Era of Response

SUBHEAD: what happens to a failed democracy is a period of chaos, followed by the rise of a talented despot.

By John Michael Greer on 27 May 2015 the Archdruid Report -
(http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-era-of-response.html)


Image above: Poster supporting President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal revolution; a softer version of dictatorship than Germany or Russia. From (https://www.laprogressive.com/a-new-new-deal/).

The third stage of the process of collapse, following what I’ve called the eras of pretense and impact, is the era of response. It’s easy to misunderstand what this involves, because both of the previous eras have their own kinds of response to whatever is driving the collapse; it’s just that those kinds of response are more precisely nonresponses, attempts to make the crisis go away without addressing any of the things that are making it happen.

If you want a first-rate example of the standard nonresponse of the era of pretense, you’ll find one in the sunny streets of Miami, Florida right now. As a result of global climate change, sea level has gone up and the Gulf Stream has slowed down.

One consequence is that these days, whenever Miami gets a high tide combined with a stiff onshore wind, salt water comes boiling up through the storm sewers of the city all over the low-lying parts of town. The response of the Florida state government has been to ssue an order to all state employees that they’re not allowed to utter the phrase “climate change.”

That sort of thing is standard practice in an astonishing range of subjects in America these days. Consider the roles that the essentially nonexistent recovery from the housing-bubble crash of 2008-9 has played in political rhetoric since that time.

The current inmate of the White House has been insisting through most of two turns that happy days are here again, and the usual reams of doctored statistics have been churned out in an effort to convince people who know better that they’re just imagining that something is wrong with the economy.

We can expect to hear that same claim made in increasingly loud and confident tones right up until the day the bottom finally drops out.

With the end of the era of pretense and the arrival of the era of impact comes a distinct shift in the standard mode of nonresponse, which can be used quite neatly to time the transition from one era to another.

Where the nonresponses of the era of pretense insist that there’s nothing wrong and nobody has to do anything outside the realm of business as usual, the nonresponses of the era of impact claim just as forcefully that whatever’s gone wrong is a temporary difficulty and everything will be fine if we all unite to do even more of whatever activity defines business as usual.

That this normally amounts to doing more of whatever made the crisis happen in the first place, and thus reliably makes things worse is just one of the little ironies history has to offer.

What unites the era of pretense with the era of impact is the unshaken belief that in the final analysis, there’s nothing essentially wrong with the existing order of things.

Whatever little difficulties may show up from time to time may be ignored as irrelevant or talked out of existence, or they may have to be shoved aside by some concerted effort, but it’s inconceivable to most people in these two eras that the existing order of things is itself the source of society’s problems, and has to be changed in some way that goes beyond the cosmetic dimension.

When the inconceivable becomes inescapable, in turn, the second phase gives way to the third, and the era of response has arrived.

This doesn’t mean that everyone comes to grips with the real issues, and buckles down to the hard work that will be needed to rebuild society on a sounder footing.

Winston Churchill once noted with his customary wry humor that the American people can be counted on to do the right thing, once they have exhausted every other possibility.

He was of course quite correct, but the same rule can be applied with equal validity to every other nation this side of Utopia, too. The era of response, in practice, generally consists of a desperate attempt to find something that will solve the crisis du jour, other than the one thing that everyone knows will solve the crisis du jour but nobody wants to do.

Let’s return to the two examples we’ve been following so far, the outbreak of the Great Depression and the coming of the French Revolution. In the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash, once the initial impact was over and the “sucker’s rally” of early 1930 had come and gone, the federal government and the various power centers and pressure groups that struggled for influence within its capacious frame were united in pursuit of a single goal: finding a way to restore prosperity without doing either of the things that had to be done in order to restore prosperity.

That task occupied the best minds in the US elite from the summer of 1930 straight through until April of 1933, and the mere fact that their attempts to accomplish this impossibility proved to be a wretched failure shouldn’t blind anyone to the Herculean efforts that were involved in the attempt.

The first of the two things that had to be tackled in order to restore prosperity was to do something about the drastic imbalance in the distribution of income in the United States.

As noted in previous posts, an economy dependent on consumer expenditures can’t thrive unless consumers have plenty of money to spend, and in the United States in the late 1920s, they didn’t—well, except for the very modest number of those who belonged to the narrow circles of the well-to-do.

It’s not often recalled these days just how ghastly the slums of urban America were in 1929, or how many rural Americans lived in squalid one-room shacks of the sort you pretty much have to travel to the Third World to see these days. Labor unions and strikes were illegal in 1920s America; concepts such as a minimum wage, sick pay, and health benefits didn’t exist, and the legal system was slanted savagely against the poor.

You can’t build prosperity in a consumer society when a good half of your citizenry can’t afford more than the basic necessities of life. That’s the predicament that America found clamped to the tender parts of its economic anatomy at the end of the 1920s.

In that decade, as in our time, the temporary solution was to inflate a vast speculative bubble, under the endearing delusion that this would flood the economy with enough unearned cash to make the lack of earned income moot. That worked over the short term and then blew up spectacularly, since a speculative bubble is simply a Ponzi scheme that the legal authorities refuse to prosecute as such, and inevitably ends the same way.

There were, of course, effective solutions to the problem of inadequate consumer income. They were exactly those measures that were taken once the era of response gave way to the era of breakdown; everyone knew what they were, and nobody with access to political or economic power was willing to see them put into effect, because those measures would require a modest decline in the relative wealth and political dominance of the rich as compared to everyone else.

Thus, as usually happens, they were postponed until the arrival of the era of breakdown made it impossible to avoid them any longer.

The second thing that had to be changed in order to restore prosperity was even more explosive, and I’m quite certain that some of my readers will screech like banshees the moment I mention it. The United States in 1929 had a precious metal-backed currency in the most literal sense of the term.

Paper bills in those days were quite literally receipts for a certain quantity of gold—1.5 grams, for much of the time the US spent on the gold standard. That sort of arrangement was standard in most of the world’s industrial nations; it was backed by a dogmatic orthodoxy all but universal among respectable economists; and it was strangling the US economy.

It’s fashionable among certain sects on the economic fringes these days to look back on the era of the gold standard as a kind of economic Utopia in which there were no booms and busts, just a warm sunny landscape of stability and prosperity until the wicked witches of the Federal Reserve came along and spoiled it all. That claim flies in the face of economic history.

During the entire period that the United States was on the gold standard, from 1873 to 1933, the US economy was a moonscape cratered by more than a dozen significant depressions. There’s a reason for that, and it’s relevant to our current situation—in a backhanded manner, admittedly.

Money, let us please remember, is not wealth. It’s a system of arbitrary tokens that represent real wealth—that is, actual, nonfinancial goods and services.

Every society produces a certain amount of real wealth each year, and those societies that use money thus need to have enough money in circulation to more or less correspond to the annual supply of real wealth. That sounds simple; in practice, though, it’s anything but.

Nowadays, for example, the amount of real wealth being produced in the United States each year is contracting steadily as more and more of the nation’s economic output has to be diverted into the task of keeping it supplied with fossil fuels. That’s happening, in turn, because of the limits to growth—the awkward but inescapable reality that you can’t extract infinite resources, or dump limitless wastes, on a finite planet.

The gimmick currently being used to keep fossil fuel extraction funded and cover the costs of the rising impact of environmental disruptions, without cutting into a culture of extravagance that only cheap abundant fossil fuel and a mostly intact biosphere can support, is to increase the money supply ad infinitum.

