THE COMING WAR ON CHINA

The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.

The great danger this beckons is not news, or it is news buried and distorted: a drumbeat of propaganda that echoes the psychopathic campaign embedded in public consciousness during much of the 20th century.  Like the renewal of post-Soviet Russia, the rise of China as an economic power is declared an ‘existential threat’ to the divine right of the United States to rule and dominate human affairs.

To counter this, in 2011 President Obama announced a ‘pivot to Asia’, which meant that almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020.  Today, more than 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and, above all, nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to Japan, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, says one US strategist, ‘the perfect noose’.

A study by the RAND Corporation – which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars – is entitled War with China – Thinking Through the UnthinkableCommissioned by the US Army, the authors evoke the Cold War when RAND made notorious the catch cry of its chief strategist, Herman Kahn – ‘thinking the unthinkable’. 

Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a ‘winnable’ nuclear war against the Soviet Union.

Today, his apocalyptic view is shared by those holding real power in the US:

the Pentagon militarists and their neoconservative collaborators in the executive, intelligence agencies and Congress.

The current Secretary of Defense, Ashley Carter, a verbose provocateur, says US policy is to confront those,

‘who see America’s dominance and want to take that away from us’.


Today, more than 400 American military bases

 encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons.

Charles Gatward: The Coming War on China,

Darmouth Films

 ‘Punish’ China

In Washington, I met Amitai Etzioni, distinguished professor of international affairs at George Washington University. 

The US, he writes,

‘is preparing for a war with China, a momentous decision that so far has failed to receive a thorough review from elected officials, namely the White House and Congress.’

This war would begin with a,

‘blinding attack against Chinese anti-access facilities, including land and sea-based missile launchers… satellite and anti-satellite weapons’.

The incalculable risk is that,

‘deep inland strikes could be mistakenly perceived by the Chinese as pre-emptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into “a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma” [that would] lead to nuclear war.’

In 2015, the Pentagon released its Law of War Manual.

‘The United States,’ it says, ‘has not accepted a treaty rule that prohibits the use of nuclear weapons per se, and thus nuclear weapons are lawful weapons for the United States.’

In China, a strategist told me,

‘We are not your enemy, but if you [in the West] decide we are, we must prepare without delay.’

China’s military and arsenal are small compared to America’s. 

However,

‘for the first time,’ wrote Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists, ‘China is discussing putting its nuclear missiles on high alert so that they can be launched quickly on warning of an attack… 

This would be a significant and dangerous change in Chinese policy… 

Indeed, the nuclear weapon policies of the United States are the most prominent external factor influencing Chinese advocates for raising the alert level of China’s nuclear forces.’    

‘I don’t want it to be a fair fight.

It it’s a knife fight,

I want to bring a gun’.   

Professor Ted Postol was scientific adviser to the head of US naval operations. 

An authority on nuclear weapons, he told me,

‘Everybody here wants to look like they’re tough. See, I got to be tough… I’m not afraid of doing anything military, I’m not afraid of threatening; I’m a hairy-chested gorilla. 

And we have gotten into a state, the United States has gotten into a situation where there’s a lot of sabre-rattling, and it’s really being orchestrated from the top.’

I said,

‘This seems incredibly dangerous.’

‘That’s an understatement.’

Andrew Krepinevich is a former Pentagon war planner and the influential author of war games against China. 

He wants to ‘punish’ China for extending its defences to the South China Sea. He advocates seeding the ocean with sea mines, sending in US special forces and enforcing a naval blockade. 

He told me,

‘Our first president, George Washington, said if you want peace, prepare for war.’

In 2015, in high secrecy, the US staged its biggest single military exercise since the Cold War. 

This was Talisman Sabre; an armada of ships and long-range bombers rehearsed an ‘Air-Sea Battle Concept for China’ – ASB – blocking sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and cutting off China’s access to oil, gas and other raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.

It is such a provocation, and the fear of a US Navy blockade, that has seen China feverishly building strategic airstrips on disputed reefs and islets in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. 

Last July, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China’s claim of sovereignty over these islands. Although the action was brought by the Philippines, it was presented by leading American and British lawyers and can be traced to then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In 2010, Clinton flew to Manila. She demanded that America’s former colony reopen the US military bases closed down in the 1990s following a popular campaign against the violence they generated, especially against Filipino women. She declared China’s claim on the Spratly Islands – which lie more than 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometers) from the United States – a threat to US ‘national security’ and to ‘freedom of navigation’.   

  Handed millions of dollars in arms and military equipment, the then government of President Benigno Aquino broke off bilateral talks with China and signed a secretive Enhanced Defense Co-operation Agreement with the US. This established five rotating US bases and restored a hated colonial provision that American forces and contractors were immune from Philippine law.

Under the rubric of ‘information dominance’ – the jargon for media manipulation on which the Pentagon spends more than $4 billion – the Obama administration launched a propaganda campaign that cast China, the world’s greatest trading nation, as a threat to ‘freedom of navigation’.
CNN led the way, its ‘national security reporter’ reporting excitedly from on board a US Navy surveillance flight over the Spratlys.  

The BBC persuaded frightened Filipino pilots to fly a single-engine Cessna over the disputed islands ‘to see how the Chinese would react’. None of the news reports questioned why the Chinese were building airstrips off their own coastline, or why American military forces were massing on China’s doorstep.

The designated chief propagandist is Admiral Harry Harris, the US military commander in Asia and the Pacific.

‘My responsibilities,’ he told The New York Times, ‘cover Bollywood to Hollywood, from polar bears to penguins.’

Never was imperial domination described as pithily. 


Malleable media and obsequious partners

Harris is one of a brace of Pentagon admirals and generals briefing selected, malleable journalists and broadcasters, with the aim of justifying a threat as specious as that with which George W. Bush and Tony Blair justified the destruction of Iraq.

In Los Angeles in September, Harris declared he was,

‘ready to confront a revanchist Russia and an assertive China… If we have to fight tonight, I don’t want it to be a fair fight. If it’s a knife fight, I want to bring a gun. If it’s a gun fight, I want to bring in the artillery… and all our partners with their artillery.’

These ‘partners’ include South Korea, an American colony in all but name and the launch pad for the Pentagon’s Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system, known as THAAD, ostensibly aimed at North Korea. As Professor Postol points out, it targets China.

In Sydney, Australia, Harris called on China to,

‘tear down its Great Wall in the South China Sea’.

The imagery was front-page news. 

Australia is America’s most obsequious ‘partner’; its political elite, military, intelligence agencies and the dominant Murdoch media are fully integrated into what is known as the ‘alliance’. 

Closing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the motorcade of a visiting American government ‘dignitary’ is not uncommon. The war criminal Dick Cheney was afforded this honor.

Although China is Australia’s biggest trader, on which much of the national economy relies, ‘confronting China’ is the diktat from Washington. The few political dissenters in Canberra risk McCarthyite smears in the Murdoch press.

‘You in Australia are with us come what may,’ said one of the architects of the Vietnam War, McGeorge Bundy.

One of the most important US bases is Pine Gap near Alice Springs. Founded by the CIA, it spies on China and all of Asia, and is a vital contributor to Washington’s murderous war by drone in the Middle East.

In October, Richard Marles, the defence spokesperson of the main Australian opposition party, the Labor Party, demanded that ‘operational decisions’ in provocative acts against China be left to military commanders in the South China Sea. In other words, a decision that could mean war with a nuclear power should not be taken by an elected leader or a parliament but by an admiral or a general.  This is the Pentagon line, a historic departure for any state calling itself a democracy. 

The ascendancy of the Pentagon in Washington – which Daniel Ellsberg has called a silent coup – is reflected in the record $5 trillion the United States has spent on aggressive wars since 9/11, according to a study by Brown University. 

The million dead in Iraq and the flight of 12 million refugees from at least four countries are the consequence.

‘I state clearly and with conviction,’ said Obama in 2009, ‘America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.’

Under Obama, nuclear warhead spending has risen higher than under any president since the end of the Cold War. A mini nuclear weapon is planned. Known as the B61 Model 12, it will mean, says General James Cartwright, former vice-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that,

‘going smaller [makes its use] more thinkable’.

 
Peaceful resistance

The Japanese island of Okinawa has 32 military installations, from which Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq have been attacked by the United States. Today, the principal target is China, with whom Okinawans have close cultural and trade ties. 


In 1959 a US fighter plane crashed

into Miyamori School, Okinawa,

killing a number of children.


There are military aircraft constantly in the sky over Okinawa; they sometimes crash into homes and schools. 
People cannot sleep, teachers cannot teach. Wherever they go in their own country, they are fenced in and told to keep out.

A hugely popular Okinawan movement has been growing since a 12-year-old girl was gang-raped by US troops in 1995. It was one of hundreds of such crimes, many of them never prosecuted. Barely acknowledged in the wider world, the resistance in Okinawa is a vivid expression of how ordinary people can peacefully take on a military giant, and threaten to win.

Their campaign has elected Japan’s first anti-base governor, Takeshi Onaga, and presented an unfamiliar hurdle to the Tokyo government and the ultra-nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s plans to repeal Japan’s ‘peace constitution’.

The resistance leaders include Fumiko Shimabukuro, aged 87, a survivor of the Second World War, when a quarter of Okinawans died in the American invasion. Fumiko and hundreds of others took refuge in beautiful Henoko Bay, which she is now fighting to save. The US wants to destroy the bay in order to extend runways for its bombers. As we gathered peacefully outside the US base, Camp Schwab, giant Sea Stallion helicopters hovered over us for no reason other than to intimidate. 


Fumiko Shimabukuro (right),

an Okinawa World War Two survivor,

is now fighting to save a bay from US bombers.

With her is Eiko Ginoza.

Bruno Sorrentino and John Pilger

 Across the East China Sea lies the Korean island of Jeju, a semi-tropical sanctuary and World Heritage Site declared ‘an island of world peace’. On this island of world peace has been built one of the most provocative military bases in the world, less than 400 miles (650 kilometers) from Shanghai. The fishing village of Gangjeong is dominated by a South Korean naval base purpose-built for US aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile system, aimed at China.

A people’s resistance to these war preparations has become a presence on Jeju for almost a decade. Every day, often twice a day, villagers, Catholic priests and supporters from all over the world stage a religious mass that blocks the gates of the base.  In a country where political demonstrations are often banned, unlike powerful religions, the tactic has produced an inspiring spectacle.   


The world is shifting east,

but the astonishing vision

of Eurasia from China

is barely understood in the West

 One of the leaders, Father Mun Jeong-hyeon, told me,

‘I sing four songs every day at the base, regardless of the weather. 

I sing in typhoons – no exception. To build this base, they destroyed the environment, and the life of the villagers, and we should be a witness to that. 

They want to rule the Pacific. They want to make China isolated in the world. They want to be emperor of the world.’



South Korean woodcarver and Catholic priest,

Father Mun Jeong-hyeon, leads a daily protest

against the building of a naval base

that the US will use to target China.

Bruno Sorrentino and John Pilger

 I flew to Shanghai for the first time in more than a generation. 

When I was last in China, the loudest noise I remember was the tinkling of bicycle bells; Mao Zedong had recently died, and the cities seemed dark places, in which foreboding and expectation competed. 

Within a few years, Deng Xiaoping, the ‘man who changed China’, was the ‘paramount leader’. Nothing prepared me for the astonishing changes today.

I met Lijia Zhang, a Beijing journalist and typical of a new class of outspoken mavericks. Her best-selling book has the ironic title Socialism Is GreatShe grew up during the chaotic and brutal Cultural Revolution and has lived in the US and Europe.

‘Many Americans imagine,’ she said, ‘that Chinese people live a miserable, repressed life with no freedom whatsoever. The [idea of] the yellow peril has never left them… 

They have no idea there are some 500 million people being lifted out of poverty, and some would say it’s 600 million.’


China today:

a tourist snaps the bull of capitalism

in front of Shanghai’s Bund hotel,

bedecked with communist flags.

Bruno Sorrentino and John Pilger

 She described modern China as a ‘golden cage’.

‘Since the reforms started,’ she said, ‘and we’ve become so much better off, China has become one of the most unequal societies in the world. 

There are lots of protests now: typically, land being grabbed by officials for commercial development. But farmers are more aware of their rights; and young factory workers are demanding a better wage and conditions.’   

The world is shifting east

China today presents perfect ironies, not least the house in Shanghai where Mao and his comrades secretly founded the Communist Party of China in 1921. 

Today, it stands in the heart of a very capitalist shopping district; you walk out of this communist shrine with your Little Red Book and your plastic bust of Mao into the embrace of Starbucks, Apple, Cartier, Prada. 

Five years before his great revolution in 1949, he sent this secret message to Washington.

‘China must industrialize,’ he wrote. 

