Category Archives: War

They Were Ordered to Shoot… by Bill Bonner

Does “Just following orders” excuse criminality? From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:

“Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” is a line from Jesus of Nazareth.

Typically clever, and almost evasive, it left open the mischievous question – “What is Caesar’s?” – for roughly 2,000 years.

Moral philosophers had been bedeviled for even longer: If you want to do the right thing, can you just obey the authorities… or do you have to figure it out for yourself?

Finally, last week, like Moses coming down from Mount Sinai, legal and biblical scholar, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions – who previously distinguished himself by sponsoring a bill to name September 2016 as “National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month” – handed down the answer.

More on that shortly. But first…

Dry Spell

The Dow was down again yesterday… but only slightly. That makes it the seventh straight day of losses for the index, the worst losing streak in over a year [more in today’s Market Insight].

Where it will go from here, no one knows. But there are good reasons to think that the “top is in.” If so, we’re in for a long dry spell.

If we’re right, U.S. stocks will “underperform” for many years. Readers are advised not to expect to get rich in the stock market, unless they are very lucky or well-advised. Las Vegas is likely to be more rewarding than Wall Street.

We’ll leave it to the technicians and cycle-watchers to make their own case. Here at the Diary, we focus on fundamentals.

Obviously, U.S. finances are worsening. Government deficits are increasing, just as the Fed is putting up interest rates. This is bound to lead to trouble.

But the bigger, or more insidious, problem is Caesar himself; he seems to want more and more things rendered unto him. And our observation is that the more Caesar gets, the less is left for everyone else.

To continue reading: They Were Ordered to Shoot…

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The US Annihilated Raqqa While Allowing Thousands of Terrorists to Escape — Why? by Darius Shahtahmasebi

Raqqa would be slightly less inexcusable if the US had got the bad guys, but according to Darius Shahtahmasebi, they didn’t. From Shahtahmasebi at theantimedia.org:

Amnesty International released an explosive report last week, which described the US-led coalition’s disproportionate and indiscriminate war in Raqqa as the US-led “war of annihilation”. The report confirmed what some people have suspected for a while but few have dared to even talk about. Namely, that the United States and its allies have completely destroyed a Syrian city, and left almost nothing but death and destruction in their wake.

In coming to its conclusion, Amnesty researchers visited 42 coalition air strike sites across the city and interviewed 112 civilian residents who had survived the ordeal. The results of their investigation shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, as approximately a year ago, Reutersdescribed the plight of one resident in Raqqa who found several of his neighbours lying dead on the street, with cats eating the corpses.

The report even details four cases of civilian families who, between them, lost 90 relatives and neighbours. One family lost 39 in total, all of them allegedly killed by coalition air strikes. This would also not be a surprise to anyone who cared enough to follow this story closely, particularly with the Intercept’s shocking article last year titled, ‘Entire families are being killed by US airstrikes in Raqqa, Syria’.

To be fair, US President Donald Trump did once say he would “take out” the families of Islamic State (IS) fighters. He also once asked the CIA why they delayed an air strike on a terrorist target so as to avoid hitting the house with his family inside it. In other words, the Commander-in-Chief of the world’s military superpower doesn’t have a clue how international humanitarian law works.

To continue reading: The US Annihilated Raqqa While Allowing Thousands of Terrorists to Escape — Why?

The Eagle, the Dragon, and the Bear, by Robert Gore

Does Trump recognize the limits of US power?

Trump’s new world order comes straight from The Godfather. There are three global powers: the US, Russia, and China. None of these powers can militarily defeat either of the other two, and even an alliance among two of them would have trouble defeating the third.

Like Don Corleone, Trump is dividing up the larger territory into smaller, great-power controlled sub-territories. He is tacitly recognizing Russia and China’s dominance in their own spheres of influence, and holding them to account in their territories. The implicit agreement among the three is apparently that each power will, in their, “sphere of influence…enforce peace.”

Trump’s New World Order,” SLL 3/20/18

In one week President Trump confirmed that his first concern is the United States, that he has what may be a workable vision for its place in the world, and he loathes globalism and the globalists. A good measure of his efficacy is the outrage he generates. By that measure, that week was his finest hour…so far.

Europe won’t have a seat at Trump’s great-power table. Its welfare states are addicted to their handouts, deeply in debt, rely on uneven trade arrangements with the US, and have below-replacement birth rates. They are cowed by Soros-sponsored propaganda—Immigration is the answer!—and haven’t shut off the immigrant invasion. Refusing to spend on their own militaries, they’ve used what they save on defense to subsidize welfare spending and state bureaucracies.

