COI #222: Cold War Served Hot, Hawks Cry For Russian Blood

COI #222: Cold War Served Hot, Hawks Cry For Russian Blood

On COI #222, Kyle Anzalone and Connor Freeman cover the hawks advocating the killing of Russians, the ongoing Cold War with China, and recent violence in Syria.

Connor reviews his latest column discussing the Washington imperial elite’s calls for Russian blood during the Ukraine crisis. The Biden administration, the CIA, Senators from both parties, and NATO officials have been promoting policies that will lead to war. Military aid to Kiev is skyrocketing. U.S. lawmakers seek to tie Biden’s hands and only continue increasing tensions with Moscow.

Kyle details military and political escalations with Beijing. In a move sure to anger the Chinese, Taipei’s Vice President is visiting the U.S. soon.  The Seventh Fleet is carrying out war drills with dual aircraft carrier strike groups in the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea. An F-35 recently crash-landed on the USS Carl Vinson’s deck during the provocative South China Sea exercise.  In response to a U.S. destroyer’s recent FONOP in the region, China’s military is demanding an end to these frequent hostile maneuvers.

Kyle updates the chaotic situation in Syria. An Islamic State attack on a prison in Kurdish territory reportedly holding ISIS suspects, including child detainees, has left scores dead and thousands displaced. The prison break in Hasakah began with two car bombs. Daesh prisoners overpowered prison guards, killing them and taking their weapons. Backing the Kurds, the U.S. has been committing airstrikes. On top of this, U.S. lawmakers are attempting to put a stop to Arab states’ efforts to normalize relations with Damascus.

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COI #221: Biden Must Make Concessions to Defuse the Ukraine Crisis

COI #221: Biden Must Make Concessions to Defuse the Ukraine Crisis

On COI #221, Kyle Anzalone discusses the Ukraine crisis. Biden has overextended American commitments and now must make concessions to defuse the crisis. Even if it leads to war, the Blob will demand that Biden hold firm against Putin. While the US continues to take aggressive positions against Russia, behind-the-scenes talks could be working towards a deal to prevent such a war. 

Kyle talks about the U.K. High Court’s ruling that Assange can appeal his extradition to the U.K. Supreme Court. The decision is key in the Wikileaks founder’s fight for freedom. However, Assange will remain entangled in the UK justice system for months. 

Kyle updates Saudi’s brutal war in Yemen. Following a Houthi drone strike on the UAE, the U.S./Saudi air war on the people of northern Yemen accelerated. After knocking out the internet, Riyadh dropped American-made bombs on a youth soccer game and a migrant detention center.

Kyle looks at the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban took control of the country in August, the U.S. levied a brutal economic war on the Afghans, sending millions to the brink of starvation. The U.S. is talking with the Taliban this week. The Taliban, as well as the UN, are pushing the U.S. to unfreeze Afghan government accounts. 

Kyle breaks down the career paths of former Trump defense officials. Many are joining smaller tech firms’ boards. The smaller firms give more control to the former officials to direct the companies.

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Cold War Served Hot

Cold War Served Hot

The hawks are openly discussing killing Russians again. The last time this happened Donald Trump was running for President against a largely despised, pantsuit sporting war criminal. Confronted with these two alternatives, assuming he was the lesser of two evils, the American people elected the wild card Trump. Although, by early 2018, the Donald was bombing Russian mercenaries in Syria and Americans hardly blinked an eye.

Almost four years later, the Biden administration, members of the Senate in both parties, the CIA, NATO’s Secretary General, at least two former NATO supreme allied commanders, and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense are now, in various ways, advocating that Washington begin killing Russians.

Senate Democrats—led by Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the jingoist chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—introduced a bill that contains measures which if implemented would virtually commence total economic war with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The bill would further impose sanctions to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and increase military aid to Ukraine by a whopping $500 million. The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act has already authorized $300 million in military aid to Kiev.

The Democrats’ military-industrial complex wish list includes “anti-armor weapon systems, mortars, crew-served weapons and ammunition, grenade launchers and ammunition, anti-tank weapons systems, anti-ship weapons systems, anti-aircraft weapons systems, and small arms and ammunition.”

The bill states that these policies can be triggered if President Joe Biden simply determines Moscow is “knowingly supporting” a “significant escalation” in “hostile action in or against Ukraine prior to December 1, 2021.”

Lacking evidence, the corporate press has already put out a story about the Russians planning a false flag to manufacture a justification to invade Ukraine, the claims have been repeated by the White House and the Pentagon. This is practically an invitation to anti-Russian forces and covert operators, including those backed by the U.S., to attack or start trouble that can be deemed “Russian aggression” and lead to war.

On Fox News, Republican Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) boasted about potential “military action” such as putting U.S. troops on the ground in Ukraine and always keeping “first use nuclear action” on the table. Additionally, he proposes having ships “stand off” in the Black Sea to “rain destruction on Russian military capability.”

With talks ongoing between the U.S. and Russia at the highest levels, there are reasons for both sides to deescalate and make concessions. There is reportedly an opportunity to restore the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, limit the scope of NATO as well as Russian military drills in Europe, limit the NATO troop presence on Russia’s borders, and prevent accidents occurring in the air and sea.

The Russians withdrew at least 10,000 troops away from the border with Ukraine. Moscow arrested and seized the assets of supposed members of a Russian ransomware group accused of being behind the Colonial pipeline hack. In a phone call with Putin, Biden quietly promised not to place offensive strike weapons in Ukraine. Biden also recently suggested that if Putin undertakes a small invasion, the U.S. might not react. The latter was framed, by the right, as the worst kind of weakness and appeasement.

Reflecting D.C. politics’ pro war bias, the White House immediately walked back the President’s statement. The Commander in Chief’s handlers clarified, “President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies.”

Alongside some fellow GOP senators from the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, Wicker recently insisted that it’s time, with enhanced U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine, to ensure “Vladimir Putin will get a bloody nose.

Multi-millionaire Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), was recently part of a delegation, including Wicker, visiting Kiev. Blumenthal pledged the U.S. would “impose crippling economic sanctions, but more importantly, we will give the people of Ukraine the arms, lethal arms they need to defend their lives and livelihoods.”

GOP war hawks in the Senate want to send more anti-tanks missiles to Kiev. As Fox News reported, the “United Kingdom delivered short-range anti-tank missiles to Ukraine Tuesday—a move GOP lawmakers applauded and called on the Biden administration to increasingly emulate.”

Since 2014, the U.S. has supplied the Ukrainians with over $2.5 billion in military aid. American Special Forces have been training Kiev’s forces in the country for several years now and there are U.S. National Guard troops in Ukraine as well.

Reportedly, at a secret base in the southern U.S., the CIA is training Ukrainian paramilitaries to “kill Russians” and—in the event of Putin’s allegedly imminent invasion—even launch an “insurgency.”

According to a de facto Langley press release in the form of a Yahoo News report, the spooks have not only been overseeing this training program under our noses but also deployed ground unit advisors to Ukraine.

Since the Obama administration’s final years, the CIA has sent paramilitary elements to the Donbas region’s front where Kiev has been at war with Russian-backed separatists. This U.S.-supported war against Ukraine’s restive eastern provinces has seen neo Nazi militias, as well as the Islamic State’s “brothers,” unleash brutal violence against Kiev’s enemies. The neo-Nazis have proven quite useful to American-backed government in Ukraine. They were instrumental during America’s 2014 street putsch coup in Kiev. Some Nazi groups have since been incorporated into their National Guard.

The American people should now realize the foreign policy establishment and the Biden administration are warning Moscow that if they go through with their supposed plans to invade Ukraine, which Russia has denied all along, the killing of Russian forces will begin. One former supreme allied commander of NATO could hardly contain his blood lust.

As reported in the New York Times,

“If Putin invades Ukraine with a major military force, U.S. and NATO military assistance—intelligence, cyber, anti-armor and anti-air weapons, offensive naval missiles—would ratchet up significantly,” said James Stavridis, a retired four-star Navy admiral who was the supreme allied commander at NATO. “And if it turned into a Ukrainian insurgency, Putin should realize that after fighting insurgencies ourselves for two decades, we know how to arm, train and energize them.”

He pointed to American support for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion there in the late 1970s and 1980s, before the rise of the Taliban. “The level of military support” for a Ukrainian insurgence, Admiral Stavridis said, “would make our efforts in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union look puny by comparison.”

Both Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have warned their Russian counterparts in recent telephone calls that any swift Russian victory in Ukraine would probably be followed by a bloody insurgency similar to the one that drove the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. In discussions with allies, senior Biden officials have also made clear that the C.I.A. (covertly) and the Pentagon (overtly) would both seek to help any Ukrainian insurgency.

For a point of reference, it is estimated that at a million people were killed during “Operation Cyclone,” the CIA’s dirty war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Keeping with the Cyclone theme, Wesley Clark, former General and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, recently signed a letter encouraging the U.S. to arm Kiev with stinger missiles.

Reportedly, the U.S. has just green lit the NATO Baltic states’ transfer of weapons to Ukraine, including stinger anti-aircraft missiles. While Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting Kiev, the U.S. announced another $200 million in military aid to Ukraine.

On the eve of the recent U.S.-Russia talks in Geneva, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia of “severe costs.” He told the Financial Times that if negotiations failed, NATO was prepared for “a new armed conflict in Europe.” Russia sent security proposals to Washington that precipitated bilateral talks with the U.S. and multilateral talks with NATO as well. The proposals include, perhaps most prominently, a demand that NATO officially rescind its promises of future alliance membership received by both Ukraine and Georgia at the 2008 Bucharest summit. Before the ink dries, brining either country into NATO would start a war that could end in planetary devastation and nuclear winter. NATO and the Americans flatly rejected the request.

