Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 27: Another step back....

This will probably be just a short note. It bothers me I was not more critical of Gwynne Dyer, yesterday.

He was commenting on the Ukrainian crisis - and rather dismissive of it. They were just, he said, replaying the old strategic game, probably to later include China. But nothing much with relation to China is likely to happen for thirty years. So why worry?

Russia cannot invade the US; it can't  match the US for military spending; any damage it could do to the US is bearable;  So why worry?

The trouble with all that reasoning is that thirty years is not a long time; Russia has limited ability to attack the US but what it has could do serious damage (and to Canada as well - we can't be the US doggy without running that sort of risk); and it could make western Europe a desert.

As for China, we  have no idea what sort of economic and military shape the US will be in in thirty years. We have no idea what form Asian alliances might take. ( Yes, the Asians might be wary of a rising China and it's threat to their well-being. But the US has a pretty bad reputation in that area, too.)

Dyer's tone is that as things are now they shall forever be. That's not true and, indeed, it's most unlikely.

1. The US maintains its high military spending by borrowing sums of money so huge they can never be paid back. Already, nations are disposing of their American dollars before it's too late.

2. As well, US corruption is so huge and pervasive that it takes enormous spending just to reach an acceptable level of defence.

3. The military spending is maintained only at appalling neglect of the social needs of Americans. Food stamp allowances are regularly cut, even as the number of hungry rises. (One American child in 5 now lives in hunger. And the payment of food stamps is arranged in such a way that they must usually be cashed in banks - yielding huge profits for the banks - so even feeding the hungry is a corrupt business.

American society is cracking under a tremendous strain. The risk of social disorder is high. That is not my opinion. That is the opinion of the US government - which is why it is militarizing its police forces to prepare for war against its own people, why substantial numbers of combat soldiers are now kept based in the US, why the US is now a police state with thousands of spies watching everyone, and why the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the constitution simply no longer exist.

It will be interesting to see how the US conducts wars against Russia, China, and the US all at the same time.

Meanwhile, the US (and, increasingly, Canada) is really  governed by a business class that has no moral principles whatever. It exists to make money for itself. It has no other purpose.It has abandoned the American people so it can make bigger money elsewhere. It has conducted wars that have killed millions  (nobody has any idea how many millions) so it can make more money. Wherever it has gone - in Central America, in Africa, it has spread brutality, poverty, and mass murder. It is now spreading poverty in western Europe - in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, and Britain.

There's a reason for morality. A society won't work without it. Societies all around the world are breaking down because of a thoroughly immoral business and political leadership.  Greed is their only purpose. No society can survive that. Business leadership is destroying other societies, its own society and, thus, itself. Greed can create enormous stupidity. In all this, the US is the leader, with a fuzzy little Canada barking at its heels.

Oh, and Russia could inflict only minor damage on the US? It might not be possible to do as much damage as they would like. But it wouldn't take many nuclear hits to change the US dramatically - and Canada. And Western Europe could cease to exist.

This is really not a very good time to play strategic games. The greatest danger facing this world, by far, is the corruption and displacement of democratic government by big business over the past 50 years or so. If we don't, if we simply defeat Russia and China, we will have done nothing about the greatest and most destructive force that threatens us.


  1. Excellent article Graeme

  2. I don't even read Dyer anymore-does he ever leave London now? But again, the american public counts even less than they used to. They pretty much have protest down to a science. According to the state department, the Vietnam War ended because it was getting too expensive-both to run, but more importantly to police the protests.

    Now, even large protests are largely peaceful. So I think your gloom and doom scenario's don't actually hold up. When you say 'society doesn't last without morals' thats kind of vague. Rome lasted for hundreds of years with 'morals' that appal us today. There are LOTS of societies that last a long time with horrible morals. The Ottoman Empire lasted for 400,even 500 years depending how you define it.

    That poor people live on food stamps is pretty irrelevant-there has always been poor in the US, and its usually not the poor who protest anyway.