That’s become the bedrock of US economic policy since the 2008-9 crash. It’s not a gimmick with a long shelf life; as the mismatch between real wealth and the money supply balloons, distortions and discontinuities are surging out through the crawlspaces of our economic life, and crisis is the most likely outcome.

In the United States in the first half or so of the twentieth century, by contrast, the amount of real wealth being produced each year soared, largely because of the steady increases in fossil fuel energy being applied to every sphere of life. While the nation was on the gold standard, though, the total supply of money could only grow as fast as gold could be mined out of the ground, which wasn’t even close to fast enough.

So you had more goods and services being produced than there was money to pay for them; people who wanted goods and services couldn’t buy them because there wasn’t enough money to go around; business that wanted to expand and hire workers were unable to do so for the same reason. The result was that moonscape of economic disasters I mentioned a moment ago.

The necessary response at that time was to go off the gold standard. Nobody in power wanted to do this, partly because of the dogmatic economic orthodoxy noted earlier, and partly because a money shortage paid substantial benefits to those who had guaranteed access to money.

The rentier class—those people who lived off income from their investments—could count on stable or falling prices as long as the gold standard stayed in place, and the mere fact that the same stable or falling prices meant low wages, massive unemployment, and widespread destitution troubled them not at all. Since the rentier class included the vast majority of the US economic and political elite, in turn, going off the gold standard was unthinkable until it became unavoidable.

The period of the French revolution from the fall of the Bastille in 1789 to the election of the National Convention in 1792 was a period of the same kind, though driven by different forces.

Here the great problem was how to replace the Old Regime—not just the French monarchy, but the entire lumbering mass of political, economic, and social laws, customs, forms, and institutions that France had inherited from the Middle Ages and never quite gotten around to adapting to drastically changed conditions—with something that would actually work. It’s among the more interesting features of the resulting era of response that nearly every detail differed from the American example just outlined, and yet the results were remarkably similar.

Thus the leaders of the National Assembly who suddenly became the new rulers of France in the summer of 1789 had no desire whatsoever to retain the traditional economic arrangements that gave France’s former elites their stranglehold on an oversized share of the nation’s wealth.

The abolition of manorial rights that summer, together with the explosive rural uprisingsagainst feudal landlords and their chateaux in the wake of the Bastille’s fall, gutted the feudal system and left most of its former beneficiaries the choice between fleeing into exile and trying to find some way to make ends meet in a society that had no particular market for used aristocrats.

The problem faced by the National Assembly wasn’t that of prying the dead fingers of a failed system off the nation’s throat; it was that of trying to find some other basis for national unity and effective government.

It’s a surprisingly difficult challenge. Those of my readers who know their way around current events will already have guessed that an attempt was made to establish a copy of whatever system was most fashionable among liberals at the time, and that this attempt turned out to be an abject failure. What’s more, they’ll have been quite correct.

The National Assembly moved to establish a constitutional monarchy along British lines, bring in British economic institutions, and the like; it was all very popular among liberal circles in France and, naturally, in Britain as well, and it flopped.

Those who recall the outcome of the attempt to turn Iraq into a nice pseudo-American democracy in the wake of the US invasion will have a tolerably good sense of how the project unraveled.

One of the unwelcome but reliable facts of history is that democracy doesn’t transplant well. It thrives only where it grows up naturally, out of the civil institutions and social habits of a people; when liberal intellectuals try to impose it on a nation that hasn’t evolved the necessary foundations for it, the results are pretty much always a disaster. That latter was the situation in France at the time of the Revolution.

What happened thereafter is what almost always happens to a failed democratic experiment: a period of chaos, followed by the rise of a talented despot who’s smart and ruthless enough to impose order on a chaotic situation and allow new, pragmatic institutions to emerge to replace those destroyed by clueless democratic idealists.

In many cases, though by no means all, those pragmatic institutions have ended up providing a bridge to a future democracy, but that’s another matter.

Here again, those of my readers who have been paying attention to current events already know this; the collapse of the Soviet Union was followed in classic form by a failed democracy, a period of chaos, and the rise of a talented despot. It’s a curious detail of history that the despots in question are often rather short.

Russia has had the great good fortune to find, as its despot du jour, a canny realist who has successfully brought it back from the brink of collapse and reestablished it as a major power with a body count considerably smaller than usual.

France was rather less fortunate; the despot it found, Napoleon Bonaparte, turned out to be a megalomaniac with an Alexander the Great complex who proceeded to plunge Europe into a quarter century of cataclysmic war. Mind you, things could have been even worse; when Germany ended up in a similar situation, what it got was Adolf Hitler.

Charismatic strongmen are a standard endpoint for the era of response, but they properly belong to the era that follows, the era of breakdown, which will be discussed next week. What I want to explore here is how an era of response might work out in the future immediately before us, as the United States topples from its increasingly unsteady imperial perch and industrial civilization as a whole slams facefirst into the limits to growth.

The examples just cited outline the two most common patterns by which the era of response works itself out.
  • In the first pattern, the old elite retains its grip on power, and fumbles around with increasing desperation for a response to the crisis.
  • In the second, the old elite is shoved aside, and the new holders of power are left floundering in a political vacuum.
We could see either pattern in the United States. For what it’s worth, I suspect the latter is the more likely option; the spreading crisis of legitimacy that grips the country these days is exactly the sort of thing you saw in France before the Revolution, and in any number of other countries in the few decades just prior to revolutionary political and social change.

Every time a government tries to cope with a crisis by claiming that it doesn’t exist, every time some member of the well-to-do tries to dismiss the collective burdens its culture of executive kleptocracy imposes on the country by flinging abuse at critics, every time institutions that claim to uphold the rule of law defend the rule of entrenched privilege instead, the United States takes another step closer to the revolutionary abyss.

I use that last word advisedly. It’s a common superstition in every troubled age that any change must be for the better—that the overthrow of a bad system must by definition lead to the establishment of a better one. This simply isn’t true.

The vast majority of revolutions have established governments that were far more abusive than the ones they replaced. The exceptions have generally been those that brought about a social upheaval without wrecking the political system: where, for example, an election rather than a coup d’etat or a mass rising put the revolutionaries in power, and the political institutions of an earlier time remained in place with only such reshaping as new necessities required.

We could still see that sort of transformation as the United States sees the end of its age of empire and has to find its way back to a less arrogant and extravagant way of functioning in the world.

I don’t think it’s likely, but I think it’s possible, and it would probably be a good deal less destructive than the other alternative. It’s worth remembering, though, that history is under no obligation to give us the future we think we want.

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Landspeak

SUBHEAD: Words which do not simply label a place but in some mysterious and beautiful way become part of it.

By Robert Macfarlane on 15 May 2015 for Orion Magazine -
(https://orionmagazine.org/article/landspeak/)


Image above: The Hawaiian language is rich with place names; all with multiple meanings. "Puu" is a Hawaiian word for a conical land formation of a volcano that also implies a throat or pump (http://www.wehewehe.org). Pictured here (from GoogleEarth) is a "Puu" in Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii named Puuhi, where the ahupuaa (districts) of Weliweli, Paa and Mahaulepu join.  Puu formations are often places where Hawaiians districts meet and are sometimes locations where water can be distributed from one district to another. Puuhi became a reservoir for the first sugarcane plantation in Hawaii. In the distance is the site of the Koloa Sugar Mill.  When "Puu" is combined with the word "Wai", as in the word "Puuwai", they create the word for "heart". "Wai"  means fresh water (or any organic fluid not from salt water; such as honey, sap, semen or blood). The only "town" on the Hawaiian island of Niihau is called Puuwai (or Heart). It is the only place in Hawaii where all the residence speak the language. 

