Category Archives: History

Not Worth Another Life: An Afghan Anniversary To Lament, by Maj. Danny Sjursen

The US government has not a clue how to win the 17-year war in Afghanistan, but there’s no plans to get out. From Maj. Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Americans are still dying for a hopeless cause in Afghanistan; meanwhile, the media and populace simply ignore a seemingly perpetual war.

The absurd hopelessness was the worst part. No, it wasn’t the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) blowing limbs off my boys, or the well-aimed gunshot wounds suffered by others; it wasn’t even the horror of ordering the deaths of other (“enemy”) human beings.

No, for a captain commanding 100 odd troopers in Southwest Kandahar province at the height of the Obama “surge” of 2011, what most struck me was the feeling of futility; the sense that the mission was fruitless operationally, and, of course, all but ignored at home. After a full year of saturating the district with American soldiers, the truth is we really controlled only the few square feet we each stood on. The Taliban controlled the night, the farmlands, the villages. And, back in 2011, well, the U.S. had about 100,000 servicemen and women in country. There are less than 15,000 on the ground now.

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Full Circle: Lessons of the Lost City in the Sands of Time, by Doug “Uncola” Lynn

Is a strange circular formation in the western Sahara the lost city of Atlantis? Doug “Uncola” Lynn ponders this question and what it means for our understanding of history. From Lynn at theburningplatform.com:

This post will be a little “outside of the box” so to speak. It’s more of an afterthought, really.  Therefore, it may not tie into current events and, specifically, the upcoming midterms and aftermath.  Or, in a roundabout way, it could be exactly about those coming events. Regardless, as always, it is the reader’s choice to tag along while simultaneously, and at your whim, possessing the power of the click.

Of course, that’s just one of the bonuses of being an internet animal.

Another includes the occasional morsels discovered when hunting and gathering online. These may often be feel-good stories that reassure one’s belief in humanity. Other examples might include new scientific breakthroughs that, at the time, are only reported on the shadowy fringes of the interwebic blogosphere.  Or maybe the tidbit is about a social, or health, tip that enriches one’s life. And, oftentimes, other postings are historical; even connecting antiquity with modernity in ways that resurrect the imaginations of childhood.

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You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again, by John W. Whitehead

America is at its greatest when it is most free. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“If the freedom of speech be taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”—George Washington

Living in a representative republic means that each person has the right to take a stand for what they think is right, whether that means marching outside the halls of government, wearing clothing with provocative statements, or simply holding up a sign.

That’s what the First Amendment is supposed to be about.

Yet through a series of carefully crafted legislative steps and politically expedient court rulings, government officials have managed to disembowel this fundamental freedom, rendering it with little more meaning than the right to file a lawsuit against government officials.

In the process, government officials have succeeded in insulating themselves from their constituents, making it increasingly difficult for average Americans to make themselves seen or heard by those who most need to hear what “we the people” have to say.

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When Warren Woke Up to A World Without Her, by Tom Luongo

This article is worth it just for the new Elizabeth Warren nicknames. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Elizabeth Warren’s national political career is over.  And malignant narcissist that she is she keeps trying to score rhetorical points against Donald Trump, thinking if she can just get in a good one, she’ll stop being a laughing stock.

But, that’s not going to happen.  She’s accumulating nicknames now at a rate that is faster than black men are leaving the Democrats.

Fauxcahontas

Lie-awatha

Last of the Fauxhicans

Fraudazuma

Fakeagawea

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Erasing History, Diplomacy, Truth, and Life on Earth, by Paul Craig Roberts and Stephen F. Cohen

You can make up fake history and news, but you can’t make up reality. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.com:

One of the reasons that countries fail is that collective memory is continually destroyed as older generations pass away and are replaced by new ones who are disconnected from what came before.

Initially, the disconnect was handled by history and by discussions around family tables. For example, when I was a kid there were still grandparents whose fathers had fought for the Confederacy. They had no slaves and owned no plantations. They fought because their land was invaded by Lincoln’s armies. Today if Southern families still know the facts, they would protect their children by not telling them. Can you imagine what would happen to a child in a public school that took this position?