They’re ignoring a lesson from history: nations that rely on other nations for their defense generally come to regret it. Instead, they’re wedded to the globalist acronyms: NATO, EU and UN. They have frittered away their power and their glory—Europe’s heritage and civilization—opting for overrun masquerading as assimilation by dogmatic and implacable foes.

Trump is all about power and despises weakness. There isn’t always strength in numbers. A confederation of weaklings doesn’t equal strength, especially when the weaklings’ premises and principles are fundamentally wrong. Strongest of the weaklings is Germany, a trade powerhouse but a US military vassal. It’s hard to say if Trump’s dislike of Angela Merkel is business—she’s one of the world’s most visible and vociferous proponent of globalism, or personal—it’s always her way or the highway. Probably both, and it looks like Germany may finally be rejecting her way on immigration.

Trump clearly relished snubbing her and her G-6 buddies, particularly boy toys Trudeau and Macron, who may actually believe his bone-crushing handshakes intimidated Trump. When you’re paying for a continent’s defense and you’re giving them a better deal on trade than they’re giving you, that’s leverage, and Trump knows it. He’s not intimidated.

US Atlanticists have used that leverage to cement Europe into the US’s confederated empire. That Trump is willing to blow off Europe suggests that he may be blowing off empire. America’s imperialists equate backing away from empire with “decline,” but such a sea change would be the exact opposite. Empires require more energy and resources to maintain than can be extracted from them. They are inevitably a road to ruin.

Nothing is as geopolitically telling as Trump leaving Europe’s most “important” heads of state early to meet with the leader of one of Asia’s most impoverished backwaters. Europe’s time has passed, the future belongs to Asia. Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia may look like the same recognition, but it was not. That pivot was designed to encircle China diplomatically, economically, and militarily. That thinking persists among much of the US military, but Trump may have something different in mind.

China has its problems. Much of its economy, especially its financial sector, is state-directed, despite the capitalistic gloss. There will be a reckoning from its debt binge. The repressive social credit system typifies the government’s immoral objective: keeping China’s people compliant but productive drones. However, enforced docility and innovation—the foundation of progress—mix as readily as oil and water, and theft of others’ innovations can’t fill the void.

Notwithstanding its issues, China is a major power and is not going to be encircled or regime changed by the US. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) it cosponsors and finances with Russia is the centerpiece of a basket of initiatives designed to further those countries’ influence and leadership within Eurasia and among emerging market countries. BRI is an apt symbol of the movement towards multipolarity, with competition shifting from the military to the economic and commercial sphere.

Trump tacitly accepts Russian and Chinese dominance in Eurasia. However, Trump doesn’t give without receiving; he’s going to extract concessions. Number one on the list is North Korea and its nuclear weapons. We’ll probably never know what has gone on behind the scenes between Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, and perhaps Vladimir Putin, but Kim may have received an offer he couldn’t refuse. Both China and Russia would be well-served by a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons and US troops. Whatever transpired, Kim came around. Trump ameliorated any potential humiliation, journeying to Kim’s neck of the woods, laying on an inspirational movie video, and flattering the North Korean leader and his country. Kim the farsighted leader may be able to reach a deal; Kim the browbeaten puppet couldn’t. If he tried, he’d probably be deposed, always a danger for dictators.

As global competition moves from military to economic, Trump is also going to make sure he tilts, as much as possible, the rules of that competition back towards the US. There are the existing trade arrangements with Europe, Canada, and Mexico that he’s willing to blow up, presumably to obtain better arrangements.

China is in a league of its own when it comes to gaming trade, and it’s getting the Trump treatment as well. Much of the Chinese “advantage” stems from Chinese overcapacity, fueled by below market interest rates in China and around the globe. Trump can’t do much about that “advantage.” The low-interest regime will eventually crash and burn, but it’s going to take a depression to clear overcapacity in China and elsewhere.

Innovation and intellectual property are America’s one indisputable comparative economic advantage. It will be a tough nut, but Trump is bent on curbing China’s acquisitions, by fair means and foul, of US know how. If he succeeds it will slow, but not stop, the Chinese economic juggernaut. It has millions of smart, well-educated, industrious people who will continue to fuel indigenous innovation (notwithstanding state-enforced docility).