    The war talk is kind of unrealistic and hypothetical, particularly when adding in China. It sounds like you think Dyer is too far on the laickadaisical spectrum, which may be true, but I think you are too far to the opposite. As we know from experience, the US ONLY likes to attack countries which have virtually no ability to defend themselves. "Great galloping Gettysberg Batman, we've got to get down to Grenada before we're overrun!"

    Even nominal damage in an american city could be the catalyst that US leaders fear-that they would rise up against their own government. This isn't world war 2, which the US only grudgingly entered (late as usual).

    As for the dollar, thats a bit of a trumped up issue so far. Its no surprise that most of this talk comes from underground conspiracy websites. China is basically stopping doing primary trade with the US dollar, something that is most practical and expected. In Iran its basically a barter system because of the american embargo, and its perfectly reasonable that an economy the size of China should expect foreign payments in its own currency rather than US.

    And to point out, Great Britain and Japan both use their own currencies for foreign payments, but I'm yet to see a headline talking about how the Yen or Pound are going to take over as international currencies. As the saying goes, when Canada is settling up with, say, France, using the Chinese remnibi or whatever its called, then it makes some sense to talk about this issue. Til then, its just something pundits keep talking over.

    And in case readers have missed it, China is not exactly doing swimmingly of late either. And the main reason that the US IS the international currency is that horrible capitalist system you are deriding WAY too harshly. Its very true about the haliburtons, Enrons, Googles, of the country, but they are hardly representative. The reason countries use it as a standard currency is because its stock market is so LIQUID. Compare that with China's state run economy and you can see why nobody is rushing out to make that their alternative currency.

    A little too strident, but yeah, Dyer's predictions that everything is 'status quo' neglects to factor in lots of modern issues that weren't around during the first cold war. But keep in mind the economics-as has been pointed out numerous times, in economic areas the US is not above using threats and bribes. So at this point, who would you feel more threatened by...the US or China? Which means their dominance may be around for a long time yet.

    In fact, though it probably doesn't show up in nb's hackneyed media, Diane Francis' is going around with her book setting up organizations trying to get Canada to JOIN the US. So like you say, in 30 years things could be VERY different.

  3. The the poor live on foods stamps is irrelevant because they always have?

    The number who need food stamps is dramatically up - and the number who can get them is down. Nor is there any sign it will get better.
    The US is the international reserve currency is because the US has been powerful enough to enforce that. It has nothing to do with capitalism. And nations are switching to Chinese currency.
    China is not doing swimmingly lately? It's certainly slowed down. It's still doing far better than the US.

    You say I'm harsh about capitalism. But you don't say why. Ever heard of Central america? Congo? The US itself?
    Would I feel more threatened by US or China? Both. Both operate on much the same system. You don't think the US would mistreat people who are much like Americans? Look what it's doing to Americans.

    I don't know what you mean by China's state-run economy. In fact, it's run much like that of the US, by cliques of billionaires and politicians.

    Enron is NOT representative? Oh. Tell me all about the highly moral and good corporations.

    The talk of the US invading Russia and China is not mine. It has been openly discussed and advocated by leading american businessmen ever since 1945. The Vietnam war was connected to that. Study up on world navies and warship design. You'll find that the modern US navy is designed largely for operations against China - just as, in the 1920s, it was designed for operations against Japan.

    Protests are almost never by the poor? Oh, tell me about all the protests in the streets by the rich.

  4. Protests are done by the middle class, take a look at the occupy movement. Fredericton has a relatively vast network of poverty for a city its size, during the height of the occupy movement they had maybe ten people, mostly students.

    The US doesn't 'force' anybody to use its currency-they might have before. When South Africa said they were going to repay China using chinese currency, the US never said anything. Same with the EU. And just a reminder, about a decade ago all the same things were being said about the Euro taking over as the main international currency.

