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JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #150 on: February 15, 2014, 08:22:10 PM »
An article showing the growing inequality in the US.  It obviously has real knock-on effects on who controls what and gets paid attention to.  It is also one reason why we do not have a functioning democracy.  As the middle hollows out it leaves little options for the vast underclass.  They are there to be taken advantage of (capitalism after all) and have no leverage or bargaining power.  They become living definitions of the phrase wage-slaves.

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...From the top part of the graph, we find that the top 5% of income accounts for almost 40% of consumption. That’s stunning in itself. From the middle part, we see the top 20% of income now accounts for more than 60% of consumption. And from the bottom, the other 80% of the nation by income — all of the rest of us — account for less than 40% of consumption. And again, as the graphs show, the trend is widening....

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/gaius-publius-rising-inequality-recovery-occurring-almost-exclusively-among-wealthy.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JackTaylor

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #151 on: February 15, 2014, 09:28:59 PM »
99% vs 1% - my big question is "why hasn't the ballot box provided more equalization?"

Is understanding truly beyond us as a species?

People are a tribal social hierarchical animal.

Therefore most people need to be led, and few can lead.

That doesn't lend itself to a democratic mode of operation.

Yes, from sophomore psychology or was it freshman sociology, it's claimed humans are conditioned to be hierarchical from birth as an infant - child looking up to a parent(s) - adults for needs and wants.  So, I thoroughly believe you.

In studies and observations of "groups" of both humans and non-human animals isolated to similarities - equals such as

around "sexual maturity" - "age" and about equal in physical size

does 99% (or very high percentage) show a want (passivity) for being led

or

is a "hierarchical order" established (?) involving perhaps a super majority ( >68.2% )

via various types of "contests" - "rituals" - "activities" ?

 

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #152 on: February 18, 2014, 05:28:41 PM »
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #153 on: February 18, 2014, 06:56:58 PM »
We can always try the French solution.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/02/14/americas-dumb-elites-risk-fomenting-a-revolution/

Given it's strong position in terms of resources and population density, and fading (but still clearly superior) military reach - this surely must be the biggest vulnerability America has. It is of course essentially driven by the extraction of massive amounts of tax for funding said military, and precious little spent on social welfare and trying to prevent the growing tensions of inequality.

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #154 on: February 18, 2014, 09:02:27 PM »
ccg

Don't let my bias about disliking rich people give you the wrong impression about the attitudes of the US public.  My bias comes from my background growing up in a very blue collar place and then my exposure to the inner workings of the US intelligence community during my professional career. 

There is no significant or meaningful group of people in the US who are for changing our form of government nor our general approach to running the country.  Our rather unusual culture and very effective propaganda by our elites and news media (from both the right and left parts of the Capitalist Party - otherwise known as Democrats and Republicans) has not left many unbelievers out there.  I am in a small minority.

I would be very surprised (and pleased) if we had any significant social unrest here in the US related to inequality or AGW for at least another generation.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #155 on: February 19, 2014, 01:35:26 AM »
Don't let my bias about disliking rich people give you the wrong impression about the attitudes of the US public.  My bias comes from my background growing up in a very blue collar place and then my exposure to the inner workings of the US intelligence community during my professional career. 

[snip]

I would be very surprised (and pleased) if we had any significant social unrest here in the US related to inequality or AGW for at least another generation.

Can't say I care for rich people either, but also somewhat of a personal experiences thing.

I dunno that social unrest means you automatically ought to be pleased...

I didn't think the UK was particularly ripe for social unrest until the police shot a person in the back of a taxi and the protests triggered rioting in multiple different cities in the UK. Of course, this unrest didn't have a political motivation per se (mostly general discontent and opportunistic anger/greed as taught by modern living) - there was no focussed agenda - but it showed me that actually there are sections of British society quite close to this point already.

I have to wonder if there aren't potential flash points in the US too. Once these things happen they can spread surprisingly fast and more people can take part just because others already are.

I do wonder though if the scope for unrest in the UK has been effectively suppressed by the vast and pervasive surveillance network - after the riots - they used the cameras to catch as many people as possible and handed down some ridiculously punitive sentences (put those plebs in their place, eh?). Will that stop future unrest? For how long? Is this related to the US is busy rolling out cameras of various types fast too now?

Facebook and social networks were also used by the authorities - some people convicted for nothing more than provocative messages online. I think the Snowden findings also speak to the extent to which our governments are moving to try to control and suppress the people (and I think we often are discussing the reasons for them to do this).

I would say at some point the populace always rises up and breaks a security state, but it isn't really true - one can find plenty of historical (and some current) examples where one would have to argue the state successfully breaks the people. In this way civilisation may technically continue longer, but I personally want no part of it.

jdallen

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #156 on: February 19, 2014, 02:16:28 AM »
@ccgwebmaster - unrest in the US will happen when sufficient numbers of Americans determine they have nothing to loose by engaging in it.  I think its a pretty linear relationship.

There is the illusion of stability in a lot of places... I'm rather nervous, and reasonably certain we may return to the same levels of havoc, if not the warfare, that we had starting at the end of the 19th century.  Even security/police states are rather unstable. I don't see them really holding off civil disruption if things go sideways.
This space for Rent.

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #157 on: February 19, 2014, 04:17:49 PM »
US centric article but with global relevance.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/stay-classy-greg-mankiw-rich-deserve-deserve.html


ccg

Here is a horrible problem in the US that cold get us to social disruption.  All it would take is for the Millennial generation to as a group say this is a form of slavery and we are just not going to pay another dime.  That is where they are heading anyway.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/wolf-richter-young-subprime-debt-slave-generation.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #158 on: February 19, 2014, 04:36:58 PM »
Here is a horrible problem in the US that cold get us to social disruption.  All it would take is for the Millennial generation to as a group say this is a form of slavery and we are just not going to pay another dime.  That is where they are heading anyway.

The only smart play right now is to borrow all you can and go bankrupt, in my view (preferably after sequestering as much as you can). Just out of curiosity, where do you draw the rather arbitrary millennial dividing line? I still haven't worked out if I'm an old millennial or a young generation X or whatever (hopefully I don't conform to either mold, that said).

I think it's virtually an inevitability that there would be some sort of revolt at some point about debt. You can already see this starting to happen in some of the european nations with respect to home repossessions.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14112247

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #159 on: February 19, 2014, 05:18:30 PM »
ccg

There is no exact definition of what birth dates constitute Millennials, but an average number would be 1980-2000.

For some insane reason in the US student loan debt cannot be wiped out in bankruptcy as can every other kind of loan.  Many of these student will be paying their debt still when they retire.

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As of the first Quarter of 2012, the under 30 age group has the most borrowers at 14 million, followed by 10.6 million for the 30-39 group, 5.7 million in the 40-49 category, 4.6 million in the 50-59 age group and the over 60 category with the least number of borrowers at 2.2 million for an overall total of 37.1 million

An unfixable problem as now structured.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #160 on: February 19, 2014, 05:42:23 PM »
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“Every great revolution is a civil war,” as David Armitage has recently remarked. That insight could change the way we think about the American Revolution.