Evelyn Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia in the Obama administration, said in an interview that this time “the gloves should come off.” She warns of a time when “must use our military to roll back Russians—even at risk of direct combat.”

Such spokespeople for the merchants of death always claim to hold the moral high ground. But when reporters at Newsweek asked Farkas about the Nazi problem in Kiev’s security forces her response was shocking. “They have right now existential issues to deal with, and the far-right groups are helping defend Ukraine,” she explained. “So at this moment in time, the Ukrainian government needs all the help it can get from its citizens, regardless of their ideology.”

Farkas ominously declares the U.S. ”must not only condemn Russia’s illegal occupations of Ukraine and Georgia, but we must demand a withdrawal from both countries by a certain date and organize coalition forces willing to take action to enforce it.”

With this kind of rhetoric, Farkas will surely be there on the front lines, sword in hand, with a Braveheart speech prepared to rally the “coalition forces.”

This unhinged agitation for war is very much in the spirit of ultra-hawk Dick Cheney who as Vice President, during the brief August 2008 war in Georgia, wished to drop bombs on Russians.

Then Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili indisputably provoked that conflict by attacking Russian peacekeepers protecting the autonomy of the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Russian forces were there because of a European Union brokered deal.

As Scott Horton, Director of the Libertarian Institute, has explained, Saakashvili was “incentivized” by “vague security assurances the Bush government had given his government that spring.”

Andrew Cockburn elaborates, “[Saakashvili’s] confidence may have been buoyed by back-channel assurances from minions of Vice-President Richard Cheney that the U.S. would in the end come to his aid.”

It was only a few months earlier that NATO promised Tbilisi and Kiev their future alliance membership.

The Americans also installed Saakashvili in power during the 2003 “Rose Revolution” and had provided Georgia with military aid for years.

Saakashvili was keenly aware of how U.S.-styled democracy works. As Cockburn has written,

To bolster his standing in the American capital, Saakashvili hired Randy Scheunemann, a Republican lobbyist and the executive director of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a neocon group formed in 2002 under the chairmanship of none other than Bruce Jackson, a senior Lockheed executive and president of the Committee to Expand NATO.

Scheunemann was a “close advisor” to the mega hawk Republican Senator John McCain who supported the Ukraine coup as well as inducting Tbilisi and Kiev into NATO. Then-presidential candidate McCain announced he told Saakashvili—after he had already started the war in 2008—“…today, we are all Georgians.”

The authors of the recently published, and previously mentioned, New York Times article describe this “conversation” as having “revived the specter of a new Cold War and suddenly made real the prospect of the beginnings of a so-called great power conflict.”

But after the Red flag came down, the American sore winners’ economic “shock therapy” devastated Russia, lowered the life expectancy of the population by double digits, allowed gangsters and oligarchs to loot entire industries and liquidate everything. As Horton has said, “…it was an economic war against Russia. Larry Summers and the Harvard Boys, what they did was as bad as dropping a couple of nukes on them.”

Despite repeated Western promises to the precise contrary, NATO’s eastward expansion has been ongoing since the 1990s and the anachronistic time bomb itself has nearly doubled in size. The U.S. has launched a plethora of color-coded revolutions in Russia’s near abroad including overthrowing the Kiev government twice in ten years, installing a Nazi infested regime on Russia’s very border, and keeping the door open to its full NATO membership. NATO has been constantly deploying warships and bombers to the Black Sea. The warships are often participating in massive military war games. The U.S. has ships in the Baltic Sea carrying medium range missiles. Of course, myriad sanctions have been levied against Moscow. Critical arms treaties such as Open Skies, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the INF Treaty have been unilaterally killed by successive GOP presidents. In Poland and Romania, the U.S. has so-called anti-ballistic missile sites with MK-41 launchers able to fit hydrogen bomb-tipped Tomahawks. The two previous presidents created a severe crisis by conducting massive expulsions of Russian diplomats and the neocons’ vast political and media influence has criminalized any notion of détente. The very concept may as well be treasonous.

Maybe what flies most flagrantly in the face of the claim that we are witnessing the “the beginnings of a so-called great power conflict” is the 2018 National Security Strategy which plainly states the War Department’s policy is “great power competition” or put differently, conflict, with Moscow and Beijing.

To illustrate, the U.S. just held massive military exercises with Japan and an American aircraft carrier strike group just drilled for war in the South China Sea. Last year, Biden sailed air craft carrier strike groups in the South China Sea ten times, nearly doubling Trump’s 2020 numbers. In 2021, American warplanes and spy planes flew more than 2,000 sorties around China, including 94 in November, more than doubling Trump’s deployments during the previous year. These flights take place in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Yellow Sea. U.S. warships sail through the Taiwan Strait nearly every month. And the U.S. continues to further nuclearize the so called the Indo Pacific region.

As CNN just reported,

One of the most powerful weapons in the US Navy’s arsenal made a rare port call in Guam…

The USS Nevada, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine carrying 20 Trident ballistic missiles and dozens of nuclear warheads, pulled into the Navy base in the U.S. Pacific Island territory on Saturday. It’s the first visit of a ballistic missile submarine—sometimes called a “boomer”—to Guam since 2016 and only the second announced visit since the 1980s.

Since the end of the previous Cold War, Washington has rigidly adhered to a neoconservative ideology bent on world domination and endless wars. To this end, the U.S. maintains more than 800 military bases globally and has been morally and financially bankrupted. Across multiple continents, this century’s American mass murder campaigns have killed and displaced millions of people. In Iraq alone, more than a million people were killed. Yet the U.S. public has not held the ruling class war criminals to account, there has never been a reckoning.

Months after the withdrawal, Afghanistan’s children are deliberately being starved. Biden’s current policy, freezing billions of dollars in the Afghan government’s assets and maintaining sanctions on the Taliban, amounts to a macabre economic war. As with the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran, humanitarian exemptions mean nothing since few if any international banks, businesses, medical companies, or aid groups will risk the U.S. Treasury Department’s wrath. This lays bare 20 years of cynical humanitarian interventionist propaganda supporting a multi trillion dollar war which killed an estimated 241,000 people. Those same women and girls we used to hear so much about are being starved to death at the hands of the sore loser American hegemon.

In December, Dave DeCamp, news editor at Antiwar.com, reported,

In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal, Afghanistan is facing a dire humanitarian crisis, which is being exacerbated by U.S. economic pressure. Citing the UN’s World Food Program, The New York Times reported that about 22.8 million Afghans—more than half of the country’s population—are expected to face life-threatening hunger this winter, and 8.7 million Afghans are “nearing famine.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. wants to benefit the Afghan people without benefiting the Taliban. But whether the U.S. likes it or not, the Taliban is now the government of Afghanistan. And history shows that U.S. sanctions and economic pressure do little to change the targeted government and always hurt the civilian population.

Taliban leaders are still under U.S. and UN sanctions, which discourage international businesses and banks from doing business with the new Afghan government, something Psaki explained.

The U.S. military still occupies nearly a third of Syria. The CIA’s six-year dirty war—this time backing the al Qaeda led “insurgency”killed roughly half a million people. One of the more infamous byproducts of this policy was the Islamic State caliphate. The Pentagon controls Syria’s oil fields, Israel bombs the country nearly every week, and more than 60% of the population is close to starvation. About 80% of the country lives in poverty. Rebuilding the country will cost an estimated $250-400 billion. Blinken, America’s top diplomat, has asserted that the U.S. is absolutely committed “to oppose the reconstruction of Syria.” The American people have repeatedly expressed an opposition to this war, yet they remain criminally indifferent enough to permit its indefinite duration.

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, continues to be terror bombed and blockaded in a genocidal war ceaselessly waged by the American Empire and its Gulf dictatorship satellites. The U.N. conservatively estimates 377,000 people, mostly children, have been killed in this almost seven-year war. Trump vetoed war powers resolutions to end the war, Biden said he would stop it and has not. Less than a year into Biden’s term, investigative reporter Alan Macleod after studying the Pentagon’s sales records wrote “the Biden administration has already approved 20 separate weapons contracts, worth just shy of $1.2 billion, to Saudi Arabia alone.”

By the Deep State’s self-fulfilling prophecy, Russia and China must remain our perpetual enemies. Designedly, the American people have readily accepted this premise. Our fellow citizens seem to either despise China or Russia. While you are free to take your pick, the most obedient citizens are hawkish on both the Russians and the Chinese.

Those covered in Yemeni, Syrian, Afghani, Iraqi, Somali, and Libyan blood are merely feigning concern for the democracy, human rights and sovereignty of Ukrainians and the Taiwanese. It helps them sell weapons, increase the Pentagon budget, and boost their own power. If the military, Washington, NATO, and the DC foreign policy Blob cared at all about national sovereignty and human rights, our troops would no longer occupy Iraq in defiance of the parliament’s two year old unanimous demands for a complete withdrawal. If those crocodile tears over the unproven claims of a Uighur “genocide” in Xingang province were rooted in any concern for the plight of Muslims, the globally notorious Israeli apartheid regime would not be America’s top military aid recipient. Those are American weapons and warplanes being used to bomb Palestinian civilians confined in the Gaza concentration camp.

With the American public evidently bored with brutalizing Muslim countries, though unfortunately not bored enough to stop, we seamlessly move on to the next enemies, the next build ups, the next wars. Trillions of dollars are continually diverted from peaceful and productive use and poured into what former CIA analyst Ray McGovern refers to as MICIMATT (the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex). This money funds the consensus that Washington’s sphere of influence extends the world over. Moscow and Beijing’s red lines be damned. It is common now to hear discussion of an impending war with China over Taiwan. Likewise, agreeing not to bring Kiev into NATO is viewed as “appeasement.”

