The Conservative Revolution: the “Left” Dilemma

January 31, 2017

by Iman Safi

Part II; The “Left” Dilemma:

(for part I, please see here)

To understand where the global “left”-“right” divides stands now, we must take a quick look at some key developments and join them together within the particular context sought; because the roots of this divide go back to the times during which the Western mind was in the process of choosing between such issues as succumbing to the Church versus liberation, monarchies versus progressive and democratic governments and science versus fiction.

A quick look at all the opportunities that people have had for awakening in the past reveals, without much effort at all, that they were virtually all quickly and swiftly hijacked by individuals and organizations seeking gain and mileage. One can perhaps understand why some people are driven by ego, others are lured by financial rewards, fame, power etc, and whilst it is not easy to “forgive” them, they are easier to forgive than those who meddle with people’s minds and replace their drive for enlightenment and knowledge by unsurmountable walls of ignorance, darkness, ill-defined destinations and even no destinations at all to aspire to reach.

Western Churches had for centuries controlled the minds of their flocks. As a matter of fact, the term “flock” is quite befitting, because they did regard them as mindless sheep. For many generations, they have told them what to believe in, how to think, what subjects to discuss and what to stay away from. They have even told them what to eat, when to eat, who and when to marry, and should one dare break those rules and commandments, he/she can face the pain of death.

Whilst this monstrosity is considered to be by-and-large a thing of the past in the Western/Christian World, it is still well and alive within some of the other communities and religions, and the new wave of terror under the guise of Islamic terrorism is only a manifestation of this phenomenon that it still thriving.

The age of awakening in Western Europe did not come from the Church that did not reform despite many claims to the contrary made by the mainstream Churches as well as some breakaway factions alike. The awakening was the result of the fact that the Western mind liberated itself from the yokes of the Church and instead of listening to the rhetoric of their priests telling them that they were born sinners and that they will burn forever in hell unless they obey their orders and directives, for a change, they were able to read the works of Spinoza, Descartes, Kant, and listen to the music of Bach and Beethoven and see the creativity of Da Vinci. The scientific revolution that ensued was a result of this liberation, and the Western mind had the opportunity to lead humanity and to prosper at all levels, and it did.

To the dismay of some Americans who believe that the American Revolution was the first such popular action against oppressive regimes, the mother of all revolutions was undoubtedly the French Revolution. This is because the French Revolution was the outcome of enlightenment and social awakening, spearheaded by Voltaire, Mollier, Rousseaux and not just a haphazard revolt related to tea trade tax laws. The French Revolution was in fact the inspiration that gave rise to Hegel and Marx, and in its demand for bread to feed the poor, an economic component was therefore added. Sadly, that awakening was not to last because when the Communist Manifesto was published, the European awakening was inadvertently ready to be hijacked and take a detour from its lofty philosophical spiritual sense and be replaced by financial pragmatism.

Backed by setting up economics as a “science”, in reality, Marx’s “historical materialism” was an indirect outcome of John Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations”, and became an uninvited de facto love-child, turned hijacker, of the awakening of the Western mind and the age of European enlightenment. But the “financial/economic revolution” was bound to fail because its approach and reach were not holistic, but at best practical. Somehow, Marx and Hegel have perhaps forgotten that man does not live by bread alone and that mankind seeks spirituality, even when it does not conform with rationality.

Speaking of rationality, we are now hitting a very sensitive chord. Institutionalized religions did not offer the Western mind any rationality at all, but that was only the beginning. However, even though the age of awakening based its doctrine on rationality and bolstered it with advances in science and medicine, the Western mind was only ready for a portion of it, and later on succumbed to financial pragmatism as lifestyle took precedence over the pursuit of knowledge. On the other hand, in Eastern Europe, the Communist takeover took the Eastern European mind into a seemingly opposing political ideology; Communism as opposed to Western Capitalism, but in spiritual, ideological and philosophical terms, they were not proverbial opposite sides of the same coin, but rather different corners of the same side of the same coin. However, the failure of Communism was evident with the demise of the USSR, but the demise of Capitalism continues to be met with total denial. That collapse is already here and upon us, but its acknowledgment is still in the making.

In between the demise of the influence of the Western Churches on Western masses and the rise of and fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, the political notion of “right” and “left” emerged initially in the UK to later on move to the entire world.

The political “left” did not only offer its faithful followers the promise of change, but also the promise of liberation; both in body and in mind.

The right to have a job, fair wages, financial retirement security, medical care, free education, sick pay, maternity pay and similar rights were high on the agenda of the Eastern Communist bloc, and that was perceived as the global socialist “left”. On the other hand, in the Western version of the “left”, and in addition to the above, freedom of political expression and freedom of worship and other freedoms were added to the preamble. Some, indeed many Westerners, would argue that even though the “regimes” of Eastern Europe gave themselves the adjective of being “democratic”, they were very far from it, and use the examples of lifetime leaders like former Yugoslavia’s Tito and Romania’s Ceausescu as examples. In retrospect however, the Eastern European counter-argument is hardly ever heard in the West; and this is not the time and place to present it.

Either way, whether or not the “left”, in its ideal absoluteness, did reach power in either Eastern or Western Europe or not, it has not yet given any overwhelming evidence that it has furnished the promised Holy Grail of freedom and equality and all the minor promises that come with them.

The socialist “left” ideas perhaps reached their zenith when Castro and Guevara came to prominence. Guevara is still celebrated as a hero in the most unlikely places. T-Shirts bearing his portrait are even sold in NYC.

During the USSR era, any ideology that was remotely related to socialism was tagged by Western “regimes” as being Communist. Even speaking about and advocating social justice was a dangerous act in the United States, and immediately labelled one as a member of the infamous, illusive, perhaps fictitious “Un-American Activities Committee”. And whilst many socialist movements, both within the USA or outside it, had nothing to do with Communism per se, they were all made to be perceived as being Communist. That was the establishment’s method to portray them and present them.

It was within this atmosphere that the “left” thrived in Western Europe, but even the then very popular French Communist Party has distanced itself from the Communist version of the Kremlin. Nonetheless, socialist parties in Europe have made big gains and even reached the Élysée when Francois Mitterrand was elected as French President in 1981.

But even though the Western “left” tried to distant itself from the USSR, in the eyes of many, the two remained highly associated with each other. And when British unionist Arthur Scargill visited the USSR to spite Maggie Thatcher he made no apologies at all for visiting it, and thus endorsing it, and for this, among other things, he was seen as a so-called militant unionist. That aside, in the UK and Australia, the Labour/Labor parties are highly associated with trade unions and seek social justice, and this is why they have been identified as being on the “left”. And whilst the American Democratic Party could not be given a loud and clear “left” tag per se, the Labour/Labor parties across the Atlantic and the Pacific, respectively, found in it the natural political ally.

In theory, the demise of the USSR should have put the Western “left” at ease. After all, it meant that any argument based on the alleged association of the Western ”left” with the USSR has lost its foundation. But that demise should have also meant that the “left” had fallen under a new challenge; the challenge of reinventing itself as a stand-alone force for change for the better; in a manner that promoted justice and equality, not only domestically, but also globally.

In reality however, that process of rebirth was nothing short of being disastrous.

Without di-polarity, and for the first time since the partition of the Roman Empire, humanity found itself under a so-called New World Order in which the United States of America was the unrivalled leader of the world. Whilst no bans as such were imposed on “left” ideas and “left” parties in the West, the process of rebirth needed new ideas and new preambles. This required a new generation of leaders, but those leaders were not to be found.

To say that the Western “left” merged into the establishment would be an understatement. If anything, it underpinned the establishment’s position by setting itself up as one of its corner stones. In more ways than one, the “left” in the West did not only merge into the so-called “Imperial Empire” it was meant stand up against, but also became its face and organ. It was no longer a force for the kind of change that was initially promised and expected, and thus has inadvertently lost its stature and very definition of being “left”.

In the sequel article, we shall have a brief look at surrogate principles that the Western “left” conjured up seeking survival, and possibly in another sequel, project how those newly-adopted ideas are highly likely to lead to its removal from the throne that it has placed itself on for at least two centuries.

Part III; What’s Left of the “Left” in the “Left”:

A very brief and quick look at the post USSR Western “left” reveals that it did everything BUT stick to its original principles and ideals.

To elaborate, we must look at certain examples; beginning with the highly controversial subject of refugees. The “left” in the West continues to uphold the principle of aiding and welcoming refugees, and this is good and ought to be applauded. However, the “left” does not even seem to question how those refugees have become refugees in the first place! Whilst it is a fact that most refugees are in essence political refugees who have been displaced due to wars inflicted upon their countries, mostly seeking regime change, the Western “left” seems to turn a blind eye to this reality. Even worse, when the Western “left” gets democratically elected and assumes power, it does not try to reverse the course of events that create refugees.

It gets even worse. Take the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as examples. Both wars were initiated by the “right” wing Republican American President GWB. However, his partner in crime in Iraq was Britain’s Labour leader Tony Blair; who was meant to be from the Western “left”.

And whilst the Australian Labor Party (ALP) can hold its head high because it was an ALP Prime Minister (Gough Whitlam) who bailed Australia out of the infamous Vietnam War, other ALP administrations have followed the USA into wars without too many questions asked about their legitimacy and whether or not they conform with the foundations and principles upon which the ALP is based.

Such views and politics have nothing to do with the original “left” values of promoting freedom, supporting the oppressed and working towards social justice; none what-so-ever, and quite the opposite, if anything.

