Revising History

The good, the Bad, and the Downright Weird


By Michael Chester


Lately there has been a lot of talk about people trying to revise history.  People act like this is something new, but it has been going on since history was first recorded.  It has been said that in wars, the history books are written

by the winners.  This is definitely true.  In American history, we read about our brave patriots fighting against all odds and beating the great British empire in our revolution. Imagine for a moment if modern news reporting, using 21st century language was available back then in England.

News of the World (A Newscorp Co.)  Exclusive – Dateline Boston, Massachusetts, The American Colonies

The insurgency continues here despite our troops valiant efforts.  Rebel forces are still employing barbaric tactics against our loyal troops.  The insurgents use snipers carefully hidden along roads and murder our troops as they attempt to peacefully move down the road It is impossible to tell loyalists from insurgents by their appearance. The rebel forces dress in the style of the locals and unless caught red handed, after they commit

their heinous acts, they blend into the indigenous population. Posing as ignorant native savages, they are able to sneak about unnoticed. The rebels also use strategies developed by these savages which our troops are not familiar and this gives them an unfair advantage. Working with these savages, they are able to travel virtually undetected by our troops. Local militia groups have formed with no central command. They obviously know nothing about the proper way to fight a war. They employ roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs) often disguised as innocent looking, everyday items.

Our loyal troops are lured into ambushes and are brutally murdered by these devices.  In a related story, the French Navy seems to be aiding the insurgents by shooting at British ships bringing troops and supplies. It seems that the French will stop at nothing to inflict as much pain as possible to our people, even siding with the savage rebels.  The search for insurgent leader, George Washington continues, but we are told by reliable

sources that the rebels have constructed an elaborate underground command and control bunker consisting of a maze of caves and tunnels where he can move about the country at will without detection.  These are not your ordinary caves, they are equipped with all the modern equipment available, including the latest in high tech lanterns, stockpiles of muskets, powder and projectiles, along with the precursor ingredients necessary to create WMDs and IEDs.

Fortunately, our troops were able to receive a message from Paul Revere who is imbedded with the insurgents.  He has warned us that the rebels will not let us take their guns away. This allows us to avoid the embarrassment of asking for their guns and being told no.

As you can see, it all depends on your point of view. Most of we learned in American history is, at best, a glorifying distortion of what really happened or a downright lie. It starts with the “discovery” of America. There were people here long before the Europeans discovered the Americas.  The Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is mostly fiction. The history books make it sound like it was all a vast wilderness which is not true.  The Pilgrims were welcomed by the native people who already had cleared the land and were farming it.  There were towns and trails in existence.  They taught the settlers about the native fruits and vegetables and taught

them how to grow them.  The settlers felt that they had a divine right to take what they wanted.  They sometimes would find an Indian who was a bit shady and “buy” land from him.  The problem was that the land was not his to sell as the Indians believed that the land belonged to all and the concept of land being the property of a person or group was not fathomable.  Many Indians were captured and sold into slavery, often being shipped across the Atlantic in exchange for African slaves. That way both groups would be unlikely to

escape since they did not know the area where they were held. In the end, the worst thing that the Europeans unintentionally brought with them were European and African diseases that the native Americans had no natural resistance to. Millions died, many from the basic childhood illnesses that were routine until very recently.  Of course, the settlers had no concept of germs causing illness.  They thought that disease was a punishment from God so when the Indians got sick and they did not, they assumed that God was on their side

and the Indians had done something to offend Him. Most of us have heard about the Louisiana Purchase where the US “bought” the entire middle of the country from France for fifteen million dollars. The problem is that France did not actually own the land. They had only done basic exploration and said that it was theirs. In reality, the US bribed them to give up any future claim to it. These are a couple of small examples and there are thousands more, but I am not writing a history book.  If you want to learn more about this and many other

historical inaccuracies, I suggest reading Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen.  It is a good starting point for getting a clearer picture of our real history.  I have a friend who was a history major in college and he tells me that when he graduated and began to do his own research, he found that most of what he had learned was wrong.  These are examples of negative revisions of history and they continue to the present.

Fairly recently a new group of historians are giving a positive meaning to revising history.  Their goal is to go back and do new research to correct the historical errors. The book I cited is a good, but generally acceptable example. Much more controversial are works concerning World War Two and the time since.  One of the better known “revisionist” historians is the British scholar David Irving.  His area of expertise is Europe in WW-II.  Rather than to simply rehash what others had written, he chose to go to the original source. He went to

the places where events happened and studied legal documents that others had skipped over.  At the time of his most intense research, there were many people still alive who had lived through the events.   He carefully interviewed them and was often able to get access to personal journals from the major players.  When his first book about the bombing of Dresden was published, he was honored for his thorough and detailed research. Then he decided to write a new biography of Adolph Hitler using his detailed research techniques.  His

reputation from the Dresden book allowed him to gain the trust of Hitler’s closest associates and he got access to files never before seen by an outsider. What he found was a man who was very charismatic, an excellent politician, and a very bright person who really cared about Germany and its people, though he made some very bad choices. In no way did he glorify Hitler or excuse the evil acts that he ordered, but painting him as less than the total monster that was the “proper” thing to do landed Irving on the wrong list. I call it the fecal file. Among

other things, he found that Hitler did not want a war with Britain as he felt that the English and the Germans were kindred spirits. Early in the war, he offered Churchill a deal; he would withdraw from France and all of Western Europe and he wanted Britain to join with Germany to destroy the Soviet Union. For largely personal political ambitions , Churchill turned him down. The one item that got him in the most trouble was when he revealed that in studying the official records of the German High Command and Hitler’s personal papers, he

was not able to find one document ordering the setting up of death camps. This revelation goes against all of the officially accepted beliefs and its mere mention is a serious crime in Europe and many other parts of the world.  Being a stubborn man who felt that he was on to something, this only prompted him to dig even deeper and he began to question the whole story of the holocaust.  He has been called a holocaust denier which is not true.  He acknowledges that there were labor camps where many innocent people died, but questions the

official numbers and the original intent of the camps. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, much more information has become available and Irvinghas found that the Germans murdered over a million innocent people on the eastern front and buried them in mass graves. Horrible as this is, they murdered them on the spot; they did not ship them off to death camps, and their religious affiliations did not matter. Saying anything that deviates in the slightest from the official story is cause for immediate arrest in Europe and in 2005 Irving

was arrested in Vienna and held for 14 months in a barbaric prison built in 1839 for comments he made in 1989.  After intense pressure from people around the world, particularly writers, the courts found a technicality to allow his release. Due to his controversial nature, his publishers have dropped him. He has generously made his work available online for free download.

YouTube – Veterans Today –

He is not the only historian to be arrested for daring to question what really happened. Ernst Zundel, the husband of VT’s outstanding writer, Ingrid Zundel was prosecuted in Canada for making similar remarks.  She has written extensively about this, so I will not repeat it here. She is the expert having lived through it. I only read about it. There have been others also.Recently, the 9-11 truth movement has been trying to revise the official story as to what really happened that fateful day in 2001.  They have experienced many much more

subtle forms of censorship and ridicule and several have mysteriously had ‘accidents’ or “committed suicide.” Since trust in our government is at an all time low, many people are now willing to examine alternate theories and the movement seems to be gaining some steam.  It is  doubtful that we will ever know the whole truth; after all it has been 48 years since the JFK assassination and we are still debating what really happened. That does not mean that we should not try, however.

What puzzles me the most in all this is if the official history is the truth, why does it need to be defended by the power of law? What are they trying to hide? If Irving, Zundel, and the others are wrong, why not simply challenge their facts and conclusions. It is ridiculous that countries that claim to value freedom, still employ the thought police.  Telling people what they have to believe under penalty of law is what we are allegedly fighting the Taliban to get rid of.  The right to think for yourself and express your thoughts is one of the real freedoms we still have. I suggest that you exercise this right as much and as often as you can. If we are not vigilant, it could be taken away.



