Monthly Archives: June 2016

The end of the Atlantic project. Slamming the brakes on the neoliberal order.

Britain isn’t leaving the EU any time soon as confusion grips parliament. Angela Merkel will see to that. Make no mistake though, Britain voting to ‘leave’ on a high 72% turnout in the Brexit referendum is a devastating blow to the current international order, the entire structure of which will have to change. The British public has Molotov cocktailed the Westminster and Washington élites.

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Brexit and the Zeitgeist

Tom Ewing writes

Brexit is insular but not wholly British. You hardly have to try and see parallels, across the Channel or the Atlantic. Better thinkers than me have addressed this crisis, the arrogance of neoliberal elites in constructing a politics designed to sideline and work around democracy while leaving democracy formally intact. Democracy becomes a potential weapon, a trigger you can vote to pull. But weapons don’t fire themselves, and the genius of Farage and Johnson and Gove (and Trump, potentially) is to get people to focus on the target, not on the one holding the gun.

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Clinton’s likely Pentagon Chief already declaring war

Glenn Greenwald writes

Michele Flournoy, the former Defense Department official whom Defense One calls “the woman expected to run the Pentagon under Hillary Clinton,” this week advocated for “sending more American troops into combat against ISIS and the Assad regime than the Obama administration has been willing to commit.” In an interview with that outlet, Flournoy “said she would direct U.S. troops to push President Bashar al-Assad’s forces out of southern Syria and would send more American boots to fight the Islamic State in the region.” She had previously “condemned the Obama administration’s ISIS policy as ineffectual,” denouncing it as “under-resourced.”

This week, Flournoy specifically advocated what she called “limited military coercion” to oust Assad. In August, 2014, Obama announced what he called “limited airstikes in Iraq” – and they’re still continuing almost two years later. Also note the clinical euphemism Flournoy created – “military coercion” – for creating a “no bomb zone” that would entail “a declaratory policy backed up by the threat of force. ‘If you bomb the folks we support, we will retaliate using standoff means to destroy [Russian] proxy forces, or, in this case, Syrian assets,’” she said. Despite DC conventional wisdom that Obama is guilty of “inaction” in Syria, he has sent substantial aid, weapons and training to Syrian rebels while repeatedly bombing ISIS targets in Syria.

Even U.S. military officials have said that these sorts of no-fly or no-bomb guarantees Flournoy is promising – which Hillary Clinton herself has previously advocated – would risk a military confrontation with Russia. Obama’s Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, told a Senate hearing last December that the policy Clinton advocates “would require ‘substantial’ ground forces and would put the US military at risk of a direct confrontation with the Syrian regime and Russian forces.” Nonetheless, the Pentagon official highly likely to be Clinton’s Defense Secretary is clearly signaling their intention to proceed with escalated military action. The carnage in Syria is horrifying, but no rational person should think that U.S. military action will be designed to “help Syrians.”

It’s long been beyond doubt that Clinton intends to embark upon a far more militaristic path than even Obama forged – which is saying a lot given that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner has bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries in seven years. Repeatedly, Clinton has implicitly criticized Obama for excessive hostility toward Israel, and she has vowed more uncritical support for Israel and to move closer to Netanyahu. Just yesterday, Clinton surrogates battled Sanders’ appointees in the Democratic Platform Committee meeting over Israel and Palestine, with Clinton’s supporters taking an even more hard-line position than many right-wing Israeli politicians. Clinton was the leading voice that successfully convinced a reluctant Obama to involve the U.S. in the disastrous intervention in Libya.

Her past criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy were based overwhelmingly in her complaints that he did not use enough military force, including in Syria. As The New York Times put it in 2014: “That Mrs. Clinton is more hawkish than Mr. Obama is no surprise to anyone who watched a Democratic primary debate in 2008 . . . . She favored supplying arms to moderate Syrian rebels, leaving behind a somewhat larger residual military force in Iraq and waiting longer before withdrawing American support for President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt during the historic protests in Cairo.”

Clinton’s almost-certain Defense Secretary is already – months before she’s in power – expressly advocating more war and bombing and dangerous interventions. That makes the costs of a Clinton foreign policy – at least for those who assign any value to lives outside of American soil – much harder, and more shameful, to ignore.

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Why Janet Ain’t Yellin’ “Higher Interest” Anymore: Jobs Worse than Expected and Far Worse than Reported

David Haggith writes

The Fed’s plane called Recovery is disintegrating slowly, rather than in one huge blow-up. Six months out from lift off, it is clear that the forces against another rate increase are growing worse month by month.