And even though APHEDA, an organization sponsored by Australian trade unions, supports and sponsors humanitarian projects in Palestine, the current ALP leader Bill Shorten has recently described Israeli PM Netanyahu as a friend.

The contradictions within the Western “left” are not the result of a deliberate attempt to create confusion, but rather the direct outcome of loss of identity and soul, and an inability to reinvent itself in the post-USSR New World Order era.

A proper reinvention process requires new ideas, but instead of undergoing a serious process of soul-searching, the Western “left” shopped around for existing populist issues to capitalize on.

For fairness, when the wider community develops and evolves in a manner that it advocates such issues as marriage equality, political parties will need to listen and respect the wish of the community that it is meant to uphold and attempts to govern. It was therefore a democratically and demographically-driven shift when Western “left” parties became advocates of gender equality at all levels, including marriage equality, and for listening to their constituencies, they ought to be applauded.

That said, moves of this nature lose any genuine intention behind them if and when not done in conjunction with other new moves and directions.

It would therefore not be too cynical to say that in this particular instance, ie the issue of LBGT rights, that Western “left” parties have simply jumped on an existing and popular band wagon.

Here, we must stop and remember that whilst the Obama Administration has approved marriage equality within the United States of America, it continued to endorse the Saudi Government that does not give women the right to even drive a car. Furthermore, that same administration has helped and abetted the Saudi regime in attacking and bombing Yemen and creating a human disaster and starvation that no one in the West, including the most “progressive” parties in the “left” are trying to put an end to; let alone seem to know about.

This is not to forget the support fighters associated with Al-Qaeda and ISIL in Syria and Libya have received from the USA and EU nations; including the so-called socialist “left” French Government of President Hollande. And when we make such exposures, we should not vindicate the Western “left” in opposition in nations like the UK, Australia and in the recent past in Canada.

There was not a word, not a whisper to stop the onslaught of those wars, and if anything, the West as a whole, either directly by the action of “left” governments or by the tacit support of “left” opposition, has been actively engaged in financing and supporting the most oppressive world regimes and helping finance, arm, and facilitate the activities of fundamentalist terror organizations.

And speaking of Obama, just by virtue of being a President from the Democratic Party, he was assumed to be from the “left” side of Western politics; and which admittedly is not as hawkish as the Republican Party. But one would wonder, in the true essence of the “left” philosophy, what was/is it exactly in Obama and the American Democratic Party that was/is remotely “left” in its ideals? After all, it was Democratic Presidents who bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, started the Vietnam War and created Al-Qaeda. It was the Democratic Obama who led the EU to the brink of war with Russia over Ukraine; and ironically did so by supporting the ultra-right Ukrainian Neo-Nazis. How bizarre indeed!

Where is anything that can be even remotely referred to as “left” in these actions and endorsements?

It would be therefore fair to say that with the attempts to reinvent the “left” in the West, the original principles were cast away and fantasy that is very alien to the “left” doctrine seems to have taken precedence over genuine revolutions.

This is not a call to take arms and to go back to the days of revolutions. Humanity has had plenty of that already. But to honour the spirit of Guevara all the while helping the Saudis bomb Yemen and Al-Qaeda to destroy Churches in Syria is grossly hypocritical to say the least, and forms a blatant exposure of the rot and moral bankruptcy that seems to have overtaken Western “left” movements and governments.

Without giving a lesson in history, but when Angola was under attack, Castro sent troops to help; not for any gain for Cuba at all. Whether or not one endorses this action, but that was what a “revolutionary” leftist leaders who is true to his word was supposed to do, and certainly Castro epitomized this image. If we compare Castro’s action to current leaders of the “left”, it becomes therefore fair to say that issues such as global justice are no longer on the Western “left” agenda. If we go further and say that the Western “left” has directly and indirectly been involved in creating more global injustice, it then becomes imperative to concede that the Western “left’ has become a part of problem; not the solution.

So what is really left of the “left” in the “left”? One wonders.

In reality and practice, the “left” concept was reduced to only be contingent upon supporting such issues as gender equality issues and environmental awareness; but all with a huge taint of unrealistic political correctness that bogs it down and blinds its vision from focusing on other important issues.

Even when getting facts and having them laid out to members of the Western “left” on a silver platter, they do not seem to understand that, for example, one cannot only look at certain issues of social justice, whilst totally ignoring one’s country involvement in needless wars that are flooding the world with refugees.

What is also mind-boggling about the Western “left” is its love-hate relationship with mainstream media (MSM). They opt to disbelieve their tabloids and bulletins when they themselves are the victims, but the moment someone else gets his neck under the chopping board of the MSM, instead of putting two and two together and coming up with the conclusion that the MSM make lies not only about them, but also about others, instead of putting two and two together to end up with rational conclusions, they conveniently opt to adopt the easy way out and believe the lies about others whom they choose to dislike.

Where is the sense of fairness in this attitude? What happened to the aspiration for global justice?

Rather shamelessly, they are now crying tears of blood to see Obama finish his term, in a clear indication that they are either unaware of the carnage of his warmongering policy or that they know, but they don’t care. However, when one brings out the facts to them and shows them that Obama has created havoc in Libya, Syria, Yemen and many other corners of the world, and when one presents evidence about the tens of thousands of innocent people who perished as a result, they can no longer argue that they did not know. This is a serious indictment because it ultimately means that they have not only abandoned their lofty ideals of global justice, but also that they blatantly do not give much consideration at all to Libyan, Syrian and Yemeni lives. This makes them racists to the extreme, and they can jump up and down decrying the accusation, but their actions and inactions show their true colours.

In principle, to take the fight against global injustice and racism from the “left” would be tantamount to taking Jesus Christ out of Christianity. But try saying this to today’s alleged “leftists”.

What is most bizarre perhaps is the fact that the notion of speaking about reform with the western “left” is a taboo subject. This is quite oxymoronic to say the least. After all, the “left” is meant to signify reform, is it not? So, what is really and truly left of the “left” in the “left”?

Apart from the name tag, what is left of the “left” in “the Western left” and the “left” in general is a combination of remnants of old ideas mashed together with some new-age fantasies that only merge in minds that do not seem to be able to understand the concept of compatibility. This brings back the issue of rationality, and in this case, the lack of it. There is at best very little left about today’s “left” that is well and truly “left” in its core. It’s a muddled up world of juvenile-minded dreamers and screamers, figments of a bygone past, regressive mutants who seem to run more on superficial and distorted vision rather than principles and rationality.

The truth of the matter is that the “left” is dead, and it cannot be rebirthed; unless it admits its past and present failures and rebuilds itself on its original political doctrine with a clear understanding that its objective is to achieve justice and equal rights for all humans all over the world.

At the end of the day, politics is politics, and at best, it provides the right environment for human awakening. At best, it is the prerequisite and not the ultimate objective, and for this reason, it ought to be built on ethical foundations. For as long as this form of political and ethical rationality is not the corner stone of political activism that is meant to be part-and-parcel of human awakening, any journey with any other objective(s) will fail, and history is full of such examples, and all that humanity needs to do is to look back at its past failed steps to learn.

Part IV; The Seemingly Emerging New Left

In the absence of mainstream political movements pushing for change and reform, the human aspiration for change did not go away. Not even the Western Churches, with their former draconian punishments, were able to stifle humanity and prevent it from demanding awakening and better living conditions.

Demanding change is a part of human nature, and people do this at many levels and even when it comes to mundane things like rearranging their furniture. And whilst the bigger changes they seek and pursue do not always end up with positive outcomes, the desire for change does not go away.

And as the traditional Western “left” and “right” formed the establishment and ran it in accordance with electoral alternation, the differences between them shrank and continued to shrink.

They might have continued to differ on rather minor issues such as government funding of certain projects, where to drop taxes and where to lift them, where to prioritize public spending, their relationships with trade unions and other management issues, but on basic philosophical and doctrinal matters such as global justice, they became almost identical. Ironically, they are both in denial as to how identical they are, even though their constituencies keep telling them that they perceive them as being so.

They try hard to scorn each other and quarrel over petty matters in desperate attempts to recreate the schism that once separated them, but to no avail. If even the mighty Catholic Church reached a point in time when it was no longer able to fool people, they will need to acknowledge that their power of swaying opinion and fooling people will not work.

They conjure up all tricks to accentuate the little difference they have left between them, but they also often go back to adopt some former policies of their political foes. When the Australian Liberal Party was in opposition in the 1980’s, it vehemently fought the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) so-called “Option C” in which Paul Keating, the then treasurer, advocated the need for introducing a consumption tax. Yet, the Liberal John Howard’s Government was unapologetic when it introduced it nearly a decade later. That said, the ALP was also unapologetic when it voted against introducing it, even though it was originally an ALP idea.

Western voters grew increasingly dissatisfied with their political leaders, and the percentage of citizens who actually vote in countries in which voting is not compulsory is a simple reflection.

Even in a highly decisive and highly controversial election like the recent American presidential elections, 90 million eligible voters out of 231 million did not vote. This is nearly a whopping 40%.

This is democracy in action, and ironically in this instance, perhaps a reflection of the distrust of American voters in the version of democracy that the two-party system has been pushing down their throats for a very long time. Not even a rally like the Clinton-Trump battle was enough to motivate them.

That said, the 60% who did vote, voted with a loud and clear message; but are the major parties listening? One really wonders.