The Middle East & then the World Globalist blitzkrieg signals largest geopolitical reordering since WW2.

analysis by Tony Cartalucci

Beginning in North Africa, now unfolding in the Middle East and Iran, and soon to spread to Eastern Europe and Asia, the globalist fueled color revolutions are attempting to profoundly transform entire regions of the planet in one sweeping move. It is an ambitious gambit, perhaps even one born of desperation, with the globalists’ depravity and betrayal on full display to the world with no opportunity to turn back now.

To understand the globalists’ reasoning behind such a bold move, it helps to understand their ultimate end game and the obstacles standing between them and their achieving it.

The End Game

The end game of course is a world spanning system of global governance. This is a system controlled by Anglo-American financiers and their network of global institutions ensuring the world’s consolidated nations conform to a singular system they can then perpetually fleece. As megalomaniacal oligarchs, their singular obsession is the consolidation and preservation of their power. This will be achieved through a system of population control, industrial control, and monetary control, which together form the foundation of their Malthusian policies.

These policies are on full display in the UN’s „Agenda 21,” and by policy wonks like the current White House Science Adviser John Holdren in his book titled „Ecoscience.”

Malthusian as their policies may be, they surely do not believe the world is in danger due to over-population or the environmental hazards posed by industrial progress. Instead, like all tyrants in history, they are establishing a convincing narrative to defend the immense concentration of undue power within their elitist hands and the implementation of measures to ensure such power stays in their hands indefinitely.

The immediate dangers posed to their plans are numerous, including an alternative media increasingly exposing the true nature of their agenda, and thus awakening a vast number of people who simply refuse to go along with it. There is also national sovereignty, where nations are openly challenging this Anglo-American centric world order and refusing to implement the conditions of their own enslavement.

These sweeping color revolutions, and coordinated military operations, both overt and covert, are dealing with the latter of these two challenges, while censorship, cognitive infiltration, and a tightening police state spanning the Western world under the very false premise of a „War on Terror” confronts the former.

Red = US-backed destabilization, Blue = US occupying/stationed.
China’s oil and seaways are all covered.

The Middle East

With the globalist fueled destabilization in progress, concessions and regime changes are being made from Jordan to Egypt, all in the name of „democratization.” The protesters’ calls are verbatim repeats of the their local US funded NGOs’ mission statements. Skeptical as many may be that all of this is being orchestrated by the West, one needs only read the RAND Corporation’s 2007 report titled „Building Moderate Muslim Networks” where breathtaking confessions are made to not only reorder the Muslim world according to the West’s interests, but how they would follow the same model of „civil society networks” they have already used for decades during the Cold War.

Egypt’s recent „transition” played out as a direct translation of RAND’s blueprint for meddling in the Muslim world. From the protest organizers and NGOs to the protest leaders, to the behind-the-scenes meddling by America’s military leadership, the Egyptian uprising was entirely a US production. Even the drafting of the new Egyptian Constitution is being carried out by organizations funded by George Soros and the US National Endowment for Democracy.

The regional destabilization is resetting the geopolitical board in favor for a renewed effort to affect regime change in Iran. It has been extensively covered that the globalists have intricate and extensive plans, in the form of Brookings Institute’s „Which Path to Persia?” report, to fund color revolutions, support terrorism inside of the Islamic Republic and even provoke war with a nation they concede would rather avoid conflict. No sooner did North African and Arab regimes begin to crumble did the „Green Revolution” in Iran start up again. As if reiterating the summation of Brookings’ report, the globalist Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has recently and overtly called on the US to back the „Green Revolution.”

Iran’s fall to the globalists, the extraction of its wealth, and the end of its support for Chinese and Russian economic and military ambitions would isolate the so-called Shanghai Cooperative Organization further.

NATO creeping forward, suffering failures in Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia.

Russia’s Encirclement

Russia, along with China appear to be the two biggest blocs of opposition to the Anglo-American establishment. Indeed there are plenty of people and organizations within each nation gladly working hand-in-hand with the globalists, who in turn, are overtly trying to tempt and coerce the two nations to integrate themselves into their global world order.

Men like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who rose to power in Russia amongst an era of immense corruption, began building networks of NGOs modeled directly after those of the Anglo-Americans in the West, even naming this network the „Open Russian Foundation” after George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. According to geopolitical researcher William Engdahl, this Open Russian Foundation included Henry Kissinger and Lord Jacob Rothschildon its board of directors and its goal was to transform Russia from a sovereign state and into something more palatable for globalist consumption.

Whatever Khdorkovsky’s early successes may have been, they were cut short by Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin, who has safely confined Khodorkovsky behind the bars of a Siberian prison. Today, Khdorkovsky receives lobbying and legal services from notorious globalist lawyer Robert Amsterdam who leads international efforts to vilify Russia and justify the nation’s encirclement by NATO.

After Tunisia fell and protests began brewing in Egypt, Foreign Policy magazine published the Freedom House’s list of „Who’s Next?” On the list was Belarus’ Aleksandr Lukashenko, leader of a European nation directly bordering Russia’s western border, staring Moscow in the face.NATO itself admits the reluctance of Belarus to join its now unjustified organization, while the mainstream media berates the Belarusian government for putting down protests launched after the results of recent elections that saw the Western-backed opposition defeated.

Looking at a map of Russia, not a nation touching its borders has been spared the globalist treatment, from the Ukraine and their US-backed Orange Revolution, to Georgia and its US-backed invasion of South Ossetia. For Russia, they seem more than prepared to fight back, humiliating the US-trained and equipped Georgian military on the battlefield and overseeing the results of the US-funded Orange Revolution overturned, with Ukrainian talks to join NATO halted.

By targeting the Middle East, and in particular Iran, which both China and Russia have been using to check the West’s world domineering ambitions, the globalists’ hope is to renew political unrest in Russia’s satellite regions and complete its campaign of encircling Russia, thus forcing it to concede to its place amongst the new global order.

SSI’s „String of Pearls:” China’s oil lifeline.

China’s String of Pearls

It is no secret China depends on oil imports to not only keep its economy growing, but to keep its vast population busy and prosperous, thus keeping the ruling government in power. This has been a long known realism by both China and the West. For China’s part, they have begun building a presence on continental Africa, especially in Sudan where they have established a 1,000 mile oil pipeline from the vast nation’s heartland to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. They have also provided relief to the country from UN sanctions and buys the majority of Sudan’s oil exports.

China also imports an immense amount of oil from Iran. In fact, the Islamic Republic represents the world’s second largest exporter of oil to China, behind Saudi Arabia.

From Sudan and Iran, across the Indian Ocean, and back to China’s shores in the South China Sea, represents a „String of Pearls,” or a series of geopolitical assets China is developing to protect this vital logistical route. This „String” includes a Chinese port in Pakistan’s Baluchistan region, another facility in Myanmar (Burma), and expanded facilities in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam. China is also building up the size and capabilities of its fleet, including submarines which now shadow America’s carrier groups, and the outfitting of their first aircraft carrier which is nearing completion.

The term „String of Pearls” was used as the title of the US Strategic Studies Institute’s (SSI) 2006 report „String of Pearls: Meeting the challenge of China’s rising power across the Asian littoral.” In this report, China’s ambitions to project its power along this route is viewed as a direct challenge to American supremacy as well as a threat to the West’s unipolar vision of a „new world order.”

While China may not be a champion of human freedom, they do appear to favor a multipolar world where sovereign nations coexist instead of the Anglo-American unipolar world where, unsurprisingly, the British and American oligarchs dominate the planet.

To prevent such a multipolar world from coming into existence, the SSI report suggests several strategies regarding China, from engaging and enticing it to become what globalist pusher Robert Zoellick calls a „responsible stakeholder” in the „international system,” to outright military confrontation and containment.

