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War Profiteers and the Demise of the US Military-Industrial Complex

War Profiteers and the Demise of the US Military-Industrial Complex

Within the vast bureaucratic sprawl of the Pentagon there is a group in charge of monitoring the general state of the military-industrial complex and its continued ability to fulfill the requirements of the national defense strategy. Office for acquisition and sustainment and office for industrial policy spends some $100,000 a year producing an Annual Report to Congress. It is available to the general public. It is even available to the general public in Russia, and Russian experts had a really good time poring over it.

In fact, it filled them with optimism. You see, Russia wants peace but the US seems to want war and keeps making threatening gestures against a longish list of countries that refuse to do its bidding or simply don’t share its “universal values.” But now it turns out that threats (and the increasingly toothless economic sanctions) are pretty much all that the US is still capable of dishing out—this in spite of absolutely astronomical levels of defense spending. Let’s see what the US military-industrial complex looks like through a Russian lens.

It is important to note that the report’s authors were not aiming to force legislators to finance some specific project. This makes it more valuable than numerous other sources, whose authors’ main objective was to belly up to the federal feeding trough, and which therefore tend to be light on facts and heavy on hype. No doubt, politics still played a part in how various details are portrayed, but there seems to be a limit to the number of problems its authors can airbrush out of the picture and still do a reasonable job in analyzing the situation and in formulating their recommendations.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Suicidal Empire

The Suicidal Empire

There are a lot of behaviors being exhibited by those in positions of power in the US that seem disparate and odd. We watch Trump who is imposing sanctions on country after country, dreaming of eradicating his country’s structural trade deficit with the rest of the world. We watch pretty much all of US Congress falling over each other in their attempt to impose the harshest possible sanctions on Russia. People in Turkey, a key NATO country, are literally burning US dollars and smashing iPhones in a fit of pique. Confronted with a new suite of Russian and Chinese weapons systems that largely neutralize the ability of the US to dominate the world militarily, the US is setting new records in the size of its already outrageously bloated yet manifestly ineffectual defense spending. As a backdrop to this military contractor feeding frenzy, the Taliban are making steady gains in Afghanistan, now control over half the territory, and are getting ready to stamp “null and void,” in a repeat of Vietnam, on America’s longest war. A lengthening list of countries are set to ignore or compensate for US sanctions, especially sanctions against Iranian oil exports. In a signal moment, Russia’s finance minister has recently pronounced the US dollar “unreliable.” Meanwhile, US debt keeps galloping upwards, with its largest buyer being reported as a mysterious, possibly entirely nonexistent “Other.”

Although these may seem like manifestations of many different trends in the world, I believe that a case can be made that these are all one thing: the US—the world’s imperial overlord—standing on a ledge and threatening to jump, while its imperial vassals—too many to mention—are standing down below and shouting “Please, don’t jump!”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Killing Diplomacy — Dmitry Orlov

Killing Diplomacy — Dmitry Orlov

Dear Readers: Dmitry Orlov provides the best explanation of the latest allegation against Russia. His article is with his permission posted below. https://www.patreon.com/posts/killing-17570149?utm_medium=post_notification_email&utm_source=post_link&utm_campaign=patron_engagement&token=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJyZWRpc19rZXkiOiJpbnN0YW50LWFjY2Vzczo2N2VkNGVmNC0wMDc3LTQ3NDctYjU4Yi1kNzYzYzg4MTAwZjAifQ.AfxaEwhHCrd6yluMHpq51qdEK_RPveNvjiGahgE3A5U

The British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, confirms Orlov’s conclusion that UK diplomacy has collapsed. The UK government has produced zero evidence for its claim. Indeed, we do not even know if the alleged poisoning of a former British spy even occurred. Yet Boris Johnson purports to know that Putin himself made the “decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe for the first time since the Second World War.”
How would Boris Johnson know this? https://sputniknews.com/world/201803161062599631-johnson-boris-putin-skripal-poisoning/