‘This can only be done by free enterprise. Chinese and American interests fit together, economically and politically. America need not fear that we will not be co-operative. 

We cannot risk any conflict.’

Mao offered to meet Franklin Roosevelt in the White House, and his successor Harry Truman, and his successor Dwight EisenhowerHe was rebuffed, or willfully ignored. 

The opportunity that might have changed contemporary history, prevented wars in Asia and saved countless lives was lost because the truth of these overtures was denied in 1950s Washington,

‘when the catatonic Cold War trance,’ wrote the critic James Naremore, ‘held our country in its rigid grip’.

Eric Li, a Shanghai venture capitalist and social scientist, told me,

‘I make the joke: in America you can change political parties, but you can’t change the policies. In China you cannot change the party, but you can change policies. 

The political changes that have taken place in China this past 66 years have been wider and broader and greater than probably in any other major country in living memory.’


Beijing journalist

and outspoken maverick,

Lijia Zhang.

 For all the difficulties of those left behind by China’s rapid growth, such as workers from the countryside living on the edge in cities built for conspicuous consumption, and those Tiananmen brave-hearts still challenging ‘the centre’, the Party, what is striking is the widespread sense of optimism that buttresses the epic of change.  The world is shifting east; but the astonishing vision of Eurasia from China is barely understood in the West. 

The ‘New Silk Road‘ is a ribbon of trade, ports, pipelines and high-speed trains all the way to Europe. China, the world’s leader in rail technology, is negotiating with 28 countries for routes on which trains will reach up to 400 kilometers an hour.  

This opening to the world has the approval of much of humanity and, along the way, is uniting China and Russia; and they are doing it entirely without ‘us’ in the West.

We – or many of us – remain in thrall to the US, which has intervened violently in the affairs of a third of the members of the United Nations, destroying governments, subverting elections, imposing blockades. 

In the past five years, the US has shipped deadly weapons to 96 countries, most of them poor. Dividing societies in order to control them is US policy, as the tragedies in Iraq and Syria demonstrate.

 

Protesters on Jeju, South Korea.

Bruno Sorrentino and John Pilger

‘I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,’ said Barack Obama, evoking the national fetishism of the 1930s.

This modern cult of superiority is Americanism, the world’s dominant predatorAccompanied by a brainwashing that presents it as enlightenment on the march, the conceit insinuates our lives.

In September, the Atlantic Council, a US geopolitical think-tank, published a report that predicted a Hobbesian world,

‘marked by the breakdown of order, violent extremism [and] an era of perpetual war’.

The new enemies were a ‘resurgent’ Russia and an ‘increasingly aggressive’ China. Only heroic America can ‘save’ us.  There is a demented quality about this war-mongering. 

It is as if the American century – proclaimed in 1941 by the American imperialist Henry Luce, owner of Time magazine – has ended without notice and no-one has had the courage to tell the emperor to take his guns and go home.

 

by John Pilger, 01 December 2016, December 2016 issue of New Internationalist

Ushering In A Totalitarian Police State In Cashless “Smart Cities” **

From Scandinavia to Amsterdam to India and elsewhere, the trend of going “cashless” is gaining traction.

We have been covering the shortcomings of what is rightly called the ‘War on Cash‘ here at TDV for a while now and have shown just how negative the effects can be on an unsuspecting nation’s people.

Chandigarh, India, which is the capital of the northern Indian states of Punjab and Haryana, is like one of India’s labrats. Indian officials are working hard toward making it into India’s first cashless city.

This initiative is part of the Prime Minister of India’s call for state governments to begin developing what he’s calling “smart” cities. That means cities attached to the latest Internet technology. However there is nothing intelligent about his plan…

One of the major changes being made to work toward that objective was the insistence of having all bills paid electronically at government offices within the city.

Similarly, in Panjim, the capital of Goa, India, the local government is attempting to incentivize the locals into paying digitally by offering them discounts on train tickets and other public transportation services if they pay electronically.

This is an extension of the ongoing cash battle which has been going on in India since November when Modi announced he was going to replace the 500 and 1000 rupee banknotes. However the government has not started replacements, only ensured the removal.

What followed the eradication of India’s largest denomination notes was a constricted Indian economy, particularly among the middle and lower classes who rely predominantly on cash transactions to conduct daily business.

There are a myriad of problems associated with this. Many street vendors, rickshaw drivers, and other small time merchants cannot afford the card readers necessary to conduct the transactions electronically.

In some cases the consequences have been starvation, suicide, and the inability to pay for medical expenses because of lack of access to funds or because of how difficult it is to exchange the 500 and 1000 rupee notes for lower denomination bills.

Also in Europe, in places like London, many stores and restaurants have stopped accepting notes or coins for payment and only allow their customers to pay with plastic.

It’s becoming common for Londoners to treat people using cash as second class citizens. In other words, it is becoming unfashionable to pay with cash according to the status quo.

The same is true for the people of Sweden, particularly in the cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg. Which is ironic considering that in 1661, the Scandinavian monarchy became the first country in the world to issue paper currency.

In Sweden this had forced people into storing their cash in bank accounts that come with negative interest rates – yes, the banks are charging them to save their money rather than rewarding them with positive yielding interest.

In Amsterdam, the homeless, many of whom survive by selling magazines, are increasingly hard pressed to find people willing to pay in cash as well. The problem is that even if the homeless had cheap cell phones with QR readers – which Amsterdam has talked about helping the homeless community to obtain – they still don’t have the bank accounts necessary to receive the payments.

Then there is Uruguay which doesn’t get much attention, but this small South American country was among the very first to announce it was getting rid of at least some cash transactions. Unlike some other counties, Uruguay’s cash reduction was couched in terms of helping the poor.

Soon the country plans to implement bank accounts for all payroll payments. It is supposedly doing this in order to make sure even the very poorest have bank accounts. In fact, this is not going to do much to help very poor people because they don’t have jobs to begin with. But it sounds good on paper…

All in all, the elimination of cash is being done under the guise of helping to combat,

  • terrorism

  • white collar crime

  • tax evasion

  • criminals from hiding behind untraceable cash transactions

Of course, the reality is that without cash, governments and banks gain the ability to run economies like totalitarian police states – tracking every transaction and parasitically siphoning wealth via income tax and other forms of taxation.

This is all part of a United Nations backed, globalist movement towards “smart cities” where people will own nothing and live in small boxes and everything will be transacted digitally via the government.

You can see what they have planned for “smart cities” here:

 
Basically, if you see the word “smart” in front of something, it means “slave“.

This is precisely why it is increasingly important to keep your assets outside of these jurisdictions and out of the financial system in general in safer alternatives such as precious metals and crypto-currencies.

by Jeff Berwick, January 14, 2017

Artificial Intelligence Successfully Pretends to Be Human – Now What? **

Orig.src.Susanne.Posel.Daily.News- turing.test.eugene.reading.robot_occupycorporatism

 

Vladimir Veselov, computer software developer and Eugene Demchenko, software engineer, have created the first computer that fooled humans into thinking they were speaking to a 13 year old boy.

The University of Reading (UR) said that 33% of participants in a 5 minute online conversation with “Eugene Goostman” were tricked into believing this computer was actually a real-life teenager. Strikingly, this feat means that Veselov and Demchenko successfully created a computer program that passed the Turing Test.

In 1950, Alan Turing wrote a paper entitled Computing Machinery and Intelligence that asked the question: “Can machines think?” The Turing Test establishes a “test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both.”

With the revelation posed by “Eugene”, artificial intelligence (AI) takes a giant leap forward by way of future consent for the review of sentience in computing which paves the way for asking the question: Should computers be allowed to decide what actions they take and when to act on those decisions?

Veselov explained: “Our whole team is very excited with this result. Going forward we plan to make Eugene smarter and continue working on improving what we refer to as ‘conversation logic.’”

RoboLaw (RL), in conjunction with UR School of Systems Engineering (SSE) provided the funding for this event with “Eugene”.

RL explains they are a consortium of academia whose “main objective … is to investigate the ways in which emerging technologies in the field of (bio-) robotics (e.g. bionics, neural interfaces and nanotechnologies) have a bearing on the content, meaning and setting of the law.”

Their main focus in making robotics more agreeable to the general public resides in using AI technology in:

• Assistance to humans
• Industrial work
• Medical industry

Charles Bailey, digital artist, librarian and publisher of Digital Scholarship (DS), explained that “intelligent computers must be able to reason; however, to be effective, reason may require broad knowledge about the real world” and be able to “understand written and verbal communication”.

Because “we want computers that talk to us”, Bailey said AI must “not only master our native language, but also be able to translate messages from other languages.”

It would be more aesthetically pleasing if the robots had human-like bodies “equipped with visual, auditory, and other sensory capabilities that matched or exceeded human abilities” and could perform tasks such as:

• Construction
• Manufacturing
• Fire fighting
• Routine office duties
• Domestic chores

While examining the morality behind creating sentient robots, Bailey asks the following questions:

  • Will intelligent computers have relationships that parallel human ones?
  • Will they be constructed to be sexual or alter themselves to be so?
  • Will they have love relationships?
  • Will they form family units, or will they create complex new social structures we cannot envision?
  • Will they procreate, or will they allow humans to produce new intelligent computers?
  • If they procreate, how will they do so, and will the offspring inherit any of the traits of the parents?
  • Will the offspring be created fully functional or will there be a period of childhood?
  • Will offspring have any special feelings for their parents?
  • How fast will each generation be?
  • Will each generation replicate the basic structure and functionality of the last generation, or will each generation represent an advance in the design of the species, causing rapid evolutionary development.
  • Will intelligent computers and humans form love relationships?
  • Will society recognize the legitimacy of such relationships?
  • Will they form friendships with each other and humans?

Ultimately, Bailey sees the advent of intelligent computers placing humanity in the role of “making godlike decisions about a new form of intelligent life” and this necessitates a “delicate balance between controlling truly intelligent computers and nurturing them so that they can develop to their full potential.”


 
by , 2014

THE “AI” THREAT ISN’T SKYNET…ITS THE END OF THE MIDDLE CLASS!

 In February 1975, a group of geneticists gathered in a tiny town on the central coast of California to decide if their work would bring about the end of the world.  These researchers were just beginning to explore the science of genetic engineering, manipulating DNA to create organisms that didn’t exist in nature, and they were unsure how these techniques would affect the health of the planet and its people. 

So, they descended on a coastal retreat called Asilomar, a name that became synonymous with the guidelines they laid down at this meeting – a strict ethical framework meant to ensure that biotechnology didn’t unleash the apocalypse.  Forty-two years on, another group of scientists gathered at Asilomar to consider a similar problem. But this time, the threat wasn’t biological. It was digital. 

In January, the world’s top artificial intelligence (AI) researchers walked down the same beachside paths as they discussed their rapidly accelerating field and the role it will play in the fate of humanity. It was a private conference – the enormity of the subject deserves some privacy – but in recent days, organizers released several videos from the conference talks, and some participants have been willing to discuss their experience, shedding some light on the way AI researchers view the threat of their own field.

The rise of driverless cars and trucks

is just a start.

It’s not just blue-collar jobs

that AI endangers. 

Yes, they discussed the possibility of a super-intelligence that could somehow escape human control, and at the end of the month, the conference organizers unveiled a set of guidelines, signed by attendees and other AI luminaries, that aim to prevent this possible dystopia. 

But the researchers at Asilomar were also concerned with more immediate matters:

the effect of AI on the economy.

“One of the reasons I don’t like the discussions about super-intelligence is that they’re a distraction from what’s real,” says Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, who attended the conference. 

“As the poet said, have fewer imaginary problems and more real ones.”

At a time when the Trump administration is promising to make America great again by restoring old-school manufacturing jobs, AI researchers aren’t taking him too seriously. They know that these jobs are never coming back, thanks in no small part to their own research, which will eliminate so many other kinds of jobs in the years to come, as well. 

At Asilomar, they looked at the real US economy, the real reasons for the “hollowing out” of the middle class.

  • The problem isn’t immigration – far from it.   

  • The problem isn’t off-shoring or taxes or regulation.

It’s technology…

Rage Against the Machines 

In the US, the number of manufacturing jobs peaked in 1979 and has steadily decreased ever since.  At the same time, manufacturing has steadily increased, with the US now producing more goods than any other country but China. Machines aren’t just taking the place of humans on the assembly line. They’re doing a better job. 

And all this before the coming wave of AI upends so many other sectors of the economy.

“I am less concerned with Terminator scenarios,” MIT economist Andrew McAfee said on the first day at Asilomar. “If current trends continue, people are going to rise up well before the machines do.”

Andrew McAfee pointed to newly collected data that shows a sharp decline in middle class job creation since the 1980s. 