Of course this report was written in July 2006, and the ink hadn’t even dried before Israel suffered a humiliating defeat in its war with Lebanon, the war with Iran stalled, and globalist minion Thaksin Shinawtra was ousted from power in Thailand in a display of jealously defended sovereignty in Southeast Asia.

It appears that the globalists, over the following years, would present China with a flattering role to play in their global order while simultaneously destabilizing nearly every nation along the „String of Pearls.” The US has expanded its war in Afghanistan and is attempting to balkanize Pakistan in the process, specifically the Baluchistan region where China is establishing a naval presence. Pakistan’s Baluchistan region is also the seaside starting point of an energy and logistical conduit running northward through the Himalayas and into Chinese territory. The US is also heavily involved in destabilizing Myanmar (Burma) to affect regime change and subsequently establishing a Washington dependent government.

Thailand neighbors Myanmar to the east and possesses the narrow Kra Isthmus China would like to develop into a Suez/Panama Canal-like project to shorten trips for its oil laden, China-bound tankers. Thailand also serves as an overland conduit, running north and south as in Pakistan, with a developed rail system connecting Singapore’s shipping yards to Laos’ capital of Vientiane. China has begun the development of a rail system through Laos and the upgrading of Thailand’s rail system. Thailand also is one of the world’s largest rice exporters, which makes the nation vital to China’s future growth.

It is no surprise then, that Thailand, like Myanmar, has suffered multiple attempts by the US to affect regime change. Their man, Thaksin Shinawatra is an overt globalist, having formally served as an adviser to the Carlyle Group, and since his ousting from power in 2006, has been lobbied for by everyone from James Baker’s Baker Botts, to ICG’s Kenneth Adelman and theEdelman PR firm, to his current lobbyist and lawyer, Robert Amsterdam.

It is quite clear that Washington is using its control of the Middle East and its control of the seas, albeit challenged control, to check China’s vastly superior financial and economic position. It is also clear that Washington is investing a great amount of military resources and intelligence assets to destabilize the entire „String of Pearls” to confound, contain, and leverage concessions from China, with the ultimate goal of folding the emerging Asian giant into the unipolar Anglo-American global order.

How well this strategy is working is debatable, however, the US military is politically hobbled, strategically stretched, and led by vastly incompetent leaders in Washington who have lost the faith and trust of their own population, not to mention the world. The bold and perhaps desperate gambit the US is playing out in the Middle East could be a bid to rectify years of failure against China and the Shanghai Cooperative since the SSI wrote their report in 2006. Regime change in Iran is still the linchpin in making this latest bid a success.

South America

Even South America is not spared. There has been a lull in overt American meddling, allowing South America to become a bastion of sorts against the agents of globalization, however, covert operations and staging has been ongoing.

Troubling reports coming from South America’s Argentina, no stranger to the ire of Anglo-American ambitions, indicate that tension is building up between Buenos Aires and Washington. It has culminated in a diplomatic row over a recently seized US C-17 transport chalk full of suspicious equipment and an even more suspicious explanation. This is leading many, including the government of Argentina, to believe the US is staging another round of destabilization efforts in South America.

Venezuela and Bolivia have been overtly targeted by the West in recent years by efforts to undermine and even overthrow their respective governments. The muted-confused response over the coup in Honduras also raises suspicions that America has begun striking back against the wave of regional nationalism sweeping South America. A visit over to reveals that the US State Department/corporate funded organization is backing dissidents in Venezuela and encouraging the spread of „civil society,” gleefully noting the insidious effects it is having on bolstering the anti-Chavez opposition.


The recent US-backed wave of revolution sweeping the Middle East is just the beginning of a greater move to dislodge Iran and begin regaining ground against Russia and China after several years of disappointing results geopolitically. The ultimate goal in mind is to force Russia and China to accept their role as „responsible stakeholders” in the unipolar Anglo-American „new world order.” The unipolar world of Anglo-American financier domination requires that all competition be eliminated, all nations become interdependent, and most importantly, all governments conform to the globalists’ model of „civil society” which in turn answers to centralized global institutions.

Understanding the overarching plan reveals the danger of being apathetic or complacent about the current unrest in the Middle East. It will surely spread, and depending on the Shanghai Cooperative’s response and their determination to remain the masters of their own destiny, greater confrontation may ensue. For the United States and its dwindling power, its meaningless offers to the world’s nations to join their bankrupt, one-sided model of world governance, and their growing economic mire, there is no telling what their desperation may transform into. This unpredictability and desperation may be perhaps the only card they have left in their hand worth playing, and one that should trouble us all.

American Decline: Causes and Consequences-By: Noam Chomsky


In the 2011 summer issue of the journal of the American Academy of Political Science, we read that it is “a common theme” that the United States, which “only a few years ago was hailed to stride the world as a colossus with unparalleled power and unmatched appeal – is in decline, ominously facing the prospect of its final decay.” It is indeed a common theme, widely believed, and with some reason. But an appraisal of US foreign policy and influence abroad and the strength of its domestic economy and political institutions at home suggests that a number of qualifications are in order. To begin with, the decline has in fact been proceeding since the high point of US power shortly after World War II, and the remarkable rhetoric of the several years of triumphalism in the 1990s was mostly self-delusion. Furthermore, the commonly drawn corollary – that power will shift to China and India – is highly dubious. They are poor countries with severe internal problems. The world is surely becoming more diverse, but despite America’s decline, in the foreseeable future there is no competitor for global hegemonic power.


To review briefly some of the relevant history: During World War II, US planners recognized that the US would emerge from the war in a position of overwhelming power. It is quite clear from the documentary record that “President Roosevelt was aiming at United States hegemony in the postwar world,” to quote the assessment of diplomatic historian Geoffrey Warner. Plans were developed to control what was called a Grand Area, a region encompassing the Western Hemisphere, the Far East, the former British empire – including the crucial Middle East oil reserves – and as much of Eurasia as possible, or at the very least its core industrial regions in Western Europe and the southern European states. The latter were regarded as essential for ensuring control of Middle East energy resources. Within these expansive domains, the US was to maintain “unquestioned power” with “military and economic supremacy,” while ensuring the “limitation of any exercise of sovereignty” by states that might interfere with its global designs. The doctrines still prevail, though their reach has declined.



Wartime plans, soon to be carefully implemented, were not unrealistic. The US had long been by far the richest country in the world. The war ended the Depression and US industrial capacity almost quadrupled, while rivals were decimated. At the war’s end, the US had half the world’s wealth and unmatched security. Each region of the Grand Area was assigned its ‘function’ within the global system. The ensuing ‘Cold War’ consisted largely of efforts by the two superpowers to enforce order on their own domains: for the USSR, Eastern Europe; for the US, most of the world.





By 1949, the Grand Area was already seriously eroding with “the loss of China,” as it is routinely called. The phrase is interesting: one can only ‘lose’ what one possesses. Shortly after, Southeast Asia began to fall out of control, leading to Washington’s horrendous Indochina wars and the huge massacres in Indonesia in 1965 as US dominance was restored. Meanwhile, subversion and massive violence continued elsewhere in the effort to maintain what is called ‘stability,’ meaning conformity to US demands.


But decline was inevitable, as the industrial world reconstructed and decolonization pursued its agonizing course. By 1970, US share of world wealth had declined to about 25%, still colossal but sharply reduced. The industrial world was becoming ‘tripolar,’ with major centers in the US, Europe, and Asia – then Japan-centered – already becoming the most dynamic region.