Three realities confronted Trump when he assumed office. The US empire is unsustainable, so too is the trajectory of its spending and debt, and the government is fundamentally corrupt. It would be foolish to bet Trump doesn’t understand these issues and the linkages between them.

“Trump’s New World Order”

If Trump has recognized that first reality and is implementing Don Corleone’s spheres of influence concept, he may get some breathing room to address the intractable second and third realities: the trajectory of US spending and debt, and the fundamentally corrupt government. On the debt, all the breathing room in the world isn’t going to save him. The US keeps adding to principal, which is compounding at rising rates. Cutting imperial expenditures would help some, although transfer payments are the biggest enchilada. To make even the first step on the thousand mile journey to solvency, however, the US government will have to run a bona fide surplus for many years. That prospect is not on the horizon.

As for corruption, thousands of articles by bloggers and commentators, including SLL, may have less instructional value for the populace at large than one simple demonstration: most of America’s rulers and its captive media are speaking out against a peace initiative, not on the merits of the initiative itself, but because Donald Trump was one of its initiators. That tells those Americans who are paying attention all they need to know about their rulers and their captive media. Whether they do anything about it is another question.

You Should Be Laughing At Them!

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Outrage, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

It seems like everybody is outraged by something out there, but all the outrage is invariably selective. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

Yes, you have every right to be outraged at the disgraceful treatment of children on America’s borders. But that does not give you the right to NOT be outraged by what America has done and is today still doing to children in, just to name a few places, Syria, Libya and Yemen. Be outraged, but don’t make it an echo chamber issue. Because if you do, you, too, are in a cage.

So if you see the wives of former presidents speak out about the child separation policies, ask yourself where they get the moral authority to speak out on such issues, after their husbands have bombed the crap out of many countries, killing many many children in the process. And don’t let’s get started about Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State.

Presently in Yemen, 20 million people depend on humanitarian aid, and the US are helping Saudi Arabia et al bomb the only port left through which that aid can reach them, to smithereens. 8.5 million Yemenis are already starving, and some 3 million of them are children. Where is your outrage over that?

Where is the outrage over the American and international treatment of Julian Assange, who has been in the Ecuador embassy in London for six years today? Where is it?

Don’t get coaxed into selective outrage by your news media, who like nothing better than to tell you what to be outraged by, and what not. If you allow that to happen, you have lost your freedom and your independence. Ask why they tell you a certain story at the moment they tell it. Ask why they tell it the way they do.

Yes, it has come to this. Every single story you read or hear needs to be scrutinized. Because there’s an agenda behind all of them, left, right or middle. And because the media have figured out that constantly driving you from one selective outrage to another is very profitable for them. Critical thought is not.

Yes, there are sociopaths in the Trump administration. But that’s nothing new. There have been sociopaths in every administration. It’s how our political systems work. Sh*t floats to the top.

To continue reading: Outrage

“No Escape”: Don’t Expect A Yemeni Version Of The White Helmets, by Tyler Durden

Nobody caterwauls for innocent victims and dead children when they’re victims of a US ally’s war. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Have you noticed the almost complete lack of video footage showing the ongoing Arab and US coalition aerial bombardment of Yemen’s key port city of Al Hudaydah?

Reuters reports the following:

“People are scared. The warships are terrifying and warplanes are flying overhead all the time,” university student Amina, 22, who lives near the port, told Reuters by telephone.

“People are fleeing the city to the countryside, but for those with no relatives there or money, there is no escape.”

Don’t expect a Yemeni version of the “White Helmets” to emerge with high-tech cameras, slick new gear, and professional uniforms capturing Yemen’s starvation and slow death under US, Saudi, and UAE warplanes.

Smoke rises from Al Hudaydah city of Yemen after Saudi-led coalition air attack. Image source: Anadolu, Getty

Don’t expect prime time news broadcasts to feature images of emaciated Yemeni babies — easily located on social media channels in the thousands.

And yet he numbers are staggering, as Reuters reports further:

The United Nations says 22 million Yemenis need humanitarian aid, and the number at risk of starvation could more than double to more than 18 million by year end unless access improves.

No, there won’t be rebel leaders in Yemen beamed into CNN studios via Skype to detail the suffering of civilians under the brutal siege, because this isn’t Syria… it’s Yemen, where the US and its allies have not only imposed a full military blockade of land, air, and sea on an urban population of half a million people, but have also ensured a complete media blackout of on the ground footage and reporting.