Quote
Once we consider the American Revolution as a civil war, it’s easier to integrate the broader world of violence and division that often gets left out of the Revolutionary narrative: the Regulator movements of South and North Carolina, the march of the Paxton boys, land riots in Maine and New York, separatist movements in Vermont and Franklin, and the rural insurrections that swept the west up to the conquest of the Whiskey Rebels in 1794. As imperial sovereignty broke down, first in the borderlands and then in the heart of the colonies themselves, it left a disparate set of ex-colonists to construct new forms of authority. They did so in overlapping and piecemeal ways, creating struggles in the process that would continue for decades and centuries. New authorities won the allegiance of anxious Americans by offering protection for persons and property: in doing so, they promised to crush Indians and open new land for white ownership; in the south, they fought to restore the slave regime and reverse the effects of the slaves’ own “revolution within a revolution.”[4] Among themselves, they struggled to allocate power—and to locate sovereignty—within the federal union.

If we stop thinking of the Revolution as a War for Independence, in which the United States freed itself from the British empire, we can better see it as a process in which the United States, and American identity, was gradually, painfully, imperfectly constructed in the midst of imperial collapse. If we saw this and every revolution as a civil war, maybe we’d better understand the way the modern world—the nexus of state, citizen, and property—was born in and determined by violence.

Interesting.  Some of my ancestors (the Allen's) were the leaders of the Vermont separatist movement that created Vermont as an independent country for 14 years after the revolution before joining the US as the 14th state.  They were also the first place in the US to ban slavery.  I come from a long line of troublemakers.

http://earlyamericanists.com/2014/02/18/was-the-american-revolution-a-civil-war/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

TerryM

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #161 on: February 19, 2014, 08:45:26 PM »
In Canada we've always thought of the American Revolution as a civil war, an unsuccessful one in that it was followed by two more, the War of 1812-14 then "The Civil War". Somehow Americans were never good at self governance
Civil war is one of the things that could lead to the destruction of the grid on a national scale & the division between the haves and the have not's is getting to the point that it could cause problems. I disagree with those that think that "America has never been more divided" because of memories from the 60's when cities were burning & young people were being beaten and jailed across the country. The difficulty for would be rebels at this time is the lengths that governments have gone to prop themselves up and make themselves virtually unassailable.
We have an unpopular right wing government in Canada that attained and maintains it's mandate because the left is divided between the Liberals, the NDP and the Green's. The Conservatives win as long as they take in >1/3 of the popular vote.
I haven't been successful in arguing with leftist/center left politicians that they should drop their party affiliation for one election cycle to get rid of the greater evil, then go back to bashing each other after the Con's are gone. How long Canadian's are willing to be lead by someone that most are frankly embarrassed by is anyone's guess, but so far the only ones that seem ready to tear down the system if they don't get their way are are the Conservatives.
Terry






JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #162 on: February 20, 2014, 02:48:17 AM »
Terry

I agree completely with your comment about the 60's in the US.  There is no stress here at all today compared to then.  It shows how far we have to go to get to real trouble.

I was watching the mess in Kiev on the news tonight.  The government is being restrained there.  If there was a demonstration like that here where large numbers of people were throwing Molotov cocktails and thousands of large rocks at the police they would be mowed down by the police in a heartbeat and the National Guard would be called out to help the police.  I expect that is going to happen pretty soon.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #163 on: February 20, 2014, 04:52:24 PM »
For our non-US readers, or the US ones who studiously avoid what is going on in right wing policy circles, here is a typical piece of militaristic propaganda which the mass of the populace is bombarded with on a regular basis.  CHINA IS COMING!!

Note that Ralph Peters mentioned prominently has long been one of the neo-con empire strategists.  He is a pseudo-historian who's primary goal is justifying and promoting American empire building.  He has openly stated in the past that given the preeminence of US power in the world that we have the right and responsibility to dictate the course of world events to our advantage.  He has had serious influence with the like of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Bush.  Not to mention a host of militaristic Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives.  This kind of propaganda is very useful garnering support for the giant US military budget.

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China is practicing for a "short, sharp war" with Japan.

That is the assessment of a top U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, who told colleagues that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is currently conducting training exercises in a practice scenario in which the military takes the Senkaku Islands, near Taiwan...

...“[We] concluded that the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short, sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands] — as some of their academics say.”

Quote
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters said China has a habit of bullying its neighbors with intimidating military drills, though exercises aimed at Japan are a new and worrisome wrinkle.

It's ok if the US does this but it is b ad if the Chinese do it.


http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/02/19/china-preps-military-for-short-sharp-war-with-japan-says-us-navy/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl13%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D444598
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Rubikscube

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #164 on: February 20, 2014, 06:03:47 PM »
I was watching the mess in Kiev on the news tonight.  The government is being restrained there.  If there was a demonstration like that here where large numbers of people were throwing Molotov cocktails and thousands of large rocks at the police they would be mowed down by the police in a heartbeat and the National Guard would be called out to help the police.  I expect that is going to happen pretty soon.

I agree that unrest might take place in the US pretty soon, but i doubt very, very much that such unrest might achive anything positive. Unrest in Ukraine have been able to grow to such an extent that it may lead to changes because the rebels have support from powerfull players in the region, and because the political system which it engages is structurally weak and inflexible. A revolt against the American elite will neither be backed by others with significant powers (as an attack on the capitalist elite in the US in an attack on the elites worldwide), nor will it engage a weak political structure, but rather a cleverly designed surveillance state. I simply cannot imagine US police or military defecting in large numbers and joining the opposition forces either, such is the case in Ukraine. I rather think they would behave in the way you just described, effectively dismantling the protest movement.

Thinking that an there excists a limit of unfairness and hopelessness, that when reached, automatically results in a revolution and systemic breakdown, is the kind of Hollywood-moral which simply isn't true. Increased unequality doesn't equal increased public unrest, just increased unhappiness.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #165 on: February 20, 2014, 06:27:48 PM »
I agree that unrest might take place in the US pretty soon, but i doubt very, very much that such unrest might achive anything positive. Unrest in Ukraine have been able to grow to such an extent that it may lead to changes because the rebels have support from powerfull players in the region, and because the political system which it engages is structurally weak and inflexible. A revolt against the American elite will neither be backed by others with significant powers (as an attack on the capitalist elite in the US in an attack on the elites worldwide), nor will it engage a weak political structure, but rather a cleverly designed surveillance state. I simply cannot imagine US police or military defecting in large numbers and joining the opposition forces either, such is the case in Ukraine. I rather think they would behave in the way you just described, effectively dismantling the protest movement.

Actually I could see elements of the US military defecting, not so much the police.

The problem is - that while the existing systems are absolutely rotten and do need destroyed and torn down - there isn't time to rebuild anything better. There's also a real risk that unrest actually makes things worse faster as removing the established powers tends to create a vacuum that only seldom is occupied by positive replacements. Then of course you have a nation with more weapons and violence and little power groups slopping around afterwards - that is arguably harder to govern.

A sad reflection on human nature, but note that it is "others" who become the targets and scapegoats when the going gets tough. Just look at the Australian policy towards asylum seekers to see this in action in the modern day.

This is thus part of the process of collapse and degeneration into violence and chaos. In the case of America it is one of the few nations that strikes me as having the scope to do so long before one might expect them to have reached such stresses just from looking at their resources and population density, etc. They should be able to make things work for a good while yet - but their ideology won't permit it.

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #166 on: February 20, 2014, 09:01:14 PM »
Rubic

If I gave the impression that the US was in any way likely to have unrest like what is happening in the Ukraine I did not mean to.  I just meant that while the US is talking tough about the abuses of the Ukrainian government if the shoe was on the other foot the US would have resorted to live fire by the police about as soon as the first brick hit one of them or the first firebomb was thrown.  The police here shoot pretty much first and ask questions later.  If you endanger or hurt one of them they are very likely to kill you.

