To Know You Don’t Know, by Robert Gore

We’re all ignorant; few recognize it.

Aubrey’s deployment order came a week later. A conflict had waxed and waned in Syria and Iraq for the better part of three years. It was the typical Middle Eastern fracas: hapless governments and their armies; not-so-hapless sectarian brigades with colorful names waging guerrilla war, detonating bombs, promoting mayhem; shifting alliances; endless intrigue; diabolical duplicity; rampant disinformation; appearances masking antipodal realities; and machinations by outside string pullers, money honeys, and intelligence agencies who never seemed to realize—or if they did, never acknowledged—that they were the puppets, not the puppeteers. Despite the seeming complexity, the war boiled down to the usual two issues: oil and the centuries-old question of Muhammad’s rightful heir.

Governments couldn’t resist throwing matches on the gasoline. Sunni nations—Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the rich little monarchies scattered around the Persian Gulf—as well as a variety of sectarian brigades with colorful names, launched massive and coordinated maneuvers to “restore order” (Middle Eastern–speak for replacing a government with one more to your liking) to Shiite Syria and Iraq. The Shiite governments were not without friends. Russia, Iran, and various sectarian brigades with colorful names would not let them go down without a fight. So in a very short time, the corner of the world with the highest per capita concentrations of troops, terrorism, weapons, and warfare saw exponential increases in all four.

The US government urged all parties to come to the negotiating table. No parties came to the negotiating table. The US government consulted with its European allies. A resolution was submitted at the United Nations. The war intensified. The war lobby screamed: this was World War III, and the United States was not there! It was like missing your senior prom! The Europeans screamed. Refugees were streaming to Europe. Despite welcoming gestures, the only assimilating they seemed to be doing was slurping up government benefits. It was getting expensive. Some Europeans didn’t like their new guests. Some of their new guests didn’t like the Europeans, but they did like blowing people up. Voters were getting mad. Something had to be done!

The US government ultimately did what the US government does best: came up with a catchy name (Operation Restoration of Peace, Freedom, Hope, Democracy, and Dignity in the Middle East), parked aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, dropped bombs, and deployed thousands of troops to “advise and assist” without a clear idea of whom they would be advising and assisting. It implored the Europeans to join its efforts, to staunch the refugee flow by making war, blowing things up, and creating more refugees. Back in the States, the groups that reflexively cheered every war distributed more Support Our Troops bumper stickers.

Prime Deceit, Robert Gore, 2016

This is satire, although not obviously so. Prime Deceit is dedicated To all those grown bone weary of the bulls**t. The novel’s main shortcoming is that it isn’t satirical enough. Only brutally savage satire is within field goal range of capturing the reality of the Middle East. Almost all of the mountain of journalism and propaganda focused on or emanating from that part of the world is pure twaddle, bulls**t that bone wearied most of us long ago. You can instantly recognize those who don’t have the first clue about the Middle East by their claims to understand it, especially if they claim they’re experts.

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Why the US Is Headed into Its Fourth Turning, by Doug Casey

The money sentences: “I’ll hazard a guess that 50 years from now, the United States and, for that matter, most countries are not going to exist in anything like their present form. The best solution is a peaceful break up into smaller political subdivisions.” From Doug Casey at internationalman.com:

International Man: The economic, political, social, and cultural situation seems to have become increasingly volatile in the United States and more broadly in the West. Is this a unique situation or part of a recurring historical cycle?

Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe introduced a popular theory in their book, The Fourth Turning, outlining the recurring generational cycles that have occurred throughout American history.

What are your thoughts?

Doug Casey: I read Strauss and Howe’s first book, Generations, when it came out back in 1992. I thought it was brilliant.

Let me start off by recommending both Generations and The Fourth Turning to everybody. Both books offer quite a scholarly, readable, and prescient view of the cyclicality of history. And offer a very plausible forecast for the 2020s.

History’s best seen as cyclical, rather than a straight-line progress to some preordained end the way both the Marxists and the Abrahamic religions see it. But then, Ecclesiastes has its famous quote that there’s nothing new under the sun.

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Syria – Turkey’s Bluff Is Called – Media Opposition Sources Run By British Intelligence, by Moon of Alabama

The official US-Great Britain narrative of Syria makes so little sense it could only have been written by intelligence agents. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabma.org:

Russia has called Turkey’s bluff of a wide ranging attack on Syrian government forces. The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will now have to find a way out of the Idleb trap he set himself in. His excellent Syria adventure is coming to an end.

Meanwhile we learn that the British military intelligence ran another large dis-information campaign that brought ‘Syrian voices’ into the ‘western’ press.

Erdogan continues with his wild rhetoric over Syria.

#ERDOGAN: “#Turkey cannot be confined within the 780,000 km2 border. #Misrata, #Aleppo, #Homs & #Hasaka are outside our actual borders, but they are within our emotional & physical limits, we will confront those who limit our history to only 90yrs.”

The Turkish talks with Russia have not gone well. Russia had proposed the following points:

1- 16-km border strip in Idlib under Turkey control
2- Russia controls crossing between Idlib strip and Afrin
3- M4 and M5 opened under joint Russian-Turkish supervision
4- Retreat of observation points to border strip

Some ten of Turkey’s observation points are currently surrounded by the Syrian army. If Turkey starts to escalate they will be in a dire situation.