Twenty years later the USSR collapsed. Washington’s reaction teaches us a good deal about the reality of the Cold War. The Bush I administration, then in office, immediately declared that policies would remain pretty much unchanged, but under different pretexts. The huge military establishment would be maintained, but not for defense against the Russians; rather, to confront the “technological sophistication” of third world powers. Similarly, they reasoned, it would be necessary to maintain “the defense industrial base,” a euphemism for advanced industry, highly reliant on government subsidy and initiative. Intervention forces still had to be aimed at the Middle East, where the serious problems “could not be laid at the Kremlin’s door,” contrary to half a century of deceit. It was quietly conceded that the problems had always been “radical nationalism,” that is, attempts by countries to pursue an independent course in violation of Grand Area principles. These policy fundamentals were not modified. The Clinton administration declared that the US has the right to use military force unilaterally to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.” It also declared that military forces must be “forward deployed” in Europe and Asia “in order to shape people’s opinions about us,” not by gentle persuasion, and “to shape events that will affect our livelihood and our security.” Instead of being reduced or eliminated, as propaganda would have led one to expect, NATO was expanded to the East. This was in violation of verbal pledges to Mikhail Gorbachev when he agreed to allow a unified Germany to join NATO.


Today, NATO has become a global intervention force under US command, with the official task of controlling the international energy system, sea lanes, pipelines, and whatever else the hegemonic power determines.


There was indeed a period of euphoria after the collapse of the superpower enemy, with excited tales about “the end of history” and awed acclaim for Clinton’s foreign policy. Prominent intellectuals declared the onset of a “noble phase” with a “saintly glow,” as for the first time in history a nation was guided by “altruism” and dedicated to “principles and values;” and nothing stood in the way of the “idealistic New World bent on ending inhumanity,” which could at last carry forward unhindered the emerging international norm of humanitarian intervention.


Not all were so enraptured. The traditional victims, the Global South, bitterly condemned “the so-called ‘right’ of humanitarian intervention,” recognizing it to be just the old “right” of imperial domination. More sober voices at home among the policy elite could perceive that for much of the world, the US was “becoming the rogue superpower,” considered “the single greatest external threat to their societies,” and that “the prime rogue state today is the United States.” After Bush Jr. took over, increasingly hostile world opinion could scarcely be ignored. In the Arab world particularly, Bush’s approval ratings plummeted. Obama has achieved the impressive feat of sinking still lower, down to 5% in Egypt and not much higher elsewhere in the region.


Meanwhile, decline continued. In the past decade, South America has been ‘lost.’ The ‘threat’ of losing South America had loomed decades earlier. As the Nixon administration was planning the destruction of Chilean democracy, and the installation of a US-backed Pinochet dictatorship – the National Security Council warned that if the US could not control Latin America, it could not expect “to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world.”


But far more serious would be moves towards independence in the Middle East. Post WWII planning recognized that control of the incomparable energy reserves of the Middle East would yield “substantial control of the world,” in the words of the influential Roosevelt advisor A.A. Berle.
Correspondingly, that loss of control would threaten the project of global dominance that was clearly articulated during World War II and has been sustained in the face of major changes in world order ever since.


Wall Street street sign is displayed, in New York. (AP – Mark Lennihan)


A further danger to US hegemony was the possibility of meaningful moves towards democracy. New York Times executive editor Bill Keller writes movingly of Washington’s “yearning to embrace the aspiring democrats across North Africa and the Middle East.” But recent polls of Arab opinion reveal very clearly that functioning democracy where public opinion influences policy would be disastrous for Washington. Not surprisingly, the first few steps in Egypt’s foreign policy after ousting Mubarak have been strongly opposed by the US and its Israeli client.


While longstanding US policies remain stable, with tactical adjustments, under Obama there have been some significant changes. Military analyst Yochi Dreazen observes in the Atlantic that Bush’s policy was to capture (and torture) suspects, while Obama simply assassinates them, with a rapid increase in terror weapons (drones) and the use of Special Forces, many of them assassination teams. Special Forces are scheduled to operate in 120 countries. Now as large as Canada’s entire military, these forces are, in effect, a private army of the president, a matter discussed in detail by American investigative journalist Nick Turse on the website Tomdispatch. The team that Obama dispatched to assassinate Osama bin Laden had already carried out perhaps a dozen similar missions in Pakistan.


As these and many other developments illustrate, though America’s hegemony has declined, its ambition has not.


Another common theme, at least among those who are not willfully blind, is that American decline is in no small measure self-inflicted. The comic opera in Washington this summer, which disgusts the country (a large majority think that Congress should just be disbanded) and bewilders the world, has few analogues in the annals of parliamentary democracy. The spectacle is even coming to frighten the sponsors of the charade. Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists they helped put in office in Congress may choose to bring down the edifice on which their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their interests.


The eminent American philosopher John Dewey once described politics as “the shadow cast on society by big business,” warning that “attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance.” Since the 1970s, the shadow has become a dark cloud enveloping society and the political system. Corporate power, by now largely financial capital, has reached the point that both political organizations, which now barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate.





For the public, the primary domestic concern, rightly, is the severe crisis of unemployment. Under current circumstances, that critical problem can be overcome only by a significant government stimulus, well beyond the recent one, which barely matched decline in state and local spending, though even that limited initiative did probably save millions of jobs. For financial institutions the primary concern is the deficit. Therefore, only the deficit is under discussion. A large majority of the population favor addressing the deficit by taxing the very rich (72% for, 21% opposed). Cutting health programs is opposed by overwhelming majorities (69% Medicaid, 79% Medicare). The likely outcome is therefore the opposite.





Reporting the results of a study of how the public would eliminate the deficit, its director, Steven Kull, writes that „clearly both the administration and the Republican-led House are out of step with the public’s values and priorities in regard to the budget…The biggest difference in spending is that the public favored deep cuts in defense spending, while the administration and the House propose modest increases…The public also favored more spending on job training, education, and pollution control than did either the administration or the House.”


The costs of the Bush-Obama wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now estimated to run as high as $4.4 trillion – a major victory for Osama bin Laden, whose announced goal was to bankrupt America by drawing it into a trap. The 2011 military budget – almost matching that of the rest of the world combined – is higher in real terms than at any time since World War II and is slated to go even higher.


The deficit crisis is largely manufactured as a weapon to destroy hated social programs on which a large part of the population relies. Economics correspondent Martin Wolf of the London Financial Times writes that “it is not that tackling the US fiscal position is urgent…. The US is able to borrow on easy terms, with yields on 10-year bonds close to 3 percent, as the few non-hysterics predicted. The fiscal challenge is long term, not immediate.” Very significantly, he adds: “The astonishing feature of the federal fiscal position is that revenues are forecast to be a mere 14.4 percent of GDP in 2011, far below their postwar average of close to 18 percent. Individual income tax is forecast to be a mere 6.3 percent of GDP in 2011. This non-American cannot understand what the fuss is about: in 1988, at the end of Ronald Reagan’s term, receipts were 18.2 percent of GDP. Tax revenue has to rise substantially if the deficit is to close.” Astonishing indeed, but it is the demand of the financial institutions and the super-rich, and in a rapidly declining democracy, that’s what counts.


Though the deficit crisis is manufactured for reasons of savage class war, the long-term debt crisis is serious, and has been ever since Ronald Reagan’s fiscal irresponsibility turned the US from the world’s leading creditor to the world’s leading debtor, tripling national debt and raising threats to the economy that were rapidly escalated by George W. Bush. But for now, it is the crisis of unemployment that is the gravest concern.



The final ‘compromise’ on the crisis – more accurately, a capitulation to the far right – is the opposite of what the public wants throughout, and is almost certain to lead to slower growth and long-term harm to all but the rich and corporations, which are enjoying record profits. Few serious economists would disagree with Harvard economist Lawrence Summers that “America’s current problem is much more a jobs and growth deficit than an excessive budget deficit,” and that the deal reached in Washington in August, though preferable to a highly unlikely default, is likely to cause further harm to a deteriorating economy.


Not even discussed is the fact that the deficit would be eliminated if the dysfunctional privatized health care system in the US were replaced by one similar to other industrial societies, which have half the per person costs and at least comparable health outcomes. The financial institutions and pharmaceutical industry are far too powerful for such options even to be considered, though the thought seems hardly Utopian. Off the agenda for similar reasons are other economically sensible options, such as a small financial transactions tax.


