How America’s Allies Can Protect the Liberal World Order From Trump

 

The order that has structured international politics since the end of World War II is fracturing. Many of the culprits are obvious. Revisionist powers, such as China and Russia, want to reshape global rules to their own advantage. Emerging powers, such as Brazil and India, embrace the perks of great-power status but shun the responsibilities that come with it. Rejectionist powers, such as Iran and North Korea, defy rules set by others. Meanwhile, international institutions, such as the UN, struggle to address problems that multiply faster than they can be resolved.

The newest culprit, however, is a surprise: the United States, the very country that championed the order’s creation. Seventy years after U.S. President Harry Truman sketched the blueprint for a rules-based international order to prevent the dog-eat-dog geopolitical competition that triggered World War II, U.S. President Donald Trump has upended it. He has raised doubts about Washington’s security commitments to its allies, challenged the fundamentals of the global trading regime, abandoned the promotion of freedom and democracy as defining features of U.S. foreign policy, and abdicated global leadership. Read More

EPA rolls back Obama-era coal pollution rules as Trump heads to West Virginia

 

CNN)As his Environmental Protection Agency delivers its latest blow to environmental regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions, President Donald Trump is heading into the heart of coal country to deliver the good news.

Trump will join supporters in Charleston, West Virginia, for a political rally on Tuesday to celebrate his administration’s proposal to allow states to set their own emissions standards for coal-fueled power plants.
The move would reverse Obama administration efforts to combat climate change and marks the fulfilment of a campaign promise at the heart of his appeal in coal-producing states like West Virginia.
The EPA Tuesday morning formally unveiled the details of its new plan to devolve regulation of coal-fired power plants back to the states, one that is expected to give a boost to the coal industry and increase carbon emissions nationwide.
The move is just the latest effort by the Trump administration to revive an ailing coal industry and strip climate change-fighting regulations established by the Obama administration. He previously announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, calling it an unfair deal for Americans. Read More

The Coming Wars to End All Wars

The Trump and Netanyahu governments have a problem: How to start a greatly expanded Middle-Eastern war without having a justifiable reason for one. No doubt they are working hard to solve this urgent problem. If they can’t find a “justification” (which they can’t), they will have to create one (which they will). Or perhaps they will find what they have already created. Whatever the solution, we should feel confident that they are not sitting on their hands. History teaches those who care to learn that when aggressors place a gun on the wall in the first act of their play, it must go off in the final act.

The compulsive hatred of Putin by many who have almost zero idea about Putin or Russian history is disproportionate to any rational analysis, but not surprising. Trump and Putin are like weird doppelgangers in the liberal imagination. John Steppling, “Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk into a Bar”

 

These sinister players have signaled us quite clearly what they have in store. All signs point toward an upcoming large-scale Israeli/U.S. attack on Lebanon and Syria, and all the sycophantic mainstream media are in the kitchen prepping for the feast. Russia and Iran are the main course, with Lebanon and Syria, who will be devoured first, as the hors d’oeuvres. As always, the media play along as if they don’t yet know what’s coming. Everyone in the know knows what is, just not exactly when. And the media wait with baited breath as they count down to the dramatic moment when they can report the incident that will compel the “innocent” to attack the “guilty.”

Anyone with half a brain can see the greatly increased anti-Russian propaganda of the past few weeks. This has happened as the Russia-gate claims have fallen to pieces, as former CIA analyst Raymond McGovern, the late Robert Parry, Paul Craig Roberts, and others have documented so assiduously. All across the media spectrum, from the big name corporate stenographers like The New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, The Washington Post to The Atlantic and Nation magazines and other “leftist” publications such as Mother Jones and Who What Why, the Russia and Putin bashing has become hysterical in tone, joined as it is with an anti-Trump obsession, as if Trump were a dear friend of Putin and Russia and wasn’t closely allied with the Netanyahu government in its plans for the Middle-East. As if Trump were in charge. Read More

Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse – Eudaimonia and Co

Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse

You might say, having read some of my recent essays, “Umair! Don’t worry! Everything will be fine! It’s not that bad!” I would look at you politely, and then say gently, “To tell you the truth, I don’t think we’re taking collapse nearly seriously enough.”

Why? When we take a hard look at US collapse, we see a number of social pathologies on the rise. Not just any kind. Not even troubling, worrying, and dangerous ones. But strange and bizarre ones. Unique ones. Singular and gruesomely weird ones I’ve never really seen before, and outside of a dystopia written by Dickens and Orwell, nor have you, and neither has history. They suggest that whatever “numbers” we use to represent decline — shrinking real incomes, inequality, and so on —we are in fact grossly underestimating what pundits call the “human toll”, but which sensible human beings like you and I should simply think of as the overwhelming despair, rage, and anxiety of living in a collapsing society.
Let me give you just five examples of what I’ll call the social pathologies of collapse — strange, weird, and gruesome new diseases, not just ones we don’t usually see in healthy societies, but ones that we have never really seen before in any modern society.