Now, most new jobs are either at the very low end of the pay scale or the very high end. He also argued that these trends are reversible, that improved education and a greater emphasis on entrepreneurship and research can help feed new engines of growth, that economies have overcome the rise of new technologies before.  But after his talk, in the hallways at Asilomar, so many of the researchers warned him that the coming revolution in AI would eliminate far more jobs far more quickly than he expected.  Indeed, the rise of driverless cars and trucks is just a start. 

New AI techniques are poised to reinvent everything from manufacturing to healthcare to Wall Street. In other words, it’s not just blue-collar jobs that AI endangers.

“Several of the rock stars in this field came up to me and said: ‘I think you’re low-balling this one. I think you are underestimating the rate of change’,” McAfee says.

That threat has many thinkers entertaining the idea of a universal basic income, a guaranteed living wage paid by the government to anyone left out of the workforce. But McAfee believes this would only make the problem worse, because it would eliminate the incentive for entrepreneurship and other activity that could create new jobs as the old ones fade away. 

Others question the psychological effects of the idea.

“A universal basic income doesn’t give people dignity or protect them from boredom and vice,” Etzioni says.

Also on researchers’ minds was regulation – of AI itself. 

Some fear that after squeezing immigration – which would put a brake on the kind of entrepreneurship McAfee calls for – the White House will move to bottle up automation and artificial intelligence.  That would be bad news for AI researchers, but also for the economy. 

If the AI transformation slows in the US, many suspect, it will only accelerate in other parts of the world, putting American jobs at even greater risk due to global competition. 

In the end, no one left Asilomar with a sure way of preventing economic upheaval.

“Anyone making confident predictions about anything having to do with the future of artificial intelligence is either kidding you or kidding themselves,” McAfee says.

That said, these researchers say they are intent on finding the answer.

“People work through the concerns in different ways. But I haven’t met an AI researcher who doesn’t care,” Etzioni says. 

“People are mindful.”

But they feel certain that preventing the rise of AI is not the answer. It’s also not really possible – a bit like bringing those old manufacturing jobs back…  

 

by Cade Metz,  February 10, 2017, Wired

Why Is Trump Adviser Wearing Medal of Nazi Collaborators?

gorka1

Editor’ Update: Gorka evidently felt compelled today to respond (via Breitbart) indirectly to our post here about his public display of a Vitezi Rend medal at an inaugural ball and on other occasions. We want to make clear that we respect his devotion to his parents and the commemoration of their experience and suffering. But we in turn are compelled to ask why his father joined a group with a known history of anti-Semitism and collaboration with the Nazis. And why does Gorka himself choose to honor his parents’ memory with a medal issued by Vitezi Rend, which apparently still propagates anti-Semitism and a degree of Holocaust denial, as described in this article published in December 2014 in the Budapest Beacon? It is in this context that Gorka’s defense of the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement – and its omission of any explicit reference to the fate of European Jews or anti-Semitism – is particularly noteworthy, not to say disturbing.

Just as we asked Gorka to comment on why he wore the Vitezi Rend medal before we published the original post, we would ask him now to explain why his father chose to accept membership in such a group and why, given its distressing historical and contemporary associations, he chooses to honor his parents’ memory in this particular and peculiar way. Eli’s original post commences below.

The White House’s omission of Jewish victims of the Holocaust in its statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day raised objections from Jewish groups across the political spectrum but the Trump administration’s combative defense was perhaps the most surprising move by a presidency facing record low approval numbers. Last Monday, Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka refused to admit that that it may have been poor judgment not to specifically acknowledge the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust.

Gorka was an odd choice of proxies for the White House to put forward in defense of its Holocaust Remembrance day statement.

He has appeared in multiple photographs wearing the medal of a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

When asked on Monday whether the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement was “questionable in being the first such statement in many years that didn’t recognize that Jewish extermination was the chief goal of the Holocaust,” Gorka told conservative talk show host Michael Medved:

No, I’m not going to admit it. Because it’s asinine. It’s absurd. You’re making a statement about the Holocaust. Of course it’s about the Holocaust because that’s what the statement’s about. It’s only reasonable to twist it if your objective is to attack the president.

That statement is particularly noteworthy when viewed in the context of Gorka’s apparent affinity for a Hungarian group with a checkered past.

Gorka, who worked in the UK and Hungary before immigrating to the U.S., was photographed at an inaugural ball wearing a medal from the Hungarian Order of Heroes, Vitezi Rend, a group listed by the State Department as taking direction from Germany’s Nazi government during World War II.

Gorka did not respond to a request for comment but appeared to be wearing the medal on his chest during the Trump inauguration ball and in an undated photo posted on his Facebook page.

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Hungarian Collaborators

Eva Balogh, founder of the news analysis blog Hungarian Spectrum and former professor of Eastern European History at Yale University, confirmed to LobeLog the identity of the medal worn by Gorka. She said:

Yes, the medal is of the “vitézi rend” established by Miklós Horthy in 1920. He, as a mere governor, didn’t have the privilege to ennoble his subjects as the king could do before 1918, and therefore the “knightly order” he established was a kind of compensation for him. Officers and even enlisted men of exceptional valor could become knights. Between 1920 and 1944 there were 23,000 such knights. The title was inheritable by the oldest son. I found information that makes it clear that Gorka’s father, Pál Gorka, used the title. However, since he was born in 1930 he couldn’t himself be the one “knighted.” So, most likely, it was Gorka’s grandfather who was the original recipient.

Gorka’s PhD dissertation lists his name as “Sebestyén L. v. Gorka,” which suggests that he is carrying on his father’s title, albeit in an abbreviated format, according to Balogh.

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The Order of Vitezi

Miklós Horthy, regent of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1920 to 1944, established Vitezi Rend for both civilian and military supporters of Horthy’s government. The group was initially open to non-Jews who served in distinction during World War I.

Although Horthy’s personal views about Jews are still debated, he was explicit in endorsing anti-Semitism even while showing some unease with the pace of the Holocaust. In an October 1940 letter to Prime Minister Pál Teleki, Horthy said:

As regards the Jewish problem, I have been an anti-Semite throughout my life. I have never had contact with Jews. I have considered it intolerable that here in Hungary everything, every factory, bank, large fortune, business, theatre, press, commerce, etc. should be in Jewish hands, and that the Jew should be the image reflected of Hungary, especially abroad. Since, however, one of the most important tasks of the government is to raise the standard of living, i.e., we have to acquire wealth, it is impossible, in a year or two, to replace the Jews, who have everything in their hands, and to replace them with incompetent, unworthy, mostly big-mouthed elements, for we should become bankrupt. This requires a generation at least.

In April 1941, Hungary became a de facto member of the Axis and permitted German troops to cross Hungary for the invasion of Yugoslavia. The first massacres of Jews took place in August when SS troops murdered between 18,000 and 20,000 Jews without Hungarian citizenship after they’d been deported from Hungary to Ukraine.

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Horthy and Hitler

By 1944, Horthy may have sought to distance Hungary from Nazi Germany but agreed to deport around 100,000 Jews. The German army removed Horthy from office after it occupied Hungary. Horthy’s actual awareness of the fate of Hungarian Jews remains unclear. But reports by journalists and the State Department in 1942 are explicit about the role played and benefits enjoyed by Vitezi Rend’s members.

A Jewish Telegraph Agency report from October 1942, describes how:

Confiscated Jewish real estate in Hungary will be distributed by the government among members of the “Hungarian Order of Heroes” it was announced today over the Budapest radio. The order consists of soldiers who distinguished themselves in the last World War or in the present war.

“In 1942 there was a so-called ‘land reform,’” said Balogh. “It actually meant the expropriation of agricultural lands owned by Jewish citizens. According to government propaganda this move was necessary to ease social tensions in the countryside but as a recent study (2015) shows, most of the land went to “loyal, middle-class supporters of the regime, among them members of the ‘vitézi rend.’”

A Checkered Legacy

The State Department lists the Order of Heroes as an organization that was “under the direction of the Nazi government of Germany.” Membership in such groups during World War II could make individuals ineligible for U.S. visas. The State Department’s website warns that membership in groups under this designation:

[R]enders ineligible for a visa any alien who participated in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion during the period from March 23, 1933, to May 8, 1945, under the direction of or in association with the Nazi Government of Germany or an allied or occupied government.

Vitezi Rend was banned during the Soviet occupation of Hungary but reestablished in exile. The order was awarded to members of the Hungarian diaspora and individuals in Hungary since 1983. Although appearing to largely promote Hungarian culture and the diaspora, it sought foreign donors to help fund the construction of a statue of Horthy in 2011. A fundraising document read, “We have decided after almost seven decades to erect a statue in honor of our beloved Regent and to remember him, therefore we ask for your support!”

“In post-World War II Hungary, no noble titles of any sort can be officially used,” said Balogh. “The ‘knightly order’ no longer officially exists. However, right-wing émigrés kept the order going abroad.”

She later added, “Many supporters of the Horthy regime were enamored by the Nazis and Hitler and the ‘knights’ were especially so. Put it that way, after 1948 one wouldn’t have bragged about his father being a ‘vitéz.’ Lately, however, especially since 2010, it has become fashionable again to boast about such ‘illustrious’ ancestors.”

Horthy, under Hungary’s center-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has undergone a controversial rehabilitation, with squares renamed in his honor and statues erected.

Gorka’s decision to publicly identify with Vitezi Rend raises questions about Trump’s adviser and the administration’s flirtations with anti-Semitism and the alt-right. It’s even more awkward that he’s the person defending the administration’s explicit omission of Jewish victim of the Holocaust from the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.

by Eli Clifton

Will Bannon’s Puppet Give Him the War He Wants?

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What do you do if you believe that your beloved white race is in an existential battle but it is not fighting back? In Steve Bannon’s case, the answer seems to be: You find yourself a puppet, get him elected President of the United States and make sure everybody realizes that this war is happening.

Bannon, the de-facto president Donald Trump’s chief strategist and National Security Council member, believes that the “Judeo-Christian West” has been in an epic conflict for years without recognizing the scope of this fight.

The former Breitbart chief laid out that part of his worldview when he did a Q&A via Skype as part of a conference held inside the Vatican in 2014.

“We have to face a very unpleasant fact. And that unpleasant fact is that there is a major war brewing, a war that’s already global,” Bannon told his audience in response to a question of whether secularism or the Muslim world were a bigger threat to the Judeo-Christian civilization.

He added a sense of urgency, noting that this threat has to be confronted immediately.

“Every day that we refuse to look at this as what it is, and the scale of it, and really the viciousness of it, will be a day where you will rue that we didn’t act,” Bannon said.

Since he made that statement, 954 days have passed — and Bannon is finally in a position to do something about it.

In Trump, he has found the perfect vessel. An insecure man looking for validation who can be coaxed to spring into action without much thought.

The self-proclaimed billionaire was not the first know-nothing whose coattails Bannon had hoped to ride into the White House. Before taking over Breitbart, he had courted 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin — another populist who wanted to drain the swamp and put America first — and tried to coax her into taking on President Barack Obama in 2012.

When Palin declined to run, Bannon had to sit on the sidelines for four more years before springing into action again. He made good use of that time by whipping the GOP’s Tea Party base into a frenzy with his far-right publication.

One question remains: Now that he has his hands on the levers of power, what is Bannon going to do? The Executive Order to seal off the US for people from seven Muslim countries was just the first step. ISIS, which is itching for a fight as much as Bannon, hailed that move, hoping it would lead to Muslims in the US turning against the country.

Next up might just be a confrontation with Iran. Trump has already tweeted that he put the country “on notice” for conducting a ballistic missile test. After that, who knows? One thing seems for sure: With both ISIS and Bannon determined to show that there is a global war happening between Muslims and the “Judeo-Christian West,” chances are that the world will take notice real soon.

 

DonkeyHotey and Klaus Marre February 5, 2017 |

Donald J. Trump and the Deep State, Part 2

  Peter Dale Scott, is a former Canadian diplomat, Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, co-founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies program at Berkeley, poet, and 2002 recipient of the Lannan Poetry Award.

  His political books include Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993), The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (2007), The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11 and the Deep Politics of War (2008), American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan  (2010), The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy (2014) and  Dallas ’63: The First Deep State Revolt Against the White House (2015).  A complete bibliography can be found on his website at http://www.peterdalescott.net.

  The following is Part 2 of a two-part series, excerpted from The American Deep State: Big Money, Big Oil, and the Struggle for U.S. Democracy, Updated Edition (copyright 2017) (paperback); by Peter Dale Scott with permission of the publisher, Rowman & Littlefield. All rights reserved.

Please go here to see Part 1.