Meanwhile, new gifts are regularly lavished on Wall Street. The House Appropriations Committee cut the budget request for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the prime barrier against financial fraud. The Consumer Protection Agency is unlikely to survive intact. And Congress wields other weapons in its battle against future generations. In the face of Republican opposition to environmental protection, “A major American utility is shelving the nation’s most prominent effort to capture carbon dioxide from an existing coal-burning power plant, dealing a severe blow to efforts to rein in emissions responsible for global warming,” the New York Times reports.


The self-inflicted blows, while increasingly powerful, are not a recent innovation. They trace back to the 1970s, when the national political economy underwent major transformations, bringing to an end what is commonly called “the Golden Age” of (state) capitalism. Two major elements were financialization and offshoring of production, both related to the decline in rate of profit in manufacturing, and the dismantling of the post-war Bretton Woods system of capital controls and regulated currencies. The ideological triumph of “free market doctrines,” highly selective as always, administered further blows, as they were translated into deregulation, rules of corporate governance linking huge CEO rewards to short-term profit, and other such policy decisions. The resulting concentration of wealth yielded greater political power, accelerating a vicious cycle that has led to extraordinary wealth for a tenth of one percent of the population, mainly CEOs of major corporations, hedge fund managers, and the like, while for the large majority real incomes have virtually stagnated.





In parallel, the cost of elections skyrocketed, driving both parties even deeper into corporate pockets. What remains of political democracy has been undermined further as both parties have turned to auctioning congressional leadership positions. Political economist Thomas Ferguson observes that “uniquely among legislatures in the developed world, U.S. congressional parties now post prices for key slots in the lawmaking process.” The legislators who fund the party get the posts, virtually compelling them to become servants of private capital even beyond the norm. The result, Ferguson continues, is that debates “rely heavily on the endless repetition of a handful of slogans that have been battle tested for their appeal to national investor blocs and interest groups that the leadership relies on for resources.





The post-Golden Age economy is enacting a nightmare envisaged by the classical economists, Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Both recognized that if British merchants and manufacturers invested abroad and relied on imports, they would profit, but England would suffer. Both hoped that these consequences would be averted by home bias, a preference to do business in the home country and see it grow and develop. Ricardo hoped that thanks to home bias, most men of property would “be satisfied with the low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations.


In the past 30 years, the “masters of mankind,” as Smith called them, have abandoned any sentimental concern for the welfare of their own society, concentrating instead on short-term gain and huge bonuses, the country be damned – as long as the powerful nanny state remains intact to serve their interests.


A graphic illustration appeared on the front page of the New York Times on August 4. Two major stories appear side by side. One discusses how Republicans fervently oppose any deal “that involves increased revenues” – a euphemism for taxes on the rich. The other is headlined “Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves.” The pretext for cutting taxes on the rich and corporations to ridiculous lows is that they will invest in creating jobs – which they cannot do now as their pockets are bulging with record profits.


The developing picture is aptly described in a brochure for investors produced by banking giant Citigroup. The bank’s analysts describe a global society that is dividing into two blocs: the plutonomy and the rest. In such a world, growth is powered by the wealthy few, and largely consumed by them. Then there are the ‘non-rich,’ the vast majority, now sometimes called the global precariat, the workforce living a precarious existence. In the US, they are subject to “growing worker insecurity,” the basis for a healthy economy, as Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan explained to Congress while lauding his performance in economic management. This is the real shift of power in global society.


The Citigroup analysts advise investors to focus on the very rich, where the action is. Their “Plutonomy Stock Basket,” as they call it, far outperformed the world index of developed markets since 1985, when the Reagan-Thatcher economic programs of enriching the very wealthy were really taking off.


Before the 2007 crash for which the new post-Golden Age financial institutions were largely responsible, these institutions had gained startling economic power, more than tripling their share of corporate profits. After the crash, a number of economists began to inquire into their function in purely economic terms. Nobel laureate in economics Robert Solow concludes that their general impact is probably negative: “the successes probably add little or nothing to the efficiency of the real economy, while the disasters transfer wealth from taxpayers to financiers.”


By shredding the remnants of political democracy, they lay the basis for carrying the lethal process forward – as long as their victims are willing to suffer in silence.


Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.


The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect al-Akhbar’s editorial policy.

NATO Destroys Yet Another Country

August 26, 2011 „Pakistan Observer” – Some years ago, in the Indian site, this columnist had written of the NATO militaries as resembling an army of simians. Such a force – if let loose within a confined space – can create immense damage, but are unable to clean up the resultant mess. This is precisely what the world has witnessed in Iraq. Despite more than a decade of sanctions that directly resulted in nearly a million extra deaths during that period ( because of shortages created by the UN-approved measures), the regime of Saddam Hussein was able to provide food, energy and housing to the people of Iraq, whereas eight years after “liberation” by key NATO members, the country and its population are worse off than before the 2003 invasion that led to the execution of Saddam Hussein. As for Afghanistan, after a decade of the world’s most modern military force fighting against a ragtag band of insurgents, more than a third of the country is back in the hands of the Taliban, while a fifth of the rest is on the brink of a similar fate. As a consequence of its failure to subdue this force, NATO is desperately clutching at plans for engaging the “moderate Taliban”, an oxymoron if ever one was created.

Serbia has yet to recover from its brief burst of battle with NATO, and now Libya has joined the lengthening list of countries devastated by the attentions of NATO. Clearly, the top brass in a military alliance designed to do battle in Europe against the USSR were reluctant to close shop. They have therefore redesigned NATO as a military instrument with multiple uses, especially against “asymmetric threats”, a term which refers to countries that have ramshackle militaries. Both Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gaddafy followed the dictates of the NATO powers in surrendering whatever WMD was in their possession, unlike Syria and North Korea, two countries that have been left undisturbed by NATO as a consequence. Clearly, military planners within the alliance are ready for action only against those rivals that have had their conventional capabilities degraded to the point at which they do not represent any significant risk against the alliance. Had George W Bush and Tony Blair truly believed their own rhetoric about Saddam Hussein having WMD, they would never have sent their armies into Iraq the way they did.

As mentioned in these columns, Gaddafy’s fate got sealed when he accepted the advice of his Europe-dazzled sons to disarm and place the survival of his regime in the hands of NATO. Since 2003, Muammar Gaddafy dismantled his WMD program, synchronised his intelligence services with that of NATO and generally accepted each of the prescriptions handed over to him. Had NATO been an alliance that respects reciprocity, all this ought to have made NATO turn as blind an eye to his battle with sections of the population as we have seen in the case of Bahrain, where the ruling family has been given a free hand to sort out the situation. Instead, the situation changed when Nicholas Sarkozy was informed by French banks that Colonel Gaddafy may withdraw the immense bank deposits of Libya from them to institutions in China, and when he learnt that several contracts that French enterprises were expecting to come to them would vanish because Gaddafy wanted to spend less on French military and other toys and more on social services. Libya had to be made an example of, lest other Arab governments think of shifting their money elsewhere than within the NATO bloc as a consequence of the loss of $1.3 trillion by the GCC and its people alone because of the financial fraud perpetrated in 2008 by banks and other financial entities headquartered within the NATO bloc.