For over a decade I have been collecting place-words: gleaned singly from conversations, correspondences, or books, and jotted down in journals or on slips of paper. Now and then I have hit buried treasure in the form of vernacular dictionaries or extraordinary people—troves that have held gleaming handfuls of coinages.

One such trove turned up on the moors of the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis in 2007. There, I was shown a “Peat Glossary”: a word-list of the hundreds of Gaelic terms for the moorland that stretches over much of Lewis’s interior. Some of the language it recorded was still spoken—but much had fallen into disuse.

The same year I first saw the Peat Glossary, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood.

The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture, and willow.

The words introduced to the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player, and voice-mail.

The substitutions made in the dictionary—the outdoor and the natural being displaced by the indoor and the virtual—are a small but significant symptom of the simulated life we increasingly live. Children are now (and valuably) adept ecologists of the technoscape, with numerous terms for file types but few for differ-ent trees and creatures.

A basic literacy of landscape is falling away up and down the ages. And what is lost along with this literacy is something precious: a kind of word magic, the power that certain terms possess to enchant our relations with nature and place.

As the writer Henry Porter observed, the OUP deletions removed the “euphonious vocabulary of the natural world—words which do not simply label an object or action but in some mysterious and beautiful way become part of it.”

Consider ammil, a Devon term meaning “the sparkle of morning sunlight through hoar-frost,” a beautifully exact word for a fugitive phenomenon I have several times seen but never before been able to name. Shetlandic has a word, pirr, meaning “a light breath of wind, such as will make a cat’s paw on the water”; and another, klett, for “a low-lying earth-fast rock on the seashore.”

On Exmoor, zwer is the onomatopoeic term for the sound made by a covey of partridges taking flight. Smeuse is a Sussex dialect noun for “the gap in the base of a hedge made by the regular passage of a small animal”; now that I know the word smeuse, I will notice these signs of creaturely movement more often.

The variant English terms for icicle—aquabob (Kent), clinkerbell and daggler (Wessex), cancervell (Exmoor), ickle (Yorkshire), tankle (Durham), shuckle (Cumbria)—form a tinkling poem of their own. Blinter is a northern Scots word meaning “a cold dazzle,” connoting especially “the radiance of winter stars on a clear night,” or “ice-splinters catching low light.”

Instantly the word opens prospects: walking sunwards through snow late on a midwinter day, with the wind shifting spindrift into the air such that the ice-dust acts as a prismatic mist, refracting sunshine into its pale and separate colors; or out on a crisp November night in a city garden, with the lit windows of houses and the orange glow of street light around, while the stars blinter above in the cold high air.

I would not have guessed at the existence of quite so many terms for animal dung, from crottle (a foresters’ term for hare excrement) to doofers (Scots for horse shit) to the expressive ujller (Shetlandic for the “unctuous filth that runs from a dunghill”) and turdstool (West Country for a very substantial cowpat).

Nor did I know that a dialect name for the kestrel, alongside such felicities as windhover and bell-hawk, is wind-fucker. Once learnt, never forgotten—it is hard now not to see in the pose of the hovering kestrel a certain lustful quiver.

In The History of the Countryside, the great botanist Oliver Rackham describes four ways in which “landscape is lost”: through the loss of beauty, the loss of freedom, the loss of wildlife and vegetation, and the loss of meaning. I admire the way that aesthetics, human experience, ecology, and semantics are given parity in his list. Of these losses the last is hardest to measure.

I do not, of course, believe that such words will magically summon us into a pure realm of harmony and communion with nature. Rather that they might offer a vocabulary that is “convivial” as the philosopher Ivan Illich intended the word—meaning enriching of life, stimulating to the imagination, and “encouraging creative relations between people, and people and nature.”

And, perhaps, that the vibrancy of perception evoked in these glossaries may irrigate the dry metalanguages of modern policymaking (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for instance, offers such tautological aridities as “Land use: the use to which a piece of land is put”).

For there is no single mountain language, but a range of mountain languages; no one coastal language, but a fractal of coastal languages; no lone tree language, but a forest of tree languages.

As I have traveled, I have come to under­stand that although place-words are being lost, they are also being ­created. I met a painter in the Hebrides who used landskein to refer to the braid of blue horizon lines in hill country on a hazy day; and a five-year-old girl who concocted honeyfur to describe the soft seeds of grasses held in the fingers.

John Constable invented the verb to sky, meaning “to lie on one’s back and study the clouds.” We have forgotten ten thousand words for our landscapes, but we will make ten thousand more, given time.

Of course there are experiences of landscape that will always resist articulation, and of which words offer only a remote echo—or to which silence is by far the best response. Nature does not name itself.

Granite does not self-identify as igneous. Light has no grammar. Language is always late for its subject. Sometimes on the top of a mountain I just say, “Wow.”

• Robert Macfarlane lives in Cambridge and is author of The Wild Places and The Old Ways. The text that appears here is adapted from his book Landmarks, forthcoming from Trafalgar in
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Deep State Death Spiral

SUBHEAD: The nation is wallowing self-piteously in a fetid trough of denial and adolescent rage/magical thinking.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 26 May 2015 for Of Two Minds -
(http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmay15/surplus-repression5-15.html)


Image above: Adolescent dream - Captain America -  battered but still heroic in his fight against evil. From (http://bigbmh.deviantart.com/art/Captain-America-Fan-Poster-216119404).

If you type Deep State into the custom search window in the right sidebar, the search results fill 10 pages. I think it is fair to say I have long had a deep interest in the Deep State.

The Deep State is generally assumed to be monolithic: of one mind, so to speak, unified in worldview, strategy and goals.

In my view, this is an over-simplification of a constantly shifting battleground of paradigms and power between a number of factions and alliances within the Deep State. Disagreements are not publicized, of course, but they become apparent years or decades after the conflict was resolved, usually by one faction consolidating the Deep State's group-think around their worldview and strategy.

History suggests that this low-intensity conflict within the ruling Elite is generally a healthy characteristic of leadership in good times. As times grow more troubled, however, the unity of the ruling Elite fractures into irreconcilable political disunity, which becomes a proximate cause of the dissolution of the Empire if it continues.

I recently proposed the idea that Wall Street now poses a strategic threat to national security and thus to the Deep State itself: Who Gets Thrown Under the Bus in the Next Financial Crisis? (March 3, 2014)

Many consider it "impossible" that Wall Street could possibly lose its political grip on the nation's throat, but I suggest that Wall Street has over-reached, and is now teetering at the top of the S-Curve, i.e. it has reached Peak Wall Street.

Have We Reached Peak Wall Street?

Consider what the extremes of Wall Street/Federal Reserve predation, parasitism, avarice and power have done to the nation, and then ask if other factions within the Deep State are blind to the destructive consequences.

Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)

Frequent contributor B.C. recently submitted two working papers from the Deep State network that suggested rampant financialization was harming the real economy. This is powerful evidence that the corrosive consequences of financialization on the stability of the real economy is filtering into the group-think hive of the Deep State Network:

Why does financial sector growth crowd out real economic growth? (Bank for International Settlements) After studying how financial development affects aggregate productivity growth, we concluded that the level of financial development is good only up to a point, after which it becomes a drag on growth, and that a fast-growing financial sector is detrimental to aggregate productivity growth.