There was a major twist in this election. The Republican candidate Donald Trump has actually won the elections without the support of his party. As a matter of fact, many Republican heavy weights did not endorse him and made statements that they were not going to vote for him.

Against protocol, former President George Bush Senior did not even attend the inaugural ceremony.

It is not by accident that Trump is not liked either by his Democrat foes or by his supposed Republican “comrades”. After all, he has broken the mold and based his campaign on seeking change, the kind of change that neither party wants to address, let alone bring up.

What worries the Western “right” and “left” about Trump is the fact that he has seemingly created a new force in politics and managed to get in from an open window that they least expected and one previously unheard of; the window of the “Conservative Revolution”

The impact of the “Conservative Revolution” is perhaps not any less virulent in Western politics than the impact of the age of European enlightenment was on the Church. Only time will tell.

Would it be too immature and inconceivable to say that for the major Western political parties the worst is yet to come? A close-up look at them reveals that the Trump phenomenon is likely going to be the beginning of an avalanche that will politically sweep the West and push the reset button on its party-based infra-structure.

In the opening article titled “The Conservative Revolution”, and which was not meant to be an opening article per se but rather a stand-alone one, I expressed my views about how the move of the traditional Western “right” and “left” moved to the centre, and how in doing so, they created separate vacuums in the left and right, and which were filled by the Greens and Ultra-Right, respectively.

What is intrinsically pertinent is the fact that when people are denied the opportunity for change, they will find a way to seek it.

Traditionally, the drive for change came from below; from the masses. That was how the mother of all revolutions, the French Revolution, was created.

Traditionally also, the conservative reasoning behind maintaining the status quo came from above; if from authority itself (as in the case of France’s Louis the XVI), the social and financial upper crust, or both.

The financial divide had been a major driving force that divided the ‘haves and the have nots’; those who wanted change from those who resisted it.

However, as different contemporary ideologies – political, financial, doctrinal or otherwise – seem to stem from perspectives and objectives that are invariably partial in their views, selective in their outlooks, and primarily irrational in their rationales to varying degrees; they will always eventually fall down and crumble because they all have their own and specific Achilles heel, and their heels will all be struck once they run out of steam and luck.

Thus, what was seen as a triumph of Capitalism over Communism when the USSR crumbled was in reality a forerunner for Capitalism to come to terms with reality of the forthcoming demise of its own two-party system if not more.

There is undeniably a new and unprecedented political move on the rise in the West, and if the traditional custodians of alternating Western parties in power have an iota of rationality and long-term vision, they ought to stop and look at their own status quo, and at what size hole they have dug up in the middle of the path of their own political future.

In their denial to the proximity that was created by their bi-partisan agreement on major issues, little did they see that in doing so, they had signed a mutual death warrant for each other. Little did they realize that for them to be perceived to be on opposite sides, they needed to demonstrate that they were not only the opposite sides of the same coin, but opposite in every way that was related to their modus operandi. But they did not.

The masses do not go by what is dictated to them, and right or wrong, they will invariably go against the stream when they feel marginalized and ridiculed. If anything, the more they feel they have been marginalized and ridiculed, the more vehement they become in standing up against the offender. And if the offender is the authority, the more they will be inclined to revolt.

As the “left” is clearly no longer what it used to be, and as the “right” is losing more support from its traditional power base because it is seen as being almost identical to the “left”, the drive for change had to open up for itself a new window for self-expression.

This brings us back to the issue of human awakening.

Trump’s “Conservative Revolution” is ideologically and philosophically not in a position to offer humanity an enlightened alternative by any stretch of imagination.

That said, it is presenting a challenge, a real and significant challenge.

For the West in general and the United States in particular to ignore the events that led to the election of Trump as President would be foolhardy. To blame the happening on Russia is ridiculous and laughable.

At the present time, the West is no longer divided on the Cold-War-Take-One divide of Capitalism versus Communism. It is no longer divided on any remaining remnants of that divide that once distinguished “right” from “left” Western politics either.

At the present time, the political divide that separates the traditional major parties in the West is increasingly becoming one that is only seen in the eyes of those parties and their loyal voters. But it is not the loyal voters who decide who wins elections.

The swinging voters and those who do not vote, at least not on a regular basis, are indeed those who make that decision, and their decision is becoming more prominent.

With his business background, Trump may apply fiscal business pragmatism and run the USA as a business. Whilst this sounds like an abhorrent prospect, in reality, it may mean relief to millions around the globe who wish for a cessation of American attempts of further regime changes that serve them with American-style democracy, courtesy of B-52’s.

The “Conservative Revolution” is the slap in the face that both major parties in all Western democracies need and deserve to get. At best however, it cannot be expected to be much better than just that. It is inadvertently the emerging and still ill-defined force for change; ironically a “new left”; even though it does not bear any ideological resemblance to Guevara’s “left”, but rather just by definition of seeking change.

In reality, for as long as people continue to look at each other as groups and nations of conflicting interests, they will find a reason to quarrel. They will only stop once they see that what unites them is much stronger and much more profound, and they cannot and will not do this until they seek proper awakening; the kind of awakening that ancient Greek Philosophers and the European philosophers taught and sought. Religion was meant to be an awakening, but sadly it was hijacked by institutions, twisted, diverted and turned into a tool for suppression rather than liberation.

Will humanity employ the Trump election win as a precursor and a reminder and an incentive to go back to the roots of the age of awakening? This may sound like a huge and a far-fetched call, but in reality, awakening does not necessarily need a huge nudge for it to commence.

At the end of the day, and going back to basics mentioned in an earlier article in this series, meddling with the minds of people is a serious crime. Technically, it is not defined as a form of genocide. It is not; it is much more serious.

Politics and ethics should go hand in hand, and when they don’t, we see events akin to what humanity is experiencing now.

Humanity will survive and will bring out its best, and the best is yet to come.

At the end of the day again, darkness will never be able to overcome light any more than it can stop the light of a candle from breaking darkness and disabling its light from reaching huge distances. Such is the power of light over darkness, because no intensity of darkness can stifle a single humble candle.

And finally, at the end of the day, political movements, right, left, conservative revolutions or otherwise, including the multitude of religious factions and schools, none of them mean much at all, unless they offer humanity the real salvation it needs. And the salvation of humanity will not come from politics and politicians.

But if one looks at different versions of the definitions of salvation, defining salvation as an outcome of knowledge is a definition that cannot be surmounted except by those who prefer ignorance.

Part V; The Establishment Strikes Back

With the backlash to the election and inauguration of President Trump, we are witnessing unprecedented events indeed. Certainly, much of this is based on his controversial “Executive Orders”, and this is well expected; especially the one relating to visa restrictions and the trauma and anxiety it is causing. However, in a major twist of events, and among many other things, we see THE American President attacking the Western Mainstream Media (MSM) and his Press Secretary Sean Spicer warning them that they will be held accountable.

Just a very short time ago, Obama’s Press Secretaries Robert Gibbs and later on Josh Earnest were playing “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” with the same MSM; feeding each other with stories they both loved to hear and making conclusions that suited their “business” agendas.

For decades, the machine of the “establishment” has been none but the so-called “Deep State” represented by the White House, and it’s figurehead was none but the incumbent President whoever he was. Even the seemingly benign, humane and smiley Jimmy Carter was a part of that “establishment” and its “Deep State”, and so was the former President, who promised to be unlike any other; former President Obama, the suave-looking self-made African American with his eloquence, elegant wife and perfect looking family, the President who promised the earth to end up providing scorched earth, and instead of providing hope, millions across the globe looked forward to the day they gave him the title “former president”.

Of course, those shedding crocodile tears for the departure of Obama and rampaging the streets of America and the world do not know or care to know about the carnage the Obama administration has caused across the globe; because they have such a narrow agenda of interests, and because what they are trying to protect is not human rights and women as they proclaim, but certain privileges that they personally possess and only some Western women.

That infamous “establishment” is best described as a pyramid, an octopus if one wishes, but one with a virtually countless number of legs and tentacles, and they all feed off the figurehead, and the head does not only feed them, but offers them raison d’être, protection and all that they need for sustenance and continuity.

Just like Tolkein’s Orcs cling to Sauron and imbibe their life and existence from him, the satellite entities of the “establishment” have always considered the American President to be the apex of the pyramid, the symbol, the be-all-and-end-all being, a god, upon whom their very existence depended; even when they claimed otherwise.

So when the head of the “establishment” turns away from his minions, their struggle for survival kicks in, not only because they need to survive, but also because in his departure, they inadvertently become all what is left of the “establishment” and that for them to restore their might and glory, they will first need to make sure that the “establishment” must restore its own stature first, and for this reason, it ought to strike back; albeit at the head that is meant to be its own.

Thus far, Trump is keeping his election promises; and this is to the utter disappointment and shear horror to what is left of the “establishment”.

In all of their divisions, alliances, and private/personal aspirations, they had been hoping and praying that the moment he got elected he was going to renege on major election promises. He did not. They hoped that the moment he sat in the Oval Office he would then turn his back on his election promises, and thus far he hasn’t. This is not to say that he will not, but thus far, he hasn’t.

But unlike the Orcs who were engulfed into the fissures in the earth which were generated after Frodo destroyed the “ring”, what is left of the “establishment” did not, and was not expected to cease to exist the moment the head was no longer sitting on its shoulders. After all, some of the satellites of the “establishment” are much more intelligent and conniving than Orcs; even though at heart, there is little difference that separates them.

