrote up Harris’ book back in March, but here are just two key passages dealing with Silicon Valley’s emergence as the epicenter of the military-industrial complex and class warfare:

War Capitalism could put on a blindfold and run into a maze of horrific, absurd plans with confidence because it had class power echolocation for a guide: As long as the rich strengthened and the working class weakened, then things had to be going in the right direction. It didn’t matter that capitalists were investing in finance sugar highs, monopoly superprofits, and an international manufacturing race to the bottom rather than strong jobs and an expanded industrial base. The twenty-first century was going to be all about software anyway, baby. The robots will figure it out. Silicon Valley leaders sat on top of this world system like a cherry on a sundae, insulated from the melting foundation by a rich tower of cream…

If the country couldn’t beat the world market in primary materials and heavy manufacturing, then it would play to its own advantage: making shit up.

The problem there is that such practices are exposed in actual conflict – as we can see in Ukraine, the Red Sea, and maybe we’ll get another big reminder with Iran if the neocons have their way. And there’s always China on the horizon.

This report from Brown acts as a brief update to Harris’ opus, and the situation is only getting worse. The 26-page account reinforces that Silicon Valley’s role in the military-industrial complex is to serve as a giant self-licking ice cream cone to make a bunch of grifters fabulously wealthy while producing zero benefits for American society. Not only that, but if they hit it big on an item that can effectively surveil or kill, they will, as always, be used to aid the capitalist class in its plunder – in the US and abroad.

So, what does the report say? More and more money from the government, venture capital, and private equity firms is pouring into big tech companies and startups for surveillance, weaponized AI, drone technologies, and other tech tools of war. Fortunately, there is little sign it is effective unless the goal is to enrich a bunch of well-connected insiders as the products are described as “ineffective.” On the downside, they’re also “unpredictable and unsafe when deployed in real world conditions.”

Patriotic Graft

The report notes that US military and intelligence agencies awarded at least $28 billion to Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet between 2018 and 2022, but the actual value is likely to be significantly higher, since so many of contracts with tech companies are classified. Military and Intelligence also continue to increase their funding of startups:

According to some analysts, pilot projects launched by defense tech startups may succeed in creating prototypes, but frequently fail to cross the so-called “valley of death” lying between early prototype production and multi-year Pentagon contracts. Historically, the overhead costs associated with U.S. government procurement processes have made it difficult for smaller firms to compete.

This began to change in 2015, when then Defense Secretary Ash Carter established DIUx. It was headquartered in Silicon Valley and designed as a venture capital fund: the goal was to quickly identify and invest in startups developing cutting-edge technologies that might have military applications. With DIUx, the Pentagon built its own startup accelerator to fund firms specializing in AI, robotics, data analytics, cybersecurity, and biotechnology. DIUx was intentionally located in the heart of Silicon Valley, near Amazon’s Lab126, Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus, and Apple’s corporate offices. Carter, who had spent several years at Stanford University prior to his appointment as Defense Secretary, had reportedly been impressed with the Bay Area’s innovative entrepreneurial spirit. In 2018, DIUx was renamed Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), indicating that it was no longer experimental. Between June 2016 and September 2022, DIU awarded contracts worth a total of $1.2 billion to more than 320 companies.

Carter modeled DIU after In-Q-Tel, a firm established by the CIA in the late 1990s to capitalize on innovations being developed in the private sector, particularly in Silicon Valley. By channeling CIA funds to nascent companies building surveillance, intelligence gathering, data analysis, and cyberwar technologies, the agency hoped to outdo global rivals by funding firms with creative engineers, hackers, scientists, and programmers. In-Q-Tel has made more than 500 investments across an extraordinary range of startups. In-Q-Tel’s portfolio includes firms with futuristic projects such as Cyphy, which manufactures tethered drones that can fly reconnaissance missions for extended periods using a continuous power source; Atlas Wearables, which produces fitness trackers that closely monitor body movements and vital signs; Fuel3d, which sells a handheld device that produces detailed three-dimensional scans of structures or objects; Sonitus, which has developed a wireless communications system, part of which fits inside the user’s mouth;and Saildrone, which produces autonomous maritime surveillance drones enabled by AI. In-Q-Tel has also invested in data-mining firms like Geofeedia, TransVoyant, and PATHAR.