Rethinking Financial Deepening: Stability and Growth in Emerging Markets (International Monetary Fund)

Here is a sketch of The Deep State Network, which includes not only the nodes of centralized power but of the institutions that feed and support the Deep State's decisions and policies. These include Ivy League and federally funded research universities, the Mainstream Media, think-tanks, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the spectrum of institutions that influence the public's ability to frame and contextualize events, i.e. the institutions of propaganda.

A recent interview with Deep State scholar Peter Dale Scott made me wonder if the increasingly repressive policies of the visible state are also being recognized as destabilizing and therefore a threat to the entire American Imperial Project.

Scott's key phrase is surplus repression, which I interpret to mean repression that exceeds the practical needs of the Deep State to maintain public order.

We can anticipate the Deep State fracturing over the question of how much repression is enough: those who believe there is no upper limit on the effectiveness of repression, and those who understand that at some point, unlimited policing and financial repression will unleash a social destabilization that will threaten the integrity of the Empire and the Deep State itself.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

The American Deep State: An Interview with Peter Dale Scott

Peter Phillips: We’re really happy to have you here. I’ve just finished reading your book, The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy In your new book you talk about the egalitarian mindset culture of America. We believe in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, open government, transparency. And then you say also that there’s a dark side, or a deep side inside America that’s repressive, that is looking to be able to detain people without warrants, warrantless wire tapping and all of that – there’s a repressive side. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you frame this understanding of this culture of repression?

Peter Dale Scott: Actually, I think there’s always been a deep state in America and there have been times when it has been very repressive. We’re in a period of, you might say, surplus repression – repression that doesn’t serve anyone’s interests, not even the interests of the ruling class. (emphasis by CHS)

But it’s not in its essence repressive; it’s just repressive when it wants to be. I think a lot of the trouble we’re in now, actually is – and I say this in my book – that in the 1970s the deep state – the bankers, the lawyers, the people in foundations, all kinds of people – were really quite terrified at the forces in America calling for revolution – the African-Americans, but also, equally and perhaps ultimately even more, the anti-war movement because if you had a successful anti-war movement that would mean America would have to get out of the business of war. And that was, I think, an intolerable thought for them.

I think the Deep State was terrified of more than the anti-war movement--it was terrified of the counter-culture, which threatened the entire status quo of mindless consumerism and obedience to authority.

The Counterculture, which included the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement and the birth/expansion of the feminist movement, Eastern spirituality in the U.S., back-to-the-land self-sufficiency, rock music as a cultural force, the nonviolent anti-war movement, the anti-nuclear movement, experimentation with communal living and drugs, Futurist concepts, and a widespread expansion of freedom of self-expression and experimentation. Many observers believe this era also launched a Fourth Awakening as evangelical denominations expanded and "Jesus freaks" found religious inspiration outside mainline churches.

The book What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer makes a strong case that this era set the stage for the ultimate technological medium of experimentation and self-expression, the personal computer, which then led irresistibly to the World Wide Web (all the foundational technologies of the Internet were in place by 1969-- The first permanent ARPANET link was established on November 21, 1969, between UCLA and Stanford Research Institute.)

Which changed the world, of course. Those darn hippies!

The 40-Year Cycle of Cultural Change (July 14, 2011)

The nation is wallowing self-piteously in a fetid trough of denial and adolescent rage/magical thinking now that the nation's bogus, debt-based "prosperity" has crashed and cannot be restored, though the visible state (Federal Reserve and elected officials) keep trying to glue Humpty Dumpty back back together again.

The Deep State has been busy powering up the immense machinery of full spectrum repression to contain the inevitable disarray that will follow the collapse of the nation's bogus, debt-based "prosperity."

Our best hope for a productive outcome is that the cadre of those inside the Deep State Network who grasp the self-defeating nature of repression will gain influence over their repression-obsessed peers.

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Honeybee Enslavement

SUBHEAD: Honeybee collapse is the result of their enslavement of bees in industrial monoculture farms.

By Allan Christensenon 19 May 2015 for From Filmers to Farmers -
(http://fromfilmerstofarmers.com/blog/2015/may/honeybee-collapse-is-the-result-of-their-enslavement-in-industrial-monocultures/)


Image above: A monoculture of almond trees in California, where 90% of our almonds are grown. Photo by Steve Corey. From original article.

As you may have noticed, last week the media was once again filled with yet another round of collapsing honeybee stories, this time the coverage being about the loss of 42.1 percent of hives in the US over the past year, the second largest die-off on record.

As has been the recurring case though, thanks in part to beekeepers making splits with their hives (creating two hives out of one, in short), hive numbers have actually increased this year in comparison to last year's. This doesn't however mean that the honeybees' health is improving, a quote in the Washington Post giving a bit of the backstory.

What has emerged is a complex set of pressures on managed and wild bee populations that includes disease, a parasite known as the varroa mite, pesticides, extreme weather and poor nutrition tied to a loss of forage plants.

Well, yes and no. While Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is fortunately not being singled out this time as the sensationalist bogeyman, the beating around the bush still goes on, effectively clouding over the overarching issue (their poor nutrition is tied to more than just a loss of forage plants, while the "disease" they must deal with is more than just another checkbox on a list). In short, the core of the problem afflicting the majority of honeybees is that they are confined to living out their lives amongst fields of monocultures in the industrial agricultural system.

For starters, with the creation of monocultures encompassing hundreds and sometimes thousands of acres, farms are no longer able to provide the living environment necessary to maintain honeybee colonies, and in many cases even wild pollinators.


Although, say, a large blueberry "farm" may provide an immense supply of flowers for nectar and pollen, being a monoculture means that there is only one plant, and as this sole plant may only flower for a few weeks or even a few days of the year, this doesn't provide enough time for the honeybees to collect their needed supplies for the barren winter months.

Since these monoculture fields are essentially floral deserts for most of the year, to a large extent various native insects – wild pollinators – are similarly unable to exist amongst the dearth of flowers. In fact, there are now parts of China where bees have already gone extinct, requiring apple orchards to employ between twenty and twenty-five people to pollinate a hundred trees, something wild pollinators or a couple of hives worth of bees would normally be able to do.

But rather than being generally seen as an example of bad farming and something to rectify, these circumstances have resulted in a whole new industry of their own, for honeybee pollination has become big business indeed.

As stated by Jeff Pettis, head of the US federal government’s bee research laboratory in Beltsville, MD, and co-author of the recent beehive survey.

If beekeepers are going to meet the growing demand for pollination services, researchers need to find better answers to the host of stresses that lead to both winter and summer colony losses.

But here lies a large part of the problem. Owing to its status of quasi domestication (I say "quasi" since honeybees aren't really domesticated but rather retain their wildness while inhabiting artificial domains we provide for them), the honeybee has become an ideal pollinator to be shifted around in order to cater to the whims of monocultures. In fact, large beekeepers now make most of their money from "pollination services" rather than from sales of honey or other bee products.

In an area encompassing roughly 17,000 acres in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, approximately one-fifth of the world's blueberries are grown requiring almost 70,000 hives for pollination, coming from all over B.C. and Alberta. That however pales in comparison to the massive mono-forest of roughly 600,000 acres in the central valley of California that grows about 82 percent of the world's almonds.

