Comments on the Saker’s Risks and Opportunities for 2017, and in particular, comments addressed to a response to the Saker by “proper gander”
The Saker’s article addresses his expectations of the Trump presidency and reviews events from 2016:
This article was written for the Unz Review: http://www.unz.com/tsaker/risks-and-opportunities-for-2017/
Just a few days into 2017 and we can already say with a great degree of confidence that 2017 will be a historical year. Furthermore, I submit that 2017 will be the “Year of Trump” because one of roughly three things will happen: either Trump will fully deliver on his threats and promises, or Trump deliver on some, but far from all, his threats and promises or, finally, Trump will be neutralized by the Neocon-run Congress, media, intelligence community. He might even be impeached or murdered. Of course, there is an infinity of sub-possibilities here, but for the purpose of this discussion I will call the first option “Trump heavy”, the second one “Trump light” and the third one “Trump down”. Before discussing the possible implications of these three main options, we need to at least set the stage with a reminder of what kind of situation President Trump will be walking into. I discussed some of them in my previous analysis entitled “2016: the year of Russia’s triumph” and will only mention some of the key outcomes of the past year in this discussion. They are:
- The USA has lost the war against Syria.
- Europe is in a state of total chaos.
- Russia is now the most powerful country on the planet.
- China is now locked into a strategic alliance with Russia
- Iran is too powerful to be bullied or submitted. [sic]
How will Trump deal with these fundamentally new challenges? [He elaborates at length].
- First, I think that there is a good chance that Russia, Iran and Turkey will succeed in stopping the war against Syria.
- Second, I think that Poroshenko will lose power this year.
- That leaves me with one area of great concern to me: Latin America.
Proper gander’s response is the first comment that follows the Saker article:
proper gander on January 12, 2017
This [the Saker’s] is a very naive article.
Good counter-propaganda has made it look like the geopolitical points of the article are bigger than they are:
that the US lost in Syria
that Russia is super powerful
that Iran is bold and free
that Europe is failing from its own ineptitude
and the China Russia alliance is convenient and healthy.
In fact, looking at the whole picture, the USA beat the planet up very successfully and comes out the winner 10 to 1 between 2000 and 2016.
The issue at stake is that the USA (and to a lesser extent UK, EU, Aus, Jap, Can) survives only by being able to force the planet to trade in dollars, which allows it to issue debt risk free and skim 60+% of world trade through its correspondent and Swift banking system. In 2008 nations that must exchange their real cash and services for that stinking pile of paper started to move away from the dollar. This is what the BRICS etc are about. The USA had to destroy this system rising against it, or die.
To that end it endeavored to tear up the competition and remain with the dollar on top. In the 15 years since 9/11 the USA has successfully:
1. destroyed the oil producers that wanted to trade oil in other than the dollar by bombing them into the stone age (Iraq Libya)
2. torn the heart out of the BRICS
3. taken over the governments of S America.
4. Crushed commodities and sunk South africa
5. Crushed emerging economies by ever strengthening the dollar as it did before in the late 90s
6. Spread military bases into 46 of 52 African nations.
7. Ringed the S periphery of Russia and China with long range missiles and drones.
8. Broken the growing relationship between Eu and Russia by a coup in Ukraine, placing mass military hardware into Eu, continually removing Eu strength with financial and political subterfuge, including Brexit, flooded it with US sponsored migrant
9. extended NATO right up to the Russian border, including Afghanistan and Kazakhstan
10. Made merry hell with Russian economic cooperation with the EU
11. Smashed Syria to pieces and illegally built more military bases inside the country than Russia has, all on oil fields
12. etc etc etc.
All of this during the US’s ‘pivot to Russia’. It’s successes were huge, against which the winning of Allepo, Crimea and Donbas by Russia were bold, necessary but minor rear-guard actions that also gave live training to Russian troops and weapons testing.
What does 2017 bring? The US have achieved nearly everything they wanted from the pivot to Russia. Trumps ‘china bashing’ will do the same: while the world concentrates on a minor spat between China and some regional territory (what do you think the talk of Taiwan, S Korea, etc is about?), instigated and funded by the US, behind the scenes they will rip through the rest of Asia buying up and tearing governments to pieces and planting their military everywhere. And then the scene will be set for the big war.
I think proper gander did an excellent job making his case. No one should underestimate the ability of the US to wreak destruction globally. But then, Rome did a good job of building an empire as well.