If this all sounds like underwhelming crap, well, that feeling isn’t uncommon. Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Jack Shanahan had this to say about the AI-powered advances: “I’m less worried right now about autonomous weapons making their own decisions than just fielding shitty capabilities that don’t work as advertised or result in innocent people dying.”

Nonetheless, more than $100 billion in venture capital funding went to defense tech startups between 2021 and 2023.


Historically, the largest VC firms were generally reluctant to invest in defense tech startups, but this has changed dramatically over the past few years. Why has it changed?

There has been a lot of PR about it being a form of patriotism and the need for the US to have military and technological superiority to counter supposed threats from Russia and China, but unsurprisingly it’s really just about making a boatload of money.

Venture capital and private equity are betting that an expansion of DoD spending on high-tech products will lead to lucrative returns, and they’ve been right so far.

The revolving door is certainly helping to drive profits. One of the biggest cons nowadays is the constant fear mongering that China is poised to surpass the US in a global “AI arms race,” and that the future depends on the outcome. While the report argues this is vastly overblown, government officials who help propagate it and steer money towards research of AI-powered weaponry, surveillance, and logistics systems are rewarded upon leaving office:

After leaving his Pentagon post, Robert Work became an advisor to defense tech startup Hawkeye 360, then joined Raytheon’s board of directors in 2017. David Norquist now serves as president and CEO of the National Defense Industrial Association, which lobbies on behalf of defense contractors.104 Patrick Shanahan is on the board of directors for Leidos, an AI company specializing in autonomous maritime and aerial vehicles for military use.

But perhaps more importantly, dozens of senior Pentagon and national security officials are now gravitating towards defense-related VC or private equity firms as executives or advisors after they retire from public service. While in the past, the “revolving door” usually meant that a former DoD official might accept an executive position with weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin or McDonnell Douglas, there are new, more lucrative options. At least fifty former Defense Department officials are now working in VC and private equity, leveraging their connections with current DoD officials or members of Congress to push for legislation that might benefit the defense tech firms that are part of their firms’ investment portfolios.106 The implications of this are significant: the new “revolving door” is likely to accelerate some of the trends outlined in this report, most notably increased military and intelligence agency funding for early-stage defense tech startups.

Jack Poulson, a mathematician who worked at Google before founding Tech Inquiry, put it this way: “I believe we are witnessing the transition of major U.S. tech companies into defense contractors and would go so far as to predict them purchasing defense contractors in the coming years—something like Amazon buying Raytheon.”

The US strategy can be summed up as a steadfast belief that the best way to preserve U.S. dominance is by prioritizing corporate needs, zero accountability, and hope that for-profit corruption produces something worthwhile.

Meatspace Application

It’s clear that no lesson has been learned from the West’s spectacular failure in Ukraine. The fact that Russia ground down the collective capacity of NATO is apparently not a concern, even as Washington prepares to make the same mistake with China.

The US is currently “building” an Asian NATO, and as mentioned above, all the focus is on winning a nonexistent AI race. Think tanks like The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), whose biggest funders are biggest donors include defense firms Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and RTX—and significantly, tech giants like Alphabet-Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Meta-Facebook, and Apple, continually push for confrontation with China and argue that AI is key victory. Maybe they should be worried about something else.

Buried in one of its recent reports, CSIS admits the following:

China’s defense industrial base is operating on a wartime footing, while the U.S. defense industrial base is largely operating on a peacetime footing. Overall, the U.S. defense industrial ecosystem lacks the capacity, responsiveness, flexibility, and surge capability to meet the U.S. military’s production and warfighting needs. Unless there are urgent changes, the United States risks weakening deterrence and undermining its warfighting capabilities. China is heavily investing in munitions and acquiring high-end weapons systems and equipment five to six times faster than the United States. China is also the world’s largest shipbuilder and has a shipbuilding capacity that is roughly 230 times larger than the United States. One of China’s large shipyards, such as Jiangnan Shipyard, has more capacity than all U.S. shipyards combined.

Maybe it’s possible that a wonder weapon emerges from all the money sloshing around. I’m not a weapons aficionado, so hopefully some readers in the know can chime in, but the history of US military boondoggles is obvious.