On Memorial Day 2021, the U.S. flew nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over all 30 NATO member states. This past Thanksgiving, the U.S. sailed a guided missile destroyer into the Black Sea. Just months into Biden’s presidency, throughout Eastern Europe including on Russia’s borders, the “dangerous dinosaur,” NATO held the largest military exercises since the previous Cold War era.

Americans will have to soon give up their favorite drugs of apathy, partisanship, and blissful ignorance. The fights and wars our ruling elite are now picking threaten to kill us too. Last November, the U.S. brazenly simulated a nuclear attack on Russia, flying strategic bombers less than 13 miles off its borders. Voting will not suffice, we must recognize this global hostage situation for what it is, and make difficult decisions about how to finally end the American Empire.

News Roundup 1/24/2022

News Roundup 1/24/2022

Covid

  • A federal judge in Texas blocks Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employees. [Link]
  • The US donates three million covid vaccines to four African countries through covax. [Link]
  • The US donates nearly two million Pfizer covid vaccine doses to Egypt through Covax. [Link]

Haiti

  • The judge overseeing the investigation into the assassination of President Moise quits. [Link]

Russia

  • The Biden administration notified Congress of its plan to transfer Mi-17 helicopters to Ukraine. [Link]
  • The US delivers 90 tonnes of weapons – from a December aid package – to Ukraine. [Link]
  • The Baltic States’ arms transfers to Ukraine include Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. [Link]
  • Fewer than one in six Americans support sending US troops to Ukraine to prevent a Russian invasion. [Link]
  • The US will allow non-essential staff at the embassy in Ukraine to leave the country. The US ordered the family of staff to leave the country. [Link]
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Vienna. The US agreed to give Russia a written response to its security proposal. The two diplomats will meet again next week. [Link]
  • Blinken asked Russia to release two US citizens who were convicted of crimes in Russia and serving prison sentences. [Link]
  • Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia will send political advisers to Paris for talks this week. [Link]
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declined an invitation to speak with Biden about the Ukraine crisis. [Link]
  • The UK says Russia is planning to install a new government in Ukraine. [Link]
  • Blinken rejects calls to sanction Russia now. He explained that sanctions cannot work as a deterrent if they are already in place. [Link]
  • Biden is considering applying the ‘foreign direct product rule’ – cutting off semiconductors and related technology – to Russia in response to an invasion of Ukraine. [Link]
  • Biden is considering plans to deploy between 1,000 and 5,000 troops to Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. [Link]
  • Blinken says there are a number of areas for the US and Russia to work together. [Link]

China

  • Taiwan reports 39 Chinese military aircraft entered its Air Defense Identification Zone. [Link]

Afghanistan 

  • The Taliban will meet with officials from Western governments in Norway. [Link]
  • ISIS-K claims it is behind a bombing in Afghanistan that killed at least six. [Link]

Iran

  • Shipments of thinning agents from Iran have allowed Venezuela to double its oil exports over the past year. [Link]
  • US and European officials warn time is running out in Iran nuclear talks. [Link]
  • Iran and Russia are in talks to upgrade Iran’s nuclear power plant. [Link]
  • The US Envoy to Iran Robert Malley says it is unlikely the US will return to the nuclear deal if Iran continues to hold four American prisoners. [Link]

Yemen

  • Saudi Arabia bombed a Houthi-run prison in Yemen, killing at least 80 people. [Link]
  • Shards from an American-made bomb were found at the prison. [Link]
  • The US claims it intercepted a ship transporting Urea-based fertilizer in the Gulf of Oman. The US alleges it was headed to the Houthi in Yemen. [Link]

Middle East

  • Israel’s cabinet voted to launch an investigation into the “submarine affair” that could implicate former prime minister Netanyahu. [Link]
  • The UAE bans civilians from using drones. [Link]
  • The UAE says it intercepted two ballistic missiles. [Link]
  • Eleven Iraqi soldiers were killed in an IS attack. [Link]
  • Nearly 200 people have been killed in three days of fighting between the US-backed SDF and IS for control over a prison in Syria. [Link]

Africa

  • A top Ethiopian military official says his army will attempt to eliminate the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. [Link]
  • Aid groups warn the people of Mali will pay the price for the sanctions recently imposed on the country. [Link]
  • A French soldier was killed in Mali. [Link]
  • Reports from Burkina Faso say several soldiers have mutinied against the government and a possible coup is underway. [Link]
Prohibition Yesterday and Today, Same as Ever

Prohibition Yesterday and Today, Same as Ever

It was 103 years ago, to the week, that the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified which made the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors a criminal offense. One year later its companion statute to enact and enforce the amendment, Volstead Act, went into effect.

Ask any American why only 12 years later the Twenty-first Amendment was passed, making it the sole example in the history of our constitutional republic where an amendment was ratified for the sole purpose of un-amending the Constitution. They will all give you a fairly similar and fairly accurate litany of reasons: you can’t legislate morality, you can’t escape the natural law of supply meeting demand, what you can’t buy honestly you will procure illicitly, it didn’t greatly reduce alcohol consumption but did increase public corruption and violent crime, people were regularly poisoned by the adulterants criminals added to moonshine or by denatured alcohol, disrespect for bad laws fosters disrespect for good laws, etc.

Despite this fairly universal comprehension of the failures of prohibition (which if you stop and think about it have everything to do with human nature and market forces) you will find a sizeable minority of people across the country who will insist our current drug prohibition is somehow different despite the fact you can find superfluous examples of the very same ills that brought prohibition to an end.

For brevity’s sake I will admit to my own bias here. These sorts of utilitarian arguments are, at best, superfluous.

All it takes to understand the follies of drug prohibition is a knowledge of the principles of libertarian ethics; individual liberty, self-ownership, and the non-aggression principle.

Since actions are the result of conscious choices, individuals have ownership rights in their person and they—and they alone—have the sole liberty to decide how to use their body. Applied practically, self-ownership manifests itself in the non-aggression principle (NAP) and the free market; that no individual, or group of individuals, may forcibly restrict liberty unless they themselves violate the NAP by aggressing against others (like theft, rape, murder, fraud, pollution). The NAP is universal, treats everyone as equals before the law, and does not excuse this rule even if you call yourself the IRS, the U.S. Marines, or a corporation.

A simple application of this philosophy says that drugs should be decriminalized not due to the horrendous legacies of drug prohibition, but because you own your body and have the right to put whatever you want into it. Not that you should consume hard drugs (or smoke, consume alcohol, drink soda, and eat fatty foods), but no one may legally deny you that right. Without choice, there can be no virtue. To tell someone what they can or can’t consume is like telling them what they can or can’t read.

Unfortunately, a priori reasoning is not as persuasive to others as it necessarily is for libertarians. Fortunately both the historical truth of alcohol prohibition and the current drug war support the wisdom of the libertarian position.

I doubt anyone can sincerely believe the unintended negative externalities of alcohol prohibition don’t apply to today’s drug war. But sincere or not, that doubt is still sometimes claimed.

To comprehend the enormity of the drug policy failure let’s look at a few statistics of self-evident importance:

  • The “War on Drugs” has cost American taxpayers $2.5 trillion
  • The annual costs alone is, at minimum $47+ billion
  • In 2018 arrests for violation of federal drug laws was 1,654,282
  • Of these arrests 1,429,299 were merely for possession (accounting for 86% of all drug law arrests)
  • In 2018 arrests for marijuana were 663,367 (that’s 40% of all arrests)
  • Of these 608,775 were solely for possession of marijuana (that’s 92% of all marijuana arrests)

Bear in mind that in 2018 nine states and the District of Colombia had made recreational marijuana legal, a further thirteen had decriminalized marijuana possession, and there were only four states that did not have laws allowing for medical marijuana.

The Failure of Prohibition

Prohibition, of course, did not stop drinking in the United States. Although per capita alcohol consumption did drop sharply during the early years of Prohibition, by the latter half of the 1920s tt had rebounded to 60-70% of its pre‐Prohibition level and remained steady before and after repeal. Certainly crime did not decrease. According to one study, crime in 30 major cities increased 24% between 1920 and 1921. In Philadelphia alone, drunkenness‐related arrests nearly tripled from 20,443 in 1920 to 58,517 in 1925. The national homicide rate climbed from about 7 per 100,000 people in 1919 to nearly 10 per 100,000 by 1933, and then it dropped sharply after repeal.

Domestic moonshine and industrial alcohol provided the majority of the alcohol consumed during Prohibition. Moonshiners would distill neutral grain spirits in hidden stills and then attempt to mimic the color and flavor of whiskey or gin with additives called congeners. Industrial alcohol, denatured by government order to make it undrinkable, was typically repassed through a still to remove the poisons, but not always successfully. Thus, between 1925 and 1929, 40 out of every 1 million Americans died from toxic liquor.

That these statistics are so readily available and many people remain baffled by the rise in fentanyl-related heroin overdoses is mind boggling.

Prohibition also failed on its own terms. Instead of putting a stop to problem drinking, it criminalized it, making it more dangerous in the process. Prohibition created a violent black market for alcohol that helped empower and enrich violent criminals. Problem drinkers continued to imbibe. Many drinkers switched from relatively low-proof beer to much higher-proof alcohol, which was easier to transport.

In early 1930, The Outlook and Independent magazine wrote:

The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company has published the fact that the alcoholic death rate among their nineteen million policy holders has increased nearly six hundred percent in the last ten years—double what it was in 1918, and approximately the same as in the years preceding. This removes the last doubt from the mind of any reasonable person that the time has come to move for the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.

During Prohibition, the death rate from acute alcohol poisoning (due to overdose) was more than 30 times higher than today.

Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal justice reform is a subject everyone left, right, and center claims it believes in. Research shows what would easily be the most beneficial single act of criminal justice reform: end the War on Drugs.