In three weeks of February every year, more than 1 million hives (of 2.74 million in the US, down from a peak of about 6 million in the 1950s) make their way from as far away as New England and thirty-eight states in total in order to pollinate the crop.


Image above: Beehives being transported by flatbed truck for pollination. Consider the wind and vibration of transporting a hive at 65mph on a worn-out interstate route. Photo by Robert Thomson. From original article.

Added to by hives flown in from Australia on 747 jumbo jets to supplement struggling hive numbers, what results is a massive bee slum where all sorts of microbes and parasites from around the country get passed around, the bees none the better for it all due to their already compromised immune systems. Why might they be compromised?

Stuck on a diet of almond nectar, or blueberry nectar, or whatever the next crop may be, while the individual nectar and pollen from these crops may be healthy forms of food, honeybees are forced to feed on a homogeneous diet – resembling one where humans eat only bananas for three weeks, then broccoli for one week, carrots for two weeks, and so on. The result is a kind of rotational mono diet that lacks the nutrition provided by a well-rounded diet, exacerbating the malnourished and weakened state that leaves honeybees more prone to disease.

As reported in the journal Bee Culture, a decline in plant diversity could very well be causing a... decline in bee populations. Honeybees that pollinate on a wider variety of plants have a more robust immune system than bees which pollinate on monocrops, even when the monocrops had higher protein content.

One result of all this is that honeybees in the industrial system are routinely treated with antibiotics to combat bacterial infections, to the extent that many bees carry antibiotic resistant bacteria in their guts.

As if that weren't all enough, the honeybees' two sources of food, nectar (which they transform into honey for storage purposes, and which provides them with minerals, vitamins and enzymes) and pollen (which is their excellent source of protein and other nutrients), are just as much a victim of the monoculture mind-set.

Because honey and pollen can command a pretty penny on the market, many beekeepers – particularly the larger ones – actually remove all the honeybees' stores of honey and pollen. Since this leaves the bees with nothing to survive on over the winter, their pollen is then replaced with soy patties, while their honey is swapped for a sugar syrup if not high fructose corn syrup.

Having had their wholesome nutrient-rich (albeit monoculture-sourced) honey and pollen supplemented or even taken away from them, the modern honeybee is often forced to live off a diet that not only puts stress on its digestive systems and compromises its immune systems, but whose equivalency for us humans would be called junk food.

On top of all that, not only then must honeybees cope and live amongst the insecticides necessary for monoculture "farms" and golf courses and suburban lawns and such (be they neonicotinoids or not), but because of their poor health, strips of insecticides are also commonly placed inside hives to kill off Varroa mites and other plagues, which honeybees are now too unhealthy to ward off. In case you need me to spell it out, insecticides kill insects, and yes, honeybees are in fact insects themselves.

So while there is no doubt that CCD and other sensationalist news stories have created the awareness that "like, gee whiz, bees are dying," it would certainly be fair to ponder whether they have done all that much to inform us of the greater problem honeybees – and wild pollinators – must attempt to live amongst.

But truth be told, they largely haven't, for what has instead resulted is an audience that has deferred to a phalanx of "experts," who in true superhero style are expected to save the day with an array of techno fixes that will vanquish CCD and other honeybee problems to the dustbin of history.
 
But in reality, CCD and much else that honeybees suffer from are actually symptoms of a much greater problem, the problem of industrial agriculture. As author Rowan Jacobsen put it in his excellent book Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis,

Until local agriculture replaces global agriculture, there will always be another parasite, another virus, another mysterious collapse.



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Building the Garden of Eden

SUBHEAD: You will have to build your own Garden of Eden. The sooner you do the better it will be. 

By Juan Wilson on 25 May 2015 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2015/05/building-garden-of-eden.htm)


Image above: painting of "The Garden of Eden" by Tomas Cole in 1828. From (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_of_Eden#/media/File:Jan_Brueghel_de_Oude_en_Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_Het_aards_paradijs_met_de_zondeval_van_Adam_en_Eva.jpg).

This week I am turning seventy years old. Being born in the spring of 1945 means I have experienced the entire post World War Two era. It has been one hell of a ride. And it seems that in my single lifetime I may see the entire era of what some have call Pax Americana.

That era being the time that the Untied States of America has been the dominant player in the world after dropping atomic bombs on Japan. That era is in the process of ending. At best it will be a difficult transition. Difficult even though Americans have been practicing the experience of defeat since the Korean War.

Our Asian wars in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia through the 60's and 70s; our Central American wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 80's; and our Middle East wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since the 1990s; have (with the aide of the CIA) all created more enemies than they have defeated. See the Mujahideen, Al Qaeda, Islamic State in Syria, etc., for recent kinds of negative feedback loops that seem to get worse with each iteration.

These wars have left countless Americans physically tortured and mentally traumatized for a lifetime. Millions have died and nothing has been accomplished. So much so that as the USA now thrashes to create the  international entities the will supersede today's bankrupt and obsolete nation states with supra-national corporations (See NAFTA, TAFTA, TPP,  etc.).

I believe the thinking goes that nations are not 'Too Big TO Fail" and they will take the hit for the elites and their financial institutions. How the Greek government gets out of its European Union bind in the GREXIT (Greek Exit) will foreshadow how it goes for Spain, Itialy, and ultimately France and Germany.

The Chinese and Japanese are facing their own crises as well. The financial and resource bubbles are will be bursting all around the world. The people with the most money, power and influence are spending what ever is necessary to make sure that you rather than they are stuck with the bill. It's a game of Musical Chairs with poverty and indentured servitude at boobie prizes.

One of the reasons that I dwell on these issues is that I want to know how much time I have to get certain tasks done. I do not think there is much more time available now. So when the nose-bleed-high towers of Ponzi Schemes, made up of  bets-against-bets-against-bets, tumble to the ground, it will be too late to get prepared for what follows. So get what you can get done before the Shit-Hits-The-Fan.

We have spent several years writing and re-posting articles about the failures to be expected and getting prepared to handle them. We have also spent a great deal of time on trying to read the tea leaves on when this financial gizmo we're stuck in will blow a fatal gasket.

In our efforts to walk-what-we-talk we have come to realize that it takes much longer to "master" a single self-reliant discipline than one might suspect. For example: raising chickens for eggs (and occasional meat). We have been working at it for five years and are just beginning to feel confident that we can handle raising generations of birds who will lay for us and survive to reproduce new generations who will do the same.

The same goes for managing a raised-bed garden; providing your own electricity; installing and using a wood burning cook stove; collecting storing groundwater and rainwater; and managing a banana tree, or papaya tree grove through generations. All these disciplines require experienced learning and attention to detail.

Here on Kauai once the refrigeration in the Big Save, Safeway, Foodland and Times Supermarket goes down it will be too late. Once the barges and jets stop supplying Costco, K-Mart and Walmarts are not landing it will be too late. You will be starving and reduced to stealing food from your food growing neighbors.

It's pretty clear that the world governments we have today will be ineffective and useless in averting global warming, climate change, drought, ocean rising, industrial pollution, soil loss, mass extinctions, and host of other Anthropocene Era disasters.

We will have to live within that stinking mess. Hopefully it will be in a place of our own making with as varied and delightful an environment as we can sustain around ourselves. So get used to it. You will have to build your own Garden of Eden. See (http://www.islandbreath.org/2007Year/20-HookahiKauai/0720-03GardenOfEden.html).