One of the earliest signs that the strategy to rule by silicon and fire was going to be problematic was the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system money pit. The 1950s collaboration between the Air Force, MIT, and most major computer computers, it fed punch cards coded with a day’s planned air routes into a computer; if something was amiss it was supposed to catch it, and missiles or aircraft could be deployed to intercept what was assumed to be a Soviet nuclear bomber. IBM produced a 12-minute advertising video on it, and it was a major PR victory for the company. The trouble is, it didn’t work – at all. A SAGE engineer compared it to Forrest Gump: “It was very fast, financially successful, and incredibly stupid.”

Or how about the Strategic Defense Initiative aka “Star Wars”? Or the F-35? And countless others.

Lastly, if we take a further step back, we can maybe view the greatest waste in all of this – more than all the incompetence and greed.

It’s that obscene amounts of money are going to these weapons of war in the first place. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Americans sleep in Hoovervilles and there is really no threat to the US. Maybe US oligarchs’ interests are threatened around the world, but that does not affect 99.9 percent of the US population.

With so much money pouring into Silicon Valley for tools of war, all the supposed bright minds in the Bay Area are assigned to developing wonder weapons, but not only are they unsuccessful on that front, it also means they’re not focusing other issues:

One can only imagine the scientific opportunities that have been lost or delayed because they are not aligned with military priorities: for example, increased research to better understand and develop mitigation plans for accelerating climate change and its effects; better tools for forecasting epidemic diseases; and improved methods for sustainable agriculture and resource management.

Many of the Bay Area’s youth, trained from a young age to enter this system of bezzles are also miserable and suicidal – a major focus of Malcolm Harris’ Palo Alto. That’s the downside of being the product of a stock farm system designed to enrich the select few:

[Palo Alto’s] biggest export, more than code, circuit design, and marketing fluff, is human capital. Stanford switched from colts to young people, but it was still a breeding and training project. Labor intensification applied to students as to wage workers, and local leaders spent a century on educational augmentation schemes meant to provide the best genetic material with the top instructional apparatus. The strategy paid untold dividends, and Silicon Valley has shown remarkable economic resilience, always finding another bubble to inflate, a new technological frontier, a new boom, a new gold rush. It looks helter-skelter, but as I’ve said, Palo Altans managed to generate sinks to absorb and grow huge amounts of capital over and over, with remarkable consistency during the period in question. In a world starved for efficiency gains – novel ways to tighten costs – a bet on the Valley keeps getting better. Just ask some rich people.

It’s worth retracing our steps to the Palo Alto system, in which potential counts for everything –– but only a specific kind of potential. A colt that won’t pull a cart is no good to the system, no matter how fast. And a colt that organizes all the horses to strike? That’s no potential at all.

As the US-led international system is in the process of being overturned, maybe now would be a good time to upset this apple cart here at home as well. ... apons.html
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Re: The Nature of Foxes

Post by blindpig » Thu Apr 25, 2024 2:59 pm

By Paul Robinson, Landmarks Magazine (Substack), 4/2/24

[Editor’s note: this is the second installment of the Simone Weil Center’s Symposium on ‘Containment 2.0.’ The first installment can be read here.]

There is an interesting line in Bergman, Kimmage, Mankoff, and Snegovaya’s article ‘America’s New Twilight Struggle with Russia,’ in which the authors talk of ‘checking Russian influence in Central Asia and Africa.’ The distance between the United States and Kazakhstan is about 6,500 miles. The distance between Russia and Kazakhstan is zero, as the two are neighbours. Yet for some strange reason, it is considered quite natural that the United States should seek to dominate a region 6,500 miles from its shores, whereas ‘Russian influence’ right on its own borders is deemed a threat that must somehow be contained.

This example aptly illustrates what one might consider the extreme self-centeredness of the call for a new policy of containment. The idea that other states might have legitimate interests, even next to their homes, is entirely absent, while the interests of the United States are deemed to span the entire globe. Moreover, it is taken for granted that American assistance is something that all people desire, that it is for the good of all, and moreover that it will inevitably produce positive outcomes for all concerned, other, of course, than a few malign actors. The fact that others might have different ideas, or that American assistance might actually be harmful rather than helpful is not considered. What is good for us is good for them.

The experience of containment in the Cold War tells a rather different story. Containment sounds like a relatively benign, peaceful strategy compared with ‘rollback,’ the alternative of the time that envisioned actively pushing communism back from its existing boundaries. In reality, containment was an extremely bloody affair. The war in Vietnam was possibly the most extreme example, but bloodshed followed containment almost everywhere outside Europe. The massacres in Indonesia in 1965-66, for instance, probably claimed the lives of about half a million people. Proxy wars backed by the United States in countries like Angola, Mozambique, and Afghanistan claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands (perhaps even millions) more. It is hardly an experience that one would wish to repeat.