Our government has spent trillions of dollars trying to stop drug use. It hasn’t worked. More people now use more drugs than before the “war” began. What drug prohibition did is exactly what alcohol prohibition did a hundred years ago: increase conflict between police and citizens. “It pitted police against the communities that they serve,” says neuroscientist Carl Hart, former chair of Columbia University’s Psychology department, who grew up in a tough Miami neighborhood where he watched crack cocaine wreck lives. When he started researching drugs, he assumed that research would confirm the damage drugs did.

But “one problem kept cropping up,” he writes in his book Drug Use For Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, “the evidence did not support the hypothesis. No one else’s evidence did either.” After 20 years of research, he concluded, “I was wrong.” Now, he says, our drug laws do more harm than drugs. Because drug sales are illegal, profits from selling drugs are huge. Since sellers can’t rely on law enforcement to protect their property, they buy guns and form gangs. Cigarettes harm people, too, but there are no violent cigarette gangs—no cigarette shootings—even though nicotine is more addictive than heroin, says our government. That’s because tobacco is legal. Likewise, there are no longer violent liquor gangs. They vanished when prohibition ended.

Fortunately, there are some real-world alternatives to the dominant approach of criminalization and harsh enforcement in the United States. In 1999 Portugal had the highest rate of drug-related AIDS and the second highest rate of HIV in the European Union. In response it decided in 2001 to decriminalize drug use and the results have been dramatic. The number of people voluntarily entering treatment programs rose dramatically, while the number of HIV infections, drug overdoses, incarceration rates and AIDS have plummeted.

The Portuguese model, while falling short of full legalization for adults, does provide some empirical data to support a policy which treats drug use as a public health problem rather than a crime problem. Its approach is to offer treatment, rather than incarceration, and makes sterile syringes readily available. Possession for small amounts for personal use are non-prosecutable but trafficking in large quantities which cause death or serious bodily harm carry prison sentences.

To give some examples of how the Portuguese model has fared vs. the American one, consider the following statistics:

  • Overdose deaths in Portugal declined by over 80 percent after decriminalization
  • Incarceration rates for drug offenses in Portugal fell by over 40% between 1999 and 2016
  • In 2015 in Portugal there were only three overdose deaths per 100,000
  • In 2017 in the United States there were 21.7 deaths per 100,000 (totalling 72,000 people), an overdorse rate of more than six times that of Portugal

For today’s policymakers and policy influencers, Prohibition remains a cautionary tale about government overreach. It was a dysfunctional and badly run system predicated on ugly, populist notions and deluded ideas about the power of government to solve social problems. Not only did it fail to accomplish its goals, it created a host of unintended consequences that were worse than the problems it was supposed to solve.

The straightforward lessons of Prohibition are obviously applicable to any number of public policy issues making headlines today, from the opioid crisis to marijuana legalization to immigration, and our elected leaders would be wise to heed them.

So yes, the anniversary of Prohibition is a warning of all the ways that government policies can go wrong, and the lasting damage the worst of those policies can do. But its eventual reversal and tainted legacy also offer reasons for hope. Prohibition’s end is a reminder that the very worst policies, no matter their scale, aren’t locked in place, and we aren’t stuck with them forever.

The War Over Your Mind

The War Over Your Mind

Attention is the new currency.

This isn’t an original thought. For decades there has been competition for your mind and attention on a multitude of fronts. With the popularity of social media and the twenty-four-hour news cycle the efforts have only accelerated.

The speed at which information travels today is exhausting. Information overload is a real thing, and everyone is feeling it.

The other day, a young man approached me and said, “Man, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I used to have so much energy, but ever since COVID I feel so tired all the time.”

At twenty-five years old, he should be hitting his prime, but instead he’s burdened by the weight of the ever-changing narratives, lies, and gaslighting coming at him from every direction.

Even as I sit here, I know the message I wish to convey, but my mind is a jumbled mess of information that is peripherally relevant to the burdens of the modern age.

How does one discern what to pay attention to and what to ignore?

Censorship

Over the last few years (after Trump’s surprising victory) the decision as to what information and news the masses ingest is being monitored by the elites and corporate press. The rise of alternative media, especially large podcasts, has fueled their panic, and pushed their attempts to control the narrative into overdrive.

The big tech companies took it upon themselves to determine what was allowable discourse. They ran mass censorship campaigns against anyone that said anything that challenged the power and prestige of the elites. What was once common speech among friends and colleagues is now hate speech. Comedians, politicians, and independent media personalities were depersoned and ostracized from the public square, social media platforms.

“It’s a private company, bro,” became the battle cry of the blue-check class and their useful idiots. But none dare take on the actuality that these “private companies” are funded and utilized by governments and intelligence communities around the world to track and trace dissidents.

This dystopianism didn’t stop with Julian Assange, Alex Jones, and Donald Trump. As more people have come to depend on Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter for news and information we’ve seen respected doctors and researchers deplatformed and search results throttled to curb “dangerous” voices and “disinformation” that challenges the approved directives of the elites. Even the Financial Times is publishing stories promoting psyops as crucial in the fight against disinformation. After Joe Biden asked publicly for tech companies to censor opposing voices DirecTV quickly announced they were dropping OAN, a right-wing populist news agency, from their list of networks.

In their attempts to control the information the elites are creating more division among the citizens. Soon there will be parallel societies in operation in these United States.

Alongside Right

In J. Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night an underground economy has been created by Agorists. The competing gray-market thrives while central planners destroy the nation’s economy. As the financial system crumbles the state attempts to crush the Agorists, but they’ve so effectively created a parallel marketplace that the state is helpless to stop the tidal wave. The state fails under the weight of its policies and the competing underground market.

In the late 80’s when Schulman wrote the novel revolutionary economic success was pie-in-the-sky, but today it is more attainable than ever. Crypto currencies and blockchain technology are becoming more popular; under COVID lockdowns small businesses were deemed nonessential while multinational corporations raked in more profit than ever, the Federal Reserve printed off trillions of dollars the political elites happily distributed to their cronies while throwing crumbs to the citizens they determined to be unnecessary, the supply chains were destroyed leaving shelves empty in cities across the nation; and the SEC quietly created an ESG taskforce to police the investments of Americans while the large corporations ushered in their own egalitarian standards that will surely devastate large swathes of the country.

Throughout the devastation of the COVID tyranny small business owners and workers that could not afford to sit around and wait for permission from the political class thumbed their nose at the lockdowns. There were surges of news stories about churches opening despite orders to close, the return of speakeasies, hairdressers arrested for daring to cut hair, and millions of people exchanging goods and services in an underground economy forced upon them.

All the while we were meant to believe that the virus made it too deadly for you to live your life while the rich got richer by the day, and if you questioned the motives of the COVID regime you were labeled a dangerous, science denying, right-wing conspiracy theorist that must be silenced.

This demonization of people, some very liberal, as right-wing, labeling half of the country as backwards hicks, and the unwillingness to allow people to choose their own risks created the environment for conservatives to become ever more rebellious to the regime. COVID transformed from a potentially deadly virus that people should be aware of to a political battle. One was either on the left, embracing the dictates of the political class and enrichment of their corporate masters, or they were on the right, battling the tyranny and carving out their own economic paths.

Gaslighting  

From day one the messaging around COVID was an obvious sham. There was little doubt that the entire goal was to instill fear into the public, exacerbate the virus into becoming the largest crisis known to man, and usher in a corporate-centric governance of equity among the citizens while the establishment remained on high collecting more wealth, power, and influence at your expense.

Unfortunately, the gaslighting didn’t start with COVID.

It would be impossible to trace back all of the propaganda of the U.S. government and how it has been utilized to rob people of their liberties, so I’m going to focus on the era at hand.

The modern era of gaslighting the public, and the way we see this psychological tactic used today was a response to Donald Trump’s presidency.

For years we listened to Democrats and media personalities decry Trump as a traitorous Russian puppet. When no charges were filed the pundits were in tears because the incompetent boob that couldn’t read presidential briefings had outsmarted the FBI. And though we’ve found out that the entire Russia investigation around Trump was a plot cooked up by the DNC and FBI there are those that still claim the most incompetent president ever is a brilliant criminal mastermind. (But you’re the crazy one.)

When Trump asked Ukraine to investigate the ties of Biden and Burisma due to a recording of Biden admitting to bribing Ukraine to fire the official investigating Burisma Trump was impeached for bribing Ukraine to investigate bribery… (But you’re the crazy one.)

When Time published an article admitting to the rigging of the 2020 election for Biden you were a crazy conspiracy theorist for referencing the article.

When you said they were not going to stop lockdowns after 15 days, you were crazy.

When lockdowns went on for a year and you pointed out that you had said that was going to happen, you were crazy.

When you said masks don’t work, you were crazy, and now that they admit masks don’t work, you’re still crazy.

When you asked about Moderna and the NIH sharing ownership of the MRNA vaccine patent, you’re crazy.

When you said COVID wasn’t deadly for children, you were crazy.

When you read data, you’re crazy.

When you point out the redistribution of wealth from the productive class to the parasitic class, you’re crazy.

When you say they are counting “with” COVID as “because” of COVID, you are crazy.

When BLM protested the virus couldn’t spread, but when conservatives rally or protest it is a super spreader event.

Natural immunity is no longer a thing and locking yourself in a dark room with bonbons is much healthier than going outside and exercising.

Everything you thought you knew is wrong, and the new science of totalitarianism is the truth.

Etc…I could go on all day.

The point is, the facts are not the facts until those with the monopoly on facts tell you that the facts are in fact the facts, and if you dare read, think, question, or disobey you are a dangerous biological weapon wanting to kill grandma.

You Are Not Alone

The effects of COVID, political oppression, and the corporate press’ agenda are evident in the eyes of everyone I encounter. The average person that does not regularly engage in political discourse or question authority has been completely demoralized and feels like they have nowhere to turn. They feel alone. They feel silenced. They feel insane.