The intelligent ones are capitalizing on the principle of “controlled opposition”; a strategy they developed for other nations in the past, in nations they wanted to destabilize, and this had worked effectively in many places. Now, they are trying this technique at home, and thus far it is working.

The technique is based on conjuring up a populist issue that inflames emotions enough to mobilize people to take to the streets; if not more. We saw this technique work quite effectively in Egypt, Libya and other places. It almost succeeded in Syria.

Those monsters specialize in social engineering, and they capitalize on the goodness in humanity and the desire that good people have for making things better. So they flag huge issues such as liberty (as in the case of Egypt), dictatorship (as they did in Libya and Syria), and they find thousands upon thousands of youth rising up in defense of those principles.

They are playing similar cards now, but this time, they are doing this within the United States of America. They are using a number of anti-Trump trump cards; including misogyny, racism, and Islamophobia.

They are desperately striking back in a life-or-death attempt that can secure their survival. What is ironic about this “strike back” is that it is banking on a support base that is extremely diverse, or at best multi-based.

Throughout history, foot soldiers have either been forcefully drafted or mobilized by some human passion; and this takes us back to the issue of the genocidal concept of meddling with peoples’ minds. The foot soldiers therefore are not the ones to blame; not now, and not at the time when the Catholic Church mobilized waves upon waves of soldiers to take back the Holy Land from the Muslim infidels.

However, unlike the revolutionaries of Soviet and post-Soviet eras, unlike the Al-Qaeda and ISIS Jihadists, the foot soldiers of the post-Obama presidency era do not have any hierarchal foundation at all. They do not have neither a specific agenda nor leadership, neither a preamble nor a strategy, and above all, the diverse backgrounds they have beggars beliefs as to what unites them.

This is because those who move them and motivate them are similar to the former initial enemies of Syria who were only united by their hatred of Syria and her President. And now, the leaders of the protests of America, who are changing the protests into riots, are united by their hatred for Trump; full stop.

And speaking of those different backgrounds, here is an interesting list of those who are anti-Trump; both overtly and covertly. The list includes the “Deep State”, Soros and his NGO’s, Murdoch and his tabloids, the Neo-Cons, the Saudi Royal family, ISIL, and of course; the Western “left”. Need one list more?

Now here is the pertinent question to ask. How do the leaders of the Western “left” feel at ease being associated with those monstrous people and organizations? Do those alleged defenders of women actually know and worry about the fact that they are currently comrades in arms with the Saudi regime? This is the world’s most oppressive anti-women regime, a regime in which women are not only forbidden to vote, but they are not allowed to drive cars either.

And how about the association with Obama himself? The President who bombed more foreign nations than any other, the one who has caused global havoc and destruction? Are the people he killed less human in the eyes of the leaders of the Western “left”? Obviously, they are.

The demise of the Western “left” has to be first and foremost blamed on the demise of its leaders and think-tanks. After all, it is leaders who pave the way and set objectives and strategies to achieve them.

But the blame game has to turn inwardly at some stage, because individuals cannot blame others for all of their actions. They can blame them for misguiding them, but surely, those individuals must reach a point in time at which they must assume at least some responsibility and be able to do their own soul-searching.

Sadly, many leaders and foot soldiers of the Western “left” alike do not seem to be remotely close to the realization that they have failed their own doctrine.

By turning the blind eyes to global social justice, the leaders of the Western “left” have reduced the struggle for freedom and awakening to specific agendas only restricted to gender equality, LBGT rights and global warming issues; and no one was “allowed” to bring in any other subject. And what a short-sighted and moronic definition some of them have to gender equality! Rather than pushing for equality in its literal sense, they want to impose equal numbers of men and women in certain positions. Why do they want to take the suppression of women into another wrong twist? One wonders. Isn’t equality supposed to be meritorious in nature? And what if in a certain area there are more qualified women than men? Do we still need to have 50% male representation?

Such a vision of gender equality is very ill-conceived indeed, and does not serve women’s rights, not the least.

And how can the alleged protectors of women turn a blind eye to the sex slave industry inflicted upon the war-torn countries in which their nations, and even respected leaders, have poked their noses?

Yes, what about the sex slaves that Obama allowed to be bought and sold under his watchful eyes and tacit quietness? Syrian and Iraqi girls as young at 10 years old were bought by filthy old Saudi, Gulfie and Qatari pedophilic men as sex slaves. Where were Meryl Streep and Madonna? Don’t Syrian and Iraqi women, and young girls, deserve protection by those alleged protectors of women? Obviously not. We did not hear a single word, not a whisper from the hundreds of thousands of them.

The West, and its “left”, cannot hide and pretend that the slave industry took off after ISIL (its alleged enemy) took control after June 2014, as facts on the ground clearly indicate that the sex slave industry started very early in the mark at a time when the West fully and overtly endorsed all anti-government forces in Syria, at times when John McCain was visiting them and taking photoshoots with them, and at times when Australia’s then Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr was calling for the assassination of President Assad.

Does the Western “left” have any intelligence or sense of shame left in it at all?

The global “left” supporters are now up in arms, not because of Trump’s infamous grabbing quote, but because he has destroyed the “establishment”; their establishment, and they are fighting for the restoration of their stature.

And how does the woman who rose to infamy by parading in a vagina dress believe that she is presenting, upholding and protecting women? Is this how she regards women? As vaginas? This is the lowest, most demeaning and most appalling act of objectifying women that I have ever seen or expected to live long enough to see. To her I would like to say that to me, women are my late and beloved mother and grandmother, my aunts, my daughter, my wife, my daughters-in-law, my nieces, my cousins, my friends and their friends, my neighbours, and all other women that I know, respect and love. The women I do not know, when I need to communicate with them not knowing their names, I give them the respectful titles such as madam and the like. I do not see them as vaginas and they do not represent themselves as vaginas.

The demeanour of the vagina dress woman is far worse than Trump’s infamous grabbing statement, but yet, no one seems to be making any comments to condemn her. If anything, she seems to be seen as a heroine.

This woman is clearly a pervert of some sort, and social misfits like her know well that for decades now, they have decimated and destroyed what is known as the “good old values”, and they also know that there are millions upon millions of people across the globe who are sick and tired of their hypocritical antics. They know that the decent people of the world are growing impatient with their debauchery and despicable demeanour.

For decades, they have capitalized on the kindness and acceptance of the majority of people who have endorsed them, protected them, and accepted them. This is because it is the decent majority of people who are the true custodians of democracy and freedom of expression; not them. It is the efforts and sacrifices of the decent majority that resulted in the creation of those attributes in civilized societies; not theirs.

My animated outcry is that of an old leftie who feels that his movement has been hijacked. I feel that the leadership of the Western “left” has fallen off the track, they are not listening to their elders. They are either so politically unsavvy that they don’t know that they have fallen into the traps of the “establishment” they were meant to stand up against, or that they have been fooled to allow to be dragged into it unknowingly. Either way, they have given the reins to a bunch of brainless scavengers, mental retards who are true Fascists in every manner of thought and demeanour. And they are all striking back together, their establishment is striking back with them, because they know that they have been decapitated and that the rest of the world has had enough of them.

If I am sounding angry, it is because I have already lost my country of birth Lebanon and was driven out of it more than 3 decades ago because the progressive atmosphere and movements that I grew up among in the fifties and sixties were all replaced by fundamentalism and strife. In the last 5-6 years, I saw the same happen to my maternal Syrian cousins and family, and for the same reasons. An age of enlightenment was just beginning to dawn in the Middle East and was hijacked by the radical religious movements that swept and destroyed everything in their path.

And now, in my adopted homeland Australia, the country I love and dedicate my heart to, is slipping into an opposite but yet very similar radicalism. That was totally unforeseeable only a few years ago, and there is no force to blame but the “left” and how it allowed itself to morph from an impetus for moving forward to a step back into different forms of spiritual debasement and lack of concern for global justice and national sovereignty.

This may sound like an ultra-right propaganda, but in reality it is not. It is the “left” who has abandoned the principles of the true left and turned it from a force of change and liberation to a force towards breakdown of society and family values. If by endorsing those values and virtues I will be branded a right-wing zealot, then so be it, because as a die-hard true leftie, I do not see any association between my principles and values with what is left of the left in the “left”.

Is Vietnam Tilting Toward China?

Is Vietnam Tilting Toward China?

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 21.01.2017

Is Vietnam Tilting Toward China?

Xuan Loc DOAN

When he traveled to China for a state visit in October 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was grandly received by Beijing.

Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), was treated much in the same manner during his official trip to China last week.

Yet, while Mr Trong’s visit was aimed at developing stronger ties with China, it does not mean that the communist leadership in Hanoi is pursuing a Duterte-like pivot to Beijing.

Closer ties with Beijing

Trong’s four-day trip, which started on January 12, was his first to China since being re-elected as the CPV’s leader at its 12th National Congress in January 2016 and his first foreign tour in 2017.

He went to Beijing with a high-ranking delegation that included four politburo members in charge of four important departments in Vietnam’s one-party regime – namely central propaganda, foreign affairs, national defense and public security.

During the visit, Hanoi and Beijing reached a wide range of agreements aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two ruling parties and the two communist neighbors in various fields and at many levels.

Trong’s outing was followed by recent notable trips to the Asian juggernaut by other Vietnamese top officials – including Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Dinh The Huynh, the CPV’s Permanent Secretary, in September and October 2016, respectively. Mr Huynh, an influential politburo member, is tipped to succeed Trong if the 72-year old leader chooses to step down in the near future.