Start now! The sooner you do the better it will be.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: The New Game 10/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: The Titanic or Noah's Ark 3/4/12
Ea O Ka Aina: The Hero's Way 1/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Here's the Deal 7/5/09
Ea O Ka Aina: The American Century 12/31/08
Island Breath: Our Impending Journey Nears 8/24/07
Island Breath: The Garden of Eden 4/18/07

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Yesterday's Tomorrowland

SUBHEAD: Memorial Day is a dreary moment to have to face this onrushing calamity of rocket-propelled medievalism rampant.

By James Kunstler on 25 May 2015 for Kunstler.com -
(http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/yesterdays-tomorrowland/)


Image above: Poster illustration for Disney's utopian Tomorrowland. From (http://www.tomorrowland-movie.com/).

America takes pause on a big holiday weekend requiring little in the way of real devotions beyond the barbeque deck with two profoundly stupid movie entertainments that epitomize our estrangement from the troubles of the present day.

First there’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which depicts the collapse of civilization as a monster car rally. They managed to get it exactly wrong. The present is the monster car show. Houston. Los Angeles. New Jersey, Beijing, Mumbai, etc.

In the future, there will be no cars, gasoline-powered, electric, driverless, or otherwise. Mad Max: Fury Road is actually a perverse exercise in nostalgia, as if we’re going to miss being a nation of savages in the driver’s seat, acting out an endless and pointless competition for our little place on the highway.

The other holiday blockbuster is Disney’s Tomorrowland, another exercise in nostalgia for the present, where the idealized human life is a matrix of phone apps, robots, and holograms. Of course, anybody who had been to Disneyland back in the day remembers the old Tomorrowland installation, which eventually had to be dismantled because its vision of the future had become such a joke — starting with the idea that the human project’s most pressing task was space travel.

Now, at this late date, the monster Disney corporation — a truly evil empire — sees that more money can be winkled out of the sore-beset public by persuading them that techno-utopia is at hand, if only we click our heels hard enough.

Another theme running through both films is the idea that girls can be what boys used to be, that it’s “their turn” to be masters-of-the-universe, that men are past their sell-by date and only exist to defile and humiliate females. That this message is really only a mendacious effort to rake in more money by enlarging the teen “audience share” for the reigning wishful fantasy du jour is surely lost on the culture commentators, who are so busy these days celebrating the triumph and wonder of transgender life.

The reviewers are weighing these two movies on the popular pessimism / optimism scale. These are the only choices for the masses: whether to be a “doomer” or a “wisher.”

Both positions are cartoon world-views that don’t provide much guidance for continuing the project of civilization, in case anyone is actually interested in that. It’s either rampaging id or the illusion of supernatural control, take your pick. I find both stances revolting.


Image above: Promotional still image from the apocalyptic Mad Max: Fury Road movie. From (http://www.chud.com/community/t/146538/mad-max-fury-road-pre-release-discussion/750).

[IB Publisher's note: The votes are in. America has chosen its future. Over the crucial Memorial Day weekend box office Disney's "Tomorrowland" tanked while "Mad Max: Fury Road" soared. So watch out you techno-optimists America wants a more S&M exciting future.]

Anyway, it’s interesting that the real Fury Road of the rightnow runs from Syria into Iraq starring ISIS. There is a growing sentiment in the news media (including the web, of course) of a sickening déjà vu with these developments.

The old familiar talk of air strikes and ground troops infects the wifi transmissions. Maybe we should think about sending Charlize Theron over there with a few vestigial male sidekicks to load her assault rifle. How else to git’er done? Nobody knows.

Memorial Day is a dreary moment to have to face this onrushing calamity of rocket-propelled medievalism rampant — all those poor American soldiers blown up and mangled the past twelve years.  It’s also interesting that the news media is totally out-of-touch with the biggest prize on the great gameboard: Saudi Arabia. You think ISIS overrunning Iraq is bad news?

Wait until the ordnance starts flying around Riyadh. Notice, too, that there’s no news coming out of Yemen on the base of the Arabian peninsula, a failed state with a population nearly equal to its neighbor. If we have any idea what’s going on there — and surely the Pentagon and NSA do — then it’s not for popular consumption.

This is ironic because if the trouble happens to spread into Saudi Arabia — and I don’t see how it will not — then we’ll find out in a New York minute how America’s future is not about monster trucks, cars, dirt bikes, holograms, phone apps, and all the other ridiculous preoccupations of the moment.

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ISIS made in USA

SUBHEAD: Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US "Created" ISIS As A "Tool" To Overthrow Syria's President Assad.

By Nafeez Ahmed on 24 May 2015 for Zero Hedge -
(http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-23/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-us-created-isis-tool-overthrow-syrias-president-assad)


Image above: The unknown man was photographed being killed by a masked executioner in a village just outside ISIS' stronghold and de facto capital Raqqa while a large crowd looked on in February 2015. From (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2945684/Beheaded-WITCHCRAFT-Latest-ISIS-execution-Syria-echoes-Dark-Ages-man-killed-invoking-magic.html).

From the first sudden, and quite dramatic, appearance of the fanatical Islamic group known as ISIS which was largely unheard of until a year ago, on the world's stage and which promptly replaced the worn out and tired al Qaeda as the world's terrorist bogeyman, we suggested that the "straight to beheading YouTube clip" purpose behind the Saudi Arabia-funded Islamic State was a simple one:
Use the Jihadists as the vehicle of choice to achieve a political goal: depose of Syria's president Assad, who for years has stood in the way of a critical Qatari natural gas pipeline, one which could dethrone Russia as Europe's dominant - and belligerent - source of energy, reaching an interim climax with the unsuccessful Mediterranean Sea military build up of 2013, which nearly resulted in quasi-world war.

The narrative and the plotline were so transparent, even Russia saw right through them. Recall from September of last year:
If the West bombs Islamic State militants in Syria without consulting Damascus, LiveLeak reports that the anti-ISIS alliance may use the occasion to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad’s forces, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Clearly comprehending that Obama's new strategy against ISIS in Syria is all about pushing the Qatar pipeline through (as was the impetus behind the 2013 intervention push), Russia is pushing back noting that the it is using ISIS as a pretext for bombing Syrian government forces and warning that "such a development would lead to a huge escalation of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa."
But it's one thing to speculate; it's something entirely different to have hard proof.

And while speculation was rife that just like the CIA-funded al Qaeda had been used as a facade by the US to achieve its own geopolitical and national interests over the past two decades, so ISIS was nothing more than al Qaeda 2.0, there was no actual evidence of just this.

That may all have changed now when a declassified secret US government document obtained by the public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.

According to investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed in Medium, the "leaked document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of the strategy, but described this outcome as a strategic opportunity to “isolate the Syrian regime.” 
And not just that: as we reported last week, now that ISIS is running around the middle east, cutting people's heads of in 1080p quality and Hollywood-quality (perhaps literally) video, the US has a credible justification to sell billions worth of modern, sophisticated weapons in the region in order to "modernize" and "replenish" the weapons of such US allies as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iraq.

But that the US military-industrial complex is a winner every time war breaks out anywhere in the world (usually with the assistance of the CIA) is clear to everyone by now. What wasn't clear is just how the US predetermined the current course of events in the middle east.

Now, thanks to the following declassified report, we have a far better understanding of not only how current events in the middle east came to be, but what America's puppermaster role leading up to it all, was.
From Nafeez Ahmed: Secret Pentagon report reveals West saw ISIS as strategic asset Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion', originally posted in Medium.