If you’ve read this far, I suspect you, like me, are looking for people that are witnessing and feeling the pressure of the regime and are ready to push back against the narrative.

The fact is you are not alone. Millions of people around the world feel just as you do.

So, how can you fight back?

It would be easy to write a rant that left you seething and not offer any solutions, but I refuse to do that. Before we get to the solution, we must identify the problem.

America was founded on the idea of self-governance. As imperfect as the founding of the country was it was the founding of an idea to move forward and progress into more freedom and liberty for its citizens. God, family, and country were the hallmarks, and order of importance for which we were to live our lives and build the nation.

Over the last century the myth (by myth I mean the origin story not the derogatory perversion of the term) of God has been corrupted and dismantled, the family has been destroyed, and the idea of country has come to mean that your well-being is given its value and purpose by those elected to represent you.

The political class of parasites that feed on your labor and successes have spent the last few generations selling out the future for their own gains and comforts. Your children and grandchildren are expected to be sacrificed on the altar of their desires.

Parents are no longer expected to sacrifice themselves for the well-being of the children’s future, rather, children are to be tortured and psychologically abused by society so that the boomer generation may have everlasting life.

The destruction of trust in the political system and the corporate press has trickled down and eroded trust among Americans. Even those that should be allies are suspect of each other.

There is no more community structure in which citizens feel like they belong. The illusion of power and respectability of government is the only thread holding any of this together; the same government selling out the future to corporate interests.

If we are to retain any semblance of civility and liberty it is up to us to begin to repair the fractures that have torn families, communities, and allies apart. We must begin to interact and engage in our local communities, boycott corporations like Amazon, Walmart, Costco, and the U.S. government. Involve yourself in local elections, buy from your local markets, seek out small, specialized companies, and reject the lazy one stop shopping with the goal of strengthening the bonds of your community.

As long as we allow ourselves to be secluded and divided for convenience the power reserved for the people will continue to be consolidated. You are not alone, but if you don’t work to build and strengthen the bonds with those that share your values, ideas, and desire for liberty you may as well be.

News Roundup 1/24/2022

News Roundup 1/18/2022

Ukraine

  • A bipartisan group of seven Senators traveled to Ukraine. They met with President Zelenskyy and restated America’s support for Ukraine. [Link]
  • The UK will give Ukraine anti-tank weapons and deploy troops for training on the weapons. [Link]
  • Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko returned to Ukraine to face treason charges. [Link]
  • Germany calls for four-party talks – Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia – to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. [Link]

Russia

  • Russian forces are arriving in Belarus for war games. [Link]

Korea

  • North Korea says it test-fired tactical guided missiles. [Link]

Israel

  • The US denies brokering an energy deal between Israel and Lebanon. [Link]
  • A Palestinian family was forcefully evicted from their home in Sheikh Jarrah. [Link]
  • A 75-year-old Palestinian activist who was hit by a tow truck, contracted by the Israeli police, dies from his injuries. [Link]

Yemen

  • A UAE oil facility was damaged by a drone attack, killing three. The Houthi claim responsibility for the attack. [Link]
  • Saudi bombs Yemen’s capital after the drone attack on the UAE, killing at least six. [Link]
  • The UAE is calling on the US to label the Houthis as a terror group. [Link]

Middle East

  • Iran says nuclear talks are being stalled by the US. [Link]
  • The Wall Street Journal reports Iran is seeking a legal promise from the US not to exit the nuclear deal once an agreement is made. [Link]
  • Two members of Iraq’s parliament had their offices targeted with explosives. [Link]

Africa

  • Libya’s eastern parliament calls the internationally recognized government illegitimate. Presidential elections scheduled for December were canceled. [Link]
  • The UN is pushing for Libya to hold elections in June. [Link]
  • Biden names Lucy Tamlyn to head the US Embassy in Sudan. [Link]
  • Medics say seven protesters were killed by security forces in Sudan. [Link]
Price Inflation Hits 40 Year High; What Comes Next?

Price Inflation Hits 40 Year High; What Comes Next?

According to new data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, price inflation in December rose again to a new multidecade high, rising to the highest level recorded in nearly forty years. According to the Consumer Price Index for December, year-over-year price inflation rose to 7.1 percent. It hasn’t been that high since June 1982, when the growth rate was at 7.2 percent.

December’s increase was up from November’s year-over-year increase of 6.9 percent. And it was well up from December 2020’s year-over-year increase of 1.3 percent.

cpi

This surge in price inflation is likely to further increase political pressure on the Federal Reserve and Chair Jerome Powell to “do something” about price inflation. After months of insisting that price inflation is “transitory” and not a cause for concern, it became clear by October 2021 that price inflation was surging to some of the worst levels experienced in several decades.

Since then, the Fed has completely changed its tune, and Powell this week called inflation a “severe threat” and reiterated that the Fed plans to raise the target federal funds rate:

As we move through this year…if things develop as expected, we’ll be normalizing policy, meaning we’re going to end our asset purchases in March, meaning we’ll be raising rates over the course of the year.

Note the conditional “if things develop as expected.” Naturally, the Fed’s planned tightening will depend heavily on whether or not the Fed’s economic indicators show ongoing economic improvement and a bullish stock market.

For many Americans, though, the news is already bad, and inflation is taking a bite out of workers’ purchasing power. December’s numbers on average hourly earnings show that inflation is continuing to erase the gains made in workers’ earnings. During December 2021, average hourly earnings increased 4.7 percent year over year. But with inflation at 7.1 percent, earnings clearly aren’t keeping up:

cpi
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (table B-3, “Average Hourly and Weekly Earnings of All Employees on Private Nonfarm Payrolls by Industry Sector, Seasonally Adjusted“; last modified Sept. 15, 2015); Consumer Price Index.

Looking at this gap, we find that real earnings growth has been negative for the past eight months, coming in at—2.3 percent year-over-year growth for December 2021.

cpi
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (table B-3, “Average Hourly and Weekly Earnings of All Employees on Private Nonfarm Payrolls by Industry Sector, Seasonally Adjusted“; last modified Sept. 15, 2015); Consumer Price Index.

Combined with December’s unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, November’s inflation growth puts the U.S. misery index at 11. Those are “recession-like levels” and similar to the misery index levels experienced when the unemployment rate surged in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

misery

In addition to Consumer Price Index inflation, asset-price inflation will likely continue to be troublesome for consumers as well. For example, according to the Federal Housing and Finance Agency, home price growth has surged in recent months, with year-over-year growth now coming in at 16.4 percent.

Apparently, though, the earnings data isn’t capturing the reality of how great the economy really is. As Newsweek noted last week, much of the American public is unhappy with today’s economy in which earnings are falling behind thanks to inflation. But this doesn’t bother economists like Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution, who points to the stock market as evidence that the public’s “perceptions may not mirror reality.” More explicit was Paul Krugman, who declares: “[T]his is actually a very good economy, albeit with some problems.” Mark Zandy at Moody’s analytics insists “the economy is booming. It’s busting out all over.”

Many voters—who perhaps aren’t quite as prosperous and distant from the troubles of daily life as highly paid economists—disagree with these rosy assessments. And that will continue to result in additional pressure to both the administration and the Fed.

But we’ll find out very soon if the Fed agrees with the idea that the economy is “busting out all over.” Although Powell has stated that he believes the economy no longer needs emergency stimulus, that doesn’t mean the economy can tolerate anything more than a tiny amount of trimming to the Fed’s asset purchases, low interest rates, and other manifestations of quantitative easing. The fact is that in our bubble economy, the boom can only continue so long as infusions of newly created credit continue. The Fed likely won’t have to reverse course on quantitative easing for very long before the lack of ongoing stimulus puts the U.S. on a path to recession. And this likely ends up being the choice the Fed faces: Will it choose to keep the boom going by avoiding a real scaling back of stimulus? Or will it truly try to tackle inflation and set off a recession as a result?

Given that it’s an election year, it’s hard to see the Fed doing anything that might even risk a recession, but if Consumer Price Index inflation continues to climb, the Fed might be forced to do so.

How to Eliminate the Threat of Nuclear War: A Strategy of Non-Intervention

How to Eliminate the Threat of Nuclear War: A Strategy of Non-Intervention

Around this time last year, nuclear weapons became illegal. Well, sort of.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, an international agreement adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017 after a majority of countries voted in its favor, entered into force on January 22, 2021 as Honduras became the 50th country to ratify the treaty. Overnight, the testing, development, production, possession and transfer of nuclear weapons was banned.

But here comes the rub. The treaty is only binding on those nations that joined. Unsurprisingly, the countries that actually possess or host nuclear weapons, as well as all NATO members, have boycotted the initiative, thereby rendering it powerless. The treaty is thus a bleak reminder of the Realpolitik considerations that inhibit powerful nuclear nations from relinquishing their weapons of mass destruction.

Yet, we must also not forget that ever since the height of the Cold War, both the number of and threat from nuclear weapons have been successfully reduced. However, big steps forward have come only when the West recognized its rivals as equals. Most importantly, this was the case in the period roughly between the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the end of the 20th century, when the realization of mutual assured destruction resulted in the adoption of a number of arms control treaties that slowed down the arms race and, in time, reduced the global nuclear stockpile.

Before and after this era, however, the United States and its allies were undeterred from projecting dominance and pursuing a more aggressive foreign policy, even if that dominance was based on dangerous illusions. At the same time, both in the early days of the Cold War and today, the blame for the nuclear threat is placed largely on others, be they the former Soviet Union or the 21st-century “Axis of Evil.” Because the rest of the world sees through this hypocrisy, most non-proliferation efforts spearheaded by Western countries are counterproductive. Instead, they actually incentivize nations at odds with the West to invest into nuclear weapons as a defense mechanism.

Eliminating the threat of nuclear war can therefore only be achieved if the West starts to lead by example and adopts a policy of non-interventionism. A brief revisionist history illustrates this argument.