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Erdogan’s Excellent Syrian Adventure, by Daniel Lazare

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyiv Erdogan has bit off more than he can chew in Syria. From Daniel Lazare at antiwar.com:

What’s a political strongman to do when his economy is weak and another round of financial turbulence is on the way? When political support is languishing and a series of budget-busting construction projects has people shaking their head in dismay?

The answer is obvious: he invades another country in order to distract attention and give his poll numbers a boost. Better yet, he invades two countries and then travels to a third in order to make highly bellicose comments about a forth. Then while the press back home buzzes with excitement, he folds his hands and prays that somehow it will all work out.

That’s the situation that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finds himself in now that various foreign adventures are going to pot. Turkey has been in economic crisis since 2018 when excessive indebtedness sent the currency plunging while Erdogan’s political standing has been on the wane ever since center-leftists seized control of the Istanbul city government last June.

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Propagandists Cry About Bernie’s Online Base Because It’s Effective, Not Because It’s Mean, by Caitlin Johnstone

First it was Trump and now it’s Bernie Sanders waging guerrilla political war against the establishment…and winning. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

Sometimes it feels like the only news stories over the last five years have been about mean tweets. Trump’s mean tweets, Sanders supporters’ mean tweets; some days it’s all the headlines ever want to talk about. You’d hardly know humanity is on the precipice of extinction on multiple fronts.

If you are the sort of person who believed that the “Bernie Bro” talking point would vanish after statistics showed the narrative of Sanders’ base consisting mostly of entitled white men to be completely false, then you are probably the sort of person who is often wrong about things. Whether the headlines are about an MSNBC host comparing Berners on Twitter to literal Nazi brown shirts, Meghan McCain bashing Sanders and then calling his supporters “nasty and cruel” for responding, or a Nevada culinary union dishonestly smearing Sanders on healthcare and then shrieking about being “viciously attacked” by online criticism, this garment rending over angry Bernie Bros remains more popular than ever.

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The West Displays Its Insecurity Complex, by Diana Johnstone

“The West” as currently used means the US and its confederated empire. Any country outside the empire is viewed as a challenge. From Diana Johnstone at consortiumnews.com:

The only complaint the U.S. allows is that the United States might not defend us enough, when the greater danger comes from being defended too much, writes Diana Johnstone on the Munich conference.

The West is winning!” U.S. leaders proclaimed at the high-level Annual Security Conference held in Munich last weekend.

Not everybody was quite so sure.

There was a lot of insecurity displayed at a conference billed as “the West’s family meeting” – enlarged to 70 participating nations, including U.S. -designated “losers”.

Trump’s crude Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made nobody feel particular secure by treating the world as a huge video game which “we are winning”. Thanks to our “values”, he proclaimed, the West is winning against the other players that Washington has forced into its zero-sum game: Russia and China, whose alleged desires for “empire” are being thwarted.

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Illinoisans overwhelmed by a ‘shadow mortgage’ of pension debts, by Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

Taxes cannot be raised high enough to pay the total state and local government debt and promised pension and medical benefits in Illinois—the tax donkeys will flee. From Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner at wirepoints.org:

Illinois’ combined state and local pensioner debts have reached absurd levels. When divvied up between Illinois’ households, the “shadow mortgage” each one is on the hook for now totals hundreds of thousands of dollars per household, if not more, depending on who politicians target to repay those debts.

As Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other lawmakers try to extract that kind of money from Illinoisans, they’ll fail, for the simple reason that the amounts have become overwhelming. Too many households don’t have the means, while others won’t stick around to pay for it. They’ll just leave.

And as Illinoisans leave, the shadow mortgage on those who remain will jump. The crisis will only deepen.

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China Prepares To Nationalize Systematically-Important HNA Group, by Tyler Durden

Is China’s financial Jenga tower about to fall? If so, will it take the world financial system with it? Stay tuned. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The last time we looked closely at China’s “big four” conglomerates, HNA, Anbang, Evergrande and Dalian Wanda, was back in lat 2017 in the context of the systemic risk (i.e. record debt) that these companies had accumulated as part of their tremendous offshore M&A spree in prior years which however came to a crashing halt once the companies were no longer able to issue cheap debt and pursue a ponzi strategy of buying up more companies, then using them as even more collateral for even more debt for even more M&A and so on.

And while the systemic risk among these conglomerates declined in recent years, it still remained as a byproduct of the sheer size – measured by the number of people they employ as well as debt on the balance sheet – and may explain why according to Bloomberg, China is planning to take over, i.e., nationalize one of the most infamous of Chinese conglomerates, HNA Group, and sell off its airline assets “after the coronavirus outbreak hit the indebted conglomerate’s ability to meet financial obligations.”

In other words, while zombie conglomerates such as HNA, Anbang, et al were on the cusp of collapse for the past three years, all it would take to tip them over into insolvency was a “black swan”, or rather “black bat” event. Such as the coronavirus epidemic. Which left Beijing with little choice: nationalize the company, or let it fail and suffer the consequences as thousands of people are suddenly left without a job.

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