All these journeys suggest Hanoi is attaching a greater importance to its cooperation with Beijing and adopting a more friendly posture toward the latter than about six or seven months ago. A combination of factor may contribute to this change.

One of these is the fact that China is Vietnam’s closest neighbor, sharing not only land and sea borders but also many political and economic similarities with the former. The world’s most populous country is also Vietnam’s biggest trading partner. Given all of these, coupled with Vietnam’s power asymmetry vis-à-vis its giant neighbor, for the country’s stability – and perhaps for the CPV’s survival – steadying its ties with Beijing is always a priority for Hanoi.

Chinese leaders’ current charm diplomacy is also influencing Hanoi’s posture. Mr Trong was the first foreign leader China received in 2017. He was given a red-carpet welcome upon his arrival at the Beijing International Airport and an official welcoming ceremony with full honors at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on January 12. Five of the seven members of the all-powerful Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC), including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, held talks with him.

Mr Phuc was given a similar treatment when he toured China last September.

The warm reception Chinese leaders extended to their Vietnamese “comrades and brothers” indicates that Beijing is also highly valuing Hanoi and its relations with the latter. This, in return, is increasing Vietnam’s trust – or at least, decreasing its mistrust – in Beijing and encouraging it to develop tighter ties with China.

It seems tensions and suspicion caused by China’s actions in recent years, notably its placement of its huge oil rig, HS-981, in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in 2014, have now eased.

Overt overtures made toward Beijing by several regional countries, particularly Malaysia and the Philippines, are another defining factor.

Last November, Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak made a six-day trip to China. During that visit, which was intended to elevate their relationship to “greater heights”, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing signed many new agreements, including Malaysia’s first major defense deal with China.

Two weeks before that, President Rodrigo Duterte also made a landmark trip to Beijing, where he eventually and solemnly announced his “separation from the US” and his “dependence” on China, after months of publicly denouncing Washington and praising Beijing.

Malaysia’s turn toward Beijing and especially the Philippines’ dramatic tilt away from its long-standing and most important ally to China’s orbit somehow influenced a rethink in Hanoi.

Like Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines have outstanding territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea. For years, they were among the region’s most vocal critics of their northern neighbor’s expansive claims and aggressive actions in this resource-rich and strategically vital water. They all favored multilateral approaches to the maritime disputes. Hanoi supported the Philippines’s South China Sea arbitration and welcomed its landmark legal victory against China last July.

Duterte’s wholehearted embrace of China, which resulted in his side-lining of the July ruling and agreeing to enter bilateral talks with Beijing prompted Vietnam to soften its posture and improve relations with China.

Last but not least, Donald Trump’s shock rise to the American presidency is also a key reason behind Hanoi’s current accommodating posture toward Beijing.

Under the Obama administration, Vietnam and America edged remarkably closer to each other. Their stronger ties were strengthened by – and manifested in – many key developments and agreements. Prominent among these are Mr Trong’s unprecedented trip to Washington in 2015, President Obama’s milestone visit to Vietnam in 2016, during which he officially ended America’s decades-old arms embargo on its former war foe, and Vietnam’s enthusiastic response to America’s Asia pivot and the US-led TPP.

Vietnam’s strong economic and strategic ties with the US have been in jeopardy following Trump’s election victory. Faced with the imminent collapse of the TPP and other uncertainties about America’s relations with Asia and Vietnam under Trump, Hanoi is relatively readjusting its foreign policy and improving its ties with Beijing can be seen as part of such recalibration.

But not a Duterte-like shift

Yet, while becoming more receptive to Beijing, Hanoi is not bandwagoning with the latter; and this is because of many reasons.

One of these concerns Vietnam’s economic imbalance with China. Though it has dropped recently, Vietnam’s trade deficit with the world’s second biggest economy remains enormous. According to its General Statistics Office (GSO), in 2016, Vietnam exported (US)$21.8 billion in goods to the world’s largest trading country and imported $49.8 billion from it. This means it had a trade deficit of $28 billion with China last year.

For years, Hanoi has asked Beijing to help balance the bilateral trade by creating better conditions for Vietnamese goods to enter the Chinese market. It is reported that in his talk with Nguyen Phu Trong, Xi Jinping promised that China will work harder to make the two countries’ trade relations grow faster and become more balanced.

Whether Vietnam’s companies and their goods are provided with a greater access to China following Trong’s visit remains to be seen. Yet, in any case, it will take years or decades, if ever, for Vietnam to balance its trade with China. For this reason – and in order to avoid economic overdependence on its giant neighbor and to sustain its economic development – Vietnam needs good relations with its other major trading partners, notably the European Union and the US, with which it has enjoyed a huge trade surplus in recent years. In 2016, Vietnam exported US$34 billion (in goods) to the EU, its third largest trading partner, and US$38.1 billion to the US.

As America is Vietnam’s biggest export market and second largest trader, while it is unclear how Donald Trump will view and approach his country’s relations with Vietnam, it is certain that Hanoi will try its best to sustain and improve its ties with Washington.

Another reason why Vietnam is seeking better relations with the US and other powers, including Japan and India, is its unresolved maritime disputes with China.

During Trong’s China visit, both sides pledged to manage maritime differences and avoid any acts that may complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea. Nevertheless, after “candidly” exchanging their views on issue, they could not yet accept each other’s main position.

According to a report by the VOV, Vietnam’s national radio broadcaster, in his talk with his Chinese counterpart, Trong “asserted Vietnam’s consistent stance of persistently dealing with the dispute in the East Sea [Vietnam’s name for the South China Sea] by peaceful measures in compliance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and with respect to diplomatic and legal processes.”

In contrast, as manifested by its vehement objection to the Philippines’ arbitration case, Beijing has stringently opposed any legal approach to resolve the disputes. Instead, it has forcibly insisted on bilateral negotiations.

Their joint communique mentioned neither of these two positions.

Given China’s expansive claims and its past and recent actions in the South China Sea, Vietnam does not expect – though it strongly hopes – that Beijing will willingly accept a peaceful solution to the dispute based on the principles of international law, including UNCLOS. That is why it has hedged – and continues to hedge – against any aggressive move by China by forging strong ties with global and regional powers, notably those that are also concerned about Beijing’s hegemonic ambitions.

This is supported by the fact that whilst Trong was holding talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing, in Hanoi Nguyen Xuan Phuc received John Kerry. The latter’s visit might not have a major impact on future US-Vietnam cooperation. Yet, in his talk with the outgoing US Secretary of State, the Vietnamese premier expressed his delight at achievements in US-Vietnam relations and Vietnam’s desire to reinforce bilateral ties. This shows the Vietnamese leadership really values its relationship with Washington.

Just a day after Trong returned from China, Hanoi received Shinzo Abe. In their separate meetings with the Japanese Prime Minister, the Southeast Asian country’s top four leaders – party chief, state president, prime minister and parliament chairwoman – all affirmed Hanoi’s desire to deepen economic and strategic ties with Japan. For his part, during this two-day visit, Mr Abe pledged to provide Vietnam with six new coastguard patrols. The patrol vessels, worth $338 million, were part of the $1-billion loan Tokyo offered Hanoi.

Vietnam-Japan relations have significantly advanced in recent years and this is mainly due to their shared concerns over China’s maritime ambitions and actions.

Such apprehensions have also brought Vietnam closer to India, China’s other key regional rival. Six months ago, before Phuc’s China trip, Hanoi hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During that landmark visit, the first official trip to Vietnam by an Indian prime minister since 2001, the two countries elevated their “strategic partnership” to “comprehensive strategic partnership” and New Delhi agreed to provide Vietnam with a $500 million defense loan.

All of these demonstrate that while it may prioritize relations with Beijing, Hanoi is also seeking stronger ties with other powers, notably the US, Japan and India, to counterbalance China, both economically and strategically. It is also evident that the Vietnamese leadership is not overtly leaning toward Beijing and submitting to the latter’s maritime position as President Duterte has done.

Following Duterte’s China visit last October, during which he publicly promised to shift his country’s allegiance from Washington to Beijing, some international relations experts, notably those from China, predicted that America’s other Asian partners, such as Vietnam, may follow suit.

Ahead of Trong’s visit last week, an article in the Global Times, a spin-off of the People’s Daily, the CPC’s mouthpiece, also suggested that the shift in diplomacy by the Philippine leader “sets a good example for the other Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam.”

Judging by Mr Trong’s assertion of Vietnam’s maritime position in his talk with the Chinese leader and other diplomatic and strategic moves recently taken by Hanoi, it is apparent that Vietnamese leaders are not following Mr Duterte’s steps or “example”.