It reminds me of a situation with some friends of mine who had been renting for many years. Out of the blue the owner decided to end their tenancy and rent the house to his daughter. Upon inspection, it turned out the reason my friends had allergic reactions that couldn’t be sourced was that there was rot under the siding and in the ceiling of the house. No one knew about it. And my friends had been prepared to buy that house.
My comments focus on the following issues:
- The US economy is rotten and collapsing
- Trump has enemies who have a number of tools to remove him as president
- Brzezinski and Kissinger will promote divide and conquer in US relations with Russian and China, but that will fail because these countries have combined themselves in a manner that is fundamental and substantial
- The US military-industrial complex can’t break out of its arms development stagnation short of the imposition of martial law in the US
- The likely outcome is a serious sustained political war on Trump and perhaps a hot war initiated by the US itself or by its proxies
Economic rot that has no fix
Rumor has it Rome actually progressively weakened to the point of collapse because of its pension system. When it stopped settling its citizen soldiers on the land that over time was concentrated in the hands of its oligarchy, it had to pay pensions in currency. Eventually, with debasement of the currency the army wound up auctioning off the emporership to the highest bidder. Martin Armstrong details that history here: What Destroyed Rome was its Unfunded Government Employee Pensions
The pension rot in the US and the developed world is staggering in its enormity: OECD countries facing $78 trillion in pension liabilities — Citi report This is the economic canary in the economic mine that quit singing some time ago. It is the real time indicator that industrial economies that don’t generate wealth anymore. (see: Deflation in the casino: central banks play their last chips to no avail)
Trump removed via surgical strike
The US Constitution allows for the removal of the president in a rather simple fashion, and without an impeachment process. Let’s examine the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution:
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.[emphasis added]
There are 15 cabinet officers, therefore:
Trump needs to own:
8 cabinet officers (would checkmate the process of removal)
35 Senators and/or
Pay attention to the positions his cabinet nominees take. Danger Will Robinson!! We could wake up one morning and discover Vice President Pence and the majority of the cabinet have decided to remove Trump because he is “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Whatever that means.
The geopolitical elders speak, but . . .
Brzezinski thinks the US should do it in the road with China: Brzezinski: America’s Global Influence Depends On Cooperation With China and thereby divide China from Russia and work out global hegemony with China:
The danger I see is provoking antagonism [by Trump with China] in this foremost relationship of American foreign policy without any significant strategic accomplishment. It is not in our interest to antagonize Beijing. It is much better for American interests to have the Chinese work closely with us, thereby forcing the Russians to follow suit if they don’t want to be left out in the cold. That constellation gives the U.S. the unique ability to reach out across the world with collective political influence.
Kissinger thinks the US should do it in the road with Russia: Primakov Lecture by Henry A. Kissinger at the Gorchakov Fund in Moscow and thereby divide Russia from China and work out global hegemony with Russia.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, I perceived international relations as an essentially adversarial relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. With the evolution of technology, a conception of strategic stability developed that the two countries could implement, even as their rivalry continued in other areas. The world has changed dramatically since then. In particular, in the emerging multipolar order, Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium, not primarily as a threat to the United States.
I have spent the greater part of the past seventy years engaged in one way or another in U.S.-Russian relations. I have been at decision centers when alert levels have been raised, and at joint celebrations of diplomatic achievement. Our countries and the peoples of the world need a more durable prospect.
I am here to argue for the possibility of a dialogue that seeks to merge our futures rather than elaborate our conflicts. This requires respect by both sides of the vital values and interest of the other. These goals cannot be completed in what remains of the current administration. But neither should their pursuits be postponed for American domestic politics. It will only come with a willingness in both Washington and Moscow, in the White House and the Kremlin, to move beyond the grievances and sense of victimization to confront the larger challenges that face both of our countries in the years ahead.
In not too far a reach analogically, if you can’t figure out who’s the patsy at the table, it’s you. The likelihood that Russia and China can be subjected to divide-and conquer is essentially nil. I refer readers to Larchmonter 445’s Vineyard of the Saker White Paper: the China-Russia Double Helix
Introduction by Larchmonter 445:
Saker asked me if I could provide an article regarding China and Russia. I told him that I thought the entwining of the two was far deeper and meaningful than ‘deals’ for commodities and weapons. He added that the two militaries had gone through highly unique, for the two nations, training and had scheduled more for next year to push their integration capabilities.