To be fair, Bergmann et al. do admit that containment came with ‘abuses.’ They argue that outside of Europe, Containment 2.0 should rely not on military intervention but on economic and political assistance. But it is clear that the impetus for their proposal comes from the war in Ukraine and that in that instance their focus is, in fact, military. As they write: ‘that strategy should retain Ukrainian victory as a long-term goal. Forcing Russia to abandon all or most of the territory it has occupied there will push the Russian threat further from Europe’s borders … a Ukrainian military victory will require larger and more sustained Western military assistance.’

Interestingly, the stated aim here is not actually containment but rollback – ‘forcing Russian to abandon all or most of the territory it has occupied.’ This is an extremely ambitious program, and even if were achievable it could not be achieved without a very long war that would cost the lives of an extremely large number of people (including, of course, Ukrainians), as well as the wholesale destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure. Containment 2.0 is a recipe for prolonged and bloody war.

It’s also unlikely to succeed. War is full of uncertainty, so one can never tell for sure, but as things stand, the prospects of Ukraine recapturing most, or all, of its lost territory seem very low. Pursuing that goal will lead not merely to death and destruction, but to futile death and destruction.

This doesn’t seem to bother the new Cold Warriors. Convinced that they are ‘helping’ Ukraine, they lead it further into the abyss, just as their predecessors led Vietnamese, Afghans, Angolans, and others into the abyss in decades past.

Looking at this from a philosophical point of view, one might complain that the issue here is a failure to follow Kant’s categorical imperative and to view people as ends in themselves rather than a means to an end. The end is weakening Russia and China, and if others suffer in the process, we shrug our shoulders and consider it a price worth paying, knowing full well that it is not us but others who are paying the price.

I think, though, that this complaint is not entirely accurate because the architects of these policies strike me not so much as cynics who know full well what they are doing but as true believers, who really imagine that their ‘help’ is in fact help, that the United States is a force for good in the world, and that spreading its influence and undermining that of others is thus for the benefit of all humanity.

This comes through in the talk of ‘support for governance reform and trade’ and of countering ‘Russian influence outside Europe primarily through development assistance, trade, and investment.’

The first thing to note about this is that it is not nearly as new as the authors would like readers to think it is. Development assistance, trade, and investment were key aspects of Cold War-era containment. From the mid-1950s, for instance, the United States invested heavily in southern Afghanistan, through projects such as the Helmand Valley Authority. Other developing countries were similar recipients of American aid. This built on modernization theory, developed by the likes of Eugene Staley and Walt Rostow, who imagined that one could export the experience of the American New Deal to Africa and Central Asia, enable local economies to ‘take off,’ build a liberal civil society, and at the end of it all save the recipients of US aid from communism.

It generally didn’t end well. US-backed irrigation projects in the Helmand Valley, for instance, left it not a blooming garden but a salty desert (I exaggerate a bit, but it is generally agreed that the results were not very positive). Similar outcomes appeared elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the world is littered with failed development assistance projects. If Bergmann et al., imagine that the United State has gotten better at this since the Cold War, they should read the reports of the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which provide excruciating details of billions of dollars squandered on failed, and often counterproductive, aid projects in the years between 2001 and 2021. The U.S. and its allies imagined that they were helping Afghanistan, but their aid just made things worse. It is a recurring pattern. If I truly believed that the U.S. and its allies really knew what they were doing when it came to development assistance, support for good governance, and the like, I might support it. But the evidence suggests rather the opposite.

Beyond this, one gets no sense from Bergmann et al. that people outside Europe might not want American assistance or might not regard American models of development as appropriate for their circumstances. Their article speaks of the ‘brutality and corruption of Russian-backed juntas,’ by which one imagines they have in mind the military governments that have recently taken over countries such as Niger. But there is a reason why these ‘juntas’ seized power and seem to enjoy some popular support, and that is that their predecessors were themselves corrupt and incompetent. And if the Russians also enjoy some popular support in parts of Africa (as seems to be the case), it is because the Western backers of the previous regimes had become thoroughly disliked.