Killing Diplomacy

Dmitry Orlov

There is the famous aphorism by Karl von Clausewitz: “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” This may be true, in many cases, but it is rarely a happy outcome. Not everybody likes politics, but when given a choice between politics and war, most sane people will readily choose politics, which, even when brimming with vitriol and riddled with corruption, normally remains sublethal. In relations between countries, politics is known as diplomacy, and it is a formal art that relies on a specific set of instruments to keep countries out of war. These include maintaining channels of communication to build trust and respect, exercises to seek common ground, and efforts to define win-win scenarios to which all sides would eagerly agree, including instruments for enforcing agreements.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Nuclear Solution

The Nuclear Solution

When, in the middle of a card game, you realize that you are about to lose your farm, your shirt and your first-born son, you may decide to go for the “nuclear option”: kicking over the card table while reaching for your revolver. Outcomes will vary, but they are by and large preferable to the one you foresee: one of extreme humiliation and poverty. You might be slow in reaching for it and die a painful but quick death from multiple gunshot wounds. You might be the quickest and either kill or disarm your opponents. Or your opponents might run for the exits, leaving you to pick up the money off the floor. The first of these outcomes may seem less than appealing; but supposing your fancy yourself well-armed and quick on the draw, and your opponents to be cowards, you may be able to persuade yourself that this is your best bet. As for worst-case scenarios, one possibility is that your foes will shoot the revolver out of your hand before you get a chance to fire, put a bullet in your gut, take your money, laugh at you, lock you in a woodshed and leave you to die slowly.

This situation is not too dissimilar to the one in which the US currently finds itself. Frankly, I would prefer to write on other subjects, but what is happening right now on our one and only planet is that there is a certain rather large and still influential country that is in the process of rapidly losing its collective mind. Having studied and observed the US over the past 40-odd years, and now observing it from a safe distance of nearly 8000 km, at the moment I can think of no more important subject to discuss, although I hope to get back to subjects more pleasant, peaceful and closer to home sometime soon.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Real Nuclear Threat

The Real Nuclear Threat

On January 26, 2017 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board has moved up its Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to metaphorical midnight, and it now stands at just 2.5 minutes to midnight. Why did the Board decide to make this change? Essentially, “because Donald Trump.” In other news, the Board also observed that although the Paris climate accord is a good thing, the climate is pretty close to midnight as well.

These are very serious people: well-educated, professional, some Nobel Prize winners—in a word, experts. We should trust their word. But then they trust Donald Trump’s word. What gives? Apparently, none of them are experts on Donald Trump. I don’t pretend to be one either, so for the paragraph that follows let me turn it over to my old friend and resident expert on all things Trump, Captain Obvious.

“If you look at Trump’s business dealings, he has been consistently cautious and risk-averse. If you look at his political maneuverings, and glance briefly at his book, The Art of the Deal, you discover that his negotiating technique always involves making an extreme first offer, then seeking compromise. And if you look at his Twitter feed, you discover that he loves to troll people. Have these respected Atomic Scientists been trolled? It would certainly appear that way…”

And so I remain entirely unimpressed by the untestable hypothesis espoused by the atomic experts that Trump’s mouth is capable of moving the minute hand of the doomsday clock. But I am even less impressed by something else: the complete and utter failure of these nuclear sages to understand what the actual nuclear threat is, which is, at this moment, becoming quite extreme. For this they may perhaps be forgiven; if all they do is read and listen to Western media sources, then they would never find out anything about it. Western intelligence sources are no better, seeing as they appear to have been “hacked by the Russians.”

In fact, it would appear that the only way to get an inkling of what’s really going on…

“Oops!”—A World War!

“Oops!”—A World War!

Over the past week or so I’ve been receiving a steady stream of emails demanding to know whether an all-out nuclear war is about to erupt between the US and Russia. I’ve been watching the situation develop more or less carefully, and have been offering my opinion, briefly, one on one, to a few people’s great relief, and now I will attempt to spread the cheer far and wide. In short, on the one hand, all-out nuclear annihilation remains quite unlikely, barring an accident. But, on the other hand, such an accident is by no means impossible, because when it comes to US foreign policy “Oops!” seems to be the operative term.