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Trump and the International Deep State

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The first charge against Trump was the CIA-backed claim that Russian intelligence agencies hacked organizations affiliated both with Hillary Clinton and with the Democratic Party, and that the hacks were apparently “designed to benefit Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations in one fashion or another.”[52] (Politico also reported that “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office.”)[53]

A second charge against Trump, closely related, was that

as major banks in America stopped lending him money following his many bankruptcies, the Trump organization was forced to seek financing from non-traditional institutions. Several had direct ties to Russian financial interests in ways that have raised eyebrows. What’s more, several of Trump’s senior advisors have business ties to Russia or its satellite politicians.[54]

In May 2016 the Washington Post and Buzzfeed charged specifically that

Trump’s top adviser, Paul Manafort, has spent much of his recent career working for pro-Russian forces in Ukraine, and doing complex deals for an oligarch with close ties to Putin.…  Manafort … has, according to court documents, managed tens of millions of dollars for Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch denied entry to the U.S. reportedly for ties to organized crime, but so close to Vladimir Putin that top Russian officials fought (unsuccessfully) to get him a visa.[55]

On the eve of the new Trump presidency The New York Times reported that

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort… and Roger Stone.[56]

Paul Manafort

Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo credit: Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

In January 2017 Buzzfeed leaked the source of these charges: a private intelligence report transmitted by the CIA to Trump.[57] This report, by former British intelligence Christopher Steele, did not as released mention Deripaska at all, but contained instead an unexplained discussion of Deripaska’s bankers, the Alfa Group, along with its founders Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven.

Just before the election The New York Times reported that

For much of the summer, the F.B.I. … scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, … and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank….

F.B.I. officials spent weeks examining computer data showing an odd stream of activity to a Trump Organization server and Alfa Bank. … But the F.B.I. ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.[58]

The next day the Jewish paper Forward raised a question, not yet answered, about Alfa Bank’s principal owner, the philanthropist oligarch Mikhail Fridman, listed as #73 on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires in 2016 (once #20), and the second wealthiest Russian:

Is a Russian Jewish oligarch with Israeli citizenship and close ties to both Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu running a secret cyber-communications channel between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian authorities? [59]

The various speculations about the Trump link to Alfa and Fridman, whether innocuous or shady, justify a closer look at the charges about Alfa’s influence two decades ago, when Alfa’s dubious clout in Washington included protection from both senior Democrats like Richard Burt of Kissinger McLarty Associates and also senior Republicans like Dick Cheney.[60] As The Guardian reported in 2002, Alfa’s 1990s clout in Washington was demonstrated when its oil company, Tyumen,

was loaned $489m in credits by the US Export-Import Bank after lobbying by Halliburton…. The [Clinton] White House and State Department tried to veto the Russian deal. But after intense lobbying by Halliburton the objections were overruled on Capitol Hill [which then was Republican controlled]…. The State Department’s concerns were based on the fact that Tyumen was controlled by a holding conglomerate, the Alfa Group, that had been investigated in Russia for mafia connections.[61]

Veteran newsman Knut Royce (a major contributor to three Pulitzer Prize-winning stories) reported the details:

Under the guidance of Richard Cheney, a get-the-government-out-of-my-face conservative, Halliburton Company over the past five years has emerged as a corporate welfare hog, benefiting from at least $3.8 billion in federal contracts and taxpayer-insured loans.

One of these loans was approved in April by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. It guaranteed $489 million in credits to a Russian oil company [Tyumen, owned by Alfa] whose roots are imbedded in a legacy of KGB and Communist Party corruption, as well as drug trafficking and organized crime funds, according to Russian and U.S. sources and documents.

[Two reports, one by “a former U.S. intelligence officer,” and one by the Russian FSB] claim that Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest and most profitable, as well as Alfa Eko, a trading company, had been deeply involved in the early 1990s in laundering of Russian and Colombian drug money and in trafficking drugs from the Far East to Europe….

The FSB report, too, claimed that the Alfa Group’s top executives, oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven, “allegedly participated in the transit of drugs from Southeast Asia through Russia and into Europe.”[62]

This impression is reinforced by the statements and actions of Michael Flynn, Trump’s new national security advisor. Flynn has made several appearances on Russia’s RT network, where he has often argued “that the US and Russia should be working more closely together on issues like fighting ISIL and ending Syria’s civil war.” In June 2016 Flynn attended an RT gala dinner in Moscow, seated just two seats away from Putin. [63] And in December Flynn reportedly met with far-right Austrian political party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, whose Freedom Party had recently signed a cooperation deal with Putin’s United Russia Party. [64]

Igor Sechin, Vladimir Putin, Rex Tillerson

President Vladimir Putin, Igor Sechin, Chairman of the Board of Rosneft (left) and Rex Tillerson, Chairman of ExxonMobil signed an agreement on joint development of petroleum reserves in Western Siberia, June 2012. Photo credit: President of Russia / Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0)

An even closer friend of Putin in Trump’s team, ironically, is former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State.[65] In fact Tillerson, through Exxon’s development of Russian oilfields, “has deep ties to Russia, dating back to the Boris Yeltsin administration.”[66] As Julian Borger told the Guardian,

Putin… bestowed the Order of Friendship on Tillerson in 2013. The Wall Street Journal reported: “Friends and associates said few US citizens are closer to Mr. Putin than Mr. Tillerson.”[67] The 64-year-old Texas oilman spent much of his career working on Russian deals, including a 2011 agreement giving Exxon Mobil access to the huge resources under the Russian Arctic in return for giving the giant state-owned Russian oil company, OAO Rosneft, the opportunity to invest in Exxon Mobil’s operations overseas. ….The 2011 Exxon-Rosneft agreement was frozen when sanctions were imposed on Russia in 2014, following the annexation of Crimea and covert military intervention in eastern Ukraine. Exxon Mobil estimated the sanctions cost it $1bn and Tillerson has argued strenuously for the measures to be lifted.[68]

The $500 billion Exxon-Rosneft exploration deal, allegedly “the biggest oil deal ever,” was so huge that the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 that its temporary cancellation “put Exxon at risk.”[69]

Trump’s criticisms of Obama’s sanctions on Russia were one powerful reason for Exxon to prefer Trump in the 2016 election.[70] But Trump was also attractive for his promises of deregulation:

President Trump will “absolutely” be a boon to Exxon and the rest of the oil industry, Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., said in a telephone interview. “The industry hasn’t asked for a hand up from Washington, but instead has said, ‘Get off our backs.’ Less regulation means less burden” on oil explorers.[71]

And Trump clearly will continue Exxon’s longtime history of opposition to measures to control global warming.[72] (When still CEO, Tillerson ended Exxon’s two decades of strenuous climate change denial, and came out for a carbon tax. But skeptics, including The New York Times, suspected this was merely a skillful means of defeating the more viable “cap-and-trade” carbon proposals that were then being debated in Congress, and ultimately defeated.)[73]

My book The American Deep State documents the leading role played by Exxon behind the elections of the oil-friendly presidents Eisenhower in 1952, and Reagan in 1980 (below, pp. 18-20, 27-28). It is not surprising that Exxon in 2016 should have helped propel yet another former television performer into the White House.

The “Party of Davos” and the “New New International Order”

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In short, the Trump team connections to the Russian state and deep state — both overt (through Exxon) and covert (through Manafort and Alfa) would appear to link Trump to a shady larger network or networks connected also to the same Washington swamp he promised to drain. Such networks led me in the Preface to the French edition of this book to talk of

a supranational milieu of the super-rich, just eighty of whom are now said to own nearly as much as the 3.5 billion people who occupy the bottom half of the world’s income scale.[74] Thanks to the enormous increase in global wealth in recent years, the “global power elite” who meet annually at Davos now have far more influence on how the world will be governed than those who meet annually at the United Nations General Assembly.

Those at Davos do not need to give instructions to the American deep state, which is already structured around responsiveness to the requirements of extreme wealth in Wall Street and elsewhere. And some of them are members of what have been called “shadow elites, those whose influence stems from illicit or unconventional means.”[75]

Tom Friedman, John Kerry

“Diplomacy in an Era of Disruption” – Conversation with Secretary John Kerry and Tom Friedman on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2017. Photo credit: US Embassy Bern, Switzerland / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Naomi Klein, ascribing Trump’s victory to the neoliberalism of the Democrats and of Davos, has written of

the rise of the Davos class, a hyper-connected network of banking and tech billionaires, elected leaders who are awfully cosy with those interests (neoliberal policies), and Hollywood celebrities who make the whole thing seem unbearably glamorous.[76]

And before becoming the Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor in the Trump White House, Steve Bannon, while executive chair of Breitbart News, had said in a speech at the Vatican that working men and women in the world were “tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos.”[77]

Trump has just chosen an ambassador to the European Union, Ted Malloch, a professor “well-known for his pro-Brexit and anti-EU views,” positions consistent “with Trump’s longstanding anti-EU and anti-NATO biases.” Reporting this, Salon notes also that “some American foreign policy watchers are concerned that he is also motivated by his close ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.”[78]

The Trump attack on the “party of Davos,” the status quo of the world superclass, is likely to continue.[79] On January 26, Trump announced “he would strike numerous bilateral trade deals, as opposed to multilateral accords like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”[80]

This approach, which by itself could please China as well as Russia, seems to reflect a coherent effort to replace the old consensus of the “party of Davos”, with what the right-wing Drudge Report approvingly called the “new, new world order”.[81]

The  “New, New World Order” may be said to represent the mavericks of the international deep state, eager to dispense with the regulations of the old insiders. But they are still part of the nexus of uncontrolled big money, even if drawn more from the under-reported shady underside of that superclass.

As I write after just one week of Trump in office, it already seems clear that we can expect a “Trump revolution,” one that will almost certainly attempt to reflect and repeat the major features (deregulation, anti-abortion measures, a defense spending buildup, tax cuts for the rich, and deficit financing) of the Reagan revolution before it. And it should not be too surprising if the Trump revolution, just like the Reagan revolution before it, turns out to have been not just financed, but partly plotted, at the levels of the American and the international deep state.[82]

Personal Postscript

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As I write this new Introduction in January 2017, the involuntary response to Trump’s election from many of my friends in both political parties has been anger, hatred, or despair. Many, like Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post, have charged that “Donald Trump is a fascist.”[83] From such alienation, millions of people protested worldwide, the day after Trump’s inauguration, in what was perhaps the world’s first global political action. This was a welcome step towards shaping a global active public opinion.

Donald Trump, Joe Dunford, Mike Pence

President Donald Trump, General Joe Dunford and Vice President Mike Pence observe the 58th Presidential Inauguration Parade at the White House reviewing stand in Washington D.C., Jan. 20, 2017. Photo credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

It is true that Trump, like Hitler, campaigned against big bankers while quietly taking money from them. But the infant Weimar Republic Hitler overthrew, jerry-built amid the ruins of post-war Germany, cannot be compared to the constitution and civil polity of America, among the oldest and hardiest in the world.

I say below (p.99) that America is also exceptional

for its percentage of citizens who are incarcerated, for its disparity in wealth and income between rich and poor (a ratio exceeded among large nations only by China), and for its indiscriminate use of lethal power abroad.

From the beginning, America has been embroiled in major divisions, arising chiefly from its amazing diversity. But it is also the leader among world powers in its ability to process and transcend, however imperfectly, these divisions.

As so many times before in US history, we are entering another period of divisions and protests. But a successful protest of the nonviolent kind I hope for in this book (see below, pp. 164, 181-90) must be one inspired by deeply critical love of this flawed country, not by hatred.

References


[52] “Donald Trump’s Many, Many, Many, Many Ties to Russia.” Time, August 16, 2016, http://time.com/4433880/donald-trump-ties-to-russia/

[53] Kenneth P. Vogel and David Stern, “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire…. Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton,” Politico, January 11, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446: “A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.”

[54] Ibid.

[55] “Trump Adviser’s Ties Raise Security Questions,” BuzzfeedNews, May 6, 2016, https://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/manafort-russia?utm_term=.htL7NyLEDb#.elgKkM63xN, linking to “Inside Trump adviser Manafort’s world of politics and global financial dealmaking” (Washington Post, April 26, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-business-as-in-politics-trump-adviser-no-stranger-to-controversial-figures/2016/04/26/970db232-08c7-11e6-b283-e79d81c63c1b_story.html?utm_term=.db8349a4a754). These charges should not be confused with the more sensational Buzzfeed leak in January 2017 of a private intelligence report shown by the CIA to Trump (https://www.buzzfeed.com/kenbensinger/these-reports-allege-trump-has-deep-ties-to-russia?utm_term=.ppJ6nP7KJA#.hrE3zm5pPx). This report, by former British intelligence Christopher Steele, did not as released mention Deripaska, but contained instead an unexplained discussion of the Alfa Group, whose connections to Halliburton when run by Dick Cheney are discussed by me in American War Machine, 187.