If Africans in some instances choose to prefer Russia over America, France, or Britain (a choice possibly partly determined by memories of colonialism and the Soviet Union’s support of national liberation struggles), who are we to tell them that they must do otherwise? There is, it seems to me, a profound arrogance to this approach, as well as unwillingness to consider that others might legitimately view things differently and have a right to go their own way.

At this point, it is perhaps necessary also to express what some might consider a somewhat cynical view about the expressed intent to promote U.S. interests by ‘supporting locally led initiatives to foster civil society.’ Superficially, it sounds totally benign. Dig a bit deeper, though, and there are grounds for concern.

In its broadest definition, civil society includes any organization operating outside the purview of the state, from the local knitting club upwards. In the meaning more often used by Western politicians, in the context of countries they do not like, civil society is a much narrower concept. It is more strictly a Westernizing, liberal civil society. The term civil society thus refers to that segment of society that is politically opposed to the ruling regime, wishes to advance Western understandings of democracy and human rights, align its country more closely politically with the West, and more generally Westernize that country’s institutions and values. As such it is often at odds with much of the surrounding population. Western support for it can prove deeply destabilizing, particularly when civil society of such a sort succeeds in taking power against the wishes of important segments of the population, leading to a backlash and in the worst circumstances civil war. This is more or less what happened in Ukraine in 2014. Beyond that, overt Western support for this kind of civil society may have the effect of tainting it in the eyes of the authorities, resulting in its suppression. This can be seen in Russia, where the association of liberal civil society with the West has arguably had the effect of persuading the state that it is a fifth column being promoted by the West to undermine the state from within. By promoting democracy and liberal values in such a way, Western states can inadvertently undermine it.

The repeated failures not only of military intervention but also of development assistance, democracy promotion, and the like, never seems to stop Western liberal internationalists from wanting to do the same thing all over again. This reveals another serious deficiency – a lack of self-awareness. Such is our certainty that we are the ‘good guys’ that we seem all too often to be incapable of understanding that our record does not match our expressed intention and that others might therefore have very good reason to view us as a danger. When, for instance, Russians say that they view NATO expansion as a threat, they are dismissed as talking nonsense. In our minds, we know that NATO is purely defensive. If others think something different, they are wrong, and should therefore be ignored. But it doesn’t actually matter if they are wrong. If that is how they will think, it will affect their behaviour, and it must therefore be taken into consideration.

Take, for instance, the article under discussion. How do the authors imagine it will be received in Moscow or Beijing? Do they imagine that people there will somehow reconsider their actions? Or is it more likely that on reading it, even sceptics will conclude that their leaders are right, that the West is out to get them, and that they must therefore resist? I suspect that the latter answer is more likely. If so, Containment 2.0 is likely to prove deeply counterproductive. ... -the-west/
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Re: The Nature of Foxes

Post by blindpig » Sun Apr 28, 2024 6:03 pm

The Wars Come Home
Posted on April 28, 2024 by Conor Gallagher

As Russia continues to grind down Ukraine and Israel does the same to Gazans, with heavy US involvement in both arenas, it’s worth remembering how tools used and lessons learned in theaters of combat typically find their way back to the US to be used on American citizens.

Much of the technology and methodology the US’ three-letter agencies use against Americans was developed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Police are constantly becoming more militarized and outfitted with tools from the battlefields. There are surveillance blimps, the FBI flies drones over the US, state and local police departments use Stingray – invasive cell phone surveillance devices that mimic cell phone towers and send out signals to trick cell phones in the area into transmitting their locations and identifying information.

The collection of Americans’ data was also pioneered in the “War on Terror.” From a 2013 story at HuffPost:

…essentially amassing everything, however minor or unimportant, and then using increasingly powerful computers to pull out of that large pile actionable information, i.e., specific information to feed back to combat commanders and special forces to allow them to kill specific people. Knowing, for example, the name of a guy’s girlfriend leads to knowing what car she drives which leads to knowing when she left home which leads to listening to her make a date via cell phone which leads a credit card charge for a room which leads to a strike on a particular location at a specific time, high-tech flagrante delicto.

The FBI has followed the NSA’s wartime lead in creating its Investigative Data Warehouse, a collection of more than a billion documents on Americans including intelligence reports, social security files, drivers’ licenses, and private financial information including credit card data.