One reason to be cheerful is that any plan to attack Russia is bound to become mired in bureaucracy. Battle plans are developed by mid-rank people within the US military establishment, approved and forwarded up the chain of command by higher-rank people and finally signed off on by the Pentagon’s top brass and their civilian political accomplices. The top brass and the politicians may be delusional, megalomaniacal and inadvertently suicidal, but the mid-rank people who develop the battle plans are rarely suicidal. If a particular plan has no conceivable chance of victory but is quite likely to lead to them and their families and friends becoming vaporized in a nuclear blast, they are unlikely to recommend it.

Another reason to be cheerful is that Russia has carefully limited the Pentagon’s options. One plan that, in the popular imagination, could lead to an all-out war with Russia, would be the imposition of a no-fly zone over Syria. What many people miss is that it is not possible to impose a no-fly zone on a country with a sufficiently powerful air defense system, such as Syria. As a first step, the air defense system would have to be taken out, and the air campaign to do so would be very expensive and incur massive losses in both equipment and personnel. But then the Russians made this step significantly worse by introducing their S-300 system. This is an autonomous, tracked, mobile system that can blow objects out of the sky over much of Syria and some of Turkey. It is very difficult to keep track of, because it can use “shoot and scoot” tactics, launching an attack and crawling away in a random direction over rough terrain.

Shrinking the Technosphere—Video Trailer

Shrinking the Technosphere—Video Trailer

My next book has cleared galley proof stage and is scheduled for release in November. Please add your email to the list in the right-hand column to be notified as soon as it comes out. Meanwhile, here is the video trailer.

KunstlerCast with Dimitry Orlov

KunstlerCast with Dimitry Orlov

Kunstler: Hello and welcome to the KunstlerCast. Thanks for listening in. If you’d like to support this podcast, you can become a patron of the show by making a small monthly contribution through my Patreon page. To do that, you can either search for me on Patreon.com or use the link in the upper right hand corner of my website, kunstler.com. My guest today is Dmitry Orlov, an old friend of the podcast. He’s been here many times. He’s the author of Reinventing Collapse and many other books. He’s also become a publisher lately. One of the books that he’s published we shall be talking about today, 150-Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future by Rob O’Grady. I’m a long-time fan of Dmitry Orlov. He brings a clear eyed worldview and mordant sense of humor to the rather confusing and confounding events of our time. Listen up now. There will be a quiz as we discuss 150-Strong by Rob O’Grady. Tell the listeners, if you would, why I’m interviewing you about it and not Rob O’Grady.

Orlov: Well, Rob has sort of indicated that he’s perfectly comfortable with having me do interviews on his behalf and I’m happy to do it. I’m not only his publisher, I’m also his publicist. That’s suits both of us fine.

Kunstler: Is he shy?

Orlov: He’s not particularly shy. But he’s your typical engineer. He’s very soft spoken and talks in long paragraphs and that sort of thing. Maybe I’m a little bit more effective having done so many interviews over the years.

Kunstler: Well, it’s fine with me if we talk about this his book through you. I found it to be a bit of an intellectual puzzle box but let’s try to unwrap parts of the puzzle and see where it takes us.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Negative interest rates are coming to America

Negative interest rates are coming to America 

Well, that didn’t take long! Negative Interest Rate Policy appears to be a gift that keeps on giving.

Just a little while ago I wrote that, in essence, if the Federal Reserve wants to keep the financial party going a little bit longer, it will have to continue lowering interest rates to below zero, as this is the only way to keep broke debtors alive and prevent the gigantic debt bubble from imploding. And now we find out that the Federal Reserve has resolved any legal impediments (such as the Federal Reserve Act) that have kept it from doing just that.

To recap, negative interest rates are a way to pay debtors to hold onto their debt instead of defaulting on it or repudiating it, thus preventing the debt pyramid from pancaking and taking the entire financial system with it. But this effect is temporary, for at least two reasons.

First, negative interest rates are essentially a tax on savings, causing people to think of other ways to store their wealth: land, precious metals, boxes of brass knobs, what have you. In due course, money stops being regarded as wherewithal and starts being regarded as an unreliable way to conduct business.

