The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Tag: 1

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – February 11, 2024

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – February 11, 2024

by Tony Wikrent


Gaza / Palestine / Israel

Israel’s Relentless Bombing Erases Gaza’s Heritage Sites 

[Wide Walls, via Naked Capitalism 02-09-2024]

The war in Gaza is wiping out Palestine’s education and knowledge systems 

[The Conversation, via Naked Capitalism 02-09-2024]

In the past four months, all or parts of Gaza’s 12 universities have been bombed and mostly destroyed.

Approximately 378 schools have been destroyed or damaged. The Palestinian Ministry of Education has reported the deaths of over 4,327 students, 231 teachers and 94 professors.

Numerous cultural heritage sites, including libraries, archives and museums, have also been destroyed, damaged and plundered.


Oligarchs’ war on the experiment of republican self-government

The Republican Party and Their Billionaire Backers’ Plot Against America

Thom Hartmann, February 8, 2024 [Common Dreams]

…The most appealing thing about a dictator is that he can “get things done.”

Dictators don’t have to worry about bureaucracies hindering them, or pesky laws and regulations. They don’t care about local opposition to their projects, or their impact on the environment.

From making the trains run on time to building an autobahn and a car company to go with it, dictators famously “get things done.”

The corollary to that old nostrum is that when things are going well, when things are working smoothly, when the people are getting what they want from their government, there is little interest in putting a dictator into office.

You have to break government pretty badly before people are willing to trade in a normal democracy for a dictatorship, but it’s sure happened before.

Germany wouldn’t have embraced Hitler if it weren’t for the depression the country had slid into because they lost World War I and were hit with fierce sanctions in the Treaty of Versailles.…

One of the most successful ways the forces of autocracy and authoritarianism have risen to power throughout history is by creating or stepping into a crisis and promising to be the “strongman” who will fix things and fix them now.

Which, of course, is why right-wing billionaires and the Republicans they own have been working so hard in the decades since the Reagan Revolution to break our government.

They want a series of terrible crises. And if they don’t happen organically, right wingers are more than happy to create them, as we saw this week when Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to do anything about our southern border or to fund aid to Ukraine and the Palestinians….

Warn Voters About the Radicalism Beyond Trump 

Nancy MacLean, February 8, 2024 [The New Republic]

…Promoters have been methodically lining up authorizations from the states since the 2012 election showed them that most Americans reject the kind of society they seek, even Mitt Romney’s mild version. So strategists concluded that the only way to permanently entrench minority rule by plutocrats and theocrats is to encase it in a dramatically altered Constitution….

The Competition Between West And The Rest Is Already Over

This is what people refuse to get: the West has already lost. It’s over. It’s done. There’ll be some shooting, but it doesn’t matter.

China has the world’s largest economy by all statistics that matter. It has by far and away the most manufacturing. It has way more shipbuilding capacity than the entire West.

China is the premier trade power. Most of the global “South” would rather trade with it: it gives better deals and it interferes less with internal politics. This will continue. Western analysts are already talking about the coming semiconductor flood, as China catches up there. In ten years or so they’ll have more reliable planes at better prices than Boeing. They lead in about two-thirds of all major tech areas and surging in the rest. They are crushing it in the auto-industry and soon will produce better cars for cheaper, if they don’t already.

They have a real economy: “China speed” is a phrase. They get things done, and fast.

Russia is now the world’s fifth largest economy and over-took Germany, which is crashing out due to high energy prices with the cut-off from Russia oil and gas. Europe barely registers on new patents. They have advanced weaponry, their economy is booming thanks to sanctions forcing them to invest in their own country, they have plenty of food, resources and water and they’re on of the few countries who will benefit for the early to mid parts of climate change and global warming.