There is almost no chance what-so-ever that any civil unrest on a large scale will happen in the US.  Americans are a very conservative people.  The Democrats are not liberals like in Europe.  They are conservatives by European standards and fully committed members of the Capitalist Party.  Their joint managers of our country, the Republicans, are similar to your more extreme right wing parties.  We have no real liberal party and there is no large group of people who really oppose US policies or the direction we are headed in.

To give you a small sample of what is often going on here in politics the state I live in, Arizona, yesterday passed a bill that "legalizes" discrimination if that discrimination is based upon your religious beliefs.  This new law will get signed by the governor and will have to be challenged in Federal Court.  Boggles the mind.

Re the idea that either the police or military personnel would join protest movements or large scale civil unrest I would say that it is very unlikely in the case of any issue where the civil unrest is based upon any liberal concept or policy, or especially AGW issues.   The  police are trained specifically to put down any such type of activity.  Since our military is all volunteer and drawn largely from the most conservative areas of the US and is known to vote heavily Republican I do not think they would have any problem taking action against fellow citizens.  Even though use of the military against US civilians is specifically prohibited by our constitution the military trains for just such actions. 

Large scale unrest here would almost have to come from rightwing conservatives provoked by a strong movement towards liberal  governing policies which moved this country towards areas socialism.  Obama, as conservative as he is,  manages to provoke these people enough that talk of armed resistance is common among them. Real liberalism  could provoke violence and the police and military just might support that.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #167 on: February 21, 2014, 07:41:55 PM »
Many mock the right wing political viewpoint (myself included) that many in the government (mostly liberals) and those who run the UN (mostly Europeans) are out to dramatically reduce national sovereignty and create a one world government.  One of the primary vehicles for this, after UN regulations which infringe on sovereignty, is the creation of trade treaties which supersede national laws.   It turns out they may have a point.  Read the below on the justification used to the US Congress in the 1960's to advocate free trade.


http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/matt-stoller-free-trade-never-trade-eroding-nation-states-advance-rule-multinationals-stealth-colonialism.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #168 on: February 22, 2014, 06:02:01 PM »
Venezuela

Note the recent post on a math algorithm being used to predict unrest based upon food crises that claimed that one of the examples is Venezuela (in the Topic on What particularly causes the "Crash").  Events like described below is one reason why I think such claims can only be one of a group of factors.

Quote
How Washington Is Playing Venezuela Like a Fiddle

United States foreign policy can be summed up as hard power vs. soft power. An example of hard power is the US backing the unsuccessful 2002 military coup d’état against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, when businessman Pedro Carmona Estanga briefly took power. An example of the US’s soft power is the current situation in Venezuela.

A leaked document from November of 2013 shows that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) collaborated with the Colombian government and Venezuelan opposition leaders to destabilize Venezuela and stoke massive protests. The document, obtained by journalist and attorney Eva Golinger, was the product of a June 2013 meeting between US-based FTI Consulting, the Colombian Fundación Centro de Pensamiento Primero Colombia (Centre for Thought Foundation of Colombia First), and Fundación Internacionalismo Democratico (Democratic Internationalism Foundation). The third tactic outlined in the 15-point strategy document openly called for sabotage:

"Maintain and increase the sabotage that affect the population's services, particularly the electricity system, that puts blame on the government for assumed inefficiencies and negligence.”

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The current situation in Venezuela is eerily reminiscent of 1950s Iran. Democratically-elected Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh threatened to nationalize the country’s vast oil supply. President Eisenhower sent Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and the CIA’s near-east and Africa division leader, to Iran to oust him.

After sustained protests and civil unrest engineered by Kermit Roosevelt, Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi took power. What followed was 25 years of cruel brutality and fear for the Iranian people, and sustained energy trading with the United States. It was the CIA’s first successful overthrow of a foreign government, and it wouldn’t be the last.

Since Hugo Chavez died in Spring of 2013 and Nicolas Maduro was elected last Fall, Venezuela’s economy has been spiraling downward, as has Maduro’s political legitimacy. Once a top-ten economy, Venezuela’s wealth is based entirely on the oil industry, and the continued success of a finite resource. One large source of the economic malaise has been the mismanagement of oil money – Venezuela energy czar Rafael Ramirez recently admitted that 30 percent of oil revenues were diverted from their original purpose. And while a few corrupt individuals at the top are skimming the nation’s oil money meant for social programs, Venezuelan currency is rapidly declining in value as inflation rates skyrocket.

The US considers what goes on in Latin America of critical national security interest to the US (in other words critical to maintaining the empire).  We just do not have enough say right now in how to control the oil wealth in Venezuela.  It is not about food prices.

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/22199-focus-how-washington-is-playing-venezuela-like-a-fiddle
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Rubikscube

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #169 on: February 23, 2014, 12:18:54 PM »
JimD
Reading many of your previous posts I suspected it was not the intention to say an Ukrainian style revolt was going to happen in the US. I just found some time to make a short reasoning about why this is the case.

CCGW
I agree that a instigating a revolution against the rich elite would create havoc on a tremendous scale, but if I were to be a little simplistic I would say it is like choosing between Syria and North Korea (violent anarchy or absolute totalitarianism). I personally would have chosen Syria, amongst other reasons because anarchy is a fluid state that never lasts for as long as a totalitarian rule can do. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be a option. In order to topple the elite you need help from outside forces, these forces are not availible today, but they will perhaps be in the future when the effects of climate change stir up things elsewhere.

On the issue of US in Latin-America; I have sometimes wondered why the US hasn't been able to restrain the rise of anti-americanism in Lantin America over the past decade. It might be that the economic interest of US Companies haven't been sufficiently harmed, with some countries not being of large economic importance and some leaders talking tougher than they act (Kirchner,for excample, almost encourages Monsanto to rampage the Argentinian countryside). Though, the lack of Venezuelan oil, amongst other things, must have been a real thorn in the eye, thus I think the US intelligence has just been re-grouping and changing tactics after the utter failure in 2002, and it seems these tactics are now paying of.

One Paraguayan goverment, promising land reforms, has allready fallen victim to dirty play, the populists in Argentina are losing ground both financially and economically, Correa, in Ecuador, is feeling the pressure and seeking help from China, even the more conservative Brazilians is struggling, and last but not at least, the Bolivarian revolution is about to implode. The empire strikes back.

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #170 on: February 23, 2014, 03:58:04 PM »
I agree that a instigating a revolution against the rich elite would create havoc on a tremendous scale, but if I were to be a little simplistic I would say it is like choosing between Syria and North Korea (violent anarchy or absolute totalitarianism). I personally would have chosen Syria, amongst other reasons because anarchy is a fluid state that never lasts for as long as a totalitarian rule can do. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be a option. In order to topple the elite you need help from outside forces, these forces are not availible today, but they will perhaps be in the future when the effects of climate change stir up things elsewhere.

That is a fair point and I too would prefer to be in a situation like Syria, given that choice. In the developed world the tools available to the socioeconomic elites mean there is a real risk of the North Korea outcome in many cases.

I don't think you need outside help to topple an elite per se - just a hard core determined collection of people with the general support of enough of the population. However if the state has sufficiently effectively tools to repress dissent (and stop it from being publicly expressed) it has a lot of scope to prevent such a collection of people from forming in the first place.

One wonders also if the rate of change in getting into such a state matters too though. In North Korea I would be fairly sure the government forces can shoot whoever they want without fear of losing control. In Ukraine - we saw a different outcome - once it turned into slaughter, the sitting government had basically lost. I would argue it takes time for people to adapt and conform to a repressive regime and that may provide a glimmer of hope versus the extremely capable suppression apparatuses being assembled in certain western nations (nothing can entirely negate the numerical advantage that the masses hold, as even in the most totalitarian regime - at least some of said masses are needed by the socioeconomic elites).