[56] “Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates,” New York Times, January 19, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/us/politics/trump-russia-associates-investigation.html. For a critique of Manafort’s and Stone’s responses to the charges, see Joseph Cannon at http://cannonfire.blogspot.com/2017/01/busted-on-inauguration-day.html. In addition to the charge that Russian officials helped Trump, Politico has also claimed that “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton” (Ukrainian Efforts to Sabotage Trump Backfire,” Politico, January 11,2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446.

[57] https://www.buzzfeed.com/kenbensinger/these-reports-allege-trump-has-deep-ties-to-russia?utm_term=.ppJ6nP7KJA#.hrE3zm5pPx.

[58] Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers, “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia,” New York Times, October 31, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/us/politics/fbi-russia-election-donald-trump.html.c f. Geoffrey Smith, “Meet the Russian Bank with Ties to Donald Trump,” Fortune, November 2, 2016, http://fortune.com/2016/11/02/donald-trump-alfa-bank/.

[59] Larry Cohler-Esses, “Is Jewish Oligarch the Cyber Link Between Donald Trump and Russia?” Forward, November 1, 2016, http://forward.com/news/world/353170/is-a-russian-israeli-oligarch-running-a-covert-cyber-channel-between-trump/.

[60] Scott, American War Machine, 187: “Diligence’s chief transnational  connection  in  Russia  is  Alfa  Bank.  The chairman of Diligence from 2001 to 2007 was former U.S. ambassador and arms negotiator Richard Burt, of Barbour, Griffith and Rogers and McLarty Kissinger Associates. Burt, a neoconservative who once called the SALT agreement “a favor to the Russians,” is also on the Alfa Bank’s Senior Advisory Board in Moscow.

[61] “Cheney Firm Won $3.8bn Contracts from Government,” Observer, July 21, 2002, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/jul/21/globalisation.georgebush; quoted in Scott, American War Machine, 187. In 2003 the Alfa Group of investors formed a 50-50 joint venture with BP, called TNK-BP. A dispute in 2011 between Mikhail Fridman and BP led Rosneft, blocked in its plans to develop its Arctic oilfields with BP, to agree to a deal on the same Arctic acreage with ExxonMobil instead (Guy Chazan and John Thornhill, “Mikhail Fridman: The Alpha oligarch,” Financial Times, March 5, 2015, https://www.ft.com/content/b47de3d4-c325-11e4-ac3d-00144feab7de). See below.

[62] Knut Royce and Nathaniel Heller, “Cheney led Halliburton to feast at federal trough,” Center for Public Integrity [CPI]. August 2, 2000 Updated: 12:19 pm, May 19, 2014; https://www.publicintegrity.org/2000/08/02/3279/cheney-led-halliburton-feast-federal-trough. Alfa sued CPI for libel over the release of the Royce report, but in 2005 the suit was dismissed. Federal Judge John D. Bates wrote “No claim is made that the defendants fabricated the assertions in the CPI article. Nor are the allegations of organized mob ties and drug trafficking so inherently improbably [sic] that actual malice can be presumed” (“Libel case over mafia-Halliburton link dismissed,” Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, October 4, 2005, http://www.rcfp.org/browse-media-law-resources/news/libel-case-over-mafia-halliburton-link-dismissed).

[63] Michael Cowley, “The Kremlin’s Candidate,” Politico. May/June 2016, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/04/donald-trump-2016-russia-today-rt-kremlin-media-vladimir-putin-213833.

[64] Natasha Bertrand, “A far-right Austrian leader who just signed a pact with Putin says he met with Trump’s national security adviser in New York,” Business Insider, December 20, 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-flynn-putin-trump-austria-far-right-2016-12.

[65] I say “ironically,” because Exxon, until the 1960s, joined the other big oil majors in plotting to exclude the Soviet Union from international oil markets. This change is characteristic of how increasing globalization has changed the international deep state.

[66] http://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferwang/2016/12/13/trump-taps-exxonmobil-ceo-putin-ally- rex-tillerson-to-be-secretary-of-state/#46e49c726a55

[67] Cf. Bradley Olson, “Rex Tillerson, a Candidate for Secretary of State, Has Ties to Vladimir Putin,” Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2016, https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-candidate-for-state-has-close-ties-to-vladimir-putin-1481033938.

[68] Julian Borger, “Rex Tillerson: an appointment that confirms Putin’s US election win,” Guardian, December 13, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/11/rex-tillerson-secretary-of-state-trump-russia-putin .

[69] Daniel Gilbert, “Sanctions Over Ukraine Put Exxon at Risk: Deal With Russia’s Rosneft to Drill in Arctic Is Crucial to Oil Company,” Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2014, https://www.wsj.com/articles/sanctions-over-ukraine-put-exxon-at-risk-1410477455. The deal was originally made by Rosneft with BP, but the BP deal was blocked by a successful legal challenge from a company controlled by Mikhail Fridman. See above.

[70] An Exxon link to the Trump campaign surfaced in June 1916, when Paul Manafort, then the campaign chairman, hired leading Exxon lobbyist Jim Murphy to be the campaign’s national political director (Melissa Cronin, “This lobbyist denied climate change for ExxonMobil. Now he’ll do it for Trump,” Grist.org, June 7, 2016, http://grist.org/climate-energy/this-lobbyist-denied-climate-change-for-exxonmobil-now-hell-do-it-for-trump/).

[71] Joe Carroll, “Exxon CEO-in-Waiting to Inherit Rex Tillerson’s Mixed Legacy.” Bloomberg, December 12, 2016, 4:55 PM PST December 13, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-13/exxon-s-ceo-in-waiting-to-inherit-rex-tillerson-s-mixed-legacy.

[72] Farron Cousins, “Republican Attorneys General Met Secretly with Exxon Lobbyists to Stop Climate Change Investigations,” Desmog, September 30, 2016, https://www.desmogblog.com/2016/09/30/republican-attorneys-general-met-secretly-exxon-stop-climate-change-investigations.

[73] John Schwartz, “Tillerson Led Exxon’s Shift on Climate Change; Some Say ‘It Was All P.R.’”, New York Times, December 28, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/business/energy-environment/rex-tillerson-secretary-of-state-exxon.html.

[74] Patricia Cohen, “Oxfam Study Finds Richest 1% Is Likely to Control Half of Global Wealth by 2016,” New York Times, January 19, 2015. By an earlier estimate, “In 2010, the wealth of the world’s eleven million super-rich individuals stood at $43 trillion, or 70 percent of global gross domestic product” (Financial Times, May 6, 2012, 4).

[75] David Rothkopf, Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), 289; cf. xx.

[76] Naomi Klein, “It was the Democrats’ embrace of neoliberalism that won it for Trump,” Guardian, November 9, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/09/rise-of-the-davos-class-sealed-americas-fate. Cf. Andrew Ross Sorkin, “Dealbook: What to Make of the ‘Davos Class’ in the Trump Era,” New York Times, January 16, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/business/dealbook/world-economic-forum-davos-trump.html: “The World Economic Forum — an annual gathering of global policy and business leaders…  known as the ‘Davos class.’ It is this group of so-called plutocrats that largely failed to anticipate — and may have even unconsciously generated — the seeping anti-establishment movement across the globe.

[77] Matt Clinch, “The ‘party of Davos’ wakes up to the new, new world order,” CNBC, Januaty 9,  2017 http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/09/davos-wakes-up-to-the-trump-new-world-order.html.

[78] Matthew Rozsa, “President Trump’s United Nations, European Union ambassadors send early message, shock waves,” Salon, January 27, 2017, http://www.salon.com/2017/01/27/president-trumps-united-nations-european-union-ambassadors-send-early-message-shock-waves/.

[79] The “party of Davos” is a target of a new book by Hugh Hewitt (The Fourth Way: The Conservative Playbook for a Lasting GOP Majority (New York: Simon & Schuster, January 2017).

[80] “Trump says plans lots of bilateral trade deals with quick termination clauses,” Reuters, January 26, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-trade-idUSKBN15A2MP?feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews.

[81] Clinch, “The ‘party of Davos’ wakes up to the new, new world order,” CNBC, January 9, 2017.

[82] See Scott, The American Deep State, 101–08.

[83] Michael Kinsley, “Donald Trump is actually a fascist,” Washington Post, December 9, 2o16, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trump-is-actually-a-fascist/2016/12/09/e193a2b6-bd77-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html?utm_term=.09661e9af547.

DONALD J. TRUMP AND THE DEEP STATE, Pt. 1

America is being played yet again, but this time by a different player who claims, he wants to  “make America great again”, that he will “drain the swamp” in Washington (referring to eliminating political gridlock and the good ole boy politics). His approach is uncharacteristically different from what we have experienced from prior presidents, his cabinet picks however have been the antitheist of “draining the swamp” as he chosen elites from his billionaire class cronies and military generals as cabinet picks; unseen by the masses are the same tentacles of the ruling class elite that has always held sway in Washington. slf.

When the uninitiated think of the “Deep State,” they tend to imagine a group of men getting together in a room, smoking cigars and plotting world domination. But the Deep State is not one coordinated network of people controlling the government from the shadows.

Instead, it refers to individuals and groups that have the resources to shape the direction of the world to their benefit and don’t hesitate to make use of them. At times, the interests of different factions of the Deep State collide. That often happens when the direction of the world is rapidly changing, as is the case now after the election of Donald Trump.

Nobody knows this better than Peter Dale Scott, the foremost expert on the US Deep State. Below, you will find a new introduction to the paperback version of The American Deep State: Big Money, Big Oil, and the Struggle for U.S. Democracy, Updated Edition (copyright 2017), (with permission of the publisher, Rowman & Littlefield. All rights reserved). 

Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat, Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, co-founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies program at Berkeley, poet, and 2002 recipient of the Lannan Poetry Award.

His political books include Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993), The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (2007), The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11 and the Deep Politics of War (2008), American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan  (2010), The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy (2014) and  Dallas ’63: The First Deep State Revolt Against the White House (2015). A complete bibliography can be found on his website at http://www.peterdalescott.net.

***

On February 3, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported President Trump’s planed to pave the way for a broad rollback of the recent financial reforms of Wall Street.[1] Although no surprise, the news was in ironic contrast to the rhetoric of his campaign, when he spent months denouncing both Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton for their links to Goldman Sachs, even when his campaign’s Financial Chairman was a former Goldman Sachs banker, Steve Mnuchin (now Trump’s Treasury Secretary).

Trump was hardly the first candidate to run against the banking establishment while surreptitiously taking money from big bankers. So did Hitler in 1933; so did Obama in 2008. (In Obama’s final campaign speech of 2008, he attacked “the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street.”[2] But it was revealed later that Wall Street bankers and financial insiders, chiefly from Goldman Sachs, had raised $42.2 million for Obama’s 2008 campaign, more than for any previous candidate in history.)[3]

However, Trump’s connections to big money, both new (often self-made) and old (mostly institutional) were not only more blatant than usual; some were also possibly more sinister. Trump’s campaign was probably the first ever to be (as we shall see) scrutinized by the FBI for “financial connections with Russian financial figures,” and even with a Russian bank whose Washington influence was attacked years ago, after it was allegedly investigated in Russia for possible mafia connections.[4]

Trump’s appointment of the third former Goldman executive to lead Treasury in the last four administrations, after Robert Rubin (under Clinton) and Hank Paulson (under Bush), has reinforced recent speculation about Trump’s relationship to what is increasingly referred to as the deep state. That is the topic of this essay.

But we must first see what is really meant by ‘the deep state”.

What Is Meant by the Deep State?

.

Since 2007, when I first referred to a “deep state” in America, the term has become a meme, and even the topic of a cautious essay in The New York Times.[5] Recently it has been enhanced by a new meme, “the ’deep state’ versus Trump,” a theme that promoted Donald Trump as a genuine outsider, and entered the electoral campaign as early as August 2016.[6]

Trump reinforced this notion when he expressed opposition to America’s international defense alliances and trade deals that both traditional parties had long supported, as well as by his promise to “drain the Washington swamp.” It was encouraged again post-election by Trump’s longtime political advisor Roger Stone, formerly of the Washington lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly, once a major feature of that swamp.[7]

But those who saw the election as a contest between outsider Trump and a “deep state” tended to give two different meanings to this new term. On the one hand were those who saw the deep state as “a conglomerate of insiders” incorporating all those, outside and inside the traditional state, who “run the country no matter who is in the White House…and without the consent of voters.”[8] On the other were those who, like Chris Hedges, limited the “deep state” to those perverting constitutional American politics from the margin of the Washington Beltway — “the security and surveillance apparatus, the war machine.”[9]

But both of these simplistic definitions, suitable for campaign rhetoric, omit the commanding role played by big money — what used to be referred to as Wall Street, but now includes an increasingly powerful number of maverick non-financial billionaires like the Koch brothers. All serious studies of the deep state, including Mike Lofgren’s The Deep State and Philip Giraldi’s Deep State America as well as this book, acknowledge the importance of big money.[10]

It is important to recognize moreover, that the current division between “red” and “blue” America is overshadowed by a corresponding division at the level of big money, one that contributed greatly to the ugliness of the 2016 campaign. In The American Deep State (p. 30), I mention, albeit very briefly, the opposition of right-wing oilmen and the John Birch Society “to the relative internationalism of Wall Street.”[11] That opposition has become more powerful, and better financed, than ever before.