It is unsurprising that these weapons and surveillance tools are turned on Americans. If we accept that the US is dominated by the transnational capital class, it stands to reason that its enemies have less to do with traditional nation-state boundaries and everything to do with resources and rent-seeking opportunities.

Attempting to secure capitalists’ interests at home and abroad is the mission. Since the conclusion of WWII the US has been all about spreading “freedom,” which means a state devoted to high profits – free from the political whims of local populations that could degrade an investment’s expected return.

But that plunder does not just exist in far flung regions; it’s also alive and well in the US as well and requires the same tools of population control and punishment.

At home, the war has always been raging too – which was again about freedom for the capitalist class. Workers, labor organizers, the Black Panthers were largely beaten into submission in a lopsided class war with capital and the state pitted against workers. After all, as J. Edgar Hoover argued, conflict abroad must mean subversion at home, but what does that mean when the US ruling class sides with neo-Nazis in Ukraine and authoritarian capitalists in Israel?

What Will the West Reap From Conflicts Involving Neo-Nazis in Ukraine and AI-Assisted “Plausible” Genocide in Gaza?

The US helped initiate and continues to perpetuate the conflict in Ukraine. And despite public urgings of caution, has fully backed Israel in its destruction of Gaza. At the same time, the crackdown on criticism of Israeli policy is intensifying in the US. Let’s look first at “tools” and then ideological creep.

There are reports that Israel is using an AI targeting system in Gaza with little human oversight and a permissive policy for casualties. On April 3, +972 Magazine revealed that the Israeli army was using a program known as “Lavender” to mark all suspected operatives in the military wings of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including low-ranking ones, as potential bombing targets. During the early stages of the conflict, the army almost completely relied on the system, which flagged as many as 37,000 Palestinians as suspected militants — and their homes — for possible air strikes.

Silicon Valley is hard at work on similar tools for the US, and Ukraine has been used as a testing ground where the AI has but an utter failure. Project Maven is a Department of Defense program to use artificial intelligence to help the military detect potential targets on the battlefield using drone footage and other data.

As the New York Times reported on April 23, it is being used in Ukraine to “collect Russian movements and communications into one big, user-friendly picture, employing algorithms to predict where troops are moving and where attacks might happen.”

While the AI might be a nice shiny toy, it doesn’t work that well when your drones are quickly blown out of the sky and you can’t produce enough shells to match the Russian side. The Times goes on to admit numerous failures of this technology in Ukraine, but what goes unmentioned is how it will likely find its way into use back in the US.

Police drones are already widely used to monitor public gatherings in the US where there’s no risk that the Russians will shoot them out of the sky. The US adopting Israel technology that has been tested on the captive population of Gaza is nothing new. Here’s just a brief overview of some of the weaponized tech used in the occupied territories that has also been adopted in the US.

One example is how Israeli surveillance company Cellebrite sells its phone-hacking tools to countless police departments across the US. Antony Loewenstein in The Palestine Laboratory points out how Israelis complain that any Washington criticism of Israeli policies ignores how much the US has benefitted from its “combat laboratory” for US weapon development. And another example:

Some Americans are keen to learn on the ground in the Jewish state itself before taking it back to their home countries. In 2004, the US-based pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a self-described civil rights organization, began sending US police delegations to Israel…The US police who went “come back and they are Zionists. They understand Israel and its security needs in ways a lot of audiences don’t.”

How commonplace are such systems in the US? Database that aims to collect information on every Palestinian. They then use it to restrict movement or potentially other freedoms. The monitoring of Palestinians 24/7 across the occupied territory can turn up personal details that an individual wishes to remain secret, e.g., a married man who might be gay, someone who might be having an affair, etc. That information, as well as any other embarrassing activities, can then be used to try to turn that person into a spy or pressure them in other ways.

These same technologies are used in the US and elsewhere. Take Oosto, formerly AnyVision. It’s an Israeli company that merges AI with facial recognition and biometrics and targets all Palestiniians across the West Bank. According to Loewenstein, Oosto operates in the US, and in locations such as casinos, manufacturing, and even fitness centers.”

And there’s Cellebrite, the Israeli digital intelligence behemoth whose products include the Universal Forensic Extraction Device hacking tool. According to Loewenstein:

Over 2,800 US government customers, including law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture, have purchased the company’s equipment, and the firm has hired prosecutors, police officers, and Secret Service agents to train people to use it. The company has announced that it has secured business with six of the world’s biggest oil refiners and six of the planet’s largest pharmaceutical firms. It has also moved into the increasingly profitable field of corporate surveillance.