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #171 on: February 23, 2014, 05:48:08 PM »
ccg

Quote
One wonders also if the rate of change in getting into such a state matters too though. In North Korea I would be fairly sure the government forces can shoot whoever they want without fear of losing control. In Ukraine - we saw a different outcome - once it turned into slaughter, the sitting government had basically lost. I would argue it takes time for people to adapt and conform to a repressive regime and that may provide a glimmer of hope versus the extremely capable suppression apparatuses being assembled in certain western nations (nothing can entirely negate the numerical advantage that the masses hold, as even in the most totalitarian regime - at least some of said masses are needed by the socioeconomic elites).

Interesting quote.  I have two thoughts on this, which are sort of opposite each other in a way.  I think the President (loosely speaking of course) of the Ukraine had two viable options to work his way through the protest situation.

The most viable was to do his best to ignore the protesters and just keep the place running as best he could and in time what he wanted to do would happen by fiat.  Now the protesters, who anyone must admit 'wanted' serious violence to happen, as events have shown, because it would work to their advantage would definitely have tried to provoke said violence.  But if the President had held tough I think he could have outlasted them.

The second approach would have been to actually resort to the "slaughter" you mentioned.  Because he did not actually do that.  The level of violence was moderate at best and injuries and such were not overwhelmingly inflicted on the protesters.  Don't forget the propaganda of the western media here.  Approximately the same number of protestors have been killed in Venezuela as were killed in the Ukraine and there is hardly any news about that.  If the President had declared martial law and sent in the tanks and obliterated the protesters (think like the Chinese would have done) and just stamped the protest out entirely and instituted military rule he might have been able to pull it off.  A lesser viable option but either option better than what he chose to do.

I note from an American perspective that if we had protestors shooting at police (I saw videos of this), hundreds of people throwing fire bombs at police with effect, almost 100 police taken prisoner, protestors attacking police with deadly weapons, burning down government buildings, etc that the government here and the police would have killed a lot more of the protestors than the Ukrainian government did of their protestors.  Overthrowing governments is a bloody business and what has transpired so far in the Ukraine is not very high up the historical scale.  I note that I was present in a country (not to be named here) once when similar events were under way and I witnessed about the same number of people killed in a single afternoon as the total in the Ukraine so far.  By the time they were done a couple of years later....whew!   
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #172 on: February 23, 2014, 08:42:52 PM »
How does the American Empire function?

Here is a description by a former insider.  As another former insider his description fits my experiences dead on.  An excellent article.

Exclusive Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State

Quote
There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.

You want to know who runs things and how?

http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #173 on: March 01, 2014, 05:41:46 PM »
A bit more on the Ukrainian situation.

Looks like the US was involved in funding/promoting the civil unrest and trigged this crises as one might have suspected.

http://pando.com/2014/02/28/pierre-omidyar-co-funded-ukraine-revolution-groups-with-us-government-documents-show/

Now the Russians are moving in troops and will assist (after being asked to help protect their sovereignty I am sure) the Crimea not be overtaken by the rebels in Kiev. 

I would bet that higher natural gas prices are on the horizon for Europe.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #174 on: March 02, 2014, 04:32:36 AM »
Well now we have crossed into the galactically stupid. 

If the new (temporary or whatever it is) Ukrainian government gets out of this situation it will be surprising.  Think what the US or the Israelis would do to them if they were in Russia's position.

Quote
Ukraine Neo-Nazi Party Threatens Russia with Nukes: “We’ll Regain our Nuclear Status in 6 Months”

Quote
Calls in Kiev to ‘regain nuclear status in six months’

Unable to resolve tensions with the largely pro-Russian autonomous region of Crimea, Kiev is bombarding Moscow with accusations and warnings. Some politicians have even threatened to restock Ukraine’s nuclear arsenal.

Quote
According to translated news sources within the country, Ukraine interim representative threatened Russia with nuclear weapons, if Russia does not remove their troops from within the Ukrainian borders...

...The ultra-right “Svoboda” (Liberty) party has remained unconvinced, with one of its representatives in the Ukrainian parliament warning that if Russia doesn’t tread carefully it will be dealing with a nuclear power.

“We’ll regain our status as a nuclear power and that’ll change the conversation. Ukraine has all the technological means needed to create a nuclear arsenal – which would take us about three to six months,” Svoboda party MP Mikhail Golovko said....

.... In 1996 Ukraine officially lost its nuclear status, having gotten rid of the whole of its stockpile.

But the country still draws almost half of its energy from atomic power, and is home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

While the uranium Ukraine gets from Russia for its reactors is low-enriched, reactor waste is quite enough to make a so-called dirty bomb. The country possesses manpower and know-how to do that as well as delivery vehicles for nuclear payload, which don’t have to be too sophisticated.


At the very least the Russians now have all the excuse they need to take control of all nuclear power facilities in the country if not ensure that they have control over the entire country.  It is the 'clear and present danger' justification that the US uses all the time.  Who would be willing to stand in their way?  Amazingly stupid. 

http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukraine-neo-nazi-party-threatens-russia-with-nuclear-weapons-well-regain-our-nuclear-status/5371524

http://intellihub.com/ukraine-leader-threatens-russia-nuclear-weapons/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #175 on: March 02, 2014, 05:10:08 AM »
Empires fighting.   Who has time for AGW? 

Quote
Ukraine Transition Government: Neo-Nazis in Control of Armed Forces, National Security, Economy, Justice and Education

The ultra-right Svoboda Party has scored six major cabinet ministries in the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk approved by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday. Svoboda is the Neo-Nazi, ultra-right, anti-Semitic, Russophobic party with its base of support in the Western Ukraine.

Quote
The interim cabinet matches exactly the government which U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland recommended in her intercepted call with the U.S. ambassador in Kiev where she revealed the U.S. plan for a coup in Ukraine.

Vitali Klitschko and his UDAR party are excluded, likely because of their close relationship with German chancellor Angela Merkel. Yatsenuyk’s Fatherland Party receives the majority of portfolios. And as Nuland demanded, so long as Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok did not receive a major cabinet post, Svoboda could receive several ministries.

In the eyes of many these facts are indicative of U.S. involvement in what has essentially been a coup against the elected government of the Ukraine.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukraine-transition-government-neo-nazis-in-control-of-armed-forces-national-security-economy-justice-and-education/5371539
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #176 on: March 02, 2014, 08:29:17 AM »
Empires fighting.   Who has time for AGW? 

Maybe WWIII will come along even without obvious climate change drivers and prove us all wrong for having put so much mental effort into the climate change questions?

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #177 on: March 02, 2014, 03:17:44 PM »
A couple of weeks ago the Secretary of Defense proposed a fairly significant cut to the US Army as well as other cuts and restructurings of the whole Defense Dept.  Clearly called for if the US is going to be abler to afford to ever pay for the basics properly as well as eventually get around to dealing in some fashion with AGW.  And people here are a little tired of war after 13 consecutive years of sending them into combat.

But that idea is fiercely fought by the militant right and the empire builders.  With the Ukrainian/Russian situation (triggered significantly by the US - it's a feature not a bug??) they now have all the ammunition they need to not only not cut the Defense budget but to call for increasing it. I would bet money that there will be no significant cuts. 

The best way to beat an empire is not direct confrontation it is to bleed them to death.  Death by a thousand cuts.  The more we spend on defense trying to grow and maintain the empire the sooner we collapse.  So if you think that fixing AGW is the ONLY thing that counts then you might want to consider encouraging Russia to go all in as it will result in the US cranking up the empire  machine a few notches on this side.  Bleed them both.