Changes in weapon systems have made cheap weapons much more effective, especially drones and missiles. The tech has spread widely, to the point where a backwards country like Yemen has enough to shut down a key trade route. The US military can’t meet its enlistment goals, and US weapons are much more expensive and far slower to produce than their enemies. The West can’t even supply Ukraine with enough artillery shells, drones and ammunition: but China, North Korea, Iran and Russia together have been able to keep Russia armed to the teet.

The US navy still has the largest tonnage, but can’t fully man all its ships, and as noted early, China has far more shipbuilding capacity, and it now has as many ships as the US. They are pushing in on technology which will allow them to detect submarines at great distances.

The US no longer has bigfoot capacity: it can’t easily occupy foreign countries any more and it can’t hit them while not being hit in return, as the multiple strikes on US bases and the closing of the Red Sea show.

It’s over. The world economy is re-orienting to China. They will have first dibs on resources because they offer a better deal on almost everything. Soon there will be nothing important one can’t buy from China or Russia, and for less than the West can sell it for.

The US and Europe need the global south—they need those resources, but the South will have little reason to sell to us, and will prefer China and Russia and so on. (France is being kicked out Africa, right now, in exchange for Russia and China.)

Military might will continue to tend to China and Russia, it is a lagging indicator on industrial power and technological lead, and we have already lost both of those.

It’s over. We lost without most of us even realizing we’d lost. When we decided to send our industry to China in exchange for some of our elites getting richer faster for three decades, we decided to give up our centuries old hegemony.

This isn’t to say all is woe, or that Western countries who are smart can’t maintain good standards of living. But we can only do so if we stop pretending we’re , the hegemonic civilization and everyone else has to kiss our asses or else.

The Euro-American centuries are OVER. We had a good run, but all runs end. We could have eked it out for a few more generations, but decay always begins at home. We gave our lead away, deliberately and as policy.

And a lot of countries, with good reason, hate our guts. They will get their kicks in as we go down.

We’d better learn humbleness, contrition and cooperation, we’re going to need them. And our elites need to be defenestrated as a class if the rest of us are to have any chance at decent lives.


You get what you support. If you like my writing, please SUBSCRIBE OR DONATE

The Second Most Important Story In The World

If you pull way back and take the historical perspective, a lot of stories, aren’t.

I stand second to few in my abhorrence of the Israeli project to ethnic cleanse and genocide Palestine, but it’s been ongoing for a long time and involves about five million Palestinians plus various supporters of genocide and people trying to stop genocide. It’s moving towards the end-game, as Israel loses deterrence because of its military’s sheer incompetence and changing military technology, but it’s playing out more or less as expected: the tiny colonial enclave surrounded by hostile natives is in decline as its super power sponsor is in decline.

The Ukraine war is important because it’s another indicator of the end of the American century and Western hegemony and the first major war which shows how new battlefield tech works in practice. But, pull back a bit and well, it’s just a sign of something inevitable, which is the end of Western hegemony. And that was signed when the US decided to send its industry to China: the actual decision was made back in the 90s.

US internal political shenanigans, like Texas illegally defying the Federal government over immigration and attempts to keep Trump off the ballot and so on are important: but they’re just the logical consequence of American economic decline and of neo-liberal ideology. Don’t decide to become a plutocratic oligarchy by electing Reagan, and none of this happens. Again, the decision was made a long time ago, but also, whatever, the US was never going to be number 1 forever.

The rise of China is also a sort of semi-story. The place that was the technological and economic leader for most of the last 2,000 years is regaining is prominence after a period of decline caused by an unevenly spread technological renaissance. This isn’t a surprise, it’s almost an inevitability. though when and how it happens matters to those of us around when it does.

But Covid is a real story. It’s probably a black plague level story. A virus that badly damages immune systems and which leaves many people crippled but alive. That matters, because it’s changing the cycles. Empires rise and fall, tech breakthroughs happen, are clustered and give an advantage then disperse, and military tech changes in ways which change war, often for centuries, but major major plagues, well, they’re hardly unknown, but it’s been a while and Covid is a big one.