Protecting Plunder

I think it sometimes gets lost in all the madness of Project Ukraine just how important it was that Stanford hosted neo-Nazis last year:

The university is, after all, the intellectual center of the US capitalist citadel of Silicon Valley that increasingly dominates the military-industrial complex. The Nazism fostered in Ukraine by the West was unlikely to ever remain confined to Ukraine, and there are already signs it is beginning to spread throughout Europe. Here’s Kit Klarenberg writing at Al Mayadeen:

In mid-February, Berlin’s Junge Welt revealed how Centuria, an ultra-violent Ukrainian Neo-Nazi faction, has since the war in Ukraine cemented itself in six cities across Germany, and is seeking to expand its activities across Europe, influencing populations and governments to adopt their horrendous worldview. Disturbingly, they’re not the only fascist militants from Kiev with major political and societal ambitions, going under the name of Centuria. As we shall see, there are strong indications the latter is the monstrous offspring of British intelligence.

Centuria’s activities are outlined in a detailed report from George Washington University’s Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES). It notes that the group’s parent organisation is a “self-described order of ‘European traditionalist’ military officers that has the stated goals of reshaping the country’s military along right-wing ideological lines, and defending the ‘cultural and ethnic identity’ of European peoples against ‘Brussels’ politicos and bureaucrats’”:

“[Centuria] envisions a future where ‘European right forces are consolidated and national traditionalism is established as the disciplining ideological basis for the European peoples.’”

IERES reported that Centuria’s military wing began training in 2018 in Ukraine’s Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Army Academy (NAA), Kiev’s “premier military education institution and a major hub for Western military assistance to the country.” From there, many of the group’s members were drilled by top Western military institutions alongside British, Canadian and American special forces officers. In turn, its operatives traveled to Western military training centres, spreading Neo-Nazism every step of the way.

If you’re going to back Nazis in Ukraine in order to weaken Russia, why would such a strategy stop with Ukraine? Why not Armenia, Poland, or the Baltics? Or how about Germany? Maybe even in the US?

The fact that Stanford welcomed Nazis with open arms should not have come as a surprise, as described here by WSWS:

Such a development can only be explained based on an analysis of the class forces on campus and the foul intellectual climate that has been created by decades of anti-Marxism and the promotion of postmodernist thought.

The last thirty years of uninterrupted imperialist wars abroad and social counter-revolution at home that followed the end of the USSR also saw the ever closer integration of academic institutions, especially the so called “elite” universities, into the state and military apparatus and Wall Street.

Stanford University is a primary example. The university’s Board of Trustees is largely composed of hedge fund managers and Wall Street executives, including Gene T. Sykes, the managing director of Goldman Sachs. The university has also long been notorious for the right-wing Hoover Institution, which is currently led by war criminal Condoleezza Rice, a key figure in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The Hoover Institution has historically been a central hub for the promotion of right-wing historical revisionism and falsifications. Most notably, it has hosted workshops with far-right academics like Jörg Baberowski from Berlin’s Humboldt University, who has since emerged as a central figure in the international effort by academics to minimize the crimes of Nazism.

The Hoover Institution, following in the footsteps of the former president it is named for, has also always played a guiding role in the class warfare waged by capitalists – both at home and abroad. A 1978 Palo Alto meeting yielded much of the Reagan administration leadership and the Hoover Institution played a major role in the plan for the 1980s. Bush the Younger had a similar meeting in 1998.

Where the US-backed conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza and celebration of neo-Nazis at Stanford merge is at the intersection of plunder and authoritarianism. The driving force behind the war in Ukraine is a desire by the Western elite to restart the pillaging of Russia that began during the 1990s shock therapy and was largely ended by Putin.

On the other hand, Israel is really a perfect model state for the US ruling elite, summed up here in Antony Lowenstein’s The Palestine Laboratory:

According to Netanyahu, Jewish writer Peter Beinhart explained, “the future belonged…to authoritarian capitalism: governments that combined aggressive and often racist nationalism with economic and technological might.”

The question then becomes, would the transnational capitalist have any hesitation going from “Mussolini style corporatism” to full blown Fascism before relinquishing any of their ill-gotten gains or accepting limits on their power or reach?