Madness.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #178 on: March 02, 2014, 08:54:08 PM »
The status of perhaps the most critical US colony.

Saudi Arabia: Besieged and Fearful

One issue the article leaves out is the coming decline in oil production from the kingdom.  This will have ripple effects all over the place.

http://www.agenceglobal.com/index.php?show=article&Tid=3143
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #179 on: March 04, 2014, 03:22:31 AM »
Well now we have crossed into the galactically stupid. 

If the new (temporary or whatever it is) Ukrainian government gets out of this situation it will be surprising.  Think what the US or the Israelis would do to them if they were in Russia's position.

Quote
Ukraine Neo-Nazi Party Threatens Russia with Nukes: “We’ll Regain our Nuclear Status in 6 Months”

Quote
Calls in Kiev to ‘regain nuclear status in six months’

Unable to resolve tensions with the largely pro-Russian autonomous region of Crimea, Kiev is bombarding Moscow with accusations and warnings. Some politicians have even threatened to restock Ukraine’s nuclear arsenal.

........................................................................................

At the very least the Russians now have all the excuse they need to take control of all nuclear power facilities in the country if not ensure that they have control over the entire country.  It is the 'clear and present danger' justification that the US uses all the time.  Who would be willing to stand in their way?  Amazingly stupid. 

JimD,

On the face value of those quotes alone, Putin can claim "Russian National Security" interests for any future military advances into Ukrainian territory.  While I detest Putin and do not trust his intentions, I smell more than one rat in the cellar.  With the threat of having energy supplies to Europe curtailed, I'm sure my local Texas "Oil/Gas" drillers are thrilled to see energy stocks soaring today.  This almost ensures that the Keystone Pipeline gets approved on the sole pretext of National Security.  This leads me with only one comment on the current situation:

Frack Today,
.......F*%K Tommorrow!
"Share Your Knowledge.  It's a Way to Achieve Immortality."  ......the Dalai Lama

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #180 on: March 04, 2014, 04:29:07 PM »
We all know about the Koch family and the disaster they are making of the world.  But how many are familiar with the DeVos family?  Their influence is comparable in many ways and on top of that they are already lining up the military wing for when the time comes that they think violence is called for.  These are not the kind of people who will ever understand or compromise with collective attempts to deal with AGW.  All crises are opportunities to gain advantage.  As long as their side is left in control of the field of battle when the dust settles they have no concern for anyone but themselves.  They'll let half the world starve to make sure it works out their way.  There is no meaningful difference between them and Putin.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/devos-michigan-labor-politics-gop

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/devos-family-foundations-heritage-americans-prosperity-blackwater
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #181 on: March 04, 2014, 05:45:34 PM »
Why Russia no longer fears the West. It’s the offshore, stupid

Quote
The point of this short story is clear: Western leaders are waking up to the fact that Russia no longer fears or even respects them. Why? Well:


“Russia thinks the West is no longer a crusading alliance. Russia thinks the West is now all about the money.”

Quite so. More specifically,


“Putin’s henchmen know this personally. Russia’s rulers have been buying up Europe for years. They have mansions and luxury flats from London’s West End to France’s Cote d’Azure. Their children are safe at British boarding and Swiss finishing schools. And their money is squirrelled away in Austrian banks and British tax havens.
 . . .
 They have seen firsthand how obsequious Western aristocrats and corporate tycoons suddenly turn when their billions come into play.
 . . .
 they know full well it is European bankers, businessmen and lawyers who do the dirty work for them placing the proceeds of corruption in hideouts from the Dutch Antilles to the British Virgin Islands.”

As they say, "Follow the money."  No high level person in any of the US/EU/Russia gives a rats ass about freedom for the proletariat.  It is all about who controls the most wealth and what it takes to get more.  The West does not want to help Ukraine it wants to be in the position to be the one stripping the wealth vice letting the Russians and the Ukrainian oligarchs be the ones stealing it.  They are doing the same thing here in the US to the middle and working class (read the link for the post above). 

http://www.taxjustice.net/2014/03/03/russia-longer-fears-west-offshore-stupid/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #182 on: March 04, 2014, 06:13:45 PM »
What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis

Want to know how and part of the why of the US instigating the Ukrainian crises read the below.  Also include lots of info on how the neo-cons are still having massive influence on the conduct of US strategic decisions. 

Quote
....Without doubt, the neocons’ most dramatic – and potentially most dangerous – counter-move has been Ukraine, where they have lent their political and financial support to opposition forces who sought to break Ukraine away from its Russian neighbor.

Though this crisis also stems from the historical division of Ukraine – between its more European-oriented west and the Russian-ethnic east and south – neocon operatives, with financing from the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy and other U.S. sources, played key roles in destabilizing and overthrowing the democratically elected president.

NED, a $100 million-a-year agency created by the Reagan administration in 1983 to promote political action and psychological warfare against targeted states, lists 65 projects that it supports financially inside Ukraine, including training activists, supporting “journalists” and promoting business groups, effectively creating a full-service structure primed and ready to destabilize a government in the name of promoting “democracy.” ....

...Last December, Nuland reminded Ukrainian business leaders that, to help Ukraine achieve “its European aspirations, we have invested more than $5 billion.” She said the U.S. goal was to take “Ukraine into the future that it deserves,” by which she meant into the West’s orbit and away from Russia’s....

....Nuland was soon at work planning for “regime change,” encouraging disruptive street protests by personally passing out cookies to the anti-government demonstrators. She didn’t seem to notice or mind that the protesters in Kiev’s Maidan square had hoisted a large banner honoring Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the German Nazis during World War II and whose militias participated in atrocities against Jews and Poles.

By late January, Nuland was discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who should be allowed in the new government.

“Yats is the guy,” Nuland said in a phone call to Pyatt that was intercepted and posted online. “He’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the guy you know.” By “Yats,” Nuland was referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had served as head of the central bank, foreign minister and economic minister — and who was committed to harsh austerity.

As Assistant Secretary Nuland and Sen. McCain cheered the demonstrators on, the street protests turned violent. Police clashed with neo-Nazi bands, the ideological descendants of Bandera’s anti-Russian Ukrainians who collaborated with the Nazi SS during World War II....

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/03/02/what-neocons-want-from-ukraine-crisis/

If this situation settles out with Western Ukraine ending up in the US/EU orbit they will be forced to take on debt from the IMF and agree to strict austerity measures accompanied by agreements to sell off significant national assets and allow private (read rich westerners) purchase of their prime farm land.  Just another Greece.  Loot the assets and turn the citizens into debt slaves to continue the milking out of the populace of what assets they have left. 

And AGW just marches on.  Popcorn and beer!
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #183 on: March 04, 2014, 07:10:19 PM »
Popcorn and beer!
I don't think beer is going to be strong enough...

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #184 on: March 05, 2014, 04:38:36 PM »
Ukraine and US strategy and motivations.  An interesting read. 

Ukraine – some thoughts on who is playing for what.

Quote
In this scenario American hawks do best, Russia and its military can hope to make a good result from a seemingly bad situation and Europe comes out weakened and divided.

This is, obviulsy, just one way of seeing a very complex situation and I don’t offer it as a rival to other considerations but rather as a compliment to them. I think, as always, it’s not about championing freedom. It always about power and competition between the large powers. in which the little countries are pieces to be moved about and manipulated wherever possible.