The Fed’s chances of pulling up any higher are getting rapidly smaller. Globally, there is talk of Brexit and Grexit, and China is looking like a mountainside that could slide any day now. Japan’s one-hundredth attempt at economic recovery through quantitative easing has failed completely. Much of the world had descended into Alice’s Wonderland of negative interest rates for the first time in world history, as a last-ditch attempt to recover from the Great Recession (and to recover from their central banks’ failed recovery attempts). Two major European banks are failing, and Venezuela and Brazil have collapsed into economic chaos. (And those are just a few current headlines.)

Yet, the worst news for the Fed is right at home. The Fed’s plane never made it more than a few feet above the runway, when this week the illusory jobs recovery flew like a goose into the Fed’s left engine just as Captain Yellen was hoping to pull back on the stick for one more attempt to gain some interest altitude….

Why Janet Ain’t Yellin’ “Higher Interest” Anymore: Jobs Worse than Expected and Far Worse than Reported


The risk of Russia-US nuclear confrontation

listen to Gilbert Doctorow on the Scott Horton Show

The neocons – Nuland, Kagan, Kristol have all gone over to Clinton and the Democrats with their war of words against Russia, and the US is deploying nuclear missiles all along the East European border. Putin has promised a nuclear attack if there are any untoward moves. Trump is vague on foreign policy, but one thing he has said is that there is no reason why the US can’t be friends with Russia.



Worried About “Stigmatizing” Cluster Bombs, House Approves More Sales to Saudi Arabia

Alex Emmons writes

The House on Thursday narrowly defeated a measure that would have banned the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, but the closeness of the vote was an indication of growing congressional opposition to the conduct of the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing coalition in Yemen.

The vote was mostly along party lines, with 200 Republicans – and only 16 Democrats – heeding the Obama administration’s urging to vote against the measure. The vote was 204-216.

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Sanders’ impact on future US foreign policy

Sanders seems to be able now to push Clinton into a less interventionist stance on US foreign policy, and even perhaps more evenhandedness on Palestine. But if this is the case as the writer below argues, it is only because Trump is taking up Sanders’ arguments against Clinton and actually running successfully with them.

Molly O’Toole writes

Bernie Sanders has accepted he’s lost the war but, having won key battles, he’s the one negotiating the terms of his surrender.

The Vermont Independent senator turned Democratic presidential contender met with presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton for two hours behind closed doors at a Washington hotel Tuesday night as the polls closed in the last primary of the Democratic nominating contest. A truce is taking shape between the former Senate colleagues, with Sanders and Clinton vowing in recent days to work together to defeat presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in November.

Still, Sanders came to the summit with a list of demands for reforming the Democratic Party, including a vow to push for “the most progressive platform ever passed” by the party. He’s already staked out positions well to the left of Clinton’s foreign policy on issues ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian dispute to the war against the Islamic State, setting the stage for potentially bitter fights.

Clinton has a well-documented record of pushing President Barack Obama to surge more troops into Afghanistan and launch a U.S.-led military intervention in Libya. And in many respects, Sanders has not forced her to substantially alter the relatively hawkish approach she’s demonstrated in her years in public office.

Still, he has succeeded — and even exceeded observers’ expectations – in forcing the Democratic Party to re-evaluate its long-held assumptions about the use of military force abroad. Clinton embodies many of those views, and Sanders won millions of votes by coming at her from the left and arguing for a less interventionist foreign policy.

The Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign declined to comment on what contributions Sanders may have made to the foreign policy debate during the Democratic primary. Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs also did not respond to a request for comment.

Sanders’s campaign announced he will give a video address from Burlington, Vermont, on Thursday, raising expectations that he will formally abandon his quest for the nomination — and yet, the email announcing the address was titled: “The political revolution continues.”

Sanders launched his campaign with a laser-sharp focus on domestic issues like universal health care and an expanded social welfare system. By the end, though, he had succeeded in putting Clinton on the defensive on issues like Libya’s unraveling, the ongoing carnage in Iraq, and international trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she came out against despite backing it countless times as Obama’s top diplomat.

While often deflecting questions on the specifics of his foreign policy, Sanders sought to undermine Clinton’s far deeper experience by questioning her judgment — a strategy Trump has already begun to emulate in his general election campaign.

And Sanders also forced concessions from the DNC that could have a lasting impact on the party far beyond its convention in Philadelphia in July. Due to Sanders’s undeniable success in mobilizing Democratic voters and bringing new ones — particularly young people — into the party, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz gave him five seats on the powerful committee charged with drafting the party’s platform. Clinton, who ultimately won 3 million more votes than her rival, received just one extra seat.

Even before the picks were named, Sanders’s national security advisors said he should’ve focused more on foreign policy, believing him to be more closely aligned with the Democratic base on the issue than Clinton. Several promised to push for a platform with more liberal foreign policy proposals than she has espoused, particularly in calling for more “evenhandedness” toward Palestinians in language about the long-stymied peace process.