Second, with a gigantic bubble in bonds now decades old and bond yields now going negative, it is a matter of time before the realization hits that negative-yield bonds are not any sort of safe haven. Their value is now strictly a matter of their market valuation, which can plummet the moment people decide to dump them, with no floor anywhere. After all, there are plenty of other ways to lose money, and negative-yield bonds are nothing special.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bureaucratic Insanity: Free to be Slaves

Bureaucratic Insanity: Free to be Slaves

Schools in America today are less concerned about the overall welfare of students than they are with making sure that they obey all the rules, no matter how pointless, and produce good test scores. The emphasis on mindless obedience and rote learning prepares them for dehumanizing office work, where employers don’t even try to pretend that they care about the welfare of their workers. Instead, they shame them for taking vacation time and force them to work overtime for free. Employers and school administrators only care about what they can produce: children are treated no differently from widgets, and employees are treated no differently from robots.

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the hierarchical power structure embodied in our rigidly regulated and controlled schools and jobs closely resembles the relationship between a master and a slave. But there is a difference: slaves are under no obligation to pretend that they are free and can be as sullen and apathetic as they wish. They know that they are property, they do the bare minimum to avoid punishment, and they cannot be shamed for such behavior any more than a lawn mower or a toaster oven. We, on the other hand, require both students and employees to cheerfully and meekly deny their slave-like status, and to perpetuate the fiction that they are not compelled to conform but are acting of their own free will. They are gradually driven insane by the chronic cognitive dissonance caused by the mismatch between their pretend-freedom and their all-too-real slavery. In the following excerpt from his new book, Bureaucratic Insanity: The American Bureaucrat’s Descent into Madness, Sean Kerrigan delves into the nature of this effect.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Voting Delusion

The Voting Delusion

This November, I heartily encourage all Americans to exercise their civic duty by going to the polls and voting for one of the dignified Presidential candidates that have amazed us this election cycle with their wisdom and compassion… not!

Unfortunately, this is not a laughing matter. A large segment of the U.S. population is now very aware of the fact that our political and economic systems have become totally corrupt. And yet these knowledgeable people still cling to the delusion that this tragic state of affairs can be changed by voting.

Every once in a while I gently attempt to discuss this topic in “polite company.” It is astonishing how ferociously these “polite” people defend the myth of the ballot box. And so I will try to disabuse these well-meaning citizens from this idealistic concept, which has been relentlessly programmed into us since grammar school. I assure you that I received the same brainwashing, and I once believed in the power and nobility of casting ballots. And indeed, voting probably did “make a difference” at one time.

But the world of power politics has changed drastically. I contend that voting is not just meaningless in our present situation, but that it is actually harmful. That is a pretty bold and provocative statement, but I will now do my best to defend this contrarian belief. I will attempt to do so in a concise but comprehensive manner.

· WHO ENCOURAGES YOU TO VOTE? – Is it the factory worker who lost his job due to NAFTA? Is it the college graduate with $25,000 in student debt and a job at Starbucks? Is it the Senior Citizen spending their supposed Golden Years working as a Walmart Greeter?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

150-Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future – Serialisation Part 3

150-Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future – Serialisation Part 3

“The more laws and commands there are,
the more thieves and robbers there will be.” Lao Tzu

150-STRONG

Information leaked in the Panama Papers about the use of tax havens certainly supports this statement! Under the cover of the law thieves and robbers have been maintaining their privilege and ultra-wealth by being tricky. Many of them are leaders – politicians, monarchs and business executives. “I have done nothing illegal,” they say as their souls disappear a little further into a fog. And from the germ of their example a cancer grows.

Rules work best when they are kept to a minimum.

This I have seen illustrated in the context of the business I am involved in. We are a construction company employing approximately 150 people, a mix from all walks of life – old friends, relatives of workers who needed a job, qualified recruits who fitted the mold, troubled youth recommended by the courts as worthy of a second chance, odd bods and colorful characters who fell into each others’ orbits. Some are very skilled and others developing.

We operate with very few rules. The main rule is that you must be accountable for your actions among your peers. Thanks to our systems of reporting, no information remains hidden for long, and no one is allowed to hide behind the manipulation of words, duplicity or attributing blame to others. There is little need for rules when regret and shame operate for those who fall short.