And it is not all about the US neo-cons working the empire strategy on the Russians.  Those pesky Europeans have been getting uppity and forgetting who is in charge lately.

Quote
Particularly because the US regime’s frustration with what it sees as Europe’s reluctance to share the US’s enthusiasm and policy has been painfully evident.

A frustration made rather public in thte suave “F*kc the EU” comment made by the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland when she was speaking to US ambassador to Ukraine, Jeffrey Pyatt.



Quote
But the benefits for America – at least in the minds of its hawks, don’t stop there.

Nothing hurt Pentagon funding like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the East/West German split. What size of military pork barrel might a new East West Ukraine split deliver? I think the Pentagon is delighted. I doubt AMerica will be as nakedly provocative as to built big new militray bases in a new West Ukraine. Though some will certainly think it only right and proper. But I would be amazed if they don’t create a few speical forces and intelligence sites – which will need defending!

And of course the Pentagon’s pleasure is Europe’s pain. Europe is split on Ukraine. Germany is not happy to anger Russia. Merkel  has conspicuously spent at least as much time on the phone with Putin as with Obama. Being the European terminus of the Nord Stream gas pipeline into Europe means Germany has along term intersts in being friendly with Russia. And Germany has historically always looked East in its foreign policy. While France has historically always looked South and Britain always West. On top of which France has, since Syria, become America’s new best War-buddy. The reasons for which I wrote about in Syria – Cui Bono.

So by provoking a “f*ck the EU” split in Ukraine America weakens any pesky European solidarity. Nothing like dividing your allies against each other to maintain control over them. Not only does a split in Ukraine cause welcome frcition between the two pillars of the European project, Berlin and Paris, it is also marvelously mischievous because if there is one thing the EU is very sensitive and woried about at the moment it is separatist movements. The EU does not like the idea of its constituent nations begining to break apart into even more bickering and all-too-democratic factions. Centralization of decision making is what Brussels wants not nationalist democracies. Spain fears anything that gives legitimacy to Catalonian separatism. The EU and the Conservative Government in Westminster have made it very clear they are neither of them  happy about Scotland away from the UK and France is nervous about a possible Belgian break up.

In a way you have to have some admiration (mixed in with the horror and disgust) of the neo-con strategy to manage and control the world.  They have, so far, been fairly successful in a short to medium term sense even though they are working from a shrinking deck.  Long term they are heading towards epic failure in the global sense that the empire will eventually disappear, but perhaps not in a sense of where they end up standing when the dust settles.  It bears serious thought as to how they plan on dealing with AGW the collapse and the aftermath.  Having spent most of my life surrounded by these people I don't actually think they are ignorant of or actually dismissive about AGW or our chances of stopping its progression.  Rather I think they have long ago come to the conclusion that I did.  It cannot be stopped as we (all humans) are incapable of the actions required to bring carbon emissions to zero.  So what is the next best solution?  Well it is to be the last one standing and to have managed the process to ensure primacy and relative position in the future. At least that is part of their thinking.  I think.  What do you think is their plan?  If any.

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2014/03/ukraine-some-thoughts-on-who-is-playing-for-what/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #185 on: March 05, 2014, 07:30:59 PM »
Rather I think they have long ago come to the conclusion that I did.  It cannot be stopped as we (all humans) are incapable of the actions required to bring carbon emissions to zero.  So what is the next best solution?  Well it is to be the last one standing and to have managed the process to ensure primacy and relative position in the future. At least that is part of their thinking.  I think.  What do you think is their plan?  If any.

That's pretty much my conclusion too, albeit without any exposure to such types of people - solely derived from what is said and not said and what leaks around the gaps.

As for Russia/Ukraine - for some of us who have connections to Russia, this is already becoming a rapidly growing problem in real terms. The world is still more interconnected than most people realise.

OldLeatherneck

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #186 on: March 05, 2014, 07:56:32 PM »

Rather I think they have long ago come to the conclusion that I did.  It cannot be stopped as we (all humans) are incapable of the actions required to bring carbon emissions to zero.  So what is the next best solution?  Well it is to be the last one standing and to have managed the process to ensure primacy and relative position in the future. At least that is part of their thinking.  I think.  What do you think is their plan?  If any.

It would be one thing to be the "last one standing" in the world, if temperature increase were to be limited to less than 2o(C) and the global climate having achieved equilibrium.  However, on our current path of BAU, what is the great prize in being the "last one standing" on an earth that is 5-6o(C) warmer and the climate is now centuries away from achieving equilibrium??
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JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #187 on: March 06, 2014, 05:48:38 AM »
It would be one thing to be the "last one standing" in the world, if temperature increase were to be limited to less than 2o(C) and the global climate having achieved equilibrium.  However, on our current path of BAU, what is the great prize in being the "last one standing" on an earth that is 5-6o(C) warmer and the climate is now centuries away from achieving equilibrium??

OLN,

The situation is certainly bad and getting worse.  But I think what motivates a lot of us is that we are expressing that natural instinct towards survival.  Or perhaps more properly we want our species to survive.  Some few of us want to save the natural world as it once existed and to live in it in a long term sustainable fashion.  Derrick Jensen obviously feels that all species are equal and that he would prefer ours disappear to save all the others.  Others, the vast majority, are really only thinking of ours in any practical sense. 

I must admit that even though I find the natural world a thing of indescribable beauty I still cannot help but put the main focus on humans.  It is sort of the point that if we are not here then does the universe still exist type of thinking.  I guess that kind of focus is how we ended up in this predicament.  So, while I would hope that whomever the survivors of the bottleneck are they would have learned enough from this harsh lesson that they will be more cognizant of what they are doing and better stewards of the earth.  I also know that it is not actually important who survives as long as someone does.  Even if they are a bunch of rotten bastards (which is probably more likely than not).  Tough conditions and great suffering build very strong character, it just does not happen to be really admirable character normally.  But we take what we can get. 

It is a great prize, no matter what the conditions end up being, to have someone standing when the dust settles.   Many someone's of course.  We cannot wish away the efforts which our species undertakes to survive.  We may think that some of their methods are immoral and unethical, but what do you expect from a bunch of humans anyway.  That is what we always do.  I am actually expecting serious violence over different groups methods eventually.  There is a strong faction of humanity which is oriented psychologically towards authoritarian/totalitarian forms of governance.  They will eventually try to control this situation and will certainly not tolerate deviation.  I also expect that eventually the true earth lovers (seems like a fair description), as exemplified by folks like Jensen, will grow in numbers and spirit and will resort to widespread anti-civilization violence.

This is all self centeredness of course.  In a galaxy of 100 billion stars and a universe of 500 billion galaxies you have to be pretty full of yourself to think that what happens here on Earth matters even one little bit.

But I guarantee anyone would be happy to be alive and have a chance to keep on with our little journey through time (what ever time might be).   No matter what the final temperatures turn out to be.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #188 on: March 06, 2014, 07:16:52 AM »
This is all self centeredness of course.  In a galaxy of 100 billion stars and a universe of 500 billion galaxies you have to be pretty full of yourself to think that what happens here on Earth matters even one little bit.

Not sure you can rule anything out though. Do you suppose the Toba catastrophe survivors sat around thinking their ultimate descendents would sit where we do now - with our computers, nuclear weapons, aeroplanes, satellites and so on?

I very much doubt it, I imagine they just got on with the day to day business of surviving - but I think for as long as our species holds on - interesting futures remain possible, whether we can envisage or picture them or not (personally of course, I favour trying to nudge the future down what I think are the right directions).

It would be part of the modern hubris to presume that the modern world is necessarily the apex of human achievement.