These days, companies based within NATO are finding it difficult to retain the monopoly position they have enjoyed, sometimes for generations. In particular, Chinese companies are challenging them in numerous markets, as are companies based elsewhere in Asia, including within South Korea and India. As a consequence, they now rely on military force to retain their privileges. This has been illustrated with commendable transparency in the case of Iraq and Libya. In the latter case, even though the fumes of battle have not ceased (and are unlikely to), oil companies such as ENI and Total are hard at work figuring out the assets they can seize because of the local victories of the Sarkozy-appointed “National Transitional Council”. Interestingly, even though the NTC is a creation of Paris, the UN has accepted it as the legitimate government of Iraq. Indeed,in the 21st century the UN seems to have regressed into the period between 1919 and 1939,when the League of Nations awarded “mandates” to dominant countries that permitted them to rule weaker ones. In the past decade, similar mandates have been proferred in the case of Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. In the case of Libya, President Sarkozy’s takeover of the Libyan state via the creation of the NTC has been similarly legitimized by the UN in an astonishing abdication of principle.

However, just as in other locations, facts on the ground may not follow the script favoured by NATO. In the case of Libya, this columnist has warned for five months that the NATO intervention would only result in civil war and in the steady destruction of the infrastructure that made Libya one of the more prosperous countries in the region. All this is at risk today, as chaos descends in the form of armed gangs set loose by NATO across the country. Not that there is ever any chance of those responsible for such a catastrophe being held accountable by so-called “international” bodies, most of which are now firmly in the control of the NATO powers in a way that their own economies are not. Over the past decade, tens of thousands of civilian deaths have resulted from NATO operations, without even a mild protest from the International Court or the Human Rights Council. Such inaction is leading to the same loss of respect for the UN system as took place in the past with the League of Nations, which became seen as being controlled by a small group for their own purposes.

Whether it is Libya or any other country, each has the right to develop its societal dynamic in its own way. Unless a country poses a threat to others, the way Talban-controlled Afghanistan did, it is not legitimate target for international action. In the case of Libya, since 2003 Colonel Gaddafy disarmed his military of WMD and fully cooperated with the US-led War on Terror. His fate has become a lesson to others who may have been tempted to follow in his path of conciliation with NATO. Small wonder that the other regimes in the sights of NATO – Syria and Iran in particular – are in no hurry to follow the Libyan example. Rather than seek to finish off a leader who buried the hatchet publicly and fully the way Gaddafy did, NATO would have been better advised to show its magnanimity and its willingness to keep agreements in good faith. That would have acted as an incentive for Syria, Iran and even North Korea to follow suit, thereby making the globe a safer place. Today, all three states – understandably – have zero faith in the bona fides of the NATO powers, and as a consequence are each going their own way. Combine this with the economic desolation seen within NATO ( much of which has been caused by the huge spike in military spending caused by foreign adventures), and overall even the medium-term prognosis for NATO is dim, despite the smiles of congratulation at the advance of NATO proxies into Tripoli.

Unlike during the Vietnam war, when the Pentagon extensively sourced its procurement from Asia, the Bush-Cheney team sought to give US entities a monopoly over the supply of the items needed, even items as militarily inconsequential as toothpaste. The result of such an autarchic policy has been a big increase in spending, with the US alone spending more than a trillion dollars in its wars with Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, we have seen this use of the state machinery to block competition across several sectors. The EU, for example, has banned Indian pharmaceuticals from its market, despite the low cost and high quality of medicines produced in India. Just now, the EU has banned Samsung hi-tech products. A time will come when Asia bans German cars and French defense equipment in retaliation for the frequent bans on Asian products on specious grounds. The US and the EU cannot protect their way out of economic trouble. They need to give their citizens access to the benefits of a global market, rather than break every canon that they have been preaching for decades. As for NATO, it will soon become clear that while it may be possible to defeat a ramshackle force with the massive use of airpower, that may not translate into monopoly privileges over Libyan oil reserves. Should China or India come up with better terms than Italian or French companies, the people of Libya will ensure that their government act in a way that protects their interests, rather than only those of NATO. The use of military power for commercial advantage ought to have vanished when the 19th century did. Its reappearance in Iraq and Libya is a worrisome sign that NATO has not learnt the lessons of history.

—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India



The United States Of Europe: A Proposed “Economic Government” Would Integrate Europe To A Degree Not Seen Since The Roman Empire

Are you ready for “The United States Of Europe”?  The integration of Europe is about to go to another level.  As the European debt crisis deepens, there are cries all over the EU for full economic integration in Europe.  On Wednesday, French PresidentNicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent a letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy which stated that they want a new “economic government” for Europe to be formed.  According to the letter, Sarkozy and Merkel want the leaders of the eurozonecountries to “elect” a president for the new “economic government”.  The idea would be that the president would hold twice-yearly summits to address the debt problems that Europe is facing right now.  But many pro-EU critics are already howling that Sarkozy and Merkel have not gone nearly far enough.  A whole lot of “experts” in Europe are proclaiming that without full economic integration and the creation of “eurobonds”, Europe is doomed.  Jennifer McKeown, an economist for Capital Economics, put it this way when asked what would happen if eurobonds are not created fairly soon: “The likely outcome is the eurozone ceases to exist”.

This is often how huge changes occur in our world today.  First a huge problem is created, then there is a negative reaction and then a solution is presented to us.  Right now in Europe, the problem is the sovereign debtcrisis.  We are being told that the only way that the eurozone can survive is if all of the countries agree to much deeper economic integration.

In an article for Seeking Alpha, Cliff Wachtel broke down the choices facing the people of Europe in the following manner….

  • The continued existence of the EZ in its current form in exchange for vastly limited sovereignty. In particular, with limited financial autonomy, with some kind of centralized budget approval and or spending veto power over individual states.
  • Continued full sovereignty in exchange for a dissolved or radically altered EZ, probably one contracted down to member states with similar needs and reliable fiscal management.

Some choice, eh?

While some are applauding the possibility of increased integration in the eurozone, others are warning about the potential consequences.

For example, a Daily Mail article entitled “Rise of the Fourth Reich, how Germany is using the financial crisis to conquer Europe” contained the following assessment of what deeper economic integration for Europe would mean….

This would entail a loss of sovereignty not seen in those countries since many were under the jackboot of the Third Reich 70 years ago.

For be in no doubt what fiscal union means: it is one economic policy, one taxation system, one social security system, one debt, one economy, one finance minister. And all of the above would be German.

Nigel Farage was also deeply critical of the new proposal by Sarkozy and Merkel….

Bit by bit, eurozone members are losing their sovereignty as the European superstate is created. Nothing in these proposals will calm the markets. I am also prepared to bet that the European political elite will not ask the permission of their peoples via a referendum to make this happen.

But Sarkozy and Merkel seem unconcerned about the critics.  In fact, they have announced plans to have a common corporate tax rate by 2013 and to coordinate work on their national budgets.

So if the leadership of the German and French governments both want deeper economic integration for Europe, will anyone else in the eurozone be strong enough to resist it?

Probably not.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is already calling the proposals put forth by Sarkozy and Merkel “an important political contribution by the leaders of the two largest euro area economies to this debate and the on-going work.

Countries such as Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain are already deeply financially dependent on Germany.  Either they will have to leave the eurozone (which would be a financial disaster for them) or they will have to go along with what Germany and France want.

But economic integration in Europe certainly will not be easy.  There is still a lot of resistance in the EU to the idea of a “United States of Europe”.  Many in the northern countries are very opposed to further economic integration with the financially irresponsible nations of southern Europe.

Craig Alexander, the chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, recently made the following statement regarding the problems of trying to more fully integrate Europe.

“The problem is the political system in Europe can’t cope with the jump from the current system to a fiscal union in one go.”

So it will certainly be very interesting to see what happens.  There still is a very real chance that the EU could break up and the euro could implode.  Absolutely nothing is set in stone right now.

But the leaders of the EU are going to do whatever they can to keep it together.  They truly believe that a fully united Europe under the banner of the EU is what is best for the continent.

In the end, however, the real goal is to unite the entire world.  Regional governments such as the EU are seen as an intermediate step toward a truly global government.  As I have written about previously, the globalistshope one day to have a truly global economy that uses a new global currency.

In a recent opinion piece, former EU bigwig Javier Solana made the following statement….

