who’s in charge of this loose cannon of a (waning) empire?

Who’s in charge  may depend on the issues at hand, of course: Bolton, Pompeo, Trump…and let’s not forget Bibi.  If you guess Deep State, I reckon I’m tired of passing the buck by now…I want Names, dammit!

Let’s start with this news most of you know by now:Washington orders US personnel out of Iraq amid war buildup against Iran’, Bill Van Auken, 16 May 2019, wsws.org

“Washington has ratcheted up war tensions in the Persian Gulf with an order to evacuate all non-essential US personnel from its embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil, the de facto capital of the Iraqi Kurdish region.

A State Department spokesman said the drastic action had been taken in response to “the increased threat stream we are seeing in Iraq,” but refused to provide any details on the supposed danger.

The US has carried out a massive military buildup in the region on the pretext of a supposed threat from Iran or so-called Iranian “proxies” among various Shia militia, from those organized in the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) formed to fight ISIS in Iraq and now integrated into the Iraqi security forces, to those fighting ISIS in Syria, the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

A State Department spokesman told CNN Wednesday that “any attacks by the Iranian regime or its proxies against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response.”

This imagery is chilling:

“Sources in Baghdad reported that all day Wednesday helicopters were ferrying US personnel from the embassy on the Tigris River—the largest such US facility in the world—to a US military base at the Baghdad airport. The last time such an evacuation was ordered was in 2014 after ISIS had captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and appeared poised to march on Baghdad.”

Yeppers, he quotes British General Christopher Ghika challenging that point of view, then Ghika having received a rebuke by an official in CENTCOM who’d said his comments “run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence”, with again, zero evidence of the “threats”.

Now you’ll likely remember that Tehran has been applying pressure on the EU nations to put pressure on Washington to extend the recently sun-downed waivers to be able to sell Iranian oil to China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece or abrogate some of the the JCPOA and begin heavy water uranium enrichment with a tick-tock of 60 days.

The White House had assured those nations that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would work to make up the difference in oil to ensure that global markets are not rocked.

This may offer a glimmer of hope, as Mike Pompeo had also demanded that the EU stop Russia’s construction of the Nordstrean 2 pipeline ‘to counter Russia’.

‘As if Germany is a US colony’: Bundestag energy chief lashes out at Russia sanctions’, RT.com, 16 May, 2019

“Only the US – not Germany or the EU – is interested in economic sanctions against Russia, the head of the Bundestag’s economy and energy committee has said. German MPs are looking at ways to lift the restrictions, he added.

Bundestag energy and economy chief Klaus Ernst of Die Linke party accused the US of behaving as if Germany is its colony, as Washington tries to bully Europeans out of buying Russian gas.

“Those measures don’t only target Russians, they deliberately target Europeans, for example German energy companies involved in Nord Stream 2,” he said at a conference on the prospects of energy cooperation between Russia and the EU, organized by the Russian Gas Society – an association of Russian energy companies, relevant research institutions and local administrations.”

But does this hint at more than just the Nord Stream 2 pipeline at play?  We can only hope.

There are currently discussions about this in the Bundestag economy committee, and it is growing stronger – how sanctions against Russia can be lifted. Neither Germany, nor Europe is interested in these sanctions. The only ones winning from these sanctions are the Americans.”

You’ll remember that on May 13 our delightful Secretary of State had crashed the big meeting in Brussels to put pressure on the EU to support US anti-Iran policy.  Now let’s add this to the desire for full command and control:

‘Pentagon threatens Europe over EU army plans’, Alex Lantier, 16 May 2019, wsws.org

“On May 1, the US Department of Defense sent a letter to the European Union warning that plans for an independent EU army could lead to a collapse in the NATO alliance between the United States and the EU powers. The letter, sent by the US undersecretaries for defense Ellen Lord and Andrea Thompson to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, was leaked to the Spanish daily El Pais.

Lantier writes that El Pais had published the letter while Pompeo was in Brussels, and quotes the letter:

“The United States is deeply concerned by the approval of rules for the European Defense Fund and the general conditions of PESCO,” the letter states, referring to the EU army’s technical name, the Permanent Structured Cooperation. The EU army, the letter added, is leading to “a dramatic step back in three decades of growing integration of the trans-Atlantic defense industry.” It warned of the danger of “unnecessary competition between NATO and the EU.