It is a system that requires that participants have a personal relationship with each other, where they know each other well enough to care and to understand, beyond a superficial level, what is going on. Moderation and maturity are required, because exposing the foibles of others can be exploited as an opportunity for persecution, blame and cavilling.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future – Serialisation Part 2

150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future – Serialisation Part 2

When we find ourselves in need of a miracle there is a simple formula that can be applied: “Don’t panic, take stock, and do the next logical thing.” If we apply this formula, hold our course and maintain a positive outlook, the white knight of providence may intercede on our behalf.

That is not to say that the relationship between action and consequence can be avoided. There is no magic wand for the absolution of a life of feckless excess. In the case of our collective consumption binge, we have brought about the sixth mass-extinction event (to add to the previous ones, which are evident in the Earth’s geologic record), we have created a shambolic financial system of gross imbalance, and we have allowed our culture to degrade so far that a figure as flawed as that of Donald Trump has been allowed to become a credible candidate for the position of the world’s supposedly most powerful person. It would be a long way back to some semblance of a reasonable equilibrium.

But we should not give up hope. If we work through our collective karma, we might find that there is the potential for regeneration.

As far as stoic perseverance in the face of testing circumstances is concerned, we are doing this part quite well. Panic levels are low. We have taken on board recent information about the extraordinary warming of our planet, the impending financial collapse and the degeneration of our systems of government into a total farce, and have just kept going. An eerie feeling of normalcy is being maintained without much effort.

However, we seem to be falling short in “taking stock.”
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future – Serialisation

150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future – Serialisation

Creative capitalism, ethical capitalism, altruistic capitalism, natural capitalism, green capitalism, distributed and democratic capitalism. Capitalism 2.0?

Capitalism comes with a potpourri of sweet-scented prefixes, all of which presume that there is something wrong with capitalism per se. There are some other prefixes we commonly hear—crony capitalism and unbridled capitalism—that suggest that we aren’t doing it right.

Perhaps it is Goldilocks capitalism we need? Not too mean, with just the right amount of good will and charity, a measured dose of state regulation, a safety net – not too big and not too small, and the rest left to the free market?

Or is capitalism just capitalism in the context of people being people? The system swings between the poles of libertarianism and social democracy according to the changing tides of voter opinion. Some capitalists have more feeling for their fellow humans than others, while there are always greedy, selfish sorts lurking to do one over the rest of us, and certain trends are inevitable according to the incentive structure inherent in the system.

It is this last point, that outcomes tend to be inevitable according to the incentive structure operating, that serves as the starting point for a book I have recently written, titled 150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future, published by ClubOrlov Press. Over the coming weeks it will be serialised on Renegade Inc, with extracts presented.

On the topic of incentives, the book begins with an Author’s Note:

This book began as a response to the use of the word “sustainability,” a concept I became connected to through my training in sustainability engineering: the design and incorporation of environmentally-friendly practices into commerce and industry. It is based on principles such as these:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Always Attack the Wrong Country

Always Attack the Wrong Country

Chor Boogie

There are numerous tactics available to those who aim to make problems worse while pretending to solve them, but misdirection is always a favorite. The reason to want to make problems worse is that problems are profitable—for someone. And the reason to pretend to be solving them is that causing problems, then making them worse, makes those who profit from them look bad.

In the international arena, this type of misdirection tends to take on a farcical aspect. The ones profiting from the world’s problems are the members of the US foreign policy and military establishments, the defense contractors and the politicians around the world, and especially in the EU, who have been bought off by them. Their tactic of misdirection is conditioned by a certain quirk of the American public, which is that it doesn’t concern itself too much with the rest of the world. The average member of the American public has no idea where various countries are, can’t tell Sweden from Switzerland, thinks that Iran is full of Arabs and can’t distinguish any of the countries that end in -stan. And so a handy trick has evolved, which amounts to the following dictum: “Always attack the wrong country.”

Need some examples? After 9/11, which, according to the official story (which is probably nonsense) was carried out by “suicide bombers” (some of them, amusingly, still alive today) who were mostly from Saudi Arabia, the US chose to retaliate by attacking Saudi ArabiaAfghanistan and Iraq.

When Arab Spring erupted (because a heat wave in Russia drove up wheat prices) the obvious place to concentrate efforts, to avoid a seriously bad outcome for the region, was Egypt—the most populous Arab country and an anchor for the entire region. And so the US and NATO decided to attack EgyptLibya.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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