Hypocrisy
The revelations contradict the official line of Western government on their policies in Syria, and raise disturbing questions about secret Western support for violent extremists abroad, while using the burgeoning threat of terror to justify excessive mass surveillance and crackdowns on civil liberties at home.

Among the batch of documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a federal lawsuit, released earlier this week, is a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document then classified as “secret,” dated 12th August 2012.

The DIA provides military intelligence in support of planners, policymakers and operations for the US Department of Defense and intelligence community.
So far, media reporting has focused on the evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold to rebels in Syria.

Some outlets have reported the US intelligence community’s internal prediction of the rise of ISIS. Yet none have accurately acknowledged the disturbing details exposing how the West knowingly fostered a sectarian, al-Qaeda-driven rebellion in Syria.

Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer, said:
“Given the political leanings of the organisation that obtained these documents, it’s unsurprising that the main emphasis given to them thus far has been an attempt to embarrass Hilary Clinton regarding what was known about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012. However, the documents also contain far less publicized revelations that raise vitally important questions of the West’s governments and media in their support of Syria’s rebellion.”
The West’s Islamists
The newly declassified DIA document from 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies.

Noting that “the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” the document states that “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,” while Russia, China and Iran “support the [Assad] regime.”

The 7-page DIA document states that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the precursor to the ‘Islamic State in Iraq,’ (ISI) which became the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,’ “supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media.”

The formerly secret Pentagon report notes that the “rise of the insurgency in Syria” has increasingly taken a “sectarian direction,” attracting diverse support from Sunni “religious and tribal powers” across the region.

In a section titled ‘The Future Assumptions of the Crisis,’ the DIA report predicts that while Assad’s regime will survive, retaining control over Syrian territory, the crisis will continue to escalate “into proxy war.”

The document also recommends the creation of “safe havens under international sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya when Benghazi was chosen as the command centre for the temporary government.”

In Libya, anti-Gaddafi rebels, most of whom were al-Qaeda affiliated militias, were protected by NATO ‘safe havens’ (aka ‘no fly zones’).

‘Supporting powers want’ ISIS entity

In a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar)”:
“… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.”

The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”

Further on, the document reveals that Pentagon analysts were acutely aware of the dire risks of this strategy, yet ploughed ahead anyway.

The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, it says, would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.” Last summer, ISIS conquered Mosul in Iraq, and just this month has also taken control of Ramadi.
Such a quasi-state entity will provide:
“… a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of territory.”
The 2012 DIA document is an Intelligence Information Report (IIR), not a “finally evaluated intelligence” assessment, but its contents are vetted before distribution. The report was circulated throughout the US intelligence community, including to the State Department, Central Command, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, FBI, among other agencies.

In response to my questions about the strategy, the British government simply denied the Pentagon report’s startling revelations of deliberate Western sponsorship of violent extremists in Syria. A British Foreign Office spokesperson said:
“AQ and ISIL are proscribed terrorist organisations. The UK opposes all forms of terrorism. AQ, ISIL, and their affiliates pose a direct threat to the UK’s national security. We are part of a military and political coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and are working with international partners to counter the threat from AQ and other terrorist groups in that region. In Syria we have always supported those moderate opposition groups who oppose the tyranny of Assad and the brutality of the extremists.”
The DIA did not respond to request for comment.

Strategic asset for regime-change
Security analyst Shoebridge, however, who has tracked Western support for Islamist terrorists in Syria since the beginning of the war, pointed out that the secret Pentagon intelligence report exposes fatal contradictions at the heart of official pronunciations:
“Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.”
According to Brad Hoff, a former US Marine who served during the early years of the Iraq War and as a 9/11 first responder at the Marine Corps Headquarters in Battalion Quantico from 2000 to 2004, the just released Pentagon report for the first time provides stunning affirmation that:
“US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.”
Hoff, who is managing editor of Levant Report — ?an online publication run by Texas-based educators who have direct experience of the Middle East?—?points out that the DIA document “matter-of-factly” states that the rise of such an extremist Salafist political entity in the region offers a “tool for regime change in Syria.”
The DIA intelligence report shows, he said, that the rise of ISIS only became possible in the context of the Syrian insurgency?—?“there is no mention of US troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State’s rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits.” The report demonstrates that:
“The establishment of a ‘Salafist Principality’ in Eastern Syria is ‘exactly’ what the external powers supporting the opposition want (identified as ‘the West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey’) in order to weaken the Assad government.”
The rise of a Salafist quasi-state entity that might expand into Iraq, and fracture that country, was therefore clearly foreseen by US intelligence as likely?—?but nevertheless strategically useful?—?blowback from the West’s commitment to “isolating Syria.”


Complicity
Critics of the US-led strategy in the region have repeatedly raised questions about the role of coalition allies in intentionally providing extensive support to Islamist terrorist groups in the drive to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria.

The conventional wisdom is that the US government did not retain sufficient oversight on the funding to anti-Assad rebel groups, which was supposed to be monitored and vetted to ensure that only ‘moderate’ groups were supported.

However, the newly declassified Pentagon report proves unambiguously that years before ISIS launched its concerted offensive against Iraq, the US intelligence community was fully aware that Islamist militants constituted the core of Syria’s sectarian insurgency.

Despite that, the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq.

As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion”?—?namely, the emergence of ISIS?—?“but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.’”

Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer who blew the whistle in the 1990s on MI6 funding of al-Qaeda to assassinate Libya’s former leader Colonel Gaddafi, similarly said of the revelations:
“This is no surprise to me. Within individual countries there are always multiple intelligence agencies with competing agendas.”
She explained that MI6’s Libya operation in 1996, which resulted in the deaths of innocent people, “happened at precisely the time when MI5 was setting up a new section to investigate al-Qaeda.”
This strategy was repeated on a grand scale in the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, said Machon, where the CIA and MI6 were:
“… supporting the very same Libyan groups, resulting in a failed state, mass murder, displacement and anarchy. So the idea that elements of the American military-security complex have enabled the development of ISIS after their failed attempt to get NATO to once again ‘intervene’ is part of an established pattern. And they remain indifferent to the sheer scale of human suffering that is unleashed as a result of such game-playing.”

Divide and rule  
Several US government officials have conceded that their closest allies in the anti-ISIS coalition were funding violent extremist Islamist groups that became integral to ISIS.

US Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, admitted last year that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey had funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Islamist rebels in Syria that metamorphosed into ISIS.

But he did not admit what this internal Pentagon document demonstrates?—?that the entire covert strategy was sanctioned and supervised by the US, Britain, France, Israel and other Western powers.

The strategy appears to fit a policy scenario identified by a recent US Army-commissioned RAND Corp report.

The report, published four years before the DIA document, called for the US “to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.”

The US would need to contain “Iranian power and influence” in the Gulf by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.” Simultaneously, the US must maintain “a strong strategic relationship with the Iraqi Shiite government” despite its Iran alliance.

The RAND report confirmed that the “divide and rule” strategy was already being deployed “to create divisions in the jihadist camp. Today in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level.”

The report observed that the US was forming “temporary alliances” with al-Qaeda affiliated “nationalist insurgent groups” that have fought the US for four years in the form of “weapons and cash.” Although these nationalists “have cooperated with al-Qaeda against US forces,” they are now being supported to exploit “the common threat that al-Qaeda now poses to both parties.”