As is well known, the first atom bomb was developed by the United States during the Second World War in the context of an arms race between Nazi Germany and the Allies. Less known, however, is that the mere idea of “strategic’ bombing,” which targets an enemy’s civilian rather than military population and infrastructure, in and of itself is a product of twentieth-century total war. Militaries started to experiment with strategic bombing during the First World War and the Spanish Civil War, but the casualties remained relatively limited. Demoralizing the enemy through massive terror bombing became only normalized on a massive scale during the Second World War. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of civilians perished in the Axis and Allied bombing of urban centers in the course of that cataclysmic event.

The tragic peak, of course, was the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Together with conventional firebombing in the months leading up to the nuclear assault, dozens of Japanese cities were razed to the ground and at least half a million Japanese civilians were killed. In the decades after the war, the horrific atomic bombings were justified on the basis that they had saved the lives of an equal number of American soldiers from the counterfactual scenario of a U.S. invasion of Japan.

In recent years, however, this myth has been blown out of the water. Samuel Walker, historian at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has written that “the hoary claim that the bomb prevented one-half million American combat deaths is unsupportable.” Rather, he pointed out in a 1990 review article that “the consensus among scholars is that the bomb was not needed to avoid an [American] invasion of Japan and to end the war in a relative short time.” Since then, historians on both sides of the Pacific have argued that the Soviet entry into the war, which occurred in between the two atom bombs, had more to do with Japan’s surrender; and that geopolitical considerations about the post-war settlement were more decisive than military strategy in Harry Truman’s decision to pull the nuclear trigger.

In short, from the very beginning the atom bomb served much broader political purposes beyond military deterrence. For the West Europeans, in particular, the American atomic umbrella gave a sense of security and an easy excuse not to invest too much in their own defense. Behind the scenes, West European officials were adamant supporters of the so-called “first use” doctrine, which granted NATO the right to start a nuclear war in the face of a conventional—i.e., non-nuclear—threat. The Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations in turn interpreted that policy quite liberally and contemplated a nuclear first strike on multiple occasions, including during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the Berlin crises of both 1948 and 1961.

Sooner or later, however, the period of American nuclear dominance was bound to come to an end. But long before it did, phony fears about Soviet superiority stoked the arms race further. On the basis of an alleged imminent “missile gap” in intercontinental ballistic missiles, John F. Kennedy launched the largest and fastest military build-up in peacetime history in the beginning of the 1960s. But this effort proved to be misguided, because American spy satellites soon confirmed that the ICBM gap was in fact 10 to 1 in favor of the United States.

The cost of the paranoia amplified by the missile gap myth was higher than the wasted dollars that flowed into the coffers of the military-industrial complex, however. NATO’s first use policy, together with the encircling of the Soviet Union with medium range nuclear missiles in Europe and Asia, convinced Nikita Khrushchev to return the favor and attempt to install nuclear missiles in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the result.

A scenario similar to the twin events of the missile gap panic and Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded in the 1970s and 1980s. From Moscow’s point of view, the goal of détente was the nullification of American nuclear superiority and the achievement of strategic parity. Because the USSR kept lagging behind technologically, it sought to catch up in numbers. In Washington, however, the temporary military build-up that this goal necessitated was perceived as an attempt to gain nuclear superiority. Moreover, hawks inside and outside government claimed that the Soviets were bent on initiating—and winning—a nuclear war.

Like the missile gap, this assertion, too, was exploded as a myth after the Cold War. Interviews with former Soviet officials and archival research of Warsaw Pact military manuals demonstrated in the 1990s that unlike the U.S., the USSR never considered a first use option. In fact, the Soviets were paranoid of a Western first strike and repeatedly offered a mutual “no first use” commitment. NATO dismissed such proposals as propaganda, however, and stoked a new arms race in technologically advanced nuclear technology, which had always been Moscow’s weak spot.

Thus, when NATO deployed technologically advanced Pershing II and Tomahawk cruise missiles in Western Europe in the fall of 1983, which coincidentally coincided with yearly nuclear war drills, the paranoia in Moscow reached fever pitch. The Pershing II could reach Moscow in a record time of six to eight minutes, thus compromising the Soviets’ “launch on warning” system. The cruise missiles, for their part, were difficult to intercept because of their automated flying technology. On the basis of intelligence coming out of the then biggest military intelligence program in history, several party members and military officials were convinced that NATO was conniving a first strike. The Soviets readied their nuclear forces, but in the end, cooler heads prevailed when NATO did not respond in kind. The 1983 war scare is often considered the closest the superpowers came to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In the long term, however, important steps were taken to regulate, and eventually roll back, the arms race. After the recognition of mutual assured destruction in the 1960s, several arms control agreements, such as the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty were signed in the context of relaxing relations between East and West. Although the 1979 SALT II Treaty was never ratified by the American Congress due to a last uptick in the Cold War, the arms control regime regained the upper hand after the 1983 war scare. Indeed, according to historian Beth Fisher, the war scare had a profound personal impact on Ronald Reagan, causing the president to reconsider his previous hawkish positions.

Combined with the coming to power of Mikhail Gorbachev in the USSR, Reagan’s change of heart paved the way for the 1987 INF and 1991 START Treaties, which for the first time went beyond mitigating the arms race and actually reduced the number of warheads. The INF Treaty even led to the elimination of a whole category of nuclear weapons, namely ground-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles, which included the above-mentioned Pershing II and Tomahawk cruise missiles. Under subsequent treaties, but also unilaterally, both superpowers continued to reduce their stockpiles drastically. As of 2021, the global nuclear stockpile is 19% of what it was during its Cold War peak.

Yet today nine nuclear weapon possessing countries still collectively sit on top of an arsenal of roughly 13,000 warheads, 91% of which are owned by Russia and the United States. Of these, more than 3,500 are operationalized on missiles and bomber bases, still enough to drag civilization into a catastrophic war. Worse, this militarized stockpile has actually started to increase again, whereas the pace of reduction of the overall global nuclear arsenal has slowed down. Finally, and perhaps most disturbingly, the concept of limited nuclear warfare with low-yield warheads, controversial even during the Cold War, has seen a resurgence in American military doctrine.

The new millennium marked the turning point in this alarming trend. When George W. Bush entered the White House, he brought with him a litany of neoconservatives who wanted to capitalize on Washington’s “unipolar moment” to reassert American global dominance and remake the world in their image. The disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are infamous testimonies of this interventionist ideology. But the Bush administration’s unipolar tendencies had reverberations that extended into nuclear weapons policy, too. In December 2001, in spite of Vladimir Putin offering early cooperation in the war in Afghanistan, Bush pulled out of the 1972 ABM Treaty.

This withdrawal has paved the way for the step-by-step construction of a NATO anti-ballistic missile defense system in Eastern Europe, a move that has often been harshly criticized by Moscow but has received very little attention in the Western press. Last summer, for instance, Putin drew a direct comparison with the Cuban Missile Crisis, arguing that the launching systems in Romania and Poland could carry offensive in addition to defensive missiles. If so, the flight time to Moscow is 15 minutes, roughly the same amount of time Soviet missiles would have needed to reach American shores if Khrushchev’s plan had succeeded in 1962. Furthermore, if Ukraine were to join NATO and host similar missile launchers, which the Russian president has recently confirmed to be an absolute red line, that flight time would drop to 7-10 minutes, almost the same as the Pershing IIs from the 1980s.

Unlike Bush, Barack Obama did not leave any of the Cold War-era arms control treaties. Better yet, he made the elimination of nuclear weapons a centerpiece of his early foreign policy agenda. To that end, New START, a treaty signed in 2010, reduced the Russian and American stockpiles of deployed nuclear weapon launchers further to nearly two-thirds of the original START Treaty. Yet, to placate critics of the agreement, Obama also pushed through a $1 trillion nuclear modernization program and in his second term backtracked on adopting a no first use policy. Finally, he continued the rolling out of NATO’s ABM system in Europe.

It is in reaction to these developments that Putin decided to respond. In March 2018, more than a decade and a half after Bush pulled out of the ABM Treaty and against the backdrop of new Cold War-like tensions, the Russian president announced the development of a number of nuclear-capable missiles that seek to circumvent NATO’s ABM system—either by flying over the South Pole, or with the help of innovative technologies that allow for hypersonic speed and automated “cruise” flying. All this talk about fanciful hypersonic and missile-intercepting weapons, the technological feasibility of which has always been questionable, has spurred a new arms race between the American and Russian military-industrial complexes.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump added even more oil to the fire. In spite of all the “Russiagate” accusations, the Trump administration pulled out of not one but two arms control treaties, while it almost let a third die. First, in late 2018 the U.S. announced that it would leave the 1987 INF Treaty. It did so on the basis that Russia had violated its “spirit and intent” by deploying a new ground-based cruise missile, ignoring warnings from both Moscow and independent scientists that the missile launchers in Poland and Romania might have violated the treaty as well. Instead of negotiating a solution, however, Trump simply pulled out.

The boldness of this move can perhaps be explained by the fact that the treaty had tied Washington’s hands in its strategic competition against China, which was not a party to the agreement. Indeed, it was reported that the fact that the treaty “constrained” Washington’s efforts to counter China was a contributing motive in the withdrawal decision, even though that country’s nuclear arsenal is just a fraction of those of the U.S. or Russia.

The second treaty the Trump administration left is the Open Skies Treaty, an important confidence building agreement between 36 nations that allows for unarmed air inspection. Finally, it also let Obama’s New START Treaty expire, rebuffing Russian proposals for extension. Fortunately, a year later Joe Biden reentered that treaty, which is now the only Russian-American agreement left to restrain the Cold War enemies from descending into a new nuclear arms race.