JackTaylor

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #189 on: March 06, 2014, 05:09:53 PM »
" for as long as our species holds on - interesting futures remain possible, whether we can envisage or picture them or not

part of the modern hubris to presume that the modern world is necessarily the apex of human achievement"

 ccg,
Nice summation.

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #190 on: March 06, 2014, 06:08:20 PM »
ccg

Completely agree.  I think our current civilization, while it has some interesting toys, is clearly a regression as compared to a few of the human developed cultures once widely practiced.  We can certainly aspire to living higher quality lives than is the norm today.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #191 on: March 06, 2014, 06:32:47 PM »
Ukraine - Ok, now we are getting the new looting regime in place.

Wolf Richter: Aid For The Ukraine “Will Be Stolen” – Former Ukrainian Minister Of Economy

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Secretary of State John Kerry jaunted to Kiev on Tuesday and offered the newly installed Ukrainian government $1 billion in aid. EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger announced the same day that the EU would help the Ukraine pay its gas bill of about $2 billion, owed Russian state-controlled Gazprom. On Wednesday, the rest of the EU aid package was announced: €11 billion, contingent on the Ukraine’s inking a deal with the IMF and implementing tough reforms. The IMF is still working on its own aid package.

Notice who's taxpayers are going to foot the bill.  And here comes the IMF austerity regulations which set up the looting mechanism. 

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Transparency International ranked the Ukraine as one of the most corrupt countries on earth, in 144th place out of the 175 countries on its Corruption Perception Index, an honor it shares with five other cesspools of corruption of the same rank, including Nigeria.

And the reforms that the EU and the IMF will doubtlessly demand and upon which the aid money will be made contingent? “There will be no reforms,” Mândrăşescu wrote. “Western aid will indeed be stolen, and it won’t help the country’s economy.”

That’s what taxpayers in other countries can look forward to.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #192 on: March 08, 2014, 04:50:09 PM »
European Border Changes Over Last 1000 Years

Pretty instructive

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #193 on: March 10, 2014, 05:52:01 PM »
The Russian view of the Ukraine situation

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By Valentin Mândrăşescu, Editor of The Voice of Russia’s Reality Check. Former commodity trader, economist, journalist. Nomadic lifestyle. When not in Moscow, he can be found travelling across Eastern Europe.

When, on February 21st, Washington decided to default on the agreement signed between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and the so-called “democratic opposition,” including Neo-Nazis, it finally crossed the red line.

Washington has defaulted on all of its key agreements made with USSR/Russia during the last 30 years. Gorbachev was promised that Eastern Europe would not be taken into NATO. Country by country, it became part of NATO, and Yugoslavia was dismantled despite Russia’s objections. The US acted as the winner of the Cold War and guided its policies by the famous principle of “Vae victis!” Woe to the vanquished!.....

Washington’s defaulting on an explicit agreement regarding Ukraine’s future and the prospect of NATO troops on the ground in Ukraine finally convinced Vladimir Putin and a big part of the Russian elite that there is no point in negotiating with the US. It means that from now on, no compromises are possible.

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Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of the biggest neo-Nazi group in Ukraine, issued a statement in which he called on Russia’s most wanted Chechen terrorist, Doku Umarov, to commit acts of terrorism in Russia. “Many Ukrainians with arms in the hands” had supported Chechen militants in their fight against Russians, the statement said, but “it is time to support Ukraine now.”

What would have happened to a warlord somewhere who called on Al-Qaeda to commit acts of terrorism in the US? He would have been killed by a drone strike without international warrant or court decision. If the US does this, then other countries are entitled to act in a similar manner.

The fact that the neo-Nazi leaders and their soldiers haven’t been disarmed despite the EU-brokered agreement signed on February 21st proves that they and not the “official government” are actually in control of the situation. But the US doesn’t care about the fate of the Russians who don’t want to live in a neo-Nazi-led state. The US wants to dislodge Russia from the region, and nothing else matters.

For America, the situation in Ukraine is a geopolitical game, another opportunity to hurt Russia’s interests. For Russia, it’s not a geopolitical game. It’s a matter of national identity, it’s an ethnic matter. Almost every Russian I know has relatives in Ukraine. Roughly a third of Russian senators and members of the government were born in Ukraine.

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Here, in Moscow, almost everyone is certain that we’ll see a rerun of the “Georgian war” and that Crimea will be attacked by Ukrainian army at some point before March 16th. If you’re a trader, sitting on the fence for a week or putting on some hedges may be a very good idea.

And let's not forget this.   

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Ukraine: Kiev snipers reportedly hired by opposition leaders not Yanukovich according to 'bugged call'

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/ukraine-kiev-snipers-reportedly-hired-by-opposition-leaders-not-yanukovich-according-to-bugged-call-9171328.html

One of the most common mistakes made by empires in the decline phase of their existence is overreach.  They react to the stresses being created by declining relative power by doubling down on their previously effective strategies, but the fact that they are in decline means that such actions exceed their ability to manage and obtain net resource gains, thus hastening their demise rather than extending their lifespan.  The Ukrainian situation is a self inflicted wound and will move collapse forward in time.  The US f**ked up!

http://www.testosteronepit.com/home/2014/3/10/from-now-on-no-compromises-are-possible-for-russia.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #194 on: March 12, 2014, 02:54:31 PM »
Russia - United States

I don't know if it is being bandied about much in the European press but here in the states the pro-empire politicians have been advocating a surge in natural gas production in order to offset probable higher Russian fees for their natural gas going to Europe.

This will not work for a number of reasons.  The first two are simply engineering oriented in that production levels currently are insufficient to provide the supply.  After a period of more intense drilling (and a lot of environmental fights and local opposition) production could be increased, but there is good reason to think that maximum possible supplies are way overstated.  Additionally export facilities on the East Coast are lacking and would have to be constructed.  But there is a much bigger reason which could only be overcome by subsidies.  The gas has already been sold.

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While there is an argument to be made that crude oil exports or even coal exports could immediately dampen Moscow’s regional clout, natural gas exports cannot tip the geopolitical energy scales in Washington’s favour anytime soon.

Most of the natural gas that could potentially head for Europe is already committed in long-term supply contracts. The reasons for this are financial. Building an LNG export facility is a multi-billion dollar endeavour, and financiers want to be sure that future revenue is guaranteed, at least until the debts are paid off. This necessitates long-term contracts between LNG exporters and LNG import facilities at the other end. This means that even once American LNG exports are booming, little of that gas could be rerouted in a surge to offset Russian supply.

Furthermore, most of those contracts are in Asia, where natural gas prices are higher than in Europe. The United States does not sell natural gas, nor does Europe buy it; commercial entities do, and these companies are not going to voluntarily lose money in order to advance American interests.

Moreover, those businesses will likely sell the gas where they will get the greatest return. Landed LNG prices in Europe range between $10 and $11 per MMBtu, while the price in Asia is $15 or higher. Also consider that the liquefaction process adds between $4 and $6 to the price of natural gas, and that the Henry Hub spot price, the benchmark for American natural gas, spiked to over $7 per MMBtu in the beginning of March on the back of an abnormally cold winter. At these prices, it would be hard for American producers to compete with European prices even if they wanted to.

Washington cannot wield natural gas as a tool of statecraft in the same way Moscow can. The private companies that make the United States so dynamic also make it far more beholden to prevailing market realities, and the reality is that when American companies begin exporting natural gas, very little of it will be destined for Europe.

Europe is most likely going to be spending a lot more for energy.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/03/washington-natural-gas-weapon-moscow.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #195 on: March 12, 2014, 04:11:30 PM »
Nice posts Jim. Keep it coming.