It has also evolved. As I noted in The American Deep State, (p. 14), the deep state “is not a structure but a system, as difficult to define, but also as real and powerful, as a weather system.” A vigorous deep state, like America, encompasses dynamic processes continuously generating new forces within it like the Internet — just as a weather system is not fixed but changes from day to day.

The Current Divisions in America and Its Wealth

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Three days before the inauguration of Donald Trump, “Frontline” on PBS began a two-part program, “Divided States of America,” documenting how the polarization of American public opinion has contributed to both stagnation in Washington and widespread popular anger, on both the left and the right, against the traditional two-party system.

The Frontline show failed to address the major role played by money in aggravating this public division. For example, it followed many popular accounts in tracing the emergence of the tax-revolt Tea Party to the apparently spontaneous call on February 19, 2009, by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli in Chicago, for a “tea party,” in response to President Barack Obama’s expensive bailouts.[12]

However, this event (on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a deep state institution) was not only staged, it had been prepared for in advance. A domain name, chicagoteaparty.org, had been registered for it in 2008, before Obama had even been elected.[13] Jane Mayer has conclusively demonstrated the role in the funding groups behind the Tea Party played by the brothers Charles and David Koch, who in 2014 were two of the ten richest people on earth, worth a combined $32 billion as owners of the largest private oil company in America.[14]  (Today their wealth is estimated at $84 billion.)

More important, as Mayer pointed out,

the Tea Party was not “a new strain” in American politics. The scale was unusual, but history had shown that similar reactionary forces had attacked virtually every Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt. Earlier business-funded right-wing movements, from the Liberty League [of the 1930s] to the John Birch Society to [Richard Mellon] Scaife’s [anti-Clinton] Arkansas Project, all had cast Democratic presidents as traitors, usurpers, and threats to the Constitution. The undeniable element of racial resentment that tinged many Tea Party rallies was also an old and disgracefully enduring story in American politics.[15]

The Kochs’ lavish funding of the Tea Party, along with anti-tax candidates and climate-change deniers, was only one more phase in what I described in 1996 as

an enduring struggle between “America Firsters” and “New World Order” globalists, pitting, through nearly all of this [20th] century, the industry-oriented (e.g. the National Association of Manufacturers) against the financial-oriented (e.g. the Council on Foreign Relations), two different sources of wealth.[16]

A decade later Trump has revived the slogan of “America First!”, and vowed to reconsider both NATO and multilateral trade. Both factions are still there today; but, as we shall see, both now have international connections.

American Politics and the Increase in Wealth Disparity

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Mayer’s helpful overview overlooks the alarming increase in wealth disparity since 1980 and especially in the last decade. Ten years ago, when I published The Road to 9/11, I noted that 225 billionaires owned as much as the bottom fifty percent of people in the world, and I repeated Kevin Phillips’ warning that

As the twenty-first century gets underway, the imbalance of wealth and democracy in the United States is unsustainable….  Either democracy must be renewed, with politics brought back to life, or wealth is likely to cement a new and less democratic regime— plutocracy by some other name.[17]

In 2010, only three years later, that indicator of disparity had risen up the pyramid from 225 billionaires to 43; and today the figure has shrunk still further to eight.[18]

As The New York Times reported in October 2015, just 158 families supplied half of the early money that had already poured into the 2016 campaign, and 138 of these families supported Republican candidates. Sixty-four of these 138 families made their fortunes in finance, mostly in hedge funds, private equity or venture capital. A further seventeen families were wealthy from energy, mostly oil and gas. What both these two groups were seeking was lower taxes and also deregulation: repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act reforming Wall Street, and (according to the Times) a lifting of the 40-year-old ban on export of US oil.[19]

Many were also “tied to networks of ideological donors who, on the left and the right alike, have sought to fundamentally reshape their own political parties” — on the one hand the twice-yearly anti-tax seminars hosted by the Kochs, and on the other “the Democracy Alliance, a network of liberal donors who have pushed Democrats to move aggressively on climate change legislation and progressive taxation.”[20]

Once again, a division in the American public was being fomented and funded by an old division within Big Money — roughly speaking, between those Trilateral Commission progressives, many flourishing from the new technologies of the global Internet, who wish the state to do more than at present about problems like wealth disparity, racial injustice and global warming, and those Heritage Foundation conservatives, many from finance and oil, who want it to do even less.

We see this ideological split even among the top eight US super billionaires in 2016, four of whom (Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Ellison) have made their fortunes from the Internet and want the present US to progress more or less along its recent course. Warren Buffett (once number one, now number three) endorsed Hillary Clinton early on, “while calling for increased taxes on the country’s highest wage earners.”[21] Deeply dissatisfied with the status quo were numbers seven and eight, the Koch brothers, who “have fortunes largely drawn from fossil fuels,” and have “poured money into fighting solar.”[22]

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett. Photo credit: Fortune Live Media / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Kochs assembled a donor network of fellow mavericks, many of whom were distinguished by private ownership of their businesses, and many (Jane Mayer pointed out) “had serious past or ongoing legal problems.”[23] In early 2015 their organization revealed that it would spend $889 million leading up to the 2016 presidential contest. As USA Today reported, this unprecedented sum, “unrivaled for an outside organization, represents more than double the nearly $400 million the Republican National Committee (RNC) raised and spent during the 2012 presidential election cycle.”[24] This huge organized flow of outside funds has contributed greatly to the weakening of party discipline in Congress, especially among Republicans.

Throughout the campaign, the Kochs and Trump (whose chief backer was another maverick billionaire, Robert Mercer) were apparently at arm’s length from each other. Vanity Fair suggested in September that at that time the Kochs were “in direct opposition to the Mercers,” in a “civil war that threatens to tear the party apart” — even though, starting around 2011, the Mercers had been donating “at least $1 million a year to the Koch network.”[25]

Whatever the tensions, it was clear after the election that Trump in his transition team had “surrounded himself with people tied to the Kochs.”[26] Soon the Trump nominee for Education Secretary was Betsy DeVos, another major billionaire contributor to the Koch donor list. (Betsy’s brother Erik Prince, famous as the founder and owner of the notorious private army Blackwater, was quietly advising the Trump transition team on matters related to intelligence and defense.)[27]

And Trump’s CIA Director is Mike Pompeo, formerly a Koch-sponsored congressman “who was so closely entwined with the climate-change denying Koch brothers that he was known as the ‘congressman from Koch.”[28] (The new administration has reportedly instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website.)[29]

Since his election, Trump has attacked the U.S. intelligence agencies for leaking information, and reporters as being among “the most dishonest human beings on Earth.” But while attacking the Washington establishment, he is clearly reflecting the dissident big money faction of the deep state, no longer as marginal as it was in the era of the John Birch Society and later Goldwater.[30]

As the campaign and pre-inaugural preparations progressed, it became clearer that Trump, no stranger to the world of big money, had brought the old big money camp into his campaign, as well as the new. In January 2017 Trump nominated to be his SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, a Sullivan & Cromwell partner who in the past has represented Goldman Sachs and other big banks in Wall street superdeals.[31]

Clayton is the fourth former Goldman-related Trump nominee for the new administration, all of them chosen under the eyes of Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, himself a former Goldman banker who moved on to become a Tea Party coordinator and executive director at the alt-right Breitbart News. (Bannon once promised to build “an insurgent, center-right populist movement that is virulently anti-establishment.”[32] It took only 10 days in the White House to make it clear that Bannon had “rapidly amassed power in the West Wing, eclipsing chief of staff Reince Priebus.”) [33]

Undoubtedly Trump entered politics as a maverick real estate investor and TV star, funding the early stages of his campaign himself. But as his campaign grew, he came to reach out more and more to Wall Street financing, notably from Robert Mercer, the co-CEO of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies,[34] Then Trump named as his campaign’s Finance Chairman Steve Mnuchin, formerly of Skull and Bones and Goldman Sachs.[35]

As many predicted, Mnuchin later became Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, which could make him the third former Goldman executive to lead Treasury in the last four administrations, after Robert Rubin and Hank Paulson. In addition, Trump has named Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs, as his chief economic advisor and Director of the National Economic Council.[36]

In short, Trump did not challenge but preserved the status of what Jeffrey Sachs has called

the Wall Street-Washington complex, which has steered the financial system toward control by a few politically powerful Wall Street firms, notably Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and a handful of other financial firms.[37]

Meanwhile, just as Trump expanded his financial base to all elements of big money, so Wall Street, as it always does, ensured it had good connections to both of the final candidates. After Mnuchin joined the Trump campaign, Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs announced in October 2016 his support of Hillary Clinton.[38]

All of this complexity calls for further reflection on the nature of the deep state.

Turkey and the International Deep State

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To survey the more serious accounts of the “deep state in the United States,” it is useful to begin with their summary in Wikipedia under this title: as a “state within a state, which [authors] suspect exerts influence and control over public policy, regardless of which political party controls the country’s democratic institutions.”

Citing five different authors, (including myself) Wikipedia expands this definition to include the military–industrial complex, intelligence community, Wall Street, plutocrats, “big oil,” the mainstream media, national security officials, and Silicon Valley.[39]

All five authors see two essential components to the deep state. On the one hand is big money. On the other are the extra-constitutional Washington Beltway agencies like CIA that Wall Street originally campaigned for and staffed, along with the government-oriented industries that these agencies and the Pentagon work with and outsource to.[40]

Besides myself, Philip Giraldi and Mike Lofgren have also recognized that “the term was actually coined in Turkey, and is said to be a system composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary, and organized crime.”[41] A more precise definition is that of Hugh Roberts:

The notion of the deep state … originated in Turkey, where it connoted not merely the secretive apparatuses of the state such as the police and intelligence services but above all the shady nexus between them, certain politicians and organised crime.[42]

But I may be the only author showing the extent to which the Turkish deep state, when first exposed in 1996, both overlapped with the American deep state and revealed its dark underside.

The Turkish term “deep State” (deren devlet) was coined after the so-called Susurluk incident, a 1996 car crash whose victims included the deputy chief of the Istanbul Police Department, a Member of Parliament, and Abdullah Çatlı, an international heroin trafficker and killer recruited by the Turkish police for “special missions” and paid in heroin while he was officially being sought by the Turkish authorities for murder.[43]

We see in the Susurluk incident three features of the Turkish deep state, unmentioned by Lofgren, that not only resemble the American deep state but are actually a significant component of it (and still of major importance today).

The first is that it was partly international: Abdullah Çatlı was part of a death squad chiefly recruited from the ranks of the Turkish OHD (Ozel Harp Dairesi – Special Warfare Department). The OHD had originally been set up with US encouragement as the Turkish branch of NATO’s Operation Gladio, a stay-behind force in the event of a Warsaw Pact invasion. Diverted and renamed Counter-Guerrilla to suppress the Kurdish resistance movement, the OHD troops continued to be trained in the US and to use US counterinsurgency manuals.[44]

Abdullah Çatli, Turkey, Deep State

Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Minestrone / Wikimedia, David Benbennick / Wikimedia and Abdullah Çatli / Twitter.

The second is that the international deep state connection revealed at Susurluk was partly criminal: the sanctioned para-state activities with Çatlı were financed by billions of dollars in profits from drug smuggling; just as the CIA in Laos and elsewhere utilized a protected drug traffic to finance its covert operations in Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Afghanistan.[45] Çatlı, a convicted drug trafficker with a special Turkish passport, was himself part of this post-Gladio international network:

Çatlı, according to Yalçın and Yurdakal, visited Miami in 1982 in the company of a known Gladio agent (and Italian neo-Nazi) and was considered to be “under the protection” of the CIA.[46]

(The Gladio agent was Stefano delle Chiaie, who had his own connections to state-sponsored terrorist activities in Italy, to the World Anti-Communist League or WACL, and more specifically to death squads working for the Operation Condor murder operation in Latin America, sponsored by the right-wing dictatorships in the region.[47] The CIA had its own shadowy connections to all three, as well as to Gladio.)

The third feature of the Susurluk event is that it was and remains a largely inscrutable intelligence-related event, or what in this book I call a “deep event,” like similar events in the United States, such as the John F. Kennedy assassination. Nearly all western accounts of the car crash overlook the claim that it was not an accident but an intended assassination.[48] Moreover the Turkish deep state was later suspected in the Turkish coup attempt of Ergenekon in 2007,[49] and its one-time parent, the US deep state, in the failed military coup of July 2016.[50] Both of these coup attempts reveal elements of what I mean by deep events.