The “very harsh” letter, El Pais reported, “is full of more or less veiled threats of possible political or commercial retaliation if Brussels maintains its intentions to develop European weapons projects without consulting with outside countries, like the United States.”

The Pentagon letter objects to provisions in the European Defense Fund mandating that European firms control the technology employed in European weapons exclude European firms from Pentagon systems, and threatens to take similar measures to weapons contracts. It states, “It is clear that similar reciprocally imposed US restrictions would not be welcomed by our European partners and allies, and we would not relish having to consider them in the future.”

You’ll also remember that the acting Secretary of Defense is Patrick Shanahan was a long-time Boeing Exec, and according to ‘From Boeing to E-Ring: Shanahan is Industry’s Man in the Pentagon, Trump’s nominee for secretary of defense could be the ultimate fox in the henhouse, theamericanconservative.com, May 14, 2019:

“Critics point out that Shanahan has never been anything but a company man. His only experience in military and defense issues was as a program executive of contracts that sink billions of American taxpayer dollars each year into bloated weapons systems and increase shareholder value.

“Shanahan has zero government experience. He’s a defense corporation guy; his track record as deputy secretary is appallingly pro-MIC [military industrial complex],” Pierre Sprey, longtime military watchdog and defense analyst, told TAC.

Armed with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, Shanahan went straight to Boeing in 1986. After overseeing Boeing’s military rotorcraft (Apache, Chinook, and Osprey helicopters) and missile defense programs, he went onto the commercial side in 2007, where he was known as “Mr. Fix It” for saving the company’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft program. (More recently, he was forced to dodge any connection to 737 Max planes, which were falling out of the sky before a worldwide grounding.)

Shanahan was working at Boeing as a member of the Executive Council and as supply chain & operations vice president. He answered directly to the CEO, all the way up until Trump picked him to be the number two at the Pentagon in 2017.

“This is clear evidence that they are getting more and more brazen about putting in industry shills when they used to be a little leery of doing it,” said Sprey.” [snip]

According to the official report, the IG investigated charges that despite his pledge to remove himself from any Boeing-related business, Shanahan had openly disparaged the company’s direct competitors, including Lockheed Martin CEO Marilyn Hewson, and called the F-35 aircraft “f—ed up” in one meeting. Aside from pushing for the F-15X sale, he was also accused of trying “to force General [Robert] Neller to buy Boeing F/A-18s, and threatened to cut other Air Force programs unless General [David] Goldfein supported buying Boeing F-15Xs.”

Bloomberg News had reported earlier:

“Shanahan was seen at the White House earlier in the day on Thursday. In a statement after the announcement [of DT nominating him for SecDef], he said “If confirmed by the Senate, I will continue the aggressive implementation of our National Defense Strategy. I remain committed to modernizing the force so our remarkable Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have everything they need to keep our military lethal and our country safe.”

But back to Lantier:

“The seriousness with which threats of a breakdown of the US-European alliance are taken in ruling circles in Europe was reflected in the publication this week of a study by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) think tank in London. The report, titled “Defending Europe: scenario-based capability requirements for NATO’s European members,” estimated the costs to Europe to rebuild NATO’s military capacity if the United States abandoned the alliance. The document called for a massive $110 billion naval build-up and $357 billion to prepare for war with Russia.

The publication of these documents point to the advanced state of collapse of alliances and arrangements that have governed the international relations of world capitalism for decades. It puts paid to the European imperialist powers’ attempts to present their plans for a major escalation of their military spending and operations as a supplement intended to aid NATO. The Pentagon views these plans as a threat to develop the EU as a rival to the US-led NATO alliance, founded in 1949 after two world wars between the United States and Germany.”

Also these developments: After Washington pulled out of the JCPOA, Lanier quotes Macron griping that it was the US who withdrew from the deal, and that “…if Iran withdraws from this deal, it will be the responsibility of the United States.”  He adds as well:

“And yesterday, Spain withdrew its frigate Méndez Núñez from the US-led naval battle group anchored by the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, which is sailing to the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran. Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles blandly stated: “If the North American government intends for the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to go to a certain zone for a certain mission that it never agreed with Spain, we are provisionally leaving the battle group.”