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The Distortions of Doom Part 2: The Fatal Flaws of Reserve Currencies, by Charles Hugh Smith

Why reserve currencies come and go. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwomind.com:

Part 1

The way forward is to replace the entire system of reserve currencies with a transparent free-for-all of all kinds of currencies.
Over the years, I’ve endeavored to illuminate the arcane dynamics of global currencies by discussing Triffin’s Paradox, which explains the conflicting dual roles of national currencies that also act as global reserve currencies, i.e. currencies that other nations use for global payments, loans and foreign exchange reserves.
The four currencies that are considered global are the US dollar (USD), the euro, the Japanese yen and China’s RMB (yuan). The percentage of use in each of the three categories of demand for the reserve currencies–payments, loans and foreign exchange reserves–are displayed below.
Many observers don’t seem to grasp that demand for reserve currencies extend beyond payments. Many of those heralding the demise of the USD as a reserve currency note the rise of alternative payment platforms as evidence of the USD’s impending collapse.
But it’s not so simple. Currencies are also in demand because loans were denominated in that currency, so interest and principal payments must also be paid in that currency. There is also demand for the currency to be held as foreign exchange reserves–the equivalent of cash to settle trade imbalances and back the domestic currency.
Notice the minor role played by the yen and yuan, despite the size of the economies of Japan and China. There’s a reason for this that’s at the core of Triffin’s Paradox: any nation seeking to issue a reserve currency must export its currency in size by running large, permanent trade deficits (or an equivalent mechanism for exporting currency in size).
The reason why the yen and yuan are minor players is neither nation runs much of a trade deficit, and neither exports its currency in size via loans or other currency emittance mechanisms.
Triffin’s Paradox is the tension between a currency’s domestic role and its global role. The nation’s issuing central bank prioritizes domestic concerns–bolstering employment, tamping down (or generating) inflation, supporting the private banking system, etc.–but the rate of interest, etc. set by the issuing central bank has enormous impacts on nations using the currency for payments, loans and reserves.
No currency can serve two masters at the same time. If the issuing central bank raises interest rates for domestic reasons, the increase in rates may be ruinous to offshore borrowers who must convert weakening home currencies into the strengthening reserve currency to make interest payments.
Higher yields strengthen reserve currencies and weaken emerging market currencies. This increases the costs of servicing loans denominated in reserve currencies.
The question for any wannabe reserve currency is: how do you export enough currency into the global system to support the demand for payments, loans and reserves? If the issuing nation runs a trade surplus or modest deficit, trade doesn’t export enough currency into the global financial system to meet the demands placed on a reserve currency.
The alternative mechanism is debt. If the issuing central bank issues lines of credit to banks, then institutions can make loans denominated in the reserve currency to offshore borrowers.
The EU banks have issued loans in euros, and the fatal consequence of this is now becoming clear. Emerging market borrowers will be forced to default as their currencies weaken against the euro and the USD, driving the costs of servicing their debt denominated in euros and USD higher.
Loans denominated in USD and euros will bring the periphery crisis home to the core’s banking sectors as these loans default. It was all fun and games when the USD was weakening thanks to the Fed’a ZIRP (zero interest rate policy), because it became progressively cheaper to service loans in USD as USD weakened and emerging market currencies strengthened.
Now that dynamic has reversed: every click higher in U.S. yields vis a vis other currencies will only push the USD higher.
The system of reserve currencies is dysfunctional for everyone, creating and incentivizing fatal imbalances in trade, yields and debt. Some look to a basket of currencies (SDRs) as the solution, but all this does is tighten the coherence of a system that’s already dangerously hyper-coherent, i.e. highly susceptible to contagion.
There is no perfect reserve currency. Even gold has its limitations. As a result, the best available solution is a world of multiple currencies, some of which are not borrowed into existence, i.e. gold and bitcoin. Given a transparent range of options, nations, borrowers and lenders could choose whatever mix of currencies best suited them.
Some years ago I proposed using bitcoin as a reserve currency: Could Bitcoin (or equivalent) Become a Global Reserve Currency? (November 7, 2013)
The way forward isn’t to replace the USD with another dysfunctional reserve currency– the way forward is to replace the entire system of reserve currencies with a transparent free-for-all of all kinds of currencies.

How Berlin Forgot the Crimes of the Soviets, by Bill Bonner

It’s interesting, and telling, the different treatment meted out to the historical crimes of Hitler’s Nazis versus the Soviet Union’s Communists. From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartmers.com:

Berlin is the testicle of the West. When I want the West to scream, I squeeze on Berlin.

– Nikita Khrushchev

BERLIN – “You’d think they would have learned something. They lived with communism for 45 years. They should know what it’s like.”

We are in Berlin at a business conference. A friend was explaining why progress in human affairs comes so slowly… if at all.

Fakey Capital Structure

We will come back to that in a minute. But first, we note that the mill is still grinding away. That is, despite all the bluff and blather about what a great economy we have, interest rates are rising… undermining the whole fakey capital structure.

We remind readers that the whole thing – including some $250 trillion worth of debt worldwide – rests on artificially low interest rates. If rates continue to rise, it is sure to fall down.

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