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Old 08-30-2017, 03:31 PM
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Arrow Rethinking America - By US towards a Government by the Military?

US: Towards a Government by the Military?
By Alexei Bayer, August 29, 2017

Donald Trump has surrounded himself with generals. He likes their uniforms, medals and stars, as well as the fact that they honor him as Commander-in-Chief.

The unelected “troika” of generals — Secretary of Defense Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Chief of Staff John Kelly — have taken control of U.S. policy-making.

True to form, the military brass have just won the day yet again. They have convinced Trump to adopt their recommendations on Afghanistan, to continue America’s aimless 16-Year War.

There has been a kind of inevitability in the way the Pentagon got into the driver seat. The President is inexperienced and an intellectual lightweight. The United States Congress, meanwhile, is led by a Republican Party whose governing skills have atrophied after eight years of practising nothing but obstruction under Barack Obama.

The military is now the most cohesive part of the U.S. government, as well as the only one the public respects. According to Gallup, confidence in the military has been consistently above 70%. In contrast, business and the media score in the 20% range. Congress hovers just above single digits.

Even Trump’s liberal critics believe it’s a good thing that the generals are exercising a restraining influence on the rogue Leader of the Free World.

Good morning, military junta?

Normally, civilian chaos and growing political role of the armed services is the stuff of which Third World military coups are made. But don’t worry about an American junta.

There is a more relevant — and frightening — model: What is evolving in the United States reminds me of a subtle, insidious, quasi-constitutional power grab that took place in Russia back in 1999.

Back then, Boris Yeltsin appointed KGB colonel Vladimir Putin as his successor. Putin got duly elected and gradually placed his KGB buddies in positions of power throughout the government, while also stomping out dissent and hollowing out the nascent Russian democracy.

Now, Russia continues to hold elections, but the country is fully in the grip of former secret policemen who will remain in power long after Putin is gone.

Pentagon and Lubyanka – separated at birth?

There are plenty of similarities between the old Soviet KGB and the Pentagon. The Russian secret police was a fraternity.

Putin once admitted that there is no such thing as a former KGB officer. Once you’re KGB, you’re always KGB.

The U.S. military used to be a citizens’ army, stemming from the Founding Fathers’ ideal of the citizen soldier with a gun behind every kitchen door, ready to defend the country.

But after Vietnam, politicians found it expedient to abolish the draft and to build an all-volunteer, professional force. During the two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, this force has forged close internal ties — a true frontline brotherhood that is resentful of those who don’t belong to it.

While the chasm with civilian society is widening, military families are also becoming a special caste in the United States. Since women are now also serving, active-duty personnel have been intermarrying, with the next generation choosing a military career as well.

Falling short

For all the fear that ordinary Soviets felt for their KGB, and respect that Americans have for their men and women in uniform, both the KGB and the U.S. armed services have done a lousy job.

True, the KGB was good at spying at home and abroad, ferreting out and arresting dissidents and occasionally assassinating political opponents.

But the KGB managed to completely miss the fall of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which it had been created to safeguard. (It quickly found a new footing in Russia).

Similarly, the Pentagon won every battle it has been in since the Korean war nearly 70 years ago, but lost every war.

Advice that its top brass proffered to every president from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama has led to tactical victories, but never brought Washington closer to extricating itself from open-ended military conflicts. Certainly, victories have been elusive.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, and the Russian state became weakened, the KGB was the only organization strong enough to seize power. The same process is underway in the United States under the Trump Administration.

We are seeing, for example, how the military is starting to ignore Trump and his “total ban” on transgender personnel, and even to contradict him directly, as in a statement by the Joint Chiefs of Staff condemning racism.

Power corrupts

The KGB seemed to be a highly ideologically motivated, patriotic force dedicated to the advancement of communism and the Soviet Union. Once its members came to power in post-Soviet Russia, however, Putin’s secret service generals proved to be interested in personal gain and in power to safeguard their ill-gotten wealth.

Russia has become a kleptocracy with no future; the kleptocrats know that and keep their assets and their families outside their supposedly beloved country.

There is no reason to think that American generals, if they were to secure power in Washington, will act differently, despite their apparent commitment to American democracy, the Constitution and patriotism.

The present “troika” around Trump — Secretary of Defense Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Chief of Staff John Kelly — are universally acclaimed as top-notch generals and the best and most honorable men America’s warrior culture has produced.

They are happy to serve in an administration that divides the nation and whose members, starting with their Commander-in-Chief himself, stuff their own pockets.

General Mike Flynn was also considered to be a model soldier. But when push came to shove, he has been revealed as greedy, corrupt and, quite possibly, guilty of betraying the country.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Old 08-30-2017, 03:33 PM
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Arrow Trump and Putin’s New “Oligarchic International”

Trump and Putin’s New “Oligarchic International”
By Alexei Bayer, January 21, 2017

Ever since Donald Trump began running for President of the United States, he has managed to heap abuse on pretty much everyone.

Almost an equal-opportunity discriminator

His targets range from the Mexicans to the Chinese and include plenty of Americans, from actress Meryl Streep to Rep. John Lewis.

The one man who can do no wrong by Trump is Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

It may seem like a strange affinity between a fat cat real estate developer and an ex-KGB colonel who devoted the first half of his life to the cause of burying capitalism.