It’s not the deaths that matter so much. It’s the disabling. This lovely chart runs to the middle of 2023.

As for Covid, well, it’s a pandemic. That means it runs in waves.

Ain’t that something? Turns out declaring the pandemic over and the pandemic being over are two different things.

Increasing levels of people not being able to work and needing to be supported is a big, big deal, for reasons I assume are obvious.

We’ll talk more about this soon, real soon, because Covid was a test and we failed as a species, no one handled it properly even though doing so would have been fairly simple. And why we couldn’t handle Covid is why we can’t handle anything else, including the most important “story” or problem in the world.


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – December 3, 2023

by Tony Wikrent

Gaza / Palestine / Israel

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 12-01-2023]

‘A mass assassination factory’: Inside Israel’s calculated bombing of Gaza

[+972, via X-Teitter. above]

Permissive airstrikes on non-military targets and the use of an artificial intelligence system have enabled the Israeli army to carry out its deadliest war on Gaza….

The investigation by +972 and Local Call is based on conversations with seven current and former members of Israel’s intelligence community — including military intelligence and air force personnel who were involved in Israeli operations in the besieged Strip — in addition to Palestinian testimonies, data, and documentation from the Gaza Strip, and official statements by the IDF Spokesperson and other Israeli state institutions….

Several of the sources, who spoke to +972 and Local Call on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the Israeli army has files on the vast majority of potential targets in Gaza — including homes — which stipulate the number of civilians who are likely to be killed in an attack on a particular target. This number is calculated and known in advance to the army’s intelligence units, who also know shortly before carrying out an attack roughly how many civilians are certain to be killed.

In one case discussed by the sources, the Israeli military command knowingly approved the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in an attempt to assassinate a single top Hamas military commander. “The numbers increased from dozens of civilian deaths [permitted] as collateral damage as part of an attack on a senior official in previous operations, to hundreds of civilian deaths as collateral damage,” said one source.

“Nothing happens by accident,” said another source. “When a 3-year-old girl is killed in a home in Gaza, it’s because someone in the army decided it wasn’t a big deal for her to be killed — that it was a price worth paying in order to hit [another] target. We are not Hamas. These are not random rockets. Everything is intentional. We know exactly how much collateral damage there is in every home.”

According to the investigation, another reason for the large number of targets, and the extensive harm to civilian life in Gaza, is the widespread use of a system called “Habsora” (“The Gospel”), which is largely built on artificial intelligence and can “generate” targets almost automatically at a rate that far exceeds what was previously possible. This AI system, as described by a former intelligence officer, essentially facilitates a “mass assassination factory.”

“Wiping Gaza Off the Map”: Implementing Israel’s “Secret Intelligence Memorandum.” More Than 20,000 Civilians Killed 

Michel Chossudovsky [via Naked Capitalism 12-01-2023]

Out of Gaza’s 2.3 million people,

1.73 million are now displaced…

20,030 civilians killed…

8,176 children have been killed…

4,112 women have been killed…

7,000 people remain unaccounted for, including more than 4,700 children…

36,350 civilians have been injured….

…It’s genocide. The underlying modalities are confirmed in an official “secret” memorandum of Israel’s  Ministry of Intelligence. Washington is fully supportive of this military-intelligence operation.

Both US and British Operation  Forces are collaborating with the I.D.F. (See this)

The 10 page document  recommends “the forcible and permanent transfer of the Gaza Strip’s 2.2 million Palestinian residents to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula”, namely to a refugee camp in Egyptian territory. There are indications of Israel-Egypt negotiations as well as routine consultations with U.S. intelligence….

Israel Knew Hamas’s Attack Plan More Than a Year Ago

[New York Times, 2023 Nov 30]

The Hamas Attack and Israel’s War in Gaza

[Council for Global Cooperation, via Naked Capitalism 11-28-2023]. Important.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén