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

The Coming War with Iran?

Image by Yuan2003

It may turn out that the worst thing Donald Trump ever did was hire John Bolton as his National Security Advisor.

Trump was already deranged on the subject of Iran, possibly because Jared Kushner is his son-in-law, and Jared is having a (presumably) platonic love affair with Saudi Crown Prince (and de facto ruler) Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud. Saudi Royals both hate and fear Shia Islam, in part because the regions of Saudi Arabia with the oil are Shia.

So Trump unilaterally left the nuclear weapons treaty with Iran, and the Treasury department has made it illegal for any country to buy oil from Iran. Since almost all finance in the world goes through US banks, the Treasury can do this. Only firms which don’t use the SWIFT system can avoid the Treasury’s grasp.

These sanctions are having a terrible effect on Iran, and one which will grow even greater as the final waivers expire. There will be smuggling, but even so, Iran will be starved of foreign currency.

The US has also declared the Iranian military to be a terrorist organization, the first time part of a foreign government has ever received that designation.

And a carrier task group has been sent to the region, specifically as a warning to Iran.

It is well known that the NeoCons, of which Bolton is a prominent member, want a war with Iran, to remake the Middle East. (This is part of the same project which saw Iraq destroyed, and which fuel US-led regime change aspirations in Syria. A little further afield, Libya, while not in the Middle East, was similarly dealt with.)

The issue, as Escobar points out, is that a new alliance is rising. Its key members are China and Russia, but Iran is part of it as well. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative is meant to create routes to Europe and a Chinese-led trade zone. It is meant to bypass the straits of Malacca (which the US can shut down at any time to strangle China), and the land parts will be a lot faster (though not cheaper) than sea transport.

Iran is a key part of this system.

Because other countries aren’t cooperating with the US when it tries to stop the B&R system (indeed, Italy just signed on), the US needs to actually destroy part of it.

Thus Iran.

This isn’t the only reason, needless to say, the NeoCons have wanted to destroy Iran for far longer than the B&R system has existed, but it is now an important consideration.

But what if Iran survives the sanctions? No one except the US is happy about the sanctions. Others may submit, but they don’t like it. The Chinese will do a huge end-run, as with the Russians. Even the Europeans are angry, and have created a “special vehicle” to avoid sanctions. (Consensus seems to be that it doesn’t do a good job and that if they’re serious they need to improve it.)

Because no one is happy, there’s going to be a lot of oil still sold. It may be enough to keep the Iranian government in power.

Then what?

Well, war, maybe.

The problem with that is that Iranians can shut down the Strait of Hormuz. There is no situation, short of nuclear glassing, in which the US can keep it open. That spikes the price of oil to hundreds of dollars a barrel, because, at that point, a quarter of the world’s oil cannot get to the market at all.

And that causes an economic and financial crisis, likely even larger than 2008, because it involves economic fundamentals.

So the question is whether or not Bolton, who is a true believer, can talk Trump into it.

And the answer is… I don’t know. Just don’t know.

But that’s a serious precipice on which we’re walking.

Even without war, this is a serious situation. The US’s continued abuse of its privileged position in the world payments system to sanction countries like Iran and Venezuela, even when other great powers disagree, means that the loss of that privileged position through the creation of alternatives is inevitable. It is already happening and only a matter of time before they become viable enough that major countries will simply be able to ignore the Treasury’s sanctions.

This is also true because other markets are large enough that access to the American market is no longer required. Especially if the EU comes onside with this, the ability to sanction is basically finished if the other great powers (and especially China), don’t agree.

This is, for the US, a late Imperial period. Don’t mistake it as anything else. And remember, very few countries manage to regain their pre-eminence or Empire. Britain lost one Empire and gained another, but it is an exception, and driven by a specific situation (first mover in the Industrial revolution) which has no modern parallel (no, the information revolution is not even a rounding error on the industrial revolution.)

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One Million Species at Risk of Extinction + One


Happiness, Love, and Terrorism


  1. Herman

    Mike Pompeo is another war hawk in the Trump administration. I think a lot of people were mistaken in assuming that Trump was some kind of dove. Try mentioning this and a lot of people will jump on you and call you a “Hillbot” but Trump was always a hawk on Iran and we might end up in a war with Iran under him.

    My hope is that the military realizes how disastrous a war with Iran would be and can act as a veto against the war hawks around Trump. Also, I hope that Trump is less gullible than George W. Bush when it comes to believing in neocon talking points about war in the Middle East. Maybe Trump’s self-absorption will keep him from going to war with Iran since it might ruin his legacy.

    I don’t know. I guess we will have to wait and see. The state of the economy might have an impact on whether we go to war. I could see a war being used as a way to rally the population around the flag in the case of a bad recession hitting in the near future.

  2. RobertCvn

    Shall the USA yield gracefully, or will there be spite and bile?

    Knock everyone down, until you stand taller than the rest..

  3. Hugh

    There is usually a carrier battle group in the Arabian Sea. All this hoopla comes from moving up the deployment by a few weeks. I would start getting worried if two or more carrier battle groups were in the area and a third a few days away.

    The oil sanctions are much more significant and destabilizing.

    Trump is more gullible than pretty much anyone including most dogs.

    I remain skeptical of the whole B&R. We are talking overland supply and delivery chains covering thousands of miles of chronically, historically unstable countries, which are going to become increasingly unstable in the coming decades: Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Central Asian former SSR dictatorships, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Russia, and Ukraine. These are the rocks that China is depending on for its B&R? Seriously?

  4. GZ

    Here\’s a thought: If China is able to leverage technology and a state-managed economy to limit or reduce its carbon output (and if its BRI partners follow suit, using Chinese tech), then isn\’t the logical next step to call out a regressive, recalcitrant, science-denying, fundamentalist Amerikkka as a climatological terrorist state that\’s holding the world hostage — a lunatic nation that\’s a danger to itself and others?

    How much cooling in the short and long term would result from the incineration of the US economy and three largest metros going up as dense particulate matter?

  5. scarn

    There will be no war. The voters Trump needs do not want war. Trump showed that he understood this in his 2016 campaign. He will antagonize Iran because he wants to help his pals in Israel and Saudi, but he will stop short of war. Bolton and Pompeo will be given free reign to do all the black op stuff that they have been clownishly attempting in Caracas, and Trump will break any treaty or agreement he thinks he can \”get a better deal on\”. That will be the limit.

  6. StewartM

    Well, so much for the idea that Trump would keep us out of stupid wars. I’d doubt even HRC despite her record would be this nuts. Plus Bolton is also nuts enough to want us to do regime change in Venezuela at the same time.

    Meanwhile, the US continues to crumble into dust, bit by bit, ya know, “because we have no money to fix things!!” Who says that Trump is against shithole countries? He’s making the good ole USA into one right before our very eyes.

    (Now our only hope is that Putin really DOES have the influence over Trump that the newspeakers say he does).

  7. Hugh

    A Green China is a myth. China is a major polluter. As for CO2, it is my understanding it doesn’t even have to start curbing CO2 emissions until 2025.

    Supposedly the US is sending 4 B-52s to the Middle East. File this under “show of force.” At least two are going to Qatar. A) 4 B-52s are far too few for any significant strikes and B) sending them to Qatar makes no strategic sense. Strategically, these are aircraft meant to stand off hundreds of miles from their targets: command and control, air defenses, etc. and fire cruise missiles at them. You do not put them next door to where you intend to use them. .

  8. someofparts

    I was taught that the South was always going to lose the Civil War because in a cage match an industrial economy (the North) can always trounce an agrarian economy (the South). So, that is what I keep remembering when I see the U.S., which no longer has an industrial economy, rattle her sabers at China, the most powerful industrial economy in the world. The bombast and folly of Bolton and Pompeo are just a continuation of the noisy stupidity of the leadership of the old Confederacy.

    Dimitri Orlov says that the rest of the world is quietly unhooking itself from U.S. financial and commercial domination. He says they continue to talk to the Americans for the same reason a hostage negotiator keeps talking to terrorists, the keep them distracted while they figure out how to free the hostages. Even though the U.S. is foolish enough to want a war we would certainly lose, it sounds like the rest of the world would rather just keep us distracted until they can pull the plug on the greenback. The day that happens, the U.S. falls apart without the carnage of a war that impacts other nations.

  9. Tom

    As I said before, the EU to counter US Sanctions has to kick the US out of SWIFT, ban dollar trades, sanction US Companies doing Business in EU Territories if they comply with US Sanctions and throw execs in jail if they comply with US Sanctions.

    If necessary turn to alternatives to US Supply Chains.

  10. Ché Pasa

    Trump is as bloodthirsty as any other American president. When American bloodlust is focused on the Middle East, Persian Gulf, and South Asia — as it has been for decades now — Trump’s itch to war appears boundless. The death and destruction already wrought through the region since Trump’s elevation to the White House (or was it a demotion?) is monumental but very much underreported. There is no doubt in my mind that if he were of a mind to he would order His Generals to obliterate Tehran in an instant. Presidents can do that. And Trump likes that kind of power and authority. Likes it very much indeed….

    The question is whether anyone would stand in his way. Soon after his inauguration it was pretty obvious that most of his madness was ringfenced by “staff” if you will, and by the factionalism that permeates the higher reaches of the government and those it serves. There were certain things he would be allowed relatively free rein to do — scapegoating immigrants for example, or endless Twitter rages — but other things, no. He could threaten all he wanted, rage all he wanted, throw feces at press and media all he wanted, even cozy up to Putin if that’s what he wanted to do. But does he have the actual launch codes? Would His Generals obey if he ordered an invasion of Venezuela, Iran, or really any other country not currently under direct attack by the United States? Would they do his bidding if his bidding weren’t already approved by multiple layers of Pentagon planners?

    We’ve already been told that “staff” routinely ignores or disobeys Trump when he gets wound up. Hint: this didn’t begin with Trump. Presidents are always ringfenced to one degree or another. But in this case particular dangers were identified early enough that it appears that apart from his Twitter rages and scapegoating attacks, he really isn’t able to do much of anything that isn’t vetted and approved by… who? That’s the question. Who does Our Government serve? Whose interests are dominant?

    We know that Iran has been targeted for figurative or literal destruction for decades (see: Project for New American Century, c. 1998) Most of the other targets listed then have been bombed to smithereens already. Iran is clearly next because it’s practically the only one in the Middle East left standing — more or less.

    But the Project goes well beyond destruction in the current war theatres. It includes the breakup of the Russian Federation and the disabling of China’s market rise. Even the seizure of Venezuelan (and any other) oil is indirectly part of the Project.

    When you boil it down, it’s very simple-minded, and from all appearances, it is US Government Doctrine and has been for decades, and Trump, despite rhetoric and appearances, has done nothing to interfere. He’s too unstable to be allowed to carry out the Doctrine, but he seems on board with it (except for the Russian piece, but even there, patience is a virtue, no? And things are not always what they seem, are they?)

    Our rulers have long believed that a little pain (for the Little People) in the short term is worth it for the hegemonic advantage in the long term. That’s the path we are still on. It’s hard to believe there won’t be an attack on Iran, if not a full scale invasion, sooner rather than later, regardless of Trump.

    For all the horrors that will unleash, payback will be an uncompromising bitch.

  11. ponderer

    scarn is right, there will be no war. Outside 3rd world countries carriers are nothing but floating targets. When they take the carriers outside the 2000 km range of Iranian anti-ship missiles then you can worry. this is just show to distract the chicken hawks and their backers. There is danger of “accidents” leading to escalations, but it won’t get to the war stage. I don’t think Russia or China could sit on the sidelines for that.

    if Trump doesn’t make it to a second term his safety could be in jeopardy. Losing isn’t an option until the Executive cleans house. If he hadn’t won the first time, he could have been on trial for treason by now. His family would have been ruined for sure. Any leftovers in positions of power are very likely to go after him and once he leaves office he loses the ability to counter attack. I don’t expect any incitement of War that would undermine his Presidency and his political and private future.

  12. StewartM


    if Trump doesn’t make it to a second term his safety could be in jeopardy. Losing isn’t an option until the Executive cleans house. If he hadn’t won the first time, he could have been on trial for treason by now. His family would have been ruined for sure.

    I don’t know where you are going with this, ponderer, but this is alarming. Micheal Cohen, who I figure knows Trump pretty danged well, says Trump will not go quietly if he loses in 2020. Seeing what you wrote (which makes sense) I would agree–if he loses he’s facing exposure, humiliation, and prosecution. So what does he have to lose by trying to hold on?

    And maybe a (yet another) war would provide a ‘wag the dog’ moment to assist his re-election?

    Though Trump does have this going for him–if the Democratic ‘wise men and women’ manage to nominate Biden (and I saw Chris Matthews on MSNBC last night leading the cheering section and railing against ‘the left’) then I’d say Trump wins in 2020. He wins because the Democratic establishment either hasn’t learned a thing, or that they’d rather lose than to have anyone with even milquetoast progressive positions win, or a combination of both.

  13. echoman2

    I think the reason for the conflict with Iran is with us. Mike Pence is a dominionist and I believe he is motivated to bring about the end of the world because of his religious views. For what it\’s worth, this is one the reasons why I don\’t support computing trump. It would put Mike Pence in a position of greater power to destroy everything around us.

  14. ejf

    i think you got it: all it takes is a competitive and viable trading system along with our Late Empire wanderings. i keep asking myself who’s gonna have the balls in the US to try SOMETHING constructive. I know that takes cooperation among us fallen angels. and that’s a big ask…

  15. ponderer


    What does he have to lose by trying to hold on the presidency after political defeat? Everything. The Trump phenomenon was never about Trump, but about sticking it to the entrenched elites. Unless the democrats and deep state, yet again, try to fix the election Trump would have no chance to hold onto anything. If they do try, and enough people are convinced that’s what happened we are going to be on a wild ride. Then the deep state and democrats will have destroyed the country completely, we could well see a civil war with millions of dead. It will all come down to who the military supports.

    That’s why letting intelligence agencies meddle in internal politics is so dangerous. My prediction is that after 2020 we won’t have Trumps or we won’t have Clintons. If the trail of deep state corruption leads to the DNC and Clinton’s (it will) the resulting conflict is going to serious ly destabilize the country.

  16. KT Chong

    I knew America would invade Iran when I looked at the Belt and Road Initiative map, and saw the Silk Road belt run through Iran.

  17. Willy

    Why does the deep state have to have a political loyalty? Why does it have to be a cohesive organization? It’s probably just yet another human concentration of sociopathic greed, which the rest of us have let go unchecked. I’d think it only views any person or organization in terms of usefulness and resistance.

  18. StewartM


    What does he have to lose by trying to hold on the presidency after political defeat? Everything.

    Now I don’t understand you previous point at all. If Trump is not guilty, he sure is acting like he’s guilty, and after leaving office he will face prosecution, humiliation, and very possibly jail time. The only thing that prevents that al that right now is him sitting in the Oval Office. The recent story by the NYT showing that his wealth is a fraud, that he’s lived beyond his means for a decade (maybe more) and had his daddy propping him up to keep his party going, suggest that a host of foreign players, including Putin, may have just become substitutes for ‘daddy’ and that is why Trump is so obsessed with not offending them and keeping them happy. It’s all beginning to fit together.

    Trump’s best choice would be to resign, and have Pence pull a Ford and per-emptively pardon him immediately afterwards. But I doubt Trump will do that unless he’s facing the music–which is still unlikely.

    This situation also shows how badly the current interpretations of the US Constitution work. Why would anyone think that ‘norms’ and precedence and customs should restrain a bad president, which seems to be the position of all Democratic and most Republican critics of Trump? Our safeguards should not be ‘norms’, what are needed are electric fences–you touch and them and you’re automatically zapped! A president should not be protected against removal and punishment by having one or both house of Congress held by his political party or allies.

    What should have never been set as the rule is the opinion that a sitting president can’t be indicted–we *do* have a vice president, after all–and for serious crimes involving alleged governmental or Constitutional transgressions (I agree for lesser crimes the indictments could wait until the president is out of office; ditto civil suits). If the presidentis indicted, he/she simply steps down and the vice president assumes office in his/her stead, and then stands trial as an ordinary citizen. If acquitted, the president would resume office; if convicted, he/she is permanently removed–no Congressional supermajority and process should be required.

    I would keep impeachment, but not so much for illegalities as policy differences. If the president were to take a policy course so repugnant to a supermajority in Congress–and hence, presumably, the public–then I’m ok with a mechanism for their removal for that cause. The problem with American governance is that we’ve not removed enough presidents, not that we’ve removed too many.

    It is not the Deep state that is threatening to take the US on the warpath. I agree the deep state is awful and has done some evil things, but they are not the cause of all evil like you make them out to be. They did not cause the Iraq war, to-date the worst foreign policy blunder of this century. The ‘deep state’ is against closer ties to Russia, I agree, and probably for regime change via some means in Venezuela, but they were never for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, never for tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, and never for labeling the Iranian military a terrorist organization. No, all these decisions were driven by neocon ideologues and/or factions within the Republican Party (the pro-Israel stance is all Christian Zionism and premillenialism). Trump’s foreign policies, like his domestic, have been a fraud and con job; like Obama, he was vague enough during the 2016 campaign to allow people to pour their hopes into him by latching on to specific soundbites (like “no more stupid wars” or “really great healthcare”, or “raise taxes on hedge fund managers”).

  19. Hugh

    The deep state is lazy thinking. There are class interests (the rich, the elites). There are institutional interests (Wall Street, the MIC). But the deep state is a self-contradictory concept. It is supposed to be all powerful, pull all the strings, but somehow it can’t defeat a fourth rate carnie like Donald Trump, or arrange for him to be found with a dead prostitute or at least an underage one? It had Comey blab about a Clinton investigation just before the election, but couldn’t manage to leak the one it was conducting looking into Trump and the Russians? This deep state would have to be made up of tens of thousands of individuals. Yet unlike most of the rest of Washington, there are virtually no leaks from it. Beyond general institutions, nobody seems to be able name any of these people. And its agenda? Curiously, this seems to be made up of whatever some don’t like in government. If you try to reconstruct an agenda out of what the deep state is accused of, it is just a hodgepodge without any logic or consistency. So which is it: masterminds of the universe or shadowy incompetent dolts? The reality is bad enough. Yes, Virginia, we are screwed. But invoking a phantom deep state is unhelpful in getting us out of the mess we are in.

  20. bruce wilder

    The Deep State is a label for a political phenomenon that is an expression I suppose of the iron law of institutions. The iron law is basically that all hierarchical organization tends to degenerate into patterns of self-serving elite oligarchy. Whatever the ostensible, founding purpose of the organization, there is a tendency for socio-political processes such careerism and centralization of power to subvert that purpose in favor of serving the needs of the staff and the elite leadership. The organization will become less efficient in carrying out its ostensible purposes as it becomes better at serving the needs of its elite leadership and career staff. This degeneration, if it goes on long enough, will develop its own rationales and protective ideologies. As it has for the neoliberal economic policy establishment and the neocon foreign policy blob.

    The Deep State is “all-powerful” only in the sense of having all the power, but inherent in the concept as I understand it is that the Deep State is profoundly and thoroughly incompetent. Its incompetence is a chief reason to want to overthrow it.

    Once you realize that “the agenda” of the Deep State is the self-licking ice cream cone of perpetual war and the surveillance state, you realize there are so many “leaks” that they form a wall of white noise.

  21. ponderer

    Bruce is right. The deep state isn’t a group of guys in a back room. It’s a bunch of different groups of guys/gals in different rooms scheming over their own interests. What looks like incompetence can often be conflicting interests and sabotage as each group pushes their agenda. The “elites” we often refer to get their power generally through inheritance while those in the deep state do it through bureaucracy. They may also be true believers who think they are doing the right thing. They may seem communism as the true evil and Russia therefore as our prime adversary. I’m not saying its logical, just that if you eat your own propaganda you can lose touch with reality. The CIA killed Kennedy most likely because they really believed communism would consume the world. The various government agencies are always in pissing matches with each other. Like between the CIA and FBI over domestic operations. The Military and CIA are often at odds and so on. The military is allied with Trump for their own interests (and the countries) while the intelligence agencies are with the Democrats and neocons.
    The ME wars can be seen as a split between the deep state and military. Where the military realizes that our resources are finite and a war with a first world country would most likely mean the end of US as successive enemies whiddled us down, the deep state needs the conflicts to increase their powers. 9/11 was great for the intelligence agencies and better for their black budgets. Iraq was sold by the intelligence agencies and neocons. Notice the democrats went right along with it because the IA did too.