The 2012 DIA document, however, further shows that while sponsoring purportedly former al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq to counter al-Qaeda, Western governments were simultaneously arming al-Qaeda insurgents in Syria.

The revelation from an internal US intelligence document that the very US-led coalition supposedly fighting ‘Islamic State’ today, knowingly created ISIS in the first place, raises troubling questions about recent government efforts to justify the expansion of state anti-terror powers.

In the wake of the rise of ISIS, intrusive new measures to combat extremism including mass surveillance, the Orwellian ‘prevent duty’ and even plans to enable government censorship of broadcasters, are being pursued on both sides of the Atlantic, much of which disproportionately targets activists, journalists and ethnic minorities, especially Muslims.

Yet the new Pentagon report reveals that, contrary to Western government claims, the primary cause of the threat comes from their own deeply misguided policies of secretly sponsoring Islamist terrorism for dubious geopolitical purposes.


• Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award, known as the ‘Alternative Pulitzer Prize’, for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work, and was selected in the Evening Standard’s ‘Power 1,000’ most globally influential Londoners.
Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the scifi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.

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Women Crossed the Line

SUBHEAD: For world peace these women crossed the DMZ Line from North Korea to South Korea.

By Jon Letman on 24 May 24 for Boing Boing  -
(http://www.islandbreath.org/2015Year/05/150524dmz.jpg)


Image above: A press conference for "Women Call for a Korean Peace Treaty". From original article.

In an historic move, a group of global feminist activists march into the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea to create a space for a new type of conversation about truly ending the Korean war.

At the time of this blog post in Seoul and Pyongyang it’s already Sunday, May 24th, International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, when a group of more than 30 women are scheduled to cross the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at Kaesong from North Korea into South Korea. Their goal: to draw attention to Korea’s “forgotten” and unfinished war, and move toward a real peace that can reunite families and, perhaps, a divided nation.

The march includes both North and South Korean women marching on their respective sides, and was preceded by a peace symposium in Pyongyang (watch North Korean TV coverage here). It will be followed by a similar symposium in Seoul after they cross the DMZ (Saturday evening in the U.S.).

The Korean War (officially 1950-53) stands out for its bloody toll. Some 4 million people, mostly civilians, perished. Although a “temporary” cease-fire was signed, the last 62 years have been marked by a protracted cold war defined by ongoing threats by both sides of the DMZ, decades of profligate military spending, and what is effectively a permanent state of near-war and the fear of attack.

The idea to walk from North Korea into South Korea began with a dream that lead organizer Christine Ahn had several years ago. The concept grew after Ahn connected with feminist icon Gloria Steinem who took a public stand in 2011 against the militarization of South Korea’s Jeju island.


Activist and feminist Gloria Steinem (C) speaks at a news conference before the WomenCrossDMZ group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015.  REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Image above: Activist and feminist Gloria Steinem (C) speaks at a news conference before the WomenCrossDMZ group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon. In original article.

The movement evolved into WomenCrossDMZ as Nobel Peace Prize laureates Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia joined Ahn, Steinem and what has grown to more than 30 women from South Korea, Japan, the US, Britain, Australia--at least 15 countries, in all.

A Different Future
Gwyn Kirk, a founding member of Women for Genuine Security, and one of the DMZ marchers, says WomenCrossDMZ is intended to create a space for a new type of conversation about ending the Korean war once and for all. After more than 60 years of tit-for-tat provocations, costly and dangerous brinksmanship and outright nuclear threats, Kirk says it’s time to create a different future.

That this movement is organized entirely by women is natural, says Kirk, pointing to UN Security Resolution 1325 which reaffirms “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction…”

As these women mount a brave effort to do what men have failed to achieve (bring peace to the Korean peninsula), they are also receiving criticism for their efforts. One Korea policy commentator went so far as to call the group “naïve, duplicitous, disingenuous, fatuous, and [stupid].”

CNN’s Brian Todd asked if Kim Jong-un was “in league with a women’s group to bring peace between North and South Korea” and played up suggestions Christine Ahn might be “sympathetic” to North Korea. The Monthly Review responded by breaking down why The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer did a “hatchet job” on WomenCross DMZ rather than a serious examination of what they set out to achieve.


NGO activist Choi Ai-young (R) and other members of the WomenCrossDMZ group pose with Korea's traditional patchwork before the group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Image above: NGO activist Choi Ai-young (R) and other members of the WomenCrossDMZ group pose with Korea's traditional patchwork before the group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. In original article.
 
Making history
Independent investigative journalist Tim Shorrock had a different take. In an email from Seoul, he called the DMZ march “an important milestone because it runs against the grain of the militarist approach to Korea taken by the Obama administration and the hostility of the South Korean government.”

Shorrock, who has covered Korea and Japan for more than three decades, said the women’s march and symposia held in Pyongyang and later Seoul, sends a message to the North that peace and reconciliation are possible. He hopes the march will also spur the U.S. to “take measures to defuse the tense situation in Korea and adopt a more flexible approach to settling its differences with North Korea.”

Responding to charges that she and her colleagues are “sympathetic” to North Korea, Christine Ahn says it’s ironic that people who claim to be staunch supporters of human rights are the ones most vehemently opposed to efforts to pursue a real peace agreement.

“You’re not going to see any improvement in North Korean human rights if you continue to isolate them or not engage or have dialogue,” Ahn said by Skype. The universal theme that has united years of international NGO reports, she says, is that there needs to be a peace settlement to improve human rights in North Korea.

Crazy repression, crazy militarization
WomenCrossDMZ, Ahn says, seeks to “get to the root cause of the issue of divided families” and what she calls “crazy militarization” and “crazy repression” of democracy in both North and South Korea.

Ahn says former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea James Laney cut to the core of the Korean issue when he said, “...One item should be at the top of the agenda...that is the establishment of a peace treaty to replace the truce that has been in place since 1953...”

To fully appreciate why North Korea has evolved into a “paranoid, hyper-militaristic society,” Ahn says it’s important to carefully examine history before the 1950-53 Korean war and remember the tremendous losses suffered by the North. “We might have forgotten that history,” she says, “but [North Korea] hasn’t.”

Ahn describes WomenCrossDMZ as “peace women” who want to find a peaceful resolution to the Korean stalemate. To do that, she says, requires listening, understanding, dialogue and a degree of empathy which is absent today. Dehumanizing the other side won’t bring peace, Ahn says. “It’s a tough place to be, but I really believe there is no other alternative.”

Being armed to the teeth (hasn’t worked) 
Gwyn Kirk says that reducing military tensions is more likely to lead to better human rights conditions. “That’s what we’re advocating...more dialogue and more openness.” As long as there’s no dialogue or engagement, nothing will change.”

Kirk points to diplomatic progress between the United States and both Cuba and Iran, saying that “sanctions, being armed to the teeth [and] militarism hasn’t worked.” 
She adds, “So if that’s controversial, I guess [it’s] controversial but it just seems to me that this old cold war stuff is really history...We need to move forward and think differently.

Follow the organization on Twitter or Facebook. Link to announcement from “Women Cross DMZ” (PDF)
Photo, top: Members of the WomenCrossDMZ group attend a news conference before they leave for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON

Jon Letman is an independent freelance journalist and photographer on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. His articles on conservation, the environment, politics and the Asia-Pacific region have been published in Al Jazeera English, Truthout, Inter Press Service, Christian Science Monitor, CNN Traveller, as well as publications in Finland, Iceland, Russia, Japan, Canada, the UK and across the US.  

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