Instead, they remain firmly committed to their long-held foreign policy of independence, diversification and multilateralization that has enabled Vietnam to develop good – and generally fruitful – relations with many countries, including all the world’s major powers and the region’s countries.

atimes.com

US government in Washington, rather than world government ترامب: حكومة أميركية في واشنطن بدل الحكومة العالمية

ناصر قنديل

– منذ حرب فييتنام والهزيمة التاريخية وأميركا تجاهد للخروج من العقدة والذهاب، كما فعلت في الحرب العالمية الثانية خلف المحيطات مرة أخرى، بعدما قال الشعب الأميركي كلمته برفض دفع الأثمان الغالية لتحقيق السياسات الإمبراطورية، وقد كافحت النخب الحاكمة في الحزبين الجمهوري والديمقراطي لاسترداد التفويض الشعبي الذي كان بيد الأسلاف بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية بخوض الحروب الإمبراطورية والتصرف كحاكم للعالم، واستبدلوا الإنفاق على الحروب بالإنفاق على سباق التسلح الذي لا يحتاج لدعم الإرادة الشعبية، طالما لا يكلف دماء المزيد من الجنود، حتى بلغوا وفقاً لخطط الثنائي الدبلوماسي الاستخباري زبيغنيو برجنسكي كمستشار للأمن القومي وجورج بوش الأب كمدير للمخابرات في مطلع الثمانينيات النجاح بالجمع بين استنزاف المقدرات السوفياتية في حرب النجوم واستنزاف الجيش السوفياتي بواسطة تنظيم القاعدة، كعنوان لما عُرف بالحرب الباردة، وصولاً لبدء انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي ولاحقاً نهاية الحرب الباردة، والنجاح باسترداد التفويض بخوض المزيد من الحروب في عالم لا عدو فيه ولا منافس.

– كانت حرب يوغوسلافيا أول التجارب للمرحلة الجديدة، واستدعى الأمر توظيف أو تصنيع أحداث الحادي عشر من أيلول بواسطة تنظيم القاعدة لمنح إرادة الحروب الإمبراطورية المزيد من الزخم، وخاصت النخب الحاكمة في واشنطن بفرعيها الجمهوري والديمقراطي حروبها بلا هوادة، بالجيوش الأميركية وتنظيم القاعدة معاً وبالتناوب والتشارك حيث تدعو الحاجة، ومنذ سقوط جدار برلين حتى تحرير الجيش السوري لحلب مرّ ربع قرن منحت خلاله التكنولوجيا للنخب الحاكمة في واشنطن فرصاً كثيرة لحساب نظرياتها الإمبراطورية، وربط أمن الأميركيين بالحروب الخارجية، سواء تحت شعار منع اسلحة دمار شامل مزعومة في العراق أو ملاحقة إرهاب خاضع للاحتواء المزدوج في أفغانستان، وصولاً لحروب الربيع العربي التي يقول مدير المخابرات الأميركية في إدارة الرئيس باراك اوباما جو برينان وهو يغادر منصبه أنها كانت حروباً للديمقرطية اقتضت تخيير رؤساء كالرئيس المصري حسني مبارك بين التنحّي أو ملاقاة مصير الرئيس معمر القذافي، لكن النتائج كانت سيناريو بدأ بالأخوان المسلمين وانتهى بداعش.

– فشل مشروع تحويل حكومة واشنطن إلى حكومة للعالم كلّه، هذه هي خلاصة ربع قرن، وفشلت محاولة استخدام تمويل من خارج الخزانة الأميركية عبر مشيخات وممالك الخليج، واستخدام جيش غير رسمي عبر تنظيم القاعدة، والاكتفاء بالاعتماد على المخابرات والإعلام الأميركيين، فقد أدّى صمود سورية بصورة خاصة إلى تغيير المعادلة جذرياً. وهي الحلقة التي كان يمكن لسقوطها أن يمنح للحروب الإمبراطورية مغزى النصر. وترتب على الصمود السوري فشل محاولات رسم خرائط شرق أوسط جديد، ونجحت سورية باستنهاض همّة روسيا وإيران على المزيد من المواجهة، والفوز بإنجاز تغييرات جيوسياسية في ملفات من حجم الملف النووي الإيراني، والإمساك الروسي عسكرياً بحوض البحر المتوسط بعد تركيع تركيا والسيطرة على البحر الأسود، وصولاً لنشوء حلف روسي إيراني سوري تتهيأ تركيا للتفاهم معه نحو معادلات جديدة كلياً في الشرق الأوسط.

– وصول دونالد ترامب للرئاسة الأميركية لم يكن لصناعة تغيير، بل جاء فوز ترامب ثمرة لتغيير قد حصل، فقد نالت النخب الأميركية الحاكمة في واشنطن فرصة ربع قرن لبناء حكومة عالمية موّلتها ودفعت أثمانها أرواح أميركيين ودماءهم وأموالهم، من مكلفيها دافعي الضرائب والمتمولين والرأسماليين والمواطنين والجنود، إيماناً بأن النجاح في قيام الحكومة العالمية التي تصنع في واشنطن وتدير العالم هو عائد مشترك لكل الأميركيين. كما نالت التفويض الصامت لاستعمال مال الخليج ورشى حكامه ومسلحي تنظيم القاعدة للاحتيال على الرفض الشعبي والرأسمالي لرفد الحلقات الأخيرة من مشروع الحكومة العالمية بالدماء والمال اللازمين، حتى بلغت الأخطار درجة أعلى من العائدات المفترضة وصار الفشل، فتم سحب التفويض بالجملة لصالح العودة إلى خلف المحيطات والصراخ بصوت ترامب العالي نريد حكومة أميركية وبئس حكومتكم العالمية. لم ننل منها سوى انهيار صناعتنا وكساد بضاعتنا وبطالة عمالتنا وتدهور بنيتنا التحتية، ونشر قواتنا شرطة عالمية وركوب وهم تغيير الأنظمة بالقوة لتعميم ديمقراطية مزعومة أنتجت تسليم بلدان بأكملها لتشكيلات إرهابية ترتد علينا بحروب معولمة وتنشئ «خلافتها» العالمية على نمط حكومتكم وببركة نظرياتها.

– خطاب ترامب الرئاسي هو إعلان سقوط الحكومة العالمية في واشنطن وولادة حكومة أميركية مكانها، وإعلان حرب لن تهدأ بسرعة بين أصحاب التفويض الأصليين من أصحاب المال والدماء، من جهة، والنخب البيروقراطية التي يعبر عنها إعلام عملاق ومخابرات أخطبوطية وجهاز حزبي ممتد عبر الحزبين الكبيرين ونوابهما وقادتهما ومكاتب المحامين المستعدة لممارسة الشأن العام تحت شعارات وفلسفات منمّقة بلغة هارفرد وأكسفورد، حرب أهلية ضروس تدخلها أميركا ولا تبدو فيها الفرص محصورة بفوز فريق وهزيمة الآخر، بل يبدو خيار الفوضى السياسية والدستورية فيها وارداً، ومعه الضعف والتشوّش في الاقتصاد والسياسة.

– «إن الإمبراطوريات الكبرى عندما تسقط لا تبلّغ بموعد حدوث ذلك كما الطوفان والزلزال، إنها تسقط وحسب»، العبارة لغونداليسا رايس مستشارة الأمن القومي ووزيرة الخارجية في عهد جورج بوش الإبن في آخر الثمانينيات كباحثة جامعية تعقيباً على انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي .

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End of the US Empire: Russian Warships Just Arrived in the Philippines

By Darius Shahtahmasebi

January 06, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – “ANTIMEDIA” – Notable American foreign policy critic and linguist, Professor Noam Chomsky, has stated numerous times that the United States’ power has steadily been declining since the end of World War II. As Chomsky notes, in 1945, the United States had “literally half the world’s wealth, incredible security, controlled the entire Western Hemisphere, both oceans, [and[ the opposite sides of both oceans.”

In that context – and in the context of the United States waging war in multiple countries across the globe with the most advanced military technology in the world – it is hard to understand how this has happened. But Chomsky is not wrong.

Beginning with what was referred to as the “loss of China” in the 1940s, the United States slowly began to lose areas of Southeast Asia, which led America to brutally launch the Indochina wars. As Chomsky notes, by destroying South Vietnam in the heavily criticized Vietnam War — a move designed to prevent Vietnam from achieving independence and perhaps becoming a Communist state — the U.S. sent a message to the rest of Indochina that if a nation attempted to break free of U.S-European control, it would likely be bombed into oblivion. The strategy worked at the time; as Chomsky notes, by 1965, every country in the region had dictatorships that were prepared to rule in a way suitable to America’s foreign policy interests. As recent developments in the Asian region have shown, however, the success of this bully-style strategy has been short-lived indeed.

Regardless, the United States has also lost South America. According to Chomsky, the “loss” of South America is easily observable:

“One sign is that the United States has been driven out of every single military base in South America. We’re trying to restore a few, but right now there are none.”

Over the course of the last few decades, the United States has begun to lose the Middle East, as well. In Iraq, the United States helped support Saddam Hussein’s rise to power and went so far to support his war of aggression against neighboring Iran. Then, the U.S. turned its back on Hussein, attacking Iraq in 1991 under the presidency of George H.W. Bush. As a result, the U.S. learned at least one valuable lesson from bombing Iraq in the early nineties: that Russia was not going to intervene in America’s ambitions in the Middle East.

The Middle East was, therefore, ripe for the taking, and this continued to be the case up until the Syrian war. What people fail to understand, however, is that the United States is not bombing the Middle East into submission because of its immense power, but because it is losing its power, influence, and control throughout the region.

As should be quite clear to anyone following the conflict, Russia has replaced the United States as judge, jury, and executioner (and supposed peace broker) in the five-year Syrian war, successfully retaking the major city of Aleppo from NATO-backed rebel groups.

Russia’s advances in the Middle East have spilled over to the rest of the world. In October of last year, the U.S. officially “lost” its stranglehold over the Philippines. Though it was previously seen as an integral ally U.S. ally vital to countering China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines openly and proudly boasted about their new ties with Russia and China.