Truly effective global governance is the strategic horizon that humanity must pursue today with all its energy.

It sounds difficult to achieve, and so it will be. But it has nothing to do with pessimism. The challenge of governing global risks is nothing less than the challenge of preventing the “end of history” – not as the placid apotheosis of liberal democracy’s global victory, but as the worst collective failure we can imagine.

People like Solana truly believe that if we can eventually unite the entire world that it will bring in a new era of peace and prosperity.

Many of them believe that if they can get the world to form 10 or 12 “regional unions” first, eventually they will be able to get all of those regional unions to form one giant global superstate.

Globalists such as Solana are convinced that they are doing this for the good of mankind.  They really believe that war and poverty can be wiped out if we are all under one giant government.

But as we have seen in the past, the larger the governments get, the worse the tyranny tends to become.  Setting up a “one world government” may seem like a good idea to some people, but the truth is that it would set the stage for greater oppression than we have ever seen before.

Those that love liberty and freedom should be 100% opposed to a “United States of Europe” and they should definitely be 100% opposed to a “one world government”.

Lessons of two wars: We will lose in Iraq and Afghanistan

One of the things that gets in the way of conducting good national security policy is a reluctance to call things by their right names and state plainly what is really happening. If you keep describing difficult situations in misleading or inaccurate ways, plenty of people will draw the wrong conclusions about them and will continue to support policies that don’t make a lot of sense.

Two cases in point: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are constantly told that that „the surge worked” in Iraq, and President Obama has to pretend the situation there is tolerable so that he can finally bring the rest of the troops there home. Yet it is increasingly clear that the surge failed to produce meaningful political reconciliation and did not even end the insurgency, and keeping U.S. troops there for the past three years may have accomplished relatively little.

Similarly, we keep getting told that we are going to achieve some sort of „peace with honor” in Afghanistan, even though sending more troops there has not made the Afghan government more effective, has not eliminated the Taliban’s ability to conduct violence, and has not increased our leverage in Pakistan. In the end, what happens in Central Asia is going to be determined by Central Asians – for good or ill – and not by us.

The truth is that the United States and its allies lost the war in Iraq and are going to lose the war in Afghanistan. There: I said it. By „lose,” I mean we will eventually withdraw our military forces without having achieved our core political objectives, and with our overall strategic position weakened. We did get Osama bin Laden – finally – but that was the result of more energetic intelligence and counter-terrorism work in Pakistan itself and had nothing to do with the counterinsurgency we are fighting next door. U.S. troops have fought courageously and with dedication, and the American people have supported the effort for many years. But we will still have failed because our objectives were ill-chosen from the start, and because the national leadership (and especially the Bush administration) made some horrendous strategic judgments along the way.

Specifically: invading Iraq was never necessary, because Saddam Hussein had no genuine links to al Qaeda and no WMD, and because he could not have used any WMD that he might one day have produced without facing devastating retaliation. It was a blunder because destroying the Ba’athist state left us in charge of a deeply divided country that we had no idea how to govern. It also destroyed the balance of power in the Gulf and enhanced Iran’s regional position, which was not exactly a brilliant idea from the American point of view.  Invading Iraq also diverted resources and attention from Afghanistan, which helped the Taliban to regain lost ground and derailed our early efforts to aid the Karzai government.

President Obama inherited both of these costly wars, and his main error was not to recognize that they were not winnable at an acceptable cost. He’s wisely stuck (more-or-less) to the withdrawal plan for Iraq, but he foolishly decided to escalate in Afghanistan, in the hope of creating enough stability to allow us to leave. This move might have been politically adroit, but it just meant squandering more resources in ways that won’t affect the final outcome.

More broadly, these wars were lost because there is an enormous difference between defeating a third-rate conventional army (which is what Saddam had) and governing a restive, deeply-divided, and well-armed population with a long-standing aversion to all forms of foreign interference. There was no way to „win” either war without creating effective local institutions that could actually run the place (so that we could leave), but that was the one thing we did not know how to do. Not only did we not know who to put in charge, but once we backed anybody, their legitimacy automatically declined. And so did our leverage over them, as people like President Karzai understood that our prestige was now on the line and we could not afford to let him fail.

The good news, however, is the defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan – and make no mistake, that is what it is – tells us relatively little about America’s overall power position or its ability to shape events that matter elsewhere in the world. Remember that the United States lost the Vietnam War too, but getting out facilitated the 1970s rapprochement with China and ultimatley strengthened our overall position in Asia.  Fourteen years later, the USSR had collapsed and the United States had won the Cold War. Nor should anyone draw dubious lessons about U.S. resolve; to the contrary, both of these wars show that the United States is actually willing to fight for a long time under difficult conditions. Thus, the mere fact that we failed in Iraq and Afghanistan does not by itself herald further U.S. decline, provided we make better decisions going forward.

The real lesson one should draw from these defeats is that the United States doesn’t know how to build democratic societies in large and distant Muslim countries that are divided by sectarian, ethnic, or tribal splits, and especially if these countries have a history of instability or internal violence. Nobody else does either. But that’s not a mission we should be seeking out in the future, because it will only generate greater hatred of the United States and further sap our strength.

The United States rose to world power by staying out of costly fights or by getting into them relatively late and then winning the peace. It won the Cold War by maintaining an economy that was far stronger than the Soviet Union’s, by assembling a coalition of allies that was more reliable, stable, and prosperous than the Communist bloc, and by remaining reasonably true to a set of political ideals that inspired others. Its major missteps occurred when it exaggerated the stakes in peripheral conflicts – such as Indochina. Fortunately, the Soviet Union made more blunders than we did, and from a weaker base.

Since 1992, the United States has squandered some of its margin of superiority by mismanaging its own economy, by allowing 9/11 to cloud its strategic judgment, and by indulging in precisely the sort of hubris that the ancient Greeks warned against. The main question is whether we will learn from these mistakes, and start basing national security policy on hard-headed realism rather than either neo-conservative fantasies or overly enthusiastic liberal interventionism. Unfortunately, the first shots in the 2012 presidential campaign do not exactly fill me with confidence.

World Beat

Feeding the World

Come October, Atlas won’t be shrugging, he’ll be groaning as global population passes the 7 billion mark. Until very recently, demographers predicted that these numbers would peak in 2050 at just over 9 billion and then start to decline. The latest research, however, suggests that despite declining fertility across much of the world, population will continue to rise through this century to over 10 billion people.

With famine spreading in Somalia, another food crisis gripping North Korea, global food prices near a record high, and climate changethreatening to reduce future harvests, the question continues to nag: are we outstripping our capacity to feed ourselves?

The good news is that the harvests this year promise to be bountiful. The bad news is that this increased grain production may still not be enough. The worse news is that millions more mouths to feed, over the long term, will increase pressure on the world’s farmers to squeeze more and more food from less and less arable land.

In 2010, the world dipped into food reserves to make up for a 60-million-ton shortfall in grain production. This year, predicts the Earth Policy Institute’s Lester Brown, farmers will have to produce 100 million additional tons to meet last year’s needs plus the increased demand. Based on a number of factors – better harvests in Russia versus droughts in China and the U.S. Midwest – Brown expects only an increase of about 80 million tons for 2011. The bottom line: food prices will continue to rise.

But that’s just the short term. Most estimates of grain needs in 2050 suggest that production will have to increase by 70 percent. That means somehow conjuring a billion-plus tons of grain from the already strained resource base of Mother Earth.