In short, there is a case to be made that throughout the old and new Cold War, America has been the main driving force behind the subsequent waves of the nuclear arms race. This does not mean that Russia is to be accused from any of the blame, of course. It does mean, however, that if Washington reverses its current course and returns to phasing out its nuclear arsenal, Moscow will likely follow suit. In time, this process would bring the American and Russian stockpiles more in line with those of the other nuclear weapon possessing countries.

In such a climate, the era of strategic parity would return in a multilateral form. Without any threatening hegemon, the nuclear bomb would remain in place only as an existential instrument of deterrence. A number of measures, such as the adoption of no first use policies, the liquidation of forward-based tactical warheads and the banning of limited nuclear warfare from military doctrines, could in this context contribute to more relaxed relations between the nine nuclear states.

In the long run, then, the leaders of these nations might come to understand the increasing irrelevance of nuclear weapons. After all, the UN General Assembly is not the only authority exerting pressure on the nuclear states. A growing number of former high-level U.S. officials, too, have argued that nuclear weapons are obsolete for the purposes of military defense.

Unfortunately, current American leaders have taken few steps in this direction. Worse, in the post-9/11 era they have given rival nations more—not less—reason to cling onto or even create new nuclear deterrents. This message can be most evidently illustrated by reviewing American foreign policy towards the three countries that Bush Jr. haphazardly lumped together in the so-called “Axis of Evil”: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. These countries were all signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2002, but that did not stop the US from accusing them from seeking weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and pushing for regime change in Baghdad, Tehran, and Pyongyang.

In the Middle East, the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq was in large part legitimized on the basis of the false pretext that Saddam Hussein secretly possessed WMDs, in spite of the fact that the contemporary information from intelligence agencies and UN weapons inspectors justified no such claims. Regarding Iran, too, the CIA and Mossad have on occasion agreed with the repeated confirmations of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program. Yet, ever since the 1980s subsequent American administrations have claimed the contrary, even after both supreme religious leaders of the Islamic Republic have basically forbidden the procurement of WMDs on a religious basis.

In the last few years, Iran has actually shown how an effective conventional deterrent can be realized by arming regional allies with non-nuclear missiles and drones. The so-called “axis of resistance”—which is led by Iran and includes Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria’s Assad regime—is now firmly established as a balance against Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly and at least partially deters American and Israeli military action. In truth, Iran only ever enriched uranium beyond levels necessary for nuclear energy as a negotiating tactic to get sanctions relief and bring the U.S. to the negotiating table. This “enrichment diplomacy” was Tehran’s answer to Obama’s “maximum pressure” campaign in the lead-up to the 2015 nuclear deal, and it looks like the Iranians have resorted to the same strategy after Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018.

The blowback has been worst in North Korea, however. The DPRK became the first country to leave the Non-Proliferation Treaty in January 2003, a year after Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech. True, the North Koreans’ commitment to the NPT was already in question before that, but Bush’s rhetoric might have pushed them over the edge. Since 2006, the DPRK has carried out six nuclear tests with increasing levels of expertise. Although the details are obscure, there is little reason to doubt that the North Korean regime today possesses a nuclear deterrent that can do significant damage and initiate a devastating nuclear war.

Unsettling as it might be, this means that Western leaders will have to learn how to treat Kim Jong-Un with a modicum of respect. Fortunately, there is a precedent: the world also survived other nuclear-armed dictators, such as Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. The problem is that the U.S. has long considered such leaders as uniquely irrational and continues to operate from the illusion that it can play the role of global policeman indefinitely.

Indeed, when Trump’s national security advisor and vice president made off-handed remarks about employing the “Libya model” in the lead-up to a historic meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-Un in 2018, they did not realize that they were actually reminding the North Koreans why it is wise to cling onto their nuclear deterrent. Indeed, when Muammar Qadhafi gave up his WMD program in 2003 in exchange for sanctions relief, he lost a deterrent that might have prevented the NATO-sponsored regime change war in 2011 that led to his downfall and brutal murder.

This brings us to the heart of the problem: America’s interventionist foreign policy does not prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, it enhances it.

Throughout much of the nuclear era, the U.S. has been the dominant global nuclear power—or has at least operated on the premise that it was. To maintain that position, the U.S. government has spearheaded several waves of nuclear arms races, maintained a vast global military empire, and intervened into the domestic affairs of other countries on a routine basis. In doing so, it has stimulated rival nations to obtain nuclear deterrents.

To believe that America’s foes are the main drivers of nuclear tensions instead, one has to believe in the benevolent merits of U.S. empire. But most of the world does not. International polls demonstrate that America is seen as the biggest threat to world peace, leaving other contenders far behind.

Further movement towards the elimination of the threat of nuclear war is therefore only possible if the U.S. government moves towards a non-interventionist strategy—in nuclear and other foreign policy matters alike. The good news is that a majority of Americans actually favors a less interventionist foreign policy that prioritizes domestic issues instead.

In time, a world without nuclear weapons is achievable. The nuclear bomb would not be the first class of weapons to be consigned to the dustbin of history. A number of nasty bombs, from landmines to chemical weapons, have been marginalized as a result of international prohibition agreements. From this perspective, the UN’s ban on nuclear weapons is a step in the good direction. It can be of service as a pressure tool to move the nuclear weapon possessing countries and their allies in the right direction.

Bas Spliet is a historian and PhD candidate at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. He writes about a variety of topics from a historical angle, all of which can be found on his Substack, (Re)writing history. You can follow him on Twitter.

Will COVID Lockdowns Make 2022 the Year of Bitcoin?

Will COVID Lockdowns Make 2022 the Year of Bitcoin?

I don’t necessarily like to do so-called ‘annual prediction’ posts. Having written a ton of them for the newsletters I’ve written over the years, looking back on them is always a bit cringe-inducing. But 2021 was a crazy year and one where so much happened that changed the landscape it looks like one of those necessary evils for 2022.

In fact, I may wind up doing more than I normally do.

After being on Bitcoin Magazine’s Fed Watch podcast in December, I was asked to do a 2022 Predictions article for them.

It just dropped over there.

Is 2022 the Year Bitcoin Proves Itself on the World Stage?

It was a fascinating year for cryptos. One in which no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep up with everything that happened. Going to Bitcoin 2021 in Miami and seeing the clash of OG bitcoiners with the gold rush mentality of the industry it reminded me of the best of times at your typical precious metals conference.

Hey, even Ron Paul was there, which is always a treat.

But that said, 2021 was as strange as any year I’ve ever experienced. The real clash wasn’t in the various crypto fiefdoms per se, but what the emergence of crypto as a full-fledged investible asset class meant that grabbed and held my attention all year.

It was beyond the regular bull market mentality that morphed into mania by mid-year. It was the realization that bitcoin and crypto would begin asserting its potential as a safe-haven asset that was finally proven to more than just us fringe Austro-libertarian types.

Because of this the responses from what Michael Malice calls The Cathedral and what I call The Davos Crowd is what the real story was in 2021.

Capital inflow to cryptocurrency grew as China forced out mining and sent that capacity to the U.S. Global economic disruptions thanks to COVID-19 forced radical rethinking of energy policy. Bitcoin was finally exposed as uneconomic subsidized electricity rates in China, for example.

So, given this immense growth in the public mindshare in 2021, the title seems a moot question at first blush. In many ways Bitcoin has already proven itself.

But 2021 was just the warm-up act for the real economic showdown in 2022 between the Great Powers. The old system is clearly failing. It is the way it fails which will inform geopolitical tensions worldwide. These will take center stage as the titans of that old financial and political order fight for dominance over a shrinking pile of capital.

In the middle, bitcoin stands ready to perform the vital role of intermediary and escape valve for potentially trillions in capital seeking a safe haven from that storm.

And it’s very obvious that Davos is scared to death of not having control over the outcome of this story.

Lock it Down, Tune it Up

I spent most of 2021 making the argument that despite the endless procession of headlines and edicts from Davos and its quislings in decision-making positions all across the West, they were making big gains but leaving themselves more exposed to counterattack than they ever have before.

From ridiculous lockdowns to vaccine mandates it was clear that what we were watching was a pre-planned script of second-rate screenwriters. It was a constant barrage of micromanaging public opinion via complicit media, stoking fear to create division to rob people of something far worse than their reason, their reason for living.

But as the year went along the truth about COVID-9/11, the efficacy of masks and the intimidation of the medical industry reached a peak. No matter how much more they squeezed, there was a large enough percentage of people all across the world who simply said, “You know what? No.”

No masks. No jab. No job. No problem. No. No. A thousand times, No.

Because when anyone resorts to the level of bullying, bribing, coercing and lying that these people have engaged in it reveals just how shallow their power truly is.

And it’s plain as day to anyone whose mind is still free.

Too many see this story for what it is, a story for this thing to be successful. A bad horror movie meant to keep the weak and the indebted in a constant fight or flight response, while everyday another person looks up and says, “What in the actual hell are you talking about?”

At some point in every scam the mark confronts the scammer and the scammer then has a choice. Double down or run. Davos still thinks they can double down. Dr. Fauci now thinks he can go out and tell the truth out loud and still have credibility.

But those with real credibility just speak the truth once and the narrative collapses:

Mark Jeftovic noted what I said weeks ago: Omicron would be the end of the COVID-9/11 scam:

Ironically, the fact that the dominant strain is now a head-cold version of COVID should be good news. However, for many this had become a religion.

There will be those who try to cling onto COVID tyranny for as long as possible and in doing so, they will perpetuate a state of hyper-normalization that will be self-defeating.

Hyper-normalization is a phrase coined by the UK documentarist Adam Curtis, and it describes a state where the prevailing establishment narrative is so absurd and demonstrably false that only the most brainwashed True Believers can cling to it. Only the most corrupt and self-seeking policy makers will attempt to perpetuate it. Those who do espouse it are typically the greatest beneficiaries of the dysfunctional zeitgeist.