America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days. That’s one every other day, more or less. That statistic is alarming enough — but it is just a number. Read More

These are not normal times. These are extraordinary times

 

These are not normal times. These are extraordinary times. And extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
When you have a spokesperson for the president of the United States wrap up a lie in the Orwellian phrase “alternative facts”…
When you have a press secretary in his first appearance before the White House reporters threaten, bully, lie, and then walk out of the briefing room without the cajones to answer a single question…
When you have a President stand before the stars of the fallen CIA agents and boast about the size of his crowds (lies) and how great his authoritarian inaugural speech was….
These are not normal times.
The press has never seen anything like this before. The public has never seen anything like this before. And the political leaders of both parties have never seen anything like this before.
What can we do? We can all step up and say simply and without equivocation. “A lie, is a lie, is a lie!” And if someone won’t say it, those of us who know that there is such a thing as the truth must do whatever is in our power to diminish the liar’s malignant reach into our society.
There is one group of people who can do a lot – very quickly. And that is Republicans in Congress. Without their support, Donald Trump’s presidency will falter. So here is what I think everyone in the press must do. If you are interviewing a Paul Ryan, a Mitch McConnell, or any other GOP elected official, the first question must be “what will you do to combat the lying from the White House?” If they dodge and weave, keep with the follow ups. And if they refuse to give a satisfactory answer, end the interview.
Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question. More

Rapidly Mobilizing American Politics On Climate

CHANNELING THE POWER OF THE POPE’S ENCYCLICAL THROUGH THE PLEDGE TO MOBILIZE CLIMATE STRATEGY

The Pope calls on each of us to undertake an “ecological conversion” to protect humanity and the natural world — Creation — from climate catastrophe. He also calls for the “ecological conversion” of civilization.

The Pledge to Mobilize is a tool to achieve this ecological conversion — on the individual and national level.

The Pledge to Mobilize calls on the federal government to convert the American economy to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 through an emergency, WWII-scale mobilization.

When Individuals take the Pledge, they commit their time, money, and vote to achieving this goal. Most importantly, they commit to spreading the Pledge to others—to spreading the ecological conversion. More

 

 

To avoid counting civilian deaths, Obama re-defined “militant” to mean “all military-age males in a strike zone

Virtually every time the U.S. fires a missile from a drone and ends the lives of Muslims, American media outlets dutifully trumpet in headlines that the dead were “militants” — even though those media outlets literally do not have the slightest idea of who was actually killed.

They simply cite always-unnamed “officials” claiming that the dead were “militants.” It’s the most obvious and inexcusable form of rank propaganda: media outlets continuously propagating a vital claim without having the slightest idea if it’s true.

This practice continues even though key Obama officials have been caught lying, a term used advisedly, about how many civilians they’re killing. I’ve written and said many times before that in American media discourse, the definition of “militant” is any human being whose life is extinguished when an American missile or bomb detonates (that term was even used when Anwar Awlaki’s 16-year-old American son, Abdulrahman, was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen two weeks after a drone killed his father, even though nobody claims the teenager was anything but completely innocent: “Another U.S. Drone Strike Kills Militants in Yemen”).

This morning, the New York Times has a very lengthy and detailed article about President Obama’s counter-Terrorism policies based on interviews with “three dozen of his current and former advisers.” I’m writing separately about the numerous revelations contained in that article, but want specifically to highlight this one vital passage about how the Obama administration determines who is a “militant.” The article explains that Obama’s rhetorical emphasis on avoiding civilian deaths “did not significantly change” the drone program, because Obama himself simply expanded the definition of a “militant” to ensure that it includes virtually everyone killed by his drone strikes. Just read this remarkable passage;

Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. “Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.

This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths. In a speech last year Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s trusted adviser, said that not a single noncombatant had been killed in a year of strikes. And in a recent interview, a senior administration official said that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under Mr. Obama was in the “single digits” — and that independent counts of scores or hundreds of civilian deaths unwittingly draw on false propaganda claims by militants.

But in interviews, three former senior intelligence officials expressed disbelief that the number could be so low. The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it “guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.

“It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,” the official said. “They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”

For the moment, leave the ethical issues to the side that arise from viewing “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants”; that’s nothing less than sociopathic, a term I use advisedly, but I discuss that in the separate, longer piece I’ve written. For now, consider what this means for American media outlets. Any of them which use the term “militants” to describe those killed by U.S. strikes are knowingly disseminating a false and misleading term of propaganda. By “militant,” the Obama administration literally means nothing more than: any military-age male whom we kill, even when we know nothing else about them. They have no idea whether the person killed is really a militant: if they’re male and of a certain age they just call them one in order to whitewash their behavior and propagandize the citizenry (unless conclusive evidence somehow later emerges proving their innocence).

What kind of self-respecting media outlet would be party to this practice? Here’s the New York Times documenting that this is what the term “militant” means when used by government officials. Any media outlet that continues using it while knowing this is explicitly choosing to be an instrument for state propaganda — not that that’s anything new, but this makes this clearer than it’s ever been. More