    So just like Colin Powell with his WMD speech was shadowed by he head of the CIA (he insisted the CIA chief was at the UN with him thinking that must mean the intelligence was genuine – iirc), all of our major catastrophes have had the IA in a major role behind the scenes.

    As for Trump if he was guilty he would be in jail. Full stop. There is zero credible evidence against him or he would be in impeachment proceedings right now. He may be a jerk, have all kinds of money trouble, but he is not a Russian stooge. All you have to do is follow the timeline at SST (see the Pat Lang link from this blog) and look at the IA connections of everyone in the scam. At this point to claim Putin as sugar daddy means you haven’t been educating yourself on the subject matter or you only watch CNN/MSNBC which is pretty much the same thing. The IA sent undercover agents to talk to Trump associates about Russia. Then they used those conversations to get warrants to spy on the trump campaign by filing fraudulent FISA applications. Then they kept pushing Trump to take the bait but he never did. They opened public investigations hampering the office of POTUS knowing full well they had faulty information.

    If you are Left or a Democrat you really need to pay attention to this. If Barr traces that sedition back to the DNC and Hillary’s campaign, which is highly probable, you could be looking at another major political shift that sets the Left back a couple of generations.

  22. Hugh

    Rained today, everyone knows CIA hangs out in trenchcoats. So obviously deep state.

  23. bruce wilder

    They may also be true believers who think they are doing the right thing. They may seem communism as the true evil and Russia therefore as our prime adversary. I’m not saying its logical, just that if you eat your own propaganda you can lose touch with reality

    I do not think any of them are true believers anymore. They may be smugly self-righteous about certain conventional justifications for routine practices, but that is hardly the same thing as dedication to some overriding purpose. It is an important distinction. Generals who cannot finish let alone win a war may very loudly declaim on their conviction that all that is necessary to prevail is the will to persevere in vindicating “freedom”, but whatever the words they mouth, it is the iron bowl to which they cling so fervently. That it is purely propaganda, words chosen for manipulative effect without regard to their truth or factual accuracy, is an indication they do not care much about reality.

  24. ponderer

    @ bruce

    Drop by Pat Lang’s site and look for his take on Communists. That’s what I mean. Those people who spend their careers in the intelligence sector or military have their own kind of group think. It makes sense, how do you get people to be willing to kill their fellow human beings? Lots of training and indoctrination. Some of that is bound to stick and effect those people for the rest of their lives.
    You can say the chicken hawks don’t believe it and I’d agree as they haven’t had decades of environmental conditioning. For those with careers in the bowels of the NSA,CIA,military, etc. I don’t think we can write them off as cynical traitors so easily. I also think the amount of propaganda the country targets against is citizens mediates any guilt they may have for not recognizing the truth of things.

    For instance, there is no chance for us to “win” a war without investing in it. I mean look at the steps we took after WWII to ensure our victory versus our ME strategy of blowing stuff up and hoping we can bribe the survivors. We can’t occupy Iraq, we never could. It doesn’t matter how great a general you are. From what I hear in the military the top ranks *tend* to be ass kissing careerists, but the politicians push the rest out. I still remember the military saying we would need 600k – 1 million solders to take and hold Iraq. There’s no way that could happen so the neocons pulled the wool over our eyes yet again by twisting words like “victory” and “win” to something entirely corrupt. They still use it when they talk about Venezuela and Iran and the country still hears something different. As a society we gaslight ourselves constantly, one advertisement, sporting event, school day at a time.

  25. bruce wilder

    @ ponderer

    as i get older, i have come to appreciate what a strange and difficult concept “belief” is. i have been reading the insanely popular book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, and one of his chief themes is the importance of human belief in “fictions” that organize human societies on scales far beyond the 12/150/400 or so that can be built from trust founded on some depth of personal acquaintance and reciprocation in person.