    Name ONE country which has switched to chinese currency-apart from china. This is the kind of stuff that pops up all over the internet, sort of like how the next financial meltdown is going to be this, this, this year.

    The US economy is highly liquid which means there are multiple sources of financial instruments. You can put in or pull out money very quickly. In china there is nothing, it is a state run economy, there is virtually no reason for a country unrelated to china to use its currency. Its true that apparantly they are beginning to stockpile gold for the future, but again, thats the future.

    And just today there was a piece on China and its new 'worker revolution' and how workers there now are demanding social security. China is in a far more precarious position with its population than the US is. I can remember the 80's when Japan was going to be the next economic superpower and was going to replace the US. Now, not so much.

    I'm not sure how naval designs are different for China versus Japan, both have extensive coastlines with shallows around them. Its not like they decided to make ships smaller to go up the rivers, if anything, they are making them bigger.

    And again, the US is notoriously cowardly when it comes to warfare. They basically run the world, however, I suspect that even if China took over in many aspects, there are enough media propagandists in the US that they could spin it in such a way nobody would tell the difference. The main reason they keep hyping it is to keep the budget for defense spending up anyway.

    As for corporations, there are MILLIONS of them in the US and around the world. Most of them you never hear two words about and wouldn't even know they existed. So to say they are bad is like saying all family owned businesses are bad because of Irving.

    Like I said, I don't really disagree with your main points, just some of the finer details. On that note, you may want to download The Current podcast of a couple of weeks ago. They interviewed a guy who was essentially saying the same as you, so it appears there are at least SOME gaps in the media filter.

  5. Well, I have to defer to the insight of one who can look at ten students (protesting) in Fredericton, and tell at a glance that they are middle class. And can also deduce from that that all protests are middle class.
    That means that historians will have to take another look at the veterans' demonstration in Washington in the depression, the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, the march on Ottawa during the depression,,,,,,
    The US is cowardly about warfare?? This is a country that has been fighting wars almost every year since 1776. Since the second world war, it has been the most warlike country in the world. I might call that bullying. I would scarcely call it cowardice.
    I know there are millions of corporations. That's why I usually refer to big business. I have never said that ALL corporations wield enormous power or that ALL are corrupt.
    Yes, you will get the occasional person in the news media who will tell the truth. The fact remains that MOST news media, by far, do not tell the truth - and that includes MOST of the world's major news outlets.
    Many countries have abandoned the US dollar as the reserve currency. That includes even a country as dependent on the US as Australia. It trades with China using Chinese currency.

    As to the strength of the US dollar, you position suggests it could spend whatever it likes and never, ever be in trouble. This will come as news to any economist I have ever heard of.

    I'm afraid we're watching something serious in Ukraine and, increasingly, I suspect the people in the US who want a war with Russia may now be in the driver's seat.

    As to whether we can expect serious domestic violence in the US, don't tell me it's okay. Nothing will happen. Tell the US government. It's the one that has thrown out most of its constitution to set up a police state, and that is arming and training the police for domestic violence.

  6. Oh - you can tell a lot from naval building. Right after World War 1, the US began building aircraft carriers, major ships with very long range, and a large fleet of supply ships - oh, and long range submarines.
    Because they saw Japan as the next great threat to US ambitions. As an island heavily dependent on imports, Japan was especially vulnerable to submarines. The Pacific was a huge ocean, creating the need for aircraft carriers were land bases were rare. The vastness also meant that the carriers didn't have to worry much about attack by masses of land-based aircraft, so they could afford to had light, unarmoured decks _ which reduced topweight and so allowed them to built the hull higher to have an extra deck for aircraft storage.

    The American fleet today continues many of these characteristics. That's because they, too, are intended mainly for the Pacific. And that means China.

  7. Australia paying China in their own currency is not a reserve. Australia does 77 billion dollars a year in trade with China, it does only 9 billion with the US. 30% of its trade is with China, only 5% with the US. Thats hardly 'dependant'.