Just how far along the US is in the process of becoming more like Israel is debatable, but the vision is clear. Neve Gordon, who teaches international law and human rights at Queen Mary University in London, tells Loewenstein that the Israeli model is based on describing itself as a democracy, effectively surveilling and killing “terrorists,” and simultaneously advancing neoliberal economic objectives. The following passage describes Israel, but if it was referring to the US, would you be able to tell the difference?

This attraction stems from the sense (real or perceived) that fighting terrorism through methods of homeland security, that include suspending due process in many areas of the criminal justice system, including torture, the right to a speedy trial, the freedom from arbitrary police searches, and the prohibition against indefinite incarceration and incognito detentions (to mention a few methods) does not conflict with democratic values. Thus, the ultimate attractiveness towards the Israeli experience in fighting terrorism is to its ability to link a militaristic worldview with a neoliberal economic agenda.

Anything that gets in the way of that worldview is now being dismantled. Maureen Clare Murphy at Electronic Intifada goes into meticulous detail in this April 11 piece on all the ways the US is gutting international law in Palestine. That’s not new for the “rules-based international order” where the rules are whatever they say they are, but the point is being driven home clearly in Gaza and elsewhere. Here’s just one recent example from the “Newspaper of Record”:


It is not. The West’s backing of Israel is reminiscent of more overt forms of colonialism and resource theft. As the the Western oligarchs are increasingly thwarted in turf wars in Russia, China, the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere,

This will likely lead to even more violent rapaciousness at home, but how much more juice remains in the squeeze?


Elsewhere, any weak state sitting on valuable real estate should be even more nervous than usual. Because what we’re seeing with Israel and the West’s support is the culmination of decades of increasing disregard for and rewriting of international law. They are now completely tearing it up and essentially saying, “Anything goes.”

What could this mean? Let’s just quickly take the case of Niger as an example because it has been in the news a lot in recent months. The impoverished country has some of the highest grade uranium ore deposits in the world. It has been mined for decades by the French, who got a massive discount in its former colony on fuel for their nuclear plants. The US also has a major drone base in the country.

Well, Niger has decided that not only would the cushy deal for the French end, but the Americans would be kicked out as well. The Americans, however, are not leaving,. If we apply the Israel-Gaza doctrine, could France or the US respond to an attack on their troops or civilians by leveling the country and simply stealing the uranium? No doubt the US has already been engaged in similar efforts in recent decades, but could we see a more brutal doubling down in coming years?

Frederic Lordon, writing from the French perspective, believes that Gaza represents a clear historical marker:

What we are witnessing is moral suicide. Never before has there been such a colossal squandering of symbolic capital that was thought to be unassailable, which had been built up in the wake of the Holocaust. It turns out that the time for symbolic reckoning is coming for everyone, especially for this colonial project which calls itself the West and claims a monopoly on civilisation, yet wages violence in the name of its principles. If indeed they ever floated, its moral credentials are now sunk. It takes the arrogance of the soon-to-be-fallen rulers, who don’t yet know it, to believe that they can pursue this course without cost. Those who remain passive, who participate as accomplices, even acting as deniers of such an enormous crime being committed before their eyes and before the eyes of everyone else – people of this kind can no longer lay claim to anything. The whole world is watching Gaza die, and the whole world is watching the West watching Gaza. And nothing escapes them.

At this point, we inevitably think of Germany, whose unconditional support has reached astonishing levels of delirium, and of which one darkly humorous Internet user was able to say: ‘When it comes to genocide, they are always on the wrong side of History’. It’s not certain that ‘we’ – France – are much better off, but it is certain that History is waiting for everyone around the corner. History: this is what the West meets in Gaza. If, as there is reason to believe, this is a rendezvous with decline and fall, then the time will come when we will be able to say that the world was upturned in Gaza.

While the decline has been widely acknowledged for some time, much of the concern has centered around which form it would take. What Ukraine and Gaza announce is that the process will be a protracted, bloody mess.

If Western governments, representing their oligarchic benefactors, are no longer interested in international law and no longer capable of agreements, the path has been laid. The precedent is being set, and the long term consequences are here:
Daniela Gabor
Global South voices - here the President of Colombia - read in the European/US support of the genocide in Gaza a blueprint, an experiment for ecofascism that 'treats us as disposable lives'.
(Other 'X' quotes at link.) ... -home.html
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