As it transpires, the Philippines has put its money where its mouth is. Russian warships arrived in Filipino territory this Tuesday. According to the Philippines’ Navy, the visit is merely a “goodwill visit,” but the future of joint exercises is to be discussed. A report from Russia’s state-run Sputnik News seemed to contradict this, stating the ships were there specifically to conduct joint exercises with Philippine forces for the purposes of fighting maritime piracy and terrorism.

“You can choose to cooperate with United States of America or to cooperate with Russia,” Russian Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov said, speaking at the Manila Harbor.“But from our side we can help you in every way that you need. We are sure that in the future we’ll have exercises with you. Maybe just maneuvering or maybe use of combat systems and so on.”

Mikhailov also seemed to indicate that other players in the region, such as China and Malaysia, would coordinate with the potential training exercises within the next few years. Russia has also offered the Philippines sophisticated weaponry, including aircraft and submarines.

The United States has only one move left: surround Russia’s borders with NATO troops and missiles, which they are doing quite rapidly. Sooner or later, however, the United States will have to admit its very real decline in world standing and will have no choice but to learn to coordinate global affairs with the likes of Russia and China.

Let’s face it — what is the alternative?

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Information Clearing House editorial policy.

Duterte visits Russian destroyer, wants Moscow to be ally & protector: “We welcome our Russian friends. Anytime you want to dock here for anything, for play, for replenish supplies or maybe our ally to protect us,” Duterte said as cited by Reuters

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South China Sea: Failing to Find Asian Allies, US Invites UK to Meddle

December 16, 2016 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Parroting the US State Department’s rhetoric, almost verbatim to justify the decision, a UK envoy vowed to fly warplanes over, and sail warships through the South China Sea over “concerns” regarding “freedom of navigation there.”

Reuters in its article, “British fighters to overfly South China Sea; carriers in Pacific after 2020: envoy,” would report:

The envoy, Kim Darroch, told a Washington think tank that British Typhoon aircraft currently deployed on a visit to Japan would fly across disputed parts of the South China Sea to assert international overflight rights, but gave no time frame.

Speaking at an event also attended by Japan’s ambassador to Washington, Darroch said that most future British defense capacity would have to be directed toward the Middle East, but added:

“Certainly, as we bring our two new aircraft carriers onstream in 2020, and as we renew and update our defense forces, they will be seen in the Pacific.

The time frame of 2020 assumes that the United States will still have any significant presence in the region, somehow reversing the otherwise irreversible retreat it has been undergoing throughout Asia-Pacific over the past decade.

The US Has Run Out of Friends in Asia, So Brings Along Europe

Client regimes the United States and its European allies have cultivated throughout the region have either turned on them or have been effectively removed from power, or even the prospect of ever holding power again.

The Philippines, quite literally a territory of the United States until the end of World War 2, and a nation that vacillated between independence from and interdependence with Washington for decades since, has recently become more vocal about perceived inequities in Manila-Washington relations. This is primarily because of the much more significant – and growing – ties Manila has with Beijing.

US-backed opposition forces in Malaysia have repeatedly tried and failed to oust the ruling government in street protests led by Anwar Ibrahim’s political alliance under the brand name “Bersih.”

In neighboring Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra and his political opposition party were ousted from power in 2014 and have since been incrementally picked apart through legislative and judicial proceedings. Even as Shinawatra clung to power, Thailand’s establishment began shifting away from Cold War ties with the US and toward closer ties with not only Beijing, but also Moscow as well as its regional neighbors.

In Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party are increasingly hemorrhaging political legitimacy as her followers carry out what could be described as genocide against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. The United States has cynically elected to draw an increasing amount of attention to this in a bid to prevent Suu Kyi from double dealing with both Washington and Beijing.

Vietnam has recently showed reluctance to sign the US-initiated and dominated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, being one of the few nations in Southeast Asia to have agreed to it in the first place, while Cambodia’s previously pro-Western government headed by Hun Sen has become increasingly vocal about US meddling both in Cambodia, and across the region, openly taking Beijing’s side in the South China Sea dispute.

Even Indonesia finds itself increasingly repelled by America’s overbearing stick and its increasingly unappealing carrot.

Collectively, the region is attempting to rebalance itself to accommodate and cooperate with the rise of China, and create checks and balances in the void America’s mismanaged “Pacific Century” has left.

The Specter of Empire  

It is perhaps ironic that the United States finds itself increasingly isolated in Asia amid its own attempts to isolate Beijing. It is also ironic that it is ending its “Pacific Century” the same way it began, side-by-side European nations attempting to impose Western interests on a region of the planet quite literally oceans away.

However, unlike during the age of empires, the US and any European nation that joins it in Asia-Pacific today, will find a region of the planet on parity with Western technology, wealth and power. Militarily speaking, the number of facilities the US and its European allies can exploit in the region are shrinking both in number and in relative significance to growing Asian military power – including China’s expanding Pacific forces.

However, in addition to military power, the US still maintains vast political and media networks throughout Asia. The US State Department’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) aims to indoctrinate thousands of young Asian students and professionals, provide them with both fronts to operate as well as significant financial and political support to continue their work, all in an effort to transform the region’s values and principles to align with Washington’s interests.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), its subsidiaries, and “aid” organizations like USAID all continue to build opposition fronts aimed at pressuring and altogether overthrowing political establishments across Asia. Together, this signifies a US that may be in retreat, but a US that still poses a potent threat to peace, stability, and prosperity across the region.

The inclusion of British forces in Asia-Pacific to augment US provocations presents a threat to Asian stability. With Asia increasingly trading among themselves and with the rest of Eurasia, instability brought by US-European meddling is perhaps the only threat that could actually undermine “freedom of navigation,” trade, and economic growth – the very things the US claims its presence in Asia-Pacific is meant to protect.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.”

The Mad Man Theory: Trump & Taiwan’

The Mad Man Theory: Trump & Taiwan'

MATTHEW JAMISON | 10.12.2016 | WORLD

The Mad Man Theory: Trump & Taiwan’

In Niccolò Machiavelli’s 1517 «Discourses on Livy» the famous Italian historian and political philosopher argued that sometimes it is «a very wise thing to simulate madness». The «Madman» theory was indeed a consciously deployed facet of President Richard Nixon’s foreign policy. The Nixon administration carefully projected a deliberate image of President Nixon as a volatile, erratic, almost deranged hot head. The objective was to create confusion among American adversaries, primarily in the Communist world, and unnerve them due to the unpredictability the «madman» Nixon engendered thus keeping them off balance allowing America to set the agenda, control responses, seize the initiative, keep US enemies constantly guessing and keep hostile provocations to the minimum for fear of a disproportionate response from the «unhinged» Nixon. President Nixon’s infamous Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, wrote that Nixon had confided to him:

«I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll just slip the word to them that, ‘for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry — and he has his hand on the nuclear button’ and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace».

Nixon’s National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State, the brilliant Dr Henry Kissinger, was in on the act and portrayed the 1970 US incursion into Cambodia as a symptom of Nixon’s «instability». I can just imagine Nixon conferring with Kissinger before a diplomatic meeting and telling him: «Right Henry, this is how we are going to play. I’ll storm in and wave my arms around, talk about how I feel like bombing the hell out of such and such, spit some profanities out and then storm off. You will then rush in and say ‘ now you can understand what I have to deal with! Leave it to me. I’ll calm the old man down». Could it be that the new President-elect of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is also employing the «Mad Man» theory? Indeed, as Polonius put it in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: «Though this be madness, yet there is method».

Over the weekend of December 2nd the news came through that the new President-elect had broken with over 35 years of diplomatic precedent and protocol with regards to the United States most strategically important bilateral relationship. Mr. Trump did something which would on the surface seem fairly innocuous. He took a congratulatory phone call from the President of Taiwan. Tsai Ing-wen.Then, all hell broke loose within the normally calm and ordered world of diplomatic affairs. This was due to the fact that no American President or President-elect has spoken with the President of Taiwan since 1979 when the Carter administration, building on the great legacy of Nixon and Kissinger’s visionary 1972 «Opening to China», embraced the Chinese concept of «One China» and officially terminated diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan), though unofficially relations continued much as they had with American arms shipments to Taiwan. The American Embassy in Taiwan became the American Institute, a private nonprofit corporation though still staffed by American diplomats. Under the Taiwan Relations Act signed into law by President Carter the United States would maintain «unofficial» relations with the people of Taiwan, but all official inter-governmental relations between the American Government and Taiwanese Government ceased , including official interactions between American and Taiwanese Presidents.

All of this diplomatic ambiguity was due to the dispute between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China dating all the way back to 1949 and the Communist victory over General Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang US backed nationalists in the Chinese civil war. The Kuomintang nationalists fled to the island of Taiwan were they set up shop and claimed to be the sole and legitimate Chinese Government for all of China including the Communist controlled mainland. Until Nixon’s «Opening to China» in the 1970s the United States maintained the fiction that the tiny island of Taiwan under the defeated nationalists represented all of China’s billion plus people and recognised it as the sovereign Chinese Government rather than the authority of the People’s Republic in Beijing. President Nixon, Dr Kissinger and later President Carter determined that this fiction could no longer continue and it was unwise to continue to try to isolate and alienate Beijing. So they prudently switched American recognition away from Taipei towards Beijing. While Taiwan had always claimed to be the rightful China, the People’s Republic had always viewed it as part of it’s true China.