    The eurozone does the exact same thing, but again, nobody is talking about the euro taking over as international currency (anymore).

    As for protest, I wasn't talking ancient history. It can be argued whether during that period there was even a middle class in existence in Canada, so obviously they couldn't protest. There were tons of youtubes done by the occupiers in Fredericton, they SAID they were students, and very clearly were not living in poverty.
    The poor in New Brunswick have plenty of reason to protest. New Brunswick is the ONLY province in canada which doesn't recognize the supreme courts assertion that panhandling is freedom of speech, so in New Brunswick you can actually go to jail for doing something which is legal in every other province in canada. Number of protests: 0.

    It took almost seven years of lobbying for New Brunswick to finally include residents of boarding houses in its residential tenants act. Prior to this, they had no housing rights AT ALL. They could be evicted for any reason the landlord wanted. Number of protests: 0. Amount of municipal funding for the Fredericton homeless shelter: 0. Number of protests:0.

    Go look at who is doing the protests for shale gas (apart from natives). Go look at abortion, both pro and con. The latest protest was jail house guards. In fact the most common protests at the leg are organized labour-many of which are the highest paid people in society. VIrtually everywhere the minister of the environment goes there is a protest from small woodlot owners. Not rich to be sure, but not poverty.

    Again, if you look at who the US goes to war with, they are extremely cowardly. There's a reason the cold war lasted almost fifty years. Guatamala, Nicaragua, Chile, Vietnam, Korea, Grenada, Panama. Iraq in the first war was probably the biggest military they had yet met, but they also knew that Iraq had just gone through a brutal war with Iran. When you see a kid on the playground who beats up on smaller kids, even if they do it a lot, its still pretty cowardly.

    The US is always blowing hot air. That's not to say they won't act, it would be absurd to state that. But the US officials have said plainly that there is no military option. There are blowhards on Fox who will say to go to war with Canada if they can't think of another place.

    I never said anything of the kind about the US dollar, I simply pointed out the simple fact that NOBODY has so far dropped them as the reserve currency. The US was also a basket case after the first George Bush, it took Clinton only two terms to turn its economy around.

    As for the constitution, come on, the US only has ever taken that seriously when it wants to. Just go watch video's of the chicago riots during the seventies and compare them to the occupy movement. The US has pretty much ALWAYS been a police state. The last large scale public protest we saw in the US was teachers in some midwest state who brought down a government because of anti labour legislation.

    But I'm not predicting. In this world just about anything can and often does happen. But like I said, I find it ironic that the most war talk I hear from anywhere is here-the guy who says we don't want to go to war. I haven't even heard the word mentioned anywhere else. But you could well be right, maybe there will be a war with Russia, and maybe the US society will collapse completely. But those are a lot of 'ifs'.

  8. Interesting, although I think you just reinforced my point. Any attack on China would be identical to Japan, because the land masses surrounding China are inaccessible to the US (I assume it was a slip but I liked the comment "the pacific WAS a huge ocean":)

    I would think Aircraft carriers are suitable for just about any international venture where targets are within aircraft range and its not possible to build land bases-or where a constant presence isn't required.

    Most of that seems immaterial now, the Zumwalt series of destroyers is a whole different type of animal, which looks more like a waste of taxpayer dollars as China has no more naval ability (that we know of) than Japan did.

  9. You need to read up on warships. Aircaft carriers are NOT suitable to just about any international venture. American carriers of WW2 would have been in serious trouble in the Mediterranean where operations were necessarily in range of land=based bombers. Those unarmoured decks made sense only a long way from land.

    The British used amoured decks ( which meant fewer aircraft) because they DID have to operate close to land.

    And there is no similarity between attacks on Japan and China. Japan is a small island. China is a huge landmass.
    No country can spend and spend while the rich get richer and the poor poorer. They now raise money by selling bonds. China has already slowed down on buying them. And someday, China and others will just say no.