There are basically four schools of thought on how to feed the world. The biotech crowd believes that genetic modification will eventually spur another Green Revolution that will dramatically boost yield per acre. The organics faction believes that industrial farming techniques have drained the aquifers and robbed the topsoil of nutrients, among other ecological ills, and only natural farming techniques can restore soil fertility and produce sustainable yields. Somewhere in the middle is the status-quo-plus gang, which believes that improvement of current practices can meet the needs of a growing world. And the fourth school is…well, I’ll get to that in a moment.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which now make up the vast majority of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States, have not lived up to the claims of their most fervent cheerleaders. The main problem with GMOs, as far as I’m concerned, is their tendency to intensify industrial agriculture, which relies on heavy inputs of energy, fertilizer, pesticides, and water. I would not rule out the possibility of a next-generation GMO someday proving useful in a sustainable way, for instance in conjunction with no-till agriculture. But this particular brand of biotech is certainly no magic bullet.

The argument that organic farming can feed the world has gotten a boost from several recent studies, including one at the University of Michiganthat showed that organic yields can be three times that of conventional yields in developing countries, and research at Cornell on how organic and local farming can cut energy inputs into agriculture by 50 percent. But organic farming is not a magic bullet either. As the sector gets larger, particularly here in the United States, it has come to resemble its hated industrial rival by adopting pesticides and monocropping and all the othertrappings of Farming, Inc. Yes, small-scale organic farming has garnered considerable success in the developing world, for instance in the Philippines. But traditional, less intensive farming has also failed us in the past. As Jason Clay writes in his magisterial World Agriculture and the Environment, „Some of these less intensive farming systems have failed, and often population densities have pushed cultivation levels beyond what is sustainable. There is ample evidence that parts of the Andes, Mesoamerica, North Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South and Southeast Asia, New England and even the Great Plains (to name but a few) were overfarmed to the point of degradation or collapse using ‘traditional’ forms of agricultural production.”

The third path, status-quo plus, basically tweaks the existing approach to farming in the developing world and makes it a good deal more productive. One increasingly famous example comes from Malawi, the small African country of 15 million people that juts into Mozambique. About five years ago, President Bingu wa Mutharika began a subsidy program so that farmers could buy seeds and fertilizer at below-market rates. „Despite concerns from the World Bank and the UN, President Mutharika promoted Malawi’s agriculture sector and decreased poverty from 52 percent to 40 percent while turning Malawi into a food basket not only for its people but also for export,” writes Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) contributor Simone D’Abreu in Malawi Makes, Africa Takes. This „Malawi model” also relies on improving infrastructure, providing training for farmers, bringing more arable land under cultivation, and building up soil health through agro-forestry. The Malawi model challenges the conventional wisdom of the World Bank on the need for privatization, not state agricultural subsidies, but its approach to farming is relatively conventional. Using more fertilizer, after all, was a Green Revolution innovation more than 40 years ago.

Mutharika, who has been in the news recently for violently suppressing his political opposition, wants to apply the Malawi Model to the continent as a whole. This African Food Basket initiative aims to make Africa food-secure within five years. That’s unrealistic, perhaps, but there’s no denying the urgency. Malawi’s population, for instance, is expected to increase more than eight-fold by the end of the century, with the population of Africa as a whole likely to triple from 1 billion to 3.6 billion.

For the most part, these three approaches of biotech, organic, and status-quo plus focus on boosting production. But there’s a fourth way to address the upcoming supply-demand crunch. Let’s call it the Waste Not, Want Not approach.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, we waste or lose about one-third of all food produced for human consumption. That’s about 1.3 billion tons of food. Everyone is implicated in this tragedy: consumers who throw out food, institutions that let food spoil, processors that „sort out” huge amounts of produce deemed unsatisfactory, facilities that expose their stocks to rodents through improper storage, transporters who lose food along the way, and growers who leave food behind in the field.

Remember your mother shaming you into eating all the food on your plate because of all the starving people in the world? Now multiply those uneaten Brussels sprouts more than a trillion times.

On the topic of eating all the food on your plate, well, that’s a problem, too. Obesity has assumed near-epidemic proportions. In the United States,less than 10 percent of the population was obese in 1985, but that figure has now risen to nearly one-third. It’s not just the global north. In the developing world, you can find obesity rates nearing 40 percent in countries like Brazil and Colombia.

A related issue is meat consumption. Imagine eating 16 pounds of grain in one sitting. That’s what you do, essentially, when you consume a 16-ounce steak, since it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef (as well as 2,500 gallons of water). Eating meat, in other words, is a fancy way of over-consuming resources. And this over-consumption is just getting more over the top. Global production of meat is expected to doubleby 2050 to meet the growing demand, particularly in the developing world.

Perhaps the ultimate in „waste not” would be to shift over to eating insects and turn our exterminators into hunter-gatherers. Fried grasshoppers, according to a fascinating article by Dana Goodyear in The New Yorker, have three times as much protein as their equivalent weight in beef. Insects already provide an important source of food for many people. Indeed, in certain parts of the world, increased pesticide use as part of industrial agriculture has killed off or poisoned the grasshoppers that provided essential protein, especially for children. Talk about monocropping destroying diverse local eating habits.

For now, at least, insects are definitely a „want not” rather than a „waste not” for most Americans. Still, even if we don’t embrace bedbug burgers any time soon, we have to take the lead in transforming our appetites.According to World Watch, if you divide the population of the earth by the amount of biologically productive land, every human today gets about 1.9 hectares to supply their resource needs. The average American, however, lays claim to 9.7 hectares. Boosting food production won’t mean anything if the lion’s share continues to go to the gluttonous. If we’re going to feed the world, we’re going to have to feed ourselves a lot less extravagantly.

Charting a New Global Relationship

Seventy years ago this month, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill drew up the Atlantic Charter. It wasn’t just about establishing a wartime alliance against Nazi Germany. As FPIF contributor Dan Plesch points out in Revisiting the Atlantic Charter, it also „laid the political foundation for the wartime alliance of United Nations and guided the development of a stable post-war international system that would seek to address the root causes of conflict in the hopes of avoiding yet another cataclysmic global war.”

The United States would do well to consider a similarly dramatic transformation of the way it relates to the international community. President Barack Obama promised such a global reset. But aside from a commitment to nuclear abolition, U.S. foreign policy has not changed in any fundamental degree over the last three years.

As FPIF columnist Walden Bello argues in The Crisis of Humanitarian Intervention, Obama’s decision to use military force to effect regime change in Libya all too closely resembles past U.S. interventions. „Governments should of course pressure a regime to end the repression of its citizens,” he writes. „Moves to cut off military exports that allow a regime to repress its people are entirely legitimate, as are economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts to denounce and politically isolate a repressive regime. But these actions are very different from invading a sovereign country or bombing its government, military forces, and government supporters to achieve regime change.”

Another obvious continuity in U.S. foreign policy is unquestioning support of Israel. Did you know that nearly one-fifth of the House of Representatives will be spending part of this month in Israel? „These congressional delegations are not all fun and games,” writes FPIF contributor Josh Ruebner in Robbing Peter to Pay Israel. „Members of Congress will be expected to sing for their lavish dinners by honoring President Bush’s 2007 pledge to provide the Israeli military with $30 billion of tax-payer-funded weapons between 2009 and 2018. So far, proposed increases in military aid to Israel have been spared from the budgetary chopping block by President Obama and a compliant Congress that treats Israeli militarism as more sacrosanct than medical care for seniors.”

This week, we also review two new books. High-level CIA interrogator Glenn Carle has a change of heart in The Interrogator, a book that „reveals the level to which the Agency has become corrupted or simply apathetic,” writes FPIF contributor Greg Chaffin. In No Exit, meanwhile, Jonathan Pollack situates North Korea’s nuclear program in the context of the country’s political and economic system, a story „told from the Korean vantage point, so it serves as a useful complement to the relatively rich, inside-the-Beltway literature on the development of U.S. policy toward North Korea,” writes FPIF contributor Shiran Shen.

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Foreign Policy In Focus is a network for research, analysis and action that brings together more than 700 scholars, advocates and activists who strive to make the United States a more responsible global partner. It is a project of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington.

The Institute for Policy Studies is a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice and the environment in the U.S. and globally. It works with social movements to promote democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate and military power.