As we noted in our initial coverage the complete media and humanitarian blockade on the contested port city of Al Hudaydah means confirmation of the rapidly unfolding events have been hard to come by, though we featured what’s purported to be some of the earliest social media footage of the assault, now in its second day.

To continue reading: “No Escape”: Don’t Expect A Yemeni Version Of The White Helmets

250,000 Lives at Risk as US-Backed Saudi Coalition Begins Siege of Yemeni Port, by Middle East Monitor

Nothing good will come from this siege, and many innocent Yemenis will die. From the Middle East Monitor via theantimedia.org:

The Saudi-led coalition has launched an attack on Yemen’s port city Hudaydah, Al Jazeera reported today.

Air strikes began pounding Hudaydah, supporting a ground assault by the Yemeni government led by internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Houthi positions on the outskirts including Seham and Qazabah have been targeted already.

The Yemen National Army’s open source network on Telegram began referring to the attack as operation “golden victory.”

Early this morning, the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV channel reported targeting Saudi-led coalition warships in the Red Sea. Two missiles were used to attack the warships, causing damage to them. No other information on casualties was given.

The move comes as part of efforts to regain control of Hudaydah, Yemen’s most strategic port which serves as much as 80 per cent of aid for Yemenis in addition to its positioning in the Bab Al Mandeb strait, a vital maritime shipping route. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a member of the coalition, set yesterday as a deadline for the Houthis to withdraw from Hudaydah under UN-led negotiations or attack. Negotiations broke down and UN staff evacuated in fear of a lethal attack.

It is estimated that 250,000 lives will be impacted by the attack on Hudaydah, according to the United Nations. Without access to the civilians caught up in the crossfire there will be catastrophic humanitarian and infrastructure impacts, human rights groups have warned.

Weapons smuggling into Yemen

The Saudi-led coalition continues to accuse the Houthis of using the Hudaydah port to smuggle Iranian weapons, despite the coalition continually monitoring the Bab Al Mandeb strait which leads to the port. There has been no empirical evidence to suggest that the Houthis are receiving arms via the Hudaydah port. UN experts part of the Yemen panel, continue to question the accusation.

To continue reading: 250,000 Lives at Risk as US-Backed Saudi Coalition Begins Siege of Yemeni Port

Libya “Before And After” Photos Go Viral, by Tyler Durden

Obama kind of, sort of admitted that Libya was the low point of his presidency, but Hillary Clinton, that interventions biggest cheerleader, has never acknowledged that it was a disaster, nor has she apologized for it. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

A Libyan man who took photos of himself posing at various spots across Beghazi in 2000 has revisited the same locations 18 years later to photograph life under the new “NATO liberated” Libya.

The “before and after” pics showing the utter devastation of post-Gaddafi Libya have gone viral, garnering 50,000 retweets after they were posted to an account that features historical images of Libya under Gaddafi’s rule between 1969 and 2011.

It appears people do still care about Libya even if the political elites in Paris, London, and Washington who destroyed the country have moved on. Though we should recall that British foreign secretary Boris Johnson was caught on tape in a private meeting last year saying Libya was ripe for UK investment, but only after Libyans “clear the dead bodies away.” 

We previously detailed in Libya’s Slave Auctions And African Genocide: What Hillary Knew how Libya went from being a stable, modernizing secular state to a hellhole of roving jihadist militias, warring rival governments, and open-air slave auctions of captured migrants.

Yet what the viral photos confirm is that Libya was once a place of sprawling hotels, wide and clean city streets, functioning infrastructure, and lively neighborhoods. But these very places are now bullet-ridden ruins rotting amidst the political backdrop of the ‘Mad Max’ style chaos unleashed immediately after US-NATO’s bombing the country into regime change.

Hillary still says that she has no regrets even after Obama timidly voiced a half-hearted and too-little-too-late Libya mea culpa of sorts in 2016.

Though Hillary’s beloved Libyan Al Qaeda …”rebels” — legitimized and empowered through broad support from the West — are now among the very militias hosting slave auctions and fueling the European refugee crisis, she’s never so much as hinted that regime change in Libya left the country and much of the region in shambles. Instead, she simply chose to conclude her role in the tragic story of Libya with her crazed and gleeful declaration of “we came, we saw, he died.”

Regime change enthusiasts everywhere please take note of what your blind jingoism has wrought.

To continue reading: Libya “Before And After” Photos Go Viral