Jim Zogby, a foreign policy advisor for Sanders who was named to the drafting committee, credited the Vermont senator for pushing Clinton to talk more about Palestinian rights and whether Israel had used disproportionate force in retaliatory strikes.

“Ending the taboo about discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a measured and balanced way was historic,” Zogby told Foreign Policy on Tuesday. He has said he will push for the word “occupation” to be included in the platform to describe the nearly five-decade Israeli presence in land Palestinians claim for a future state.

Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, has been part of the DNC’s executive body for a decade, including as co-chair of the resolutions committee and co-founder of its “Ethnic Caucus.” He’s hoping Sanders’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue will have a trickle-down effect on the party’s platform, leading to a “demilitarization of our foreign policy,” including avoiding nation-building and using force as a last resort.

When Foreign Policy noted that some of those critiques sound as if they could have come from Trump, Zogby pushed back: “Donald Trump may pick up a phrase here or there [from Sanders], but that is in no way, shape, or form the same thing.”

For one of her own picks on the drafting committee, Wasserman Schultz selected Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 authorization that serves as legal foundation for the “war on terror” — both Sanders and Clinton and Clinton voted yes. Lee told Foreign Policy Wednesday she’ll continue to withhold her endorsement, because neutrality will give her a better bargaining position “if we get stuck on some of the big issues.”

She’ll personally push for issues such as an updated authorization for the ISIS fight and auditing of the Pentagon, but allowed Israel-Palestine could potentially be one on which the committee gets stuck. Still, she added, “A very volatile debate is always good.”

In going after Clinton’s judgment on foreign policy, Sanders pulled from Obama’s successful 2008 playbook. Then Sen. Obama constantly hit the woman who would become his first secretary of state for her 2002 vote for the Iraq war, and won.

In the run-up to Clinton’s clinching of the nomination, Democratic leaders’ growing calls for Sanders to tone down his criticism reflected their fears that the judgment attack would hand Trump a ready-made response to questions about his own credibility.

And it has.

Rather than fade away with Sanders’s campaign, Trump has given the judgment attack a second life. In recent weeks, he has parroted Sanders’s language and even invoked his name, wielding the word “judgment” some half a dozen times in as many days in late May and early June.

Lee said of Sanders’s tactic, “I could question his judgment,” referring to his vote for the 2001 authorization. “But I’m not going to say that,” she laughed, “questioning another’s judgment is pushing it a little bit.” Still, she doesn’t think it will hurt Clinton in the general election, particularly against Trump who “has no foreign policy.”

She said Sanders did succeed in raising “an alternative vision on foreign policy: The fact that Democrats can be strong on national security and care about global peace, without continuing to use the military option as a first resort rather than the last.”

It remains too soon to tell how enthusiastically Sanders will campaign for Clinton and what else he would be willing to do to help defeat Trump. The senator continued to withhold his endorsement following Tuesday night’s meeting, though many outside observers believe he will eventually throw his support behind her.

Wasserman Schultz said in a statement timed with the meeting: “Now that our 2016 primaries are officially at their end, Democrats are ready to unify and take on both Trump and the Republican Party that he represents.”

Sanders has long accused Wasserman Schultz of being in the tank for Clinton and replacing her is one of his primary demands, though she insists she’s staying put.

Still, Briggs, the Sanders spokesman, told reporters earlier Tuesday that the senator will not drop out “today, or tomorrow, or the next day” and “plans to stay in this through the Democratic convention.”

Immigration Economics: Illegal Aliens Are Our Bread and Butter

It’s not the poor immigrants , it’s the bankers stupid!

On this note…

David Haggith writes

Have you ever wondered why politicians make some immigration illegal and then turn a blind eye to illegal immigration wherever it is happening? What about why they talk so much about building walls to keep out the vast hoards, rather than simply arresting the much smaller number of people who hire illegal immigrants?

Have you also wondered why politician make it illegal for millions of people to enter the country and then eventually support naturalizing those people who broke the laws these very politicians made? This article will answer that, too.

Immigration is largely about economics; and by that I do not simply mean that people are coming to the U.S. to gain economic opportunity, though, of course, they are. Nor do I simply mean immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans, though, of course, they are. Or that they cost a lot in welfare and education expenses, though, some of them do.

There is an elephant in the room that no one is talking about, and it’s not just a GOP elephant. Immigration economics has a dark underbelly that neither party will ever bring up. Since immigration reform is one of the major planks of the Republican’s top candidate for the presidency, there is no time like the present to talk about the elephant….

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Immigration Economics: Illegal Aliens Are Our Bread and Butter