Why the fascination with Putin?

There have been claims that Putin holds “kompromat” on Trump – damaging materials such as sex tapes – forcing the new U.S. president to sing to Putin’s tune.

While such kompromat material may exist, there is a less conspiratorial explanation why the two are bromancing together — and what kind of world order they are starting to build jointly.

“The working men have no country,” Marx and Engels declared in their Communist Manifesto back in 1848. They famously called for the proletariat of the world to unite because they regarded nationality was a fake distinction. What truly mattered, they said, was class solidarity.

The first Socialist International was founded in London in 1864 and “The Internationale” became its anthem.

Marx must be spinning in his grave

World War I proved Marx utterly wrong. The workers of the world showed a remarkable enthusiasm for killing each other and Socialist parties were among their most ardent cheerleaders.

Eventually, the horrors of Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy sobered people up, but only after yet another slaughter in World War II. Wiser for the wear, Europe went for open borders, inclusiveness, tolerance and supranational institutions.

But apparently the lessons of history have already worn out. Nativism, white supremacy, racism and anti-Semitism are spreading in the United States.

Not to be left behind, Europeans, spearheaded by the Brits, have decided to try something new and exciting: nationalism.

Once again, various nations’ citizens are rallying under nationalist banners, demanding that their countries be free of foreigners. Marx must be spinning in his grave.

The New Internationalism: Oligarchs Unite!

And yet, internationalism is alive and well – in the new class of the super-rich. This would have surprised Marx, who expected the bourgeoisie in individual countries to keep fighting it out for global dominance.

The global super-rich class emerged nearly four decades ago. Its members hail from different countries and different walks of life. They have different professional backgrounds and earn their money in a variety of legal, semi-legal and criminal ways.

They ranged from the heirs of the Rothschilds to wildly successful tech entrepreneurs and the investors who backed them.

The class includes financial speculators, bankers, heads of publicly traded companies, with their huge bonuses and golden parachutes, sports and entertainment superstars and so on.

And, of course, let’s not forget the kleptocrats, the oil sheiks and the drug barons.

Shocking numbers

A recent report by Oxfam decried the obscene wealth gap between the rich and the poor.

Headlines were grabbed by the finding that a handful of rich people own more wealth than one half of the world population.

The far more devastating statistic that did not receive at least equal attention was that the notorious “one percenters” have more assets than the other 99 percent combined.

None of this is new. In fact, it has been baked into the cake since at least 2010. From then onward, the rich have been getting steadily richer, while the rest got steadily poorer.

The super-rich class is extraordinarily influential, and it is increasingly converting its economic muscle into political power, subverting democracy. In many countries, the rich are, in fact, the government or have the government in their pocket.

The new internationalists

Even more important, this class is so rich that its members no longer have much in common with other citizens of their countries.

They share interests, beliefs and activities with people of the same wealth bracket, regardless of where they or their money come from.

They have residences the world over, usually outside their country of birth. They send their kids to the same schools, they dine at the same exclusive restaurants, they stay in the same hotels.

They own private planes and boats, they have their own police forces. Special clinics discretely care for their well-being.

They also have cities – New York, London, Miami, Los Angeles and others – where their money is welcome, especially for luxury condos, without too many questions being asked.

Rootless cosmopolitans

The super-rich have little interest in what happens to their countries. Since they use no public services, it is only logical (to them) that they don’t want to pay any taxes – and many don’t. Thank god, they receive assistance from plenty of highly skilled professionals are there to protect their money from the taxman.

In short, today’s super-rich have become a nation apart – or rather, a class that transcends national borders. They are the true “rootless cosmopolitans.”

What makes Putin tick

Each in his own way, Trump and Putin are extreme exemplars of this group. Putin is probably the world’s richest – and most shameless – kleptocrat. He has turned Russia into the world’s first nuclear armed mafia state.

His policy of destabilizing the United States and the European Union and whipping up nationalism at home has been designed with one purpose in mind – to keep himself and his super-rich cronies in power.

Putin claims to be a Russian patriot, but he is bleeding Russia dry and shamelessly, but effectively corrupting all of its institutions.

Trump is not just a billionaire himself (even though no one knows for sure whether he is, because he tends to exaggerate his net worth). His business model also directly caters to them, since his buildings attract the super-wealthy.

Contrary to his sloganeering, Trump doesn’t give a damn about America (and “making it great again.”) Short of finally triggering an American Revolution – an event for which the world is still waiting — America can hardly be any “greater” for him and his ilk than it is right now.

A hater, not just a divider

In fact, Trump seems to hate the United States, to judge from how viciously he attacks other Americans and how he is now debasing a proud American institution, the Presidency. Needless to say, like any true oligarch, he has paid no taxes for years.

Trump may wear a stars ‘n’ stripes lapel pin, but his loyalty lies elsewhere — with the nation of the super-rich. He and Putin are countrymen.

It has been asserted that once he assumes the presidency, Trump will sacrifice American interests in favor of Russian ones. It is a mistake to make that assumption.

Putin cares as little about Russia as Trump does about America. The two only care about making the world safe for themselves and all the other super-rich. They might was well adopt a common slogan: Oligarchs of the World Unite!

About the writer:

Alexei Bayer is the Eastern Europe Editor of The Globalist. [United States]

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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