I felt that what I had learned studying China for over a dozen years, the relationship was qualitatively unique in international history, far from just a special partnership category. There was a bonding in process. Double Helix was, to my mind, an ideal metaphor. Thus, the article became a large presentation. But the two nations are two of the largest and the bonding in process is comprehensive.
Finally, can the US MIL get its act together?
The following is a very good description of the problem and likelihood of failure to solve the problem.
A New Strategic Approach to Military-Technical Advantage
Theory of Change
In June 2014, the Center for a New American Security released “Creative Disruption: Technology, Strategy and the Future of the Global Defense Industry.” The paper argued that the United States military risks losing its technological advantage if the Department of Defense and its industry partners do not adapt to widely recognized strategic, technological, and business trends.
Concerns over the United States’ military-technical superiority are not new, and criticisms of the Department of Defense’s acquisition system are long-standing. As Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has noted, “Acquisition reform has been a perennial topic in defense circles for years.” Despite near-annual attempts to address acquisition problems since the Packard Commission in 1986 – including recent reform efforts, such as the Better Buying Power initiatives launched by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics (USD (AT&L)) and major Congressional reforms through 2016 and 2017 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) – there have been relatively few improvements to the system’s outcomes. Clearly, this failure to change is not due to a lack of proposed solutions but is the consequence of inadequate political will and ineffective execution. Given broad acceptance among acquisition and industry professionals that the current system is flawed, endless recommendations for reforms, persistent bureaucratic intransigence, and a lack of meaningful change, how can the Department of Defense establish a reliable approach to generating and maintaining technological superiority in the 21st century?
. . .
The DoD must view military-technical challenges as a strategic issue requiring fundamental change. Defining military-technical superiority in terms of acquisition reform, process, procedures, and organizational structure – even though those are critical elements for success – undersells the importance of the challenge and may fail to drive action at the highest decisionmaking levels. Moving forward will demand sustained attention from the most senior leaders in the department, Congress, and industry, who must push change down into the middle levels of their bureaucracies while also enabling innovation to advance from the bottom up.
. . .
To execute such an ambitious strategy, the DoD must foster a high level of cooperation among DoD components, Congress, and its partners. The department must take the lead in creating the vision, strategy, systems, and incentives necessary for change, but it will require external support to implement and fully realize the benefits of a new strategy. If the DoD works in concert with its colleagues on the Hill, Congress will be able to remove political, legislative, and budgetary roadblocks. A joint effort between the DoD and defense industry will strengthen that market sector, allowing companies to plan for their futures in a way that is financially viable, shape their long-term planning and investment strategies, and make the case for change to their shareholders.
While a reframing of strategy is the optimal solution, there is no recent historical evidence to suggest it is likely. In the absence of effective DoD leadership, Congress likely will continue to act as a change agent, attempting to force reform through legislation as seen in the 2016 and draft 2017 NDAA bills. Such efforts will be better than no change at all, but Congress could better facilitate progress by dictating the outcomes it desires, rather than assigning specific solutions.
In the absence of effective change from either the executive or legislative branches of government, the defense industry must explore ways in which it can adapt independently.[emphasis added]
The US technological advantage edge is relatively simple to maintain: . . . the defense industry must explore ways in which it can adapt independently. How about a declaration of martial law?–as the Congress was threatened with back in 2008 over a matter of a few trillion here and there of banking losses–Bush threatened Congress with Martial Law!
My thought is that keeping this empire from going off the rails is not a no-brainer. I’m in substantial agreement with most of proper gander’s conclusions that follow below (his comment is the first comment that follows the saker article linked at the top), except that business about SDRs, which amounts to more fiat toilet paper:
Why war? Because interest bearing debt requires an ever-expanding market in order for interest on past debt to be paid. If it fails to aggressively expand into virgin markets and populations (which Ru and China clearly intend to stop), it needs the fog of war to cover the quiet and massive deleveraging of banks and deflation of bubbles. That is why debt is not inherently, but always leads to evil.
Trump is no friend of anyone. He has just elbowed his family onto the top table. The war he is having with the media is just about getting it in line with his message and loosing off its old alliances
You will see China and Russia back to back against the militarized vampire that is dollar debt.
They will continue to prepare for war.
They will continue to attempt to extinguish the coming fire by trying to shove the world institutions towards a new international currency basket (the SDR).
The issuers of debt will continue winning until the game is complete or they are all dead.