Not just in Turkey, but also in the United States, respected authors have linked the deep state to what I call (pp. 98, 119) “structural deep events,” unsolved mysterious events that affect the political system of the country.[51] As I write, there have been a series of charges that, if substantiated, would seem to link Trump not only to an element of the American deep state, but also to an element of the Russian deep state.

References

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[1] Michael C. Bender and Damian Paletta, “Donald Trump Plans to Undo Dodd-Frank Law, Fiduciary Rule,” Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-moves-to-undo-dodd-frank-law-1486101602. Cf.

[2] R.G. Ratcliffe, “Obama’s final campaign speech of 2008,” Houston Chronicle, October 27, 2008, http://blog.chron.com/texaspolitics/2008/10/obamas-final-campaign-speech-of-2008/.

[3] Eugene Kiely, “Obama, “White House ‘Full of Wall Street Executives’?” Factcheck.org, March 1, 2012.

[4] Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers, “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia,” New York Times, October 31, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/us/politics/fbi-russia-election-donald-trump.html (FBI); “Cheney Firm Won $3.8bn Contracts from Government,” Observer, July 21, 2002, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/jul/21/globalisation.georgebush. See below.

[5] Anand Giridharadas, “Examining Who Runs the United States,” New York Times, September 15, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/15/us/examining-who-runs-the-united-states.html?_r=0. I believe the first to apply the Turkish term “deep state” (derin deret) to U.S. politics was the Swedish writer Ola Tunander (Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11 [Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007], x, 244, 270, 384).

[6] Michael Covel, “The Deep State V. Trump,” Daily Reckoning, August 25, 2016, https://dailyreckoning.com/deep-state-v-trump/: “Donald Trump has the establishment scared out of their establishment minds.”

[7] Ryan Lizza, “Roger Stone Versus the ‘Deep State’”, New Yorker, January 20, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/roger-stone-versus-the-deep-state. Stone has been described as a “political provocateur” who “helped choreograph the… riot which shut down the Bush v. Gore recount in Miami-Dade County” (Jeffrey Toobin, “Bad Old Days,” New Yorker, May 2. 2016, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/02/the-political-provocateur-roger-stone-talks-trump. During the campaign, Stone and fellow provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart together promoted the divisive notion  “how the general election will almost certainly be hijacked by acts of voter fraud” — by Democrats (Ken Meyer, :Roger Stone Says There Will Be a ‘Bloodbath’ if Election is Stolen From Trump,” Medaite.com, August 2, 2016, http://www.mediaite.com/online/roger-stone-says-there-will-be-a-bloodbath-if-election-is-stolen-from-trump/. Their politics of division is shared by Steve Bannon, who “is so dominated by a desire to wage war and vanquish his enemy that he cannot think clearly about damage wrought by his destructive, polarizing approach” (Conor Friedersdorf, “The Radical Anti-Conservatism of Stephen Bannon,” Atlantic, August 25, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/the-radical-anti-conservatism-of-stephen-bannon/496796/).

[8] Covel, “The Deep State V. Trump.” Cf. John W. Whitehead, “The Deep State: The Unelected Shadow Government Is Here to Stay,” Rutherford Institute, November 10, 2015, https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/the_deep_state_the_unelected_shadow_government_is_here_to_stay: “The Deep State…is comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes right now.”

[9] “Chris Hedges on How the ‘Deep State’ Will Influence the Trump Presidency,” Truthdig, Jan 17, 2017, http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/chris_hedges_the_deep_state_will_influence_the_trump_presidency_20170117. In this camp are Glenn Greenwald, who equates the “deep state” with “the intelligence community,” and Eric Margolis, who equates it with “the massed national security apparatus” (Glenn Greenwald, “The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer,” The Intercept, January 11, 2017, https://theintercept.com/2017/01/11/the-deep-state-goes-to-war-with-president-elect-using-unverified-claims-as-dems-cheer/; Eric Margolis, “Trump Versus the Deep State,” The Unz Review, January 13, 2017, http://www.unz.com/emargolis/trump-versus-the-deep-state/.

[10] Mike Lofgren, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (New York: Viking, 2016); Philip Giraldi, “Deep State America,” The American Conservative, July 30, 2015, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/deep-state-america/.

[11] Peter Dale Scott, The American Deep State (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), 30. I later wrote in Dallas ’63: “In The American Deep State I devoted only a few lines to the oppositional faction of right-wing Texas oilmen and the John Birch Society, opposed to the relative internationalism of Wall Street. In this [book] we shall see that under Kennedy their opposition was so deeply embedded that America was, for a while, ruled by a dyadic deep state” (Peter Dale Scott, Dallas ’63: The First Deep State Revolt Against the White House [New York: Open Road Media, 2015], 191).

[12] “Divided States of America,” Part 1, Frontline, PBS, January 17, 2017. Cf. Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (New York: Doubleday, 2015), 165-68.

[13] Rick Ames and Yasha Levine, “Exposing The Rightwing PR Machine: Is CNBC’s Rick Santelli Sucking Koch, The Exiled, February 27, 2009, http://exiledonline.com/exposing-the-familiar-rightwing-pr-machine-is-cnbcs-rick-santelli-sucking-koch/; Chris Douglas, “The Tax That Started the Tea Party,” FrumForum. September 3, 2010, http://www.frumforum.com/the-tax-that-started-the-tea-party/. Cf. Peter Dale Scott, “POEM: To the Tea-Party Patriots: A Berkeley Professor says Hello!,” GlobalResearch, November 2, 2010, http://www.globalresearch.ca/poem-to-the-tea-party-patriots-a-berkeley-professor-says-hello/21727; reprinted in Peter Dale Scott, Tilting Point (San Luis Obispo, CA : Word Palace Press, 2012), 42.

[14] Jane Mayer, “Covert Operations: The Billionaire Brothers Who Are Waging a War Against Obama,” New Yorker, August 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/08/30/covert-operations; Mayer, Dark Money, 167-68, 193. In 2014 the Koch brothers were tied for sixth place among the world’s wealthiest, with $40.7 billion each. Combined, their net worth is $81.4 billion, which was higher than the highest-ranking individual on the list — Microsoft founder Bill Gates, at $77.8 billion (Louis Jacobson, “Harry Reid says Koch brothers are richest family in the world,” Politifact, April 2, 2014, http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/apr/02/harry-reid/harry-reid-says-koch-brothers-are-richest-family-w/). Chris Douglas observes, “Until the Bush tax cuts, the estate tax stood at 55%.  As a result of the tax cuts initiated by the Bush administration, by 2010, it was zero.  Unless Congress acts, it will return full-force to 55% in 2011. To understand the impact on the Koch family, consider that some reports place the wealth of the Koch brothers at $36 billion dollars [in 2010; four years later Forbes estimated it at $81 billion], their company second at times only to Cargill as the largest privately held company in America. To the Koch family, a 55% estate tax means they must contemplate a corporate re-organization, the result of which would conceptually be to go public and sell off 55% of their shares in order to pay the tax or, more likely, that they would donate the majority of shares to a charitable foundation.   Either way, the estate tax at 55% would entail a transformation of Koch Industries and a diversification of ownership, with ramifications for the family’s long term control” (Chris Douglas, “The Tax That Started the Tea Party”).

[15] Mayer, Dark Money, 167. Cf, Nella Van Dyke and David S. Meyer, eds., Understanding the Tea Party Movement (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Pub. Company, 2014), 100.

[16] Peter Dale Scott, “Bringing It All Together: The New Releases and How They Help Us Converge on the Heart of the Case,” The Fourth Decade, Vol. 4, #1, November, 1996; republished at http://www.assassinationweb.com/scotte.htm. Of the eleven businessmen at the 1958 founding meeting of the John Birch Society, many, including the founder Robert Welch, were former members of the National Association of Manufacturers (Terry Lautz, John Birch: A Life [New York: Oxford University Press, 2016]. 225). One was William J. Grede, who served as president of the National Association of Manufacturers in 1952. Still another was Fred Koch, father of Charles and David Koch (Jeff Nesbit, Poison Tea: How Big Oil and Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the GOP [New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2016], 30; Van Dyke and Meyer, Understanding the Tea Party Movement, 100). Charles and David Koch also joined the John Birch Society.

[17] Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich (New York: Broadway Books, 2002). 422; quoted in Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11 [Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007], 3, cf. 254.

[18] “World’s Eight Richest as Wealthy as Half Humanity, Oxfam Tells Davos.” Reuters, January 16, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-davos-meeting-inequality-idUSKBN150009.

[19] “From Fracking to Finance, a Torrent of Campaign Cash,” New York Times, October 10, 2015,

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/11/us/politics/wealthy-families-presidential-candidates.html#donors-list. Much of the petroleum wealth was probably also aimed at preventing climate change regulations.

[20] “From Fracking to Finance, a Torrent of Campaign Cash,” New York Times, October 10, 2015.

[21] Amy Chosick, “Warren Buffett Endorses Hillary Clinton and Calls for Higher Taxes on Wealthy,” New York Times, December 16, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/12/16/warren-buffett-endorses-hillary-clinton-and-calls-for-higher-taxes-on-wealthy/?_r=0.

[22] Sarah Jaffe, Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt (New York: Nation Books, 2016), 265. None of the eight endorsed Trump, who pointedly distanced himself from the Kochs during the campaign.

[23] Mayer, Dark Money, 17.

[24] Fredreka Schouten, “Koch brothers set $889 million budget for 2016, USA Today, January 27, 2015, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/01/26/koch-brothers-network-announces-889-million-budget-for-next-two-years/22363809/.

[25] Abigail Tracy, “The Brewing Billionaire Feud at the Heart of the G.O.P.,” Vanity Fair, September 7, 2016, http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/robert-rebekah-mercer-charles-david-koch-republican-party.

[26] Kenneth P. Vogel and Eliana Johnson, “Trump’s Koch Administration,” Politico, November 28, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/trump-koch-brothers-231863

[27] Jeremy Scahill, “Notorious Mercenary Erik Prince Is Advising Trump from the Shadows,” The Intercept, January 17 2017, https://theintercept.com/2017/01/17/notorious-mercenary-erik-prince-is-advising-trump-from-the-shadows/: “In July [2016], Prince told Trump’s senior adviser and white supremacist Steve Bannon, at the time head of Breitbart News, that the Trump administration should recreate a version of the Phoenix Program, the CIA assassination ring that operated during the Vietnam War, to fight ISIS.”

[28] Mayer, Dark Money, 15, 276.

[29] Valerie Volcovici, “Trunp Administration Tells EPA To Cut Climate Page from Website: Sources,” Reuyers, January 25, 2017, http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN15906G?feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews.

[30] On page 5 of this book, I refer to a formerly “minority element in our political economy [that now] finances and dominates both parties, and indeed is now also financing threats to both parties from the right, as well as dominating our international policy. As a result, liberal Republicans are as scarce in the Republican Party today as Goldwater Republicans were scarce in that party back in 1960.” Today I would no longer define this element as “the military-industrial complex,” but the trend has become even more clear.

[31] Matt Taibbi, ‘Trump Nominee Jay Clayton Will Be the Most Conflicted SEC Chair Ever,’ Rolling Stone, January 5, 2017, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/trump-pick-jay-clayton-to-be-most-conflicted-sec-chair-ever-w459289. Clayton’s wife Gretchen is a wealth management advisor at Goldman Sachs.

[32] Conor Friedersdorf, “The Radical Anti-Conservatism of Stephen Bannon,” Atlantic, August 25, 2016.

[33] Josh Dawsey, Eliana Johnson and Annie Karni, “The man behind Trump? Still Steve Bannon,” Politico, January 29, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/donald-trump-steve-bannon-234347.

[34] “How One Family’s Deep Pockets Helped Reshape Donald Trump’s Campaign By Nicholas Confessore Aug. 18, 2016 http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/19/us/politics/robert-mercer-donald-trump-donor.html?_r=0

[35] Bloomberg BusinessWeek, August 31, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-08-31/steven-mnuchin-businessweek When Mnuchin was Financial Chairman of the Trump campaign, his counterpart at the RNC was Lew Eisenberg, his father’s old partner at Goldman Sachs.

[36] Pam Martens and Russ Martens, “Here’s How Goldman Sachs Became the Overlord of the Trump Administration,” Wall Street on Parade, January 9, 2017, http://wallstreetonparade.com/2017/01/heres-how-goldman-sachs-became-the-overlord-of-the-trump-administration/

[37] Jeffrey D. Sachs, The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity (New York: Random House, 2011), 117.