So from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr to Bill Clinton, George Bush Jnr to Barack Obama, none of them have engaged officially with their Taiwanese counterparts and American Presidents have embraced officially the «One China» position of Beijing while still conducting unofficial relations with Taipei. This all changed, to a certain degree, over the weekend of December 2nd 2016, with the telephone call between US President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wei. Trump tweeted with regards to the phone call: «The President of Taiwan CALLED ME (Trump’s capitals) today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!”. The President-elect followed this up with a further tweet: « Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call».

The Chinese Foreign Minister reacted in the usually calm, measured, nonchalant style of Chinese diplomacy brushing off the phone call as nothing more than a «petty trick» on the part on the Taiwanese. But soon after Trump went on a the rampage on Twitter once again with critical tweets regarding China: «Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency and build a massive military complex?» I don’t think so!» Well, of course not Mr. Trump, the fact is China is a sovereign, independent country who does not need to «ask» the permission of the United States to do anything! After this fracas the Chinese Government lodged a «solemn representation» with the White House reminding the Americans of the «One China» policy and the delicate equilibrium that has existed over the issues of Taiwan and has served American-Sino relations well for over three decades.

There was much amusement in the press that the incoming President seemed to be oblivious to the finer points of US-China diplomatic relations and that this latest blunder was evidence that Mr. Trump was clueless about international affairs. A Bull in a China Shop? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was more calculated than that. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager (who reminds me of something straight out of The Stepford Wives or the Brady Bunch) shot down the notion that Trump is ignorant of the nuances of America’s relationship with the second largest economy on the planet and rising superpower. Reports surfaced that Bob Dole, the 1996 Republican Presidential nominee, had his law firm lobby the Trump campaign on behalf of the Taiwanese Government for a new approach to US-Taiwan relations and the Republican Party Platform unveiled at their 2016 Convention evidenced stronger language on the subject of China. By accepting a phone call, and on the surface superficially that is all it was, Mr. Trump and his advisers could have calculated that with a low grade act they could at once signal a coming change in how the United States deals with China without inflicting any serious material damage on the relationship. Trump repeatedly throughout his campaign spoke in negative terms regarding China and how, falsely, it is «raping» the American economy.

There are some such as the deeply objectionable John Bolton and other neoconservative nutters, dinosaur Cold War Warriors and ultra nationalists around Mr. Trump who are itching for a confrontation, if not outright fight, with China. Please forgive the lapse into science fiction but when it comes to some of the things I hear and read about the foreign policy team around Trump I am reminded of the words of the Shakespeare quoting Klingon General Chang to Captain Kirk during the Battle of Kitomer in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country while he is bombarding the defenseless Enterprise: «Now be honest Captain, warrior to warrior. You do prefer it this way don’t you? As it was meant to be. No peace in our time. Once more on to the breach, dear friends».

Shortly after the protocol breaking Trump-Tsai phone call and the Trump China bashing twitter rampage the President-elect appointed his Ambassador to China, the Republican Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, who also happens to be a good, old friend of President Xi Jinping. They have known each other since the 1980s. It was probably one of Trump’s best appointments to date and the Chinese Foreign Ministry was delighted. Was this a master class in the madman theory attempting to confuse the Chinese and keep them off balance? Maybe so. But Mr. Trump should also be aware in the Chinese he has more than met his match, perhaps even his superior. These type of «mad man» stunts will not keep the Chinese off balance. They are far more adept at gaining the upper hand. In many ways when it comes to the American-Sino relationship, they already do enjoy the upper hand. Trump beware.

USA’s Fingerprints on Unexploded Landmines and Cluster Bombs that Continue to Kill Decades On

U.S. Fingerprints on Unexploded Landmines and Cluster Bombs that Continue to Kill Decades On

 

In poor Laotian village, children stand near fence made of unexploded U.S. ordnance (photo: Legacies of War)

 

By Clyde Haberman, New York Times

The Vietnam War ended in 1975. It did for Americans anyway. Not so for the Vietnamese.

Since 1975, more than 40,000 Vietnamese are believed to have been killed and about 60,000 others maimed by what is known as unexploded ordnance — land mines, artillery shells, cluster bombs and the like that failed to detonate decades ago. Quang Tri province alone, along the border that once divided Vietnam into North and South, is said to have been more heavily bombed than all of Germany was in World War II.

Unexploded yet active remains of the Vietnam War now lie in wait for incautious scrap-metal scavengers or for unsuspecting children at play. They are Vietnamese like Ho Van Lai. He was 10 years old in August 2000 when he and two cousins happened upon remnants of a cluster bomb. One of the cousins accidentally set it off, and was killed. Lai, now 26, was luckier, if losing both legs and much of his right arm can qualify as good fortune.

“I imagined that I would become a useless person,” he said when interviewed in Da Nang by Retro Report, a series of video documentaries exploring how major news stories of old shape modern events. “I was supposed to be living in peace,” Lai said. “Yet I was entangled with the war.”

The video focuses on Vietnam, but unexploded ordnance is a worldwide concern, from the detritus of long-ago combat to the armaments of modern battlegrounds like Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Ukraine. Bombs and artillery shells from the two world wars still turn up in Belgium, England and France. By some estimates, 100 million or more anti-personnel land mines remain strewn across the globe, lurking as menaces.

“Land mines, in many senses, are the perfect soldier,” said Paul Heslop, director of programs for the U.N. Mine Action Service. “They don’t go to sleep. They don’t need to rest. You plant them and you arm them, and they will last for 20, 30, 40, 50 years.”

It could be argued that the danger, while ever-present, is less dire than it once was, thanks to global accords to rein in the weaponry. In 2014, the last year with available statistics, there were 3,678 known casualties from various types of old ordnance, as recorded by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, a tracking organization. The 2014 figure was 12 percent higher than the previous year’s, but it was well below the 9,220 dead and wounded in 1999.

That was when a mine ban treaty went into effect. It had been adopted in 1997 — in part, as the video notes, the product of a well-publicized campaign by Princess Diana, who was killed that year in a car crash in Paris. In 2008, a comparable treaty to outlaw cluster munitions was approved, taking effect in 2010.

Cluster bombs, a reality of war since the 1940s, are singularly nasty. One of them can contain dozens, even hundreds, of baseball-size “bomblets.” When the mother bomb opens, its bomblets are sprayed in all directions, tearing apart whatever is in their paths.

There are no time limits to their destructive abilities. If they fail to explode right away, they can remain active for years, lying on the ground and potentially lethal to unwary civilians. All too often, the victims are children drawn to these intriguing objects, as Ho Van Lai and his cousins were. Despite the decline in the toll since the 1990s, lingering ordnance continues to kill or maim an average of 10 people a day.

Thus far, 162 nations have joined the land mine treaty and 119 the ban on cluster munitions. But the nonsigners are some of modern warfare’s most formidable players, including China, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

U.S. officials have defended their nonparticipation as an act of prudence. In 2008, a State Department spokesman said that “cluster munitions have demonstrated military utility, and their elimination from U.S. stockpiles would put the lives of our soldiers and those of our coalition partners at risk.”

As for land mines, the Pentagon describes them as especially helpful in the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea. Critics say that mining that area is a pointless vestige of the Cold War. But U.S. military strategists regard the explosives as a useful first-line defense against a possible North Korean invasion of the South.

That said, the treaties have plainly had an effect even on the Americans. Land mines are so stigmatized that the United States has barely used them since the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Its stockpile, estimated at 3 million mines, is diminished.

President Barack Obama’s administration has also signaled a willingness to sign the anti-mine treaty (not that any action seems likely before the clock runs out on his term). In early September, Obama visited Laos, which U.S. forces secretly, and heavily, bombed during the Vietnam War. He pledged to double U.S. support, to $90 million over the next three years, to help Laotians find and dismantle active explosives buried in fields and forests.

The United States’ reliance on cluster munitions has also waned, having peaked in 2003 in the early days of the Iraq War. Military spokesmen say none have been used in the air war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Although the United States continues to export these munitions, it attaches a requirement that they not be used in civilian areas, and they must be designed to explode in short order or else self-destruct. By the end of 2018, manufacturers will have to ensure that the failure rate for bomblet explosions does not exceed 1 percent, thereby reducing the potential future risk to civilians.

All the same, the world is obviously not at peace. The Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor identifies 57 countries as threatened by mines. Russia is suspected of having dropped cluster bombs in Syria. Saudi Arabia has used U.S.-supplied cluster munitions in Yemen, including in civilian areas. Anti-government forces resort to roadside bombs in countries like Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar and Ukraine.

Vietnam stands as an example of the difficult future that may await them all if ever the guns are silenced. Chuck Searcy knows a lot about that. Searcy was a U.S. intelligence officer in Vietnam in the 1960s. He is now an adviser to Vietnamese who as part of Project Renew are cleaning up unexploded ordnance and helping victims like Lai.

“This was our responsibility,” he said, referring to the U.S. military. “We had created the problem.”

By some reckonings, it could take another century to complete the mop-up.

Countries around the world that are now in conflict, Searcy said, will “face the same problem 20 or 30, 40 years from now that Vietnam is facing.”

To Learn More:

While U.S. Drags Feet on Curtailment of Cluster Bombs, Their Use Goes Unabated in Yemen and Syria (by Sewell Chan, New York Times)

Army Claims it’s too Dangerous to Clean Up Radioactive Weapons Test Site in Indiana (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Obama Administration Agrees to Get Rid of Landmines…Except in Korea (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Two-Thirds of Senate Ready to Ban Land Mines; But Not Obama (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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