If you step back and think about the Davos narrative over COVID you realize that this is a plan that says trust the people in charge while also destroying your faith in them. For the hyper-normal, skewering their statist religion will spur them to new heights of violence rather than face their shame.

Eventually, people just get tired of being jerked around by an invisible chain held by blue-checkmarked NPCs on Twitter and tune into the very people, mRNA vaccine developer Robert Malone, they were told they weren’t allowed to listen to.

I told you when he signed the big Spotify deal that Joe Rogan would blow up Davos’ Death Star.

Lies are expensive. The truth sells itself.

Because, eventually, there is a limit to threatening people for disobeying. Eventually people call the bluff.

Eventually people show up en masse and deliver a big “NO.”

The Patchwork Tyranny

COVID-9/11 was simply a means to an end. That end is nothing less than a reset of an immoral financial architecture that has squandered the capital and heritage of the entire West in the vain hope of salvaging the power and prestige of old European money. While Davos sold the Great Reset to that old money and the politicians to save their privilege they would have to fully destroy everything else, namely their subjects, and Build it Back Better.

It was badly premised on the idea that Communism would have worked if only the U.S. and Europe had joined Mao and Stalin during the last major cycle. It was never going to work. There’s too much wealth in the world to pull that off and technology is advancing too rapidly for them to control how we use it to our advantage versus theirs.

So, today we are witness to the willful destruction of some of the oldest cultures in the West, purposefully impoverishing hundreds of millions while simultaneously poisoning them to cull the herd of the unwanted. While we in control group of their grand experiment continue sitting back with our arms crossed saying, “No.”

They get weaker. We get stronger.

What happens in 2022 is Davos getting their plans implemented in a rough patchwork of tyranny. They’ll take the wins where they can get them—Germany, California, Canada, Australia, etc.—and hope it is enough to keep the program moving forward.

But having exposed themselves this badly those that have refused to date will not be bowed. They have nothing left to lose. And the costs of enforcement of this plan are rising too rapidly for it to be maintained.

Bitcoin Fixed Some of This, Too

This is why I think 2021 wasn’t Bitcoin’s year. 2022 is.

2022 is the year that Bitcoin becomes the means by which trillions in capital flee the chaos as Davos splinters, their control over important nodes of economic dynamism slips further and the people have the choice put in front of them clearly.

Your keys, your money. Their keys, your servitude.

Because we’ve reached that proverbial crossroads in time where more beatings ensures morale never improves, instead it hardens into something cold and implacable. As those places most under Davos’ control sink into ever-widening gyres of madness, the capital flight from them will be beyond anything the world has experienced in nearly a hundred years.

No amount of arm-twisting and rule changes will hold back this tidal outflow. It’s already begun. Capital is like water.

And if Europeans are forbidden from moving their money out through normal means, buying property in Florida is always a good bet, then they will use whatever is at hand.

Crypto is definitely one of those escape valves, it’s the thing that ECB President Christine Lagarde fears more than anything else.

So, for my 2022 predictions, it all boils down to the following:

Bitcoin, along with gold, will assert themselves as the premier custodial assets for a world in chaos. Debt will become the dirtiest word in the English language over this period of history.

The trade in both gold and crypto will be volatile and choppy as day-to-day U.S. dollar funding needs will create false moves up and down. The Fed will defend the dollar. Bitcoin will peak and likely fall later in the year as the crisis in Europe reaches its zenith and the four-year bitcoin cycle asserts itself. It will be a titanic fight.

But the early trend will be the same as 2021, up. During the height of the crisis that emerges, bitcoin should be the premier asset of choice which investors flee into.

The groundwork for this capacity was laid in 2021. 2022 is the year it gets utilized. For capital that can’t move into bitcoin and for central banks who need to diversify reserves, gold will remain their asset of choice. Gold will play catchup in 2022 to bitcoin.

Because capital flows to where it is treated best. And despite the volatility, there are fewer places on earth that have the capacity to treat capital better today than Bitcoin.

This article was originally featured at Tom Luongo’s blog Gold Goats ‘N Guns and is republished with permission.

News Roundup 1/24/2022

News Roundup 1/3/2022

US News

  • The White House announces $1 billion in spending in an effort to bring down meat prices. [Link]
  • Twitter permanently suspends Congresswoman Majorie Taylor-Green. [Link]
  • Before 1/6, the Department of Justice approved deploying tactical law enforcement units, including the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, to the Capitol and other potential targets. [Link]
  • The Department of Justice says 725 people have been charged with crimes committed at the Capitol on 1/6. The DOJ has gotten 165 people to sign guilty pleas. The FBI is seeking more than 350 other people. [Link]
  • The Secretary of Defense will now have sole authority to approve requests for National Guard deployments to DC. [Link]
  • The US is building new courtrooms at Gitmo for $4 million. [Link]

Covid

  • A judge rejected Oklahoma’s lawsuit challenging the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate for the National Guard. Members of the OK guard will have to get vaccinated or will be unable to participate in required training. [Link]
  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says he has covid. [Link]
  • 206 Marines have been discharged for refusing the covid vaccine. [Link]
  • Israel will begin administering a 4th dose of the covid vaccine. [Link]
  • The US donates 5 million Pfizer vaccine doses to Pakistan through Covax. [Link]
  • The US donates 1.5 million Pfizer covid vaccine doses to Egypt through Covax. [Link]
  • The US donates 2.5 million vaccine doses to Angola and Ghana through Covax. [Link]

Russia

  • Estonia will give artillery systems and other weapons to Ukraine. [Link]
  • Russia says it was happy with the Biden-Putin call, but warned the US against sanctioning Russia over Ukraine. [Link]
  • The US says Biden told Putin there were two paths for the relationship going forward, diplomacy or deterrence. [Link]
  • Rep Adam Schiff says Russia will likely invade Ukraine without massive sanctions. [Link]
  • Biden told Ukrainian President Zelenskyy that the US will respond decisively if Russia invades Ukraine. [Link]

China

  • China told the US to end military operations near its borders. [Link]

Korea

  • South Korea says it has reached an agreement in principle with the US for a formal end to the Korean War. [Link]
  • South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in – whose term will expire within a few months – is seeking to make a final push for Korean peace. [Link]

Afghanistan

  • The Pakistani Taliban killed four Pakistani soldiers near the border with Afghanistan. Pakistan said one militant was captured. [Link]
  • The US is considering strikes against the ISIS-K cell it believes carried out the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport. [Link]
  • Hundreds of Afghans have their application for humanitarian entry into the US revoked. [Link]

Soleimani Assassination

  • The Jerusalem Post’s website was hacked and displayed an image of assassinated Iranian General Soleimani on the anniversary of his death. [Link] 
  • The Houthi seized a UAE ship off the coast of Yemen and two suicide drones were shot down near the Baghdad airport. [Link]

Israel

  • Israel signs a $3.1 billion deal with the US for military helicopters and refueling planes. [Link]
  • Israel tells the US it will inform it of all major deals with China and will reconsider the deal if the US objects. [Link]
  • The US announces it will send $99 million to the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees. [Link]
  • Rockets fired from Gaza land in the Mediterranean Sea. [Link]
  • Israel bombed Gaza. [Link]
  • Israeli officials threatened to attack Iran. [Link]

Yemen 

  • The UN calls on the Saudi-backed government of Yemen to allow new communications equipment to be flown into the country’s capital airport. Saudi airstrikes damaged the communications system at the airport in recent weeks. The damaged equipment makes communicating with aircraft challenging and caused the airport to close. [Link]
  • Saudi Arabia killed 12 Yemen government soldiers. [Link]
  • Saudi Arabia and allied government forces claim to kill 200 Houthi fighters and seize some key positions. [Link]

Middle East

  • Iran says nuclear talks have made relatively satisfactory progress. [Link]
  • The Guardian reports that the Saudi execution team members who killed Jamal Khashoggi live in luxury villas. [Link] 
  • Iraq’s military says it still requires US air support. The US mission in Iraq recently rebranded from combat to training. [Link]
  • At least 34 people were killed in several conflicts between various groups in Iraq. [Link]
  • Over 1,600 people were killed by warfare in Iraq in 2021. [Link]
  • The al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria – al-Nusra or HTS – is planning elections to court Western support. [Link]
  • ISIS killed five Syrian soldiers. [Link]

Africa

  • An al-Shabaab attack killed four near Mogadishu. [Link]
  • A Kenyan official says a suspected al-Shabaab attack killed six. [Link]
  • Armed militants killed eight soldiers in Mali. [Link]
  • Security forces killed five protesters in Sudan. [Link]
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the US is prepared to respond to deadly crackdowns on protests. [Link]
  • Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigns. [Link]
  • The US is supporting Rwanda’s military in Africa’s Great Lakes region. [Link]

12/30/21 Basir Bita on the Economic Crisis in Afghanistan

Scott interviews activist Basir Bita about the economic calamity that’s hit Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal this past summer. With the U.S. and IMF freezing Afghan government funds as well as widespread market corrections after the fall of the previous regime, Afghanistan has been thrown into turmoil. Food prices have tripled since the summer and many Afghans face issues with food security. Bita argues that the Biden Administration and others should get over their hesitation to work with the new government of Afghanistan. And that a refusal to do so reveals how little they truly care for the Afghan people, despite their rhetoric. 

Basir Bita is a civil society activist now based out of Canada. He is an advisor for Afghan Peace Volunteers, a youth group in Kabul, Afghanistan that advocates for nonviolent conflict resolution. Follow him on Twitter @BasirBita

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: The War State and Why The Vietnam War?, by Mike Swanson; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; EasyShip; Free Range Feeder; Thc Hemp Spot; Green Mill Supercritical; Bug-A-Salt and Listen and Think Audio.

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