I'm not so sure, though, that the American empire is in decline, if that is what you suggested a couple of posts ago. The rich are getting richer, even in times of financial turmoil. The private economy of the common man is most certainly in decline, and so is the economy of the american goverment, but the goverment doesn't really run the empire anymore. I might be wrong, but I feel that the American imperialists have got the least they could have expected out of the situation; a puppet goverment running large portions of Ukraine and a denouncement of Putin, as a mad dog and vicious tyrant, by the disillusioned american and european populations.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 05:19:55 PM by Rubikscube »

Anne

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #196 on: March 12, 2014, 04:56:02 PM »
It's not just over-reach that declining empires suffer from. Sometimes it's just neglect of duties. In the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, we have sovereign nations ceding power to international tribunals over which there is no oversight and from which there is no appeal. Tribunals with the power to strike down national laws and award massive compensation to aggrieved multinationals. The TTIP would  grant big business "the remarkable ability"
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to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.

The mechanism through which this is achieved is known as investor-state dispute settlement. It's already being used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people and the living planet.

The Australian government, after massive debates in and out of parliament, decided that cigarettes should be sold in plain packets, marked only with shocking health warnings. The decision was validated by the Australian supreme court. But, using a trade agreement Australia struck with Hong Kong, the tobacco company Philip Morris has asked an offshore tribunal to award it a vast sum in compensation for the loss of what it calls its intellectual property.
George Monbiot The Guardian, Monday 4 November 2013

As I've said before, I see big corporations becoming increasingly powerful and unaccountable.

See also Mark Lippman in Daily Kos 12 January 2014: ‘CRUDE’ – How TPP & TTIP free-trade could threaten sovereignty

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #197 on: March 12, 2014, 06:03:20 PM »
Rubikscube

I think Anne hits the nail on the head.  The creation and growth of the very supra-national corporate mechanisms she describes is living proof of the decline of the US empire in that it highlights the growth of another non-sovereign empire. 

If one reads up on what is considered the natural evolution (in an ideological sense here) of a pure capitalistic system it is just what Anne is talking about.  The global system will be controlled and managed via supra-national corporate entities.  Which naturally are in the control and serve the global 1%.  Countries are now serving the international corporations more than their citizens.  Global feudalism.

Re the Ukraine.  Our sole interests in the Ukraine (from a western corporate/financial/banking perspective) is to garner more wealth into our possession/control.  The dreaded IMF's ( the modern colonial financial/banking structure) purpose is to set up and control the new colonies finances in a manner that will shift wealth from the periphery (the new colony Ukraine) to the center of the empire.  Austerity will be in order or the Ukrainians will get no money and have to turn to the Russians.  That, at this point, is not a very attractive option for those in power in Kiev - I'm thinking a bullet in the back of the head or a quite train ride to the gulag here.  So they will sign the populace up for being bled by the western financial system and will sell off their national assets (mostly a lot of really nice farm land).  And pocket their cut of the proceeds of course.

But all of this activity and asset stripping can only go on so long as there are dwindling numbers of places where wealth can be stolen.  It is a house of cards and it will collapse when the trend of declining wealth crosses the trend in rising AGW effects.     
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #198 on: March 13, 2014, 08:26:05 PM »
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The Looting Of Ukraine Has Begun

According to a report in Kommersant-Ukraine, the finance ministry of Washington’s stooges in Kiev who are pretending to be a government has prepared an economic austerity plan that will cut Ukrainian pensions from $160 to $80 so that Western bankers who lent money to Ukraine can be repaid at the expense of Ukraine’s poor. http://www.kommersant.ua/doc/2424454 It is Greece all over again.

Before anything approaching stability and legitimacy has been obtained for the puppet government put in power by the Washington orchestrated coup against the legitimate, elected Ukraine government, the Western looters are already at work. Naive protesters who believed the propaganda that EU membership offered a better life are due to lose half of their pension by April. But this is only the beginning.

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The corrupt Western media describes loans as “aid.” However, the 11 billion euros that the EU is offering Kiev is not aid. It is a loan. Moreover, it comes with many strings, including Kiev’s acceptance of an IMF austerity plan.

Remember now, gullible Ukrainians participated in the protests that were used to overthrow their elected government, because they believed the lies told to them by Washington-financed NGOs that once they joined the EU they would have streets paved with gold. Instead they are getting cuts in their pensions and an IMF austerity plan.

The austerity plan will cut social services, funds for education, layoff government workers, devalue the currency, thus raising the prices of imports which include Russian gas, thus electricity, and open Ukrainian assets to takeover by Western corporations.

Ukraine’s agriculture lands will pass into the hands of American agribusiness.

Do we really want to save this civilization?

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/03/06/looting-ukraine-begun/

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The sanction spiral

Further intensification of “the most serious political crisis in Europe since the end of the war in former Yugoslavia” would degrade bilateral economic relations between the EU and Russia. He warned not to underestimate the drag of secondary and tertiary effects on the world economy. “Russia itself, Europe, Germany, and the whole world have a lot to lose,” he said. “But if there’s a sanction-spiral, Germany has the most to lose.”...

Alas, the current sanction regime of visa bans for the elite, asset freezes, and trade restrictions could make that difficult. Then there’s the threat, now more broadly but still unofficially bandied about, that Russian companies should simply default on this $700 billion in debt in retaliation for the sanctions.

Some European banks, including some German banks, might crater. Even the possibility of a major loss would further rattle the confidence in these banks with their over-leveraged and inscrutable balance sheets and their assets that are still exuding whiffs of putrefaction. And this sort of fiasco, as the financial crisis has made clear, has an unpleasant way of snowballing – and taking down the already shaky global economy with it.

During the financial crisis, German exports collapsed, banks toppled and got bailed out, and the economy experienced its two worst quarters in the history of the Federal Republic.

http://www.testosteronepit.com/home/2014/3/13/german-exporters-fire-warning-shot-about-russia-sanction-spi.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Rubikscube

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Re: Empire - America and the future
« Reply #199 on: March 14, 2014, 06:16:11 PM »
JimD, Anne

I see your points about "Big money" overrunning the American empire and sort of taking it's place on the top of the food chain. Though, because the rich western elite, which is indeed a super national elite, both seems to act through American goverment institutions associated with the empire, sprung out from America and still is dominated by Americans, I usually think of this elite as the new masters of the American empire rather than a new empire entirely. I further bevieve that the elite will continue to act through the American goverment in order to maintain the illusion democracy and hide themselves from responsability, thus I see no reason to why the influence of the American goverment should decrease without the influence of the elite decreasing as well. I admit that my line of reasoning about what can be defined as the American Empire might be somewhat flawed, so I'm willing to agree that empire in a sense is in decline.

But all of this activity and asset stripping can only go on so long as there are dwindling numbers of places where wealth can be stolen.  It is a house of cards and it will collapse when the trend of declining wealth crosses the trend in rising AGW effects.     

I used to be sure that the instabilities created by resource decline combined with AWG, would send the world tumbling into chaos. I'm not so sure about that anymore. In North-Korea the goverment manages to stay in power despite the country being a permanent hunger disaster for at least 20 years now, so I have begun to think, what if our billionaire masters are able to crush all kinds of rebellions that seeks to limit their power, what if they can actually cope with AWG by forcefully starving all the poorest people to death through neglect and oppression, kind of like in NK? I still think a system collapse is plausible, but I no longer a consider short-medium term decline of our 21th-century feudal system/oligarchy a certainty.