    “fictions” of this sort are ubiquitous in political life and many of them are, of course, contested. what distinguishes a “fiction” from a pack of lies can be a fine point, i suppose; i do not think “fictions” of the sort Harari references are simple lies so much as social constructions of social fact: money, law, ideology, patriotism, marriage, et cetera. still, where a fiction is being politically contested, its “truth” becomes an issue, even if it is not entirely clear what makes for a true fiction, if there can be such a thing.

    when blogging on the internet became a thing in the late paleolithic, i was hopeful because so many of the blogs i liked most were pre-occupied with questioning the political narratives of the mainstream media — the Daily Howler with its obsession with the hostility to Gore, Atrios at Eschaton which I still read, the wonderful digby at Hullabaloo before she went over to the dark side, Ian of course and many others — and i actually thought maybe popular political culture was developing some resistance to Bernays – style propaganda. WMD in Iraq seemed like an object lesson that could not be escaped. the deep cynicism of R2P — the foreign policy blob and its shameless pretence of touting a rules-based international order that barely ever existed and has long since been destroyed by the self-same blob. neoliberalism, neoclassical economics and the fiction of the “market economy”. 18 years in Afghanistan, two and half years of russia, russia, russia built on the slimmest of analogies with Watergate and, the strange life of leftish identity politics, producing “me, too” alongside the insistence that declining life expectancy isn’t an indication of legitimate grievance because “racist!” — and i am feeling very old now.

    in the so-called intelligence community, i imagine that groupthink is especially intense because “secrecy” (scare quotes because so little is really secret) acts like special grant of privilege, ramping up the sense of special privilege, special knowledge that comes with membership in a powerful and established organization.

    pbs frontline did a program on the Paul Bremer regime in Iraq and it was a story of fantastic foolishness and negligence. people who knew what they were talking about were dismissed and bone-headed decisions were made, corruption furthered everywhere — and somehow the truth of all that does not seem to register in the shared memory of socially constructed fact.

    it is maddening.

  26. nihil obstet

    What I still can’t get my head around is the extent to which we have become the countries we used to contrast ourselves with. What’s the saying — be careful who you choose as enemies for you will become just like them?

    I grew up on dramatizations of evil Nazis demanding “Your papers!” on the trains, beating helpless prisoners, and sending uniformed thugs against citizens. Now we all will need “real ID” to travel, we “tortured some folks” (Obama) but it was all with good intent so there’s nothing to feel bad about, and we don’t react to cops in full battle gear being active at protests.

    And we were free, as opposed to the Commies, who ran their government in secret, wouldn’t let their citizens hear information from outside Russia so they jammed Radio Free Europe, and had elections with the Party pre-approved candidate already selected. Now we have a thoroughly secret government that prosecutes whistleblowers, we regard information from Russia as an unacceptable interference in our politics, and at least one of the two private organizations who control our elections preach against primaries.

    Can it be true that people who used to preen on American freedom now support surveillance because you don’t have to worry if you’re not doing anything wrong!? That’s a mighty deterioration of belief.

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    @nihil obstet,

    The American Elite Establishment was firmly and covertly ( sometimes overtly) pro-Nazi till the outbreak of WWII. When Hitler declared war on the US, in support of his Ally Japan, the pro-Nazi elites in American government and business had to hold their tongues and bide their time and simulate the appearance of getting with the “defeat Fascism” program for the duration of the war.

    Two heterodox Leftists named Jeff Wells and David Emory run two separate websites. One a blog and one just a website.

    Jeff Wells the blogger ran a blog called Rigorous Intuition 2.0. He has added nothing to it for these last several years, but he ( or somebody) keeps it alive and on the web. Many of the entries have to do with how America’s pro-Nazi elite worked with the Nazis and Fascists to save as many Nazi and Fascist personell as possible; and get them to safety in North America, South America, Australia, and some other far distant places . . . in order to keep them safe and alive and in reserve in case they could be deployed somewhere to re-advance the cause of Fascism.
    Here are just a couple of high value posts in that regard:
    (both posts have a clever little leading illustration, and the man in both illustrations is Allen Dulles).