John Wight’s ‘A world aching for peace & stability can no longer afford NATO’, RT.com, May 15, 2019 is a very worthy anti-Orwellian read, but I’ll clip these bits to end this diary:

“Because ever since the demise of the Soviet Union, NATO has been engaged in a perennial quest for meaning and relevance, which means to say for opportunities to unleash its democracy missiles and drop its democracy bombs. It is a quest that has and continues to involve ideologues in the media, neocon think tanks, and governments going out of their way to convince people across Europe and the US that without NATO manning the ramparts of Western civilization, the barbarians located to the North, South, East and West of them will come and destroy everything they hold dear.

Stripped of obfuscation, what we have here is a tawdry and base exercise in scaremongering; its aim to inculcate the belief that Russia, Iran, China, North Korea, Venezuela (you can take your pick) is their enemy and a threat to their security. Thus it is that the extent to which people living in the West refuse to internalise the propaganda of their own ruling class and its functionaries is determined by their ability to see the world as it truly is, rather than continue to exist in the darkened room of Western exceptionalism.”

“The only possible conclusion to be drawn, after we draw up  the necessary historical balance sheet, is that NATO’s continuous existence is an impediment to peace, justice, global stability and, with it, human progress. It is a relic of the first Cold War which has done much to bring about the New Cold War, calling to mind the cogent analysis of Roman imperialism provided by political economist Joseph Schumpeter in the second decade of the 20th century:

There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest—why, then it was the national honor that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors, always fighting for a breathing space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome’s duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs. They were enemies who only waited to fall on the Roman people.

(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)

6 responses to “who’s in charge of this loose cannon of a (waning) empire?

  1. “if the United States abandoned the alliance”? O, you sweet talking limey serpent! HA HA HA.

    The world apple just fell in your lap, eh Amerka? O no no no.

    And you bit hard!

    When the Apple is Laced with Poison

    • mornin’, mysterious x. you’ve outdone yourself with that a cappella version of cohen’s soul-stirring song. best cover ever, voices sending it into the noosphere!

      good link, too, esp. the quote from the tao te ching: perfect. not impressed w/ all the capitalist extinction rebellion (‘net zero carbon’) stuff, but yes, there are more cracks in capitalist dominance coming. thanks.

      some wee gifts from nato this morning:

      ‘NATO-led airstrike reportedly kills 17 Afghan police officers ‘by mistake’, RT.com, 17 May, 2019

      “An airstrike by the NATO-led Resolute Support mission reportedly killed 17 police officers in Afghanistan on Thursday, injuring a dozen others in a ‘mistake’ during fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban.
      The strike was conducted as Afghan police were fighting the Taliban outside Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand province, with Afghan officials describing the incident as a “mistake”. Head of the provincial council Attaullah Afghan said 14 policemen were also wounded in the strike.

      It wasn’t clear whether Afghan or US forces carried out the strike, the AP reported, although the Taliban claimed it had been US forces.

      The provincial governor’s spokesman Omar Zwak said the strike was carried out by NATO Resolute Support mission forces in the Nahr-e-Seraj area, al Jazeera reports. DW reports Zwak said that only eight police officers were killed in the NATO strike. NATO has not commented on the incident.”

      https://www.rt.com/news/459568-afghan-police-killed-airstrike-nato/

  2. closing time for me, and given the refusal of the US hegemon and client states, let this lullaby stand for the search for a multipolar world. a brilliant cover by the old blues man, timmy thomas’s 1972 tune:

  3. Who is in charge? More like what is in charge: capital…it’s all about the Benjamins, baby. But global capitalism, under America’s loving guidance, is in crisis on multiple levels and this is reflected in the current instability and geopolitical brinkmanship. Those with immense power are loathe to give any of it up and it usually takes a big fight or a credible existential threat for that to happen.

    • lol; nine days later i canne even remember that’s in this diary (lamus brainus syndrome), but welcome to the café, amigo. jayzus; even scanning ain’t helping much…

      sure, that’s the A answer, as it’s been during how many of the past administrations? but now it’s ever more evident that the great power competitors must be crushed, and humiliated, via threats of war and crippling sanctions (or war by even other means). and the hegemon can’t abide the socialist nations, which always made me laugh when first obomba, then DT had declared VZ ‘a direct threat to ameikan national security’.

      but congress has been playing its militaristic part as well, most esp..the D team, which is almost comical, as so few get outed for that. anyhoo, gotta scoot, got a live diary or two still brewin’ over at c995.

      hope you come again.

  4. It all boils down to GREED and The LUST for POWER and PROFIT, all else matters not a whit. This is our real enemy, and we must seek how to defeat it!

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