[38] Zeke Faux, “Goldman CEO Blankfein ‘Supportive’ of Clinton for Pragmatism,”

Bloomberg, October 22, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-10-22/goldman-ceo-blankfein-supportive-of-clinton-for-pragmatism.

[39] “Deep state in the United States,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_state_in_the_United_States. The five authors are Philip Giraldi, Bill Moyers, David Talbot, Mike Lofgren, and myself.

[40] Scott, The American Deep State, 14-15, 30-35, etc.) The Pentagon, unmentioned by Wikipedia, is hard to classify. Although the Department of Defense is part of the official state and headed by a cabinet member, it contains within it the NSA, which simultaneously reports to the Director of National Intelligence. Other Pentagon agencies, such as DIA and JSOC, also deserve to be classified with the deep state.

[41] Mike Lofgren, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (New York: Viking, 2016), 5. I see no further references in Lofgren’s book to organized crime; his notion of the deep state focuses primarily on the Beltway agencies.

[42] Hugh Roberts, The Hijackers.” London Review of Books, July 16, 2015, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n14/hugh-roberts/the-hijackers, a review of Jean-Pierre Filiu, From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-revolution and Its Jihadi Legacy (Oxford : Oxford University Press, [2015]).

[43] Jean-Louis Briquet; Gilles Favarel-Garrigues; Roger Leverdier, eds. Organized Crime and States: The Hidden Face of Politics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). 43-44; Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010), 19-20. Çatlı “is reckoned to have been one of the main perpetrators of underground operations carried out by the Turkish branch of the Gladio organisation and had played a key role in the bloody events of the period 1976-80 which paved the way for the military coup d’état of September 1980” (“Turkey’s pivotal role in the international drug trade, Le Monde diplomatique, July 1998).

[44] Desmond Fernandes and Iskender Ozden, “United States and NATO inspired ‘psychological warfare operations’ against the ‘Kurdish communist threat’ in Turkey”. Variant. 12, https://web.archive.org/web/20060614080445/http://www.variant.randomstate.org/12texts/Fernandes.html; Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe (New York: Frank Cass, 2005), 241.

[45] Hakan Aslaneli and Zafer F. Yoruk, ‘Traffic Monster’ reveals state-mafia relations”. Hürriyet, November 7, 1996; Scott, American War Machine, 4-6, etc.

[46] Ryan Gingeras, Heroin, Organized Crime, and the Making of Modern Turkey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 228; citing Soner Yalçın and Doğan Yurdakul, Reis: Gladio’num Türk Teriçisi (Istanbul: Doğan Kitapeilik, 2007), 152-56.

[47] Scott, American War Machine, 20; cf.p.30: In Italy “Stefano delle Chiaie was eventually accused of involvement in the Piazza Fontana and Bologna bombings as well as the Borghese coup.” The Condor Operation (about which I will say more) was responsible for the 1976 murder in Washington of former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier.

[48] HRFT Human Rights Foundation of Turkey Human Rights Report – TİHV, en.tihv.org.tr/wp-content/uploads/2015/…/Ra1998HumanRigthsReport.pdf, 39. In addition, no one has yet fully explained why one of the fake passports found in Çatlı’s possession was in the name “Mehmet Özbay”, an alias used fifteen years earlier by Mehmet Ali Ağca, the Turk who in 1081 attempted to kill Pope John Paul II (Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan [Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010], 19; Ryan Gingeras, Heroin, Organized Crime, and the Making of Modern Turkey [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014], 228.

[49] Dexter Filkins. “The Deep State,” The New Yorker, March 12, 2012, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/03/12/the-deep-state: “Prosecutors maintain that Ergenekon is the deep state itself—not merely a cabal of reactionary officers within the military but a shadow government that aims at making Turkish democracy permanently unstable.”

[50] Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu, “Turks Can Agree on One Thing: U.S. Was Behind Failed Coup,” New York Times, August 2, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/world/europe/turkey-coup-erdogan-fethullah-gulen-united-states.html?_r=0.

[51] On page 47 I speak of “a deep event, by which I mean an event predictably suppressed in the media and still not fully understandable.”

by Peter Dale Scott, February 2017

Kissinger…A Longtime Putin Confidant…Sidles Up To Trump!

 


Henry Kissinger has been promoting himself as a potential intermediary between a Trump White House and Russia.

AP Photo

America’s pre-eminent ex-diplomat

gets back in the mix.

Could he help broker a deal

with Russia?


 
Back in the 1990s, Henry Kissinger, the legendary former U.S. secretary of state-turned-global consultant, encountered an intriguing young Russian and proceeded to ask him a litany of questions about his background.

“I worked in intelligence,” Vladimir Putin finally told him, according to ‘First Person,’ a 2000 autobiography cobbled together from hours of interviews with the then-unfamiliar Russian leader.

To which Kissinger replied:

“All decent people got their start in intelligence. I did, too.”

As Vladimir Putin climbed the ranks in the Kremlin, eventually becoming the autocratic president he is today, he and Kissinger kept up a warm rapport even as the United States and Russia grew further apart. 

Kissinger is one of the few Americans to meet frequently with Putin, one former U.S. ambassador recently recalled – along with movie star Steven Seagal and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, the likely next secretary of state. 

Now, as Donald Trump signals that he wants a more cooperative relationship with Moscow, the 93-year-old Kissinger is positioning himself as a potential intermediary:

meeting with the president-elect in private and flattering him in public.

Like Trump, Kissinger has also cast doubt on intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia sought to sway the election in Trump’s favor, telling a recent interviewer:

“They were hacking, but the use they allegedly made of this hacking eludes me.”

Some have expressed surprise that the urbane, cerebral former top diplomat would have any affinity for the brash, shoot-from-the-lip Trump. 

But seasoned Kissinger watchers say it’s vintage behavior for a foreign policy realist who has cozied up to all sorts of kings and presidents for decades.  And in fact, Trump may wind up an ideal vessel for Kissinger – the architect of detente with the Soviets in the 1970s – to realize his longstanding goal of warmer ties between the two Cold War adversaries.  For years, Kissinger has argued that promoting a greater balance of power between the U.S. and Russia would improve global stability. 

But skeptics fear this approach will sacrifice other values and reward bad behavior by the Kremlin, including,

  • its alleged election meddling

  • its invasion of Ukraine

  • its support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad

There’s also the question of how Kissinger himself would personally benefit from a new reset with Russia. 

Aside from the reputational boost of having easy access to two major world leaders, the former secretary of state’s secretive consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, could get a bump in business.

“I think Kissinger is preparing a diplomatic offensive,” said Marcel H. Van Herpen, a Russia specialist and Putin critic who directs the Cicero Foundation, a Dutch think tank. 

“He’s a realist. The most important thing for him is international equilibrium, and there’s no talk of human rights or democracy.”

Trump aides did not offer a comment on the president-elect’s relationship with Kissinger, who served as secretary of state and national security adviser in the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. But sources familiar with the transition effort say the Manhattan real estate mogul is fascinated by Kissinger as well as other Republican elder statesmen, such as Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice, to whom he has turned for advice on policy and staffing. 

Kissinger and Trump have chatted on multiple occasions, including during at least one face-to-face meeting since the Nov. 8 election. And Kissinger, to the surprise of many in the broader foreign policy establishment, has spoken admiringly – albeit carefully – about the Trump phenomenon. Even after Trump spoke directly with the president of Taiwan – a move that angered Beijing and went against the One China policy that Kissinger negotiated in the 1970s – the former secretary of state expressed confidence Trump would uphold U.S. diplomatic traditions with the Chinese. Associates of Kissinger also are in touch with others in the Trump orbit. 

One top Kissinger aide, Thomas Graham, is being floated among lower-level transition interlocutors as a potential ambassador to Russia, according to a source familiar with the conversations. Graham met with House Foreign Affairs Committee staffers on Capitol Hill earlier this month, accompanied by other Russia observers, according to four people familiar with the session. Graham also sought meetings in the Senate. Graham appeared to be trying to identify people who shared similar outlooks on Russia and had connections to the Trump transition, three of the people said. 

Kissinger also has praised Trump’s choice of Tillerson as the next secretary of state, dismissing worries that the ExxonMobil chief is too close to the Kremlin.

“He would be useless at the head of Exxon if he was not friendly with Russia… I don’t hear those concerns at all,” Kissinger said at an event in Manhattan. 

“Nobody can meet every single qualification for secretary of state. I think it’s a good appointment.”

Kissinger Associates doesn’t disclose its clients under U.S. lobbying laws. 

The firm once threatened to sue Congress to resist a subpoena for its client list. It has in the past advised American Express, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and Daewoo. But the firm does belong to the U.S.-Russia Business Council, a trade group that includes ExxonMobil, JPMorgan Chase and Pfizer. A person familiar with the Trump team’s national security planning warned against reading too much into the Trump-Kissinger relationship. 

The president-elect, the person said,

“admires the reputation and the gravitas but isn’t necessarily persuaded by the Kissingerian worldview.”

That may be true when it comes to China, a frequent subject of Trump’s ire, and the need to maintain a strong NATO, whose usefulness Trump has repeatedly questioned. But Trump’s desire for warmer ties with Russia has been one of the more consistent stances he’s taken, and he could find alignment with Kissinger. POLITICO’s attempts to reach Kissinger did not succeed this past week. 

But despite his unsavory reputation among human rights advocates – who recite a litany of moral offenses from Vietnam to Bangladesh – presidents of both political parties have sought Kissinger’s advice for the past 40 years, and he’s been eager to oblige. 

During the final years of the George W. Bush administration, as relations with Moscow were souring, Kissinger teamed up with Evgeny Primakov, the former Russian prime minister and head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to co-chair a working group focused on bilateral relations between the U.S. and Russia. Putin blessed the venture. According to Kissinger, Bush, too, hoped the initiative would yield positive results, even assembling members of his national security team to learn about its work in 2008. 

But the payoff was modest, at best:

Russia sent troops into the former Soviet state of Georgia in August 2008, angering the Bush administration, which imposed limited sanctions.

When Barack Obama took over the presidency from Bush, he sought Kissinger’s help on how to deal with Putin. 

A 2009 meeting between Kissinger and Putin helped lay the groundwork for a new arms-control pact as part of Obama’s effort to “reset” Russian relations. Kissinger remained involved in arms negotiations through 2010, according to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails released by the State Department. But ultimately that reset failed as well, for reasons that include Putin’s frustrations over U.S. support of NATO and European Union expansion, which he believed threatened Russian influence in countries such as Ukraine. 

In a February speech honoring Primakov, who died last year, Kissinger sketched out his view of the way U.S.-Russian relations should work.

“The long-term interests of both countries call for a world that transforms the contemporary turbulence and flux into a new equilibrium which is increasingly multi-polar and globalized,” he said. 

“Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium, not primarily as a threat to the United States.”

“Ukraine needs to be embedded in the structure of European and international security architecture in such a way that it serves as a bridge between Russia and the West, rather than as an outpost of either side,” he said.

In Syria, he likewise called for the U.S. to cooperate with Russia, which has used indiscriminate air power to help Assad crush rebel forces.

“Compatible U.S.-Russian efforts coordinated with other major powers could create a pattern for peaceful solutions in the Middle East and perhaps elsewhere,” he advised at the time.

Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, noted that it’s not yet clear how far Trump will go to accommodate Russia. The president-elect’s pick for defense secretary is James Mattis, a retired Marine general who views Moscow as a major threat. 

And Trump, who prides himself on his deal-making skills, may ultimately conclude that Russia has little to offer.

“Does Trump get to a better relationship with Russia without getting something for it in terms of better behavior?” Pifer asked. 

“If we’re prepared to accept what they’re doing in Syria, Crimea, and Eastern Ukraine, we can have a better relationship, but we’ve sacrificed other interests and it’s not clear what we get for that.”

In an interview with CBS News that aired earlier this month, Kissinger spoke of both Trump and Putin in terms that suggested a sense of respect, if not necessarily awe. 

Trump, Kissinger said,

“has the possibility of going down in history as a very considerable president.”

Because of perceptions that Obama weakened America’s influence abroad,

“one could imagine that something remarkable and new emerges out of a Trump administration,” he said. “I’m not saying it will. I’m saying it’s an extraordinary opportunity.”

Putin, meanwhile, is a “character out of Dostoyevsky,” Kissinger said, a reference to the 19th-century author who chronicled the often bleak lives of Russians in novels such as “Crime and Punishment” and “The Idiot.”

“He is a man with a great sense of connection, an inward connection, to Russian history as he sees it,” Kissinger said of Putin.

The Kremlin took it as a compliment.

“Kissinger knows our country really well, he knows our writers and our philosophers so such comparisons from him are quite positive,” a spokesman for the Russian government said, adding that Kissinger “has deep knowledge, not superficial.”

 by Nahal Toosi and Isaac Arnsdorf , December 24, 2016, from Politico Website