    David Emory made a series of radio broadcasts called ” For The Record” which played on various very obscure Public Radio Stations. ( Not the “NPR” ones, you may be sure of that). Some of David Emory’s broadcasts were about the details of various material support that America’s elite-Overclass supporters and backers of Fascism gave to the Hitler Nazis at certain key periods-of-doubt in order to make sure they could rise to power and then to victory.
    Some of his broadcasts also elaborated his theory that the elite ” Deep Nazis” brought over as many paper-clip Nazis into America as possible as part of a plan to Fascistify America in the fullness of time. He also theorizes that these current “post-Nazis” and “Fascism 2.0” groups and people are allied with eachother in a world wide Fascist International. He also elaborated his theory that the Realist Deepest Nazis view World War II as a “battle” and not a “war”. They acknowledge that they have lost the “battle” but they still plan to win the “war”. They hate the “FDR New-Dealish” America which won the ” Battle of World War Two” and they seek long-term slow and careful revenge on the United States by making it ungovernable, breaking it up, and fascistifying all possibly profitable remnants of it.

    Here is a wikipage about David Emory where you can find links to David Emory lists and scripts and etc. I never did have the patience to read all of David Emory’s assigned homework reading. I only heard some programs at random when events came together just right. Anyway, here is the link.

    Economic historian John L. King , author of How To Profit From The Next Great Depression, once said: ” him that is not surprised when the future comes, lives very close to the truth”.
    Will you ( and every other reader of this comment) be ready? Or will you be surprised?

  28. different clue

    One of the reasons not touched on for why Trump set aside the JCPOA with Iran has, I think, to do with Trump’s wounded pride over being roasted by Obama at a White House Correspondents Dinner and also with Trump’s deep anti-Blackitic animus against Obama just on racial principles.
    And since JCPOA is rightly regarded as a positive accomplishment ( Obama’s single only positive accomplishment in office), Trump hates Obama for being publicly admired for JCPOA; and Trump wants to destroy JCPOA to get even with Obama for being celebrated for Obama’s positive JCPOA achievement.

  29. different clue


    What is Pat Lang’s take on the thought of a war with Iran? What is Pat Lang’s take on Bolton and Pompeo and such? What seems to be the commenters’ take on those things?

  30. different clue

    ( In all fairness, now that I think about it, there is one other positive Obama accomplishment . . . the Car Company Cramdown. Some thinned-out pieces of GM were saved in hopes they would/will do better in the future. The thinned-out skeleton of Chrysler was successfully sold to Fiat. The anti-workeritic worker-hating anti-workerites wanted to put GM and Chrysler into roach motel liquidation in order to exterminate those bussinesses in order to exterminate the UAW. And the Cramdown was a better outcome than that would have been),

  31. bruce wilder

    @ different clue

    the smart parasite tries to keep the host alive as long as possible and will promise hope, but deliver prolonged misery. that was Obama’s gig: soothing words while continuing the bloodsucking. of course there was no alternative, there never is.

  32. different clue

    @ bruce wilder,

    This upcoming primary season offers a few possible alternatives. I think of them as the 4DDs . . . the 4 Decent Democrats. The rest of the Democrats could be labeled however one likes, I suppose.

    The DemParty hopes to prevent a 4DD Democrat from getting nominated by running so many Catfood Candidates that no one PrezNom seeker will get the magic 50% plus one. Now that I have come to realize that a lot of the “pledged delegates” are pledged for the First Ballot only, I understand that a lot of those “pledged delegates” are riding one of the 4DDs to get into the Convention Hall, and if Ballot Number One fails to deliver a nominee on the first ballot; then those “released-from-their-one-ballot-pledge” delegates will vote for the Catfood Candidate of their true heart’s desire.

    The only hope the 4DD supporters have is that the 4DDs have a core of bitter-end delegates who will keep voting 4DD and will obstruct the Party’s effort to close the balloting and will force the assembled delegates to undergo hundreds or thousands of rounds of balloting. Eventually the Party Leaders will force a Brokered Convention amid such an ugly hateful mood that the millions of 4DD supporters will realize what an evil enemy the Catfood Democrat Party really is.

    Wouldn’t it be just perfect if the Brokered Convention delivers us DemPrezNom Joe Biden . . . and Running Mate Hillary Clinton?

    Its HIS turn!
    Its HER turn!
    Its BOTH of their turns at the SAME TIME!
    Isn’t it great? We can be with HIM’nHER toGETHer!

    How could Trump POSSibly beat that?

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