Free - Beyond Collapse

Friday, March 21, 2014

Take These Steps Today To Survive An International Crisis

Guest Post by Brandon Smith  Alt-Market blog

With the Crimea referendum passed and Russia ready to annex the region, the United States and the European Union have threatened sanctions. The full extent of these sanctions is not yet known, and announcements are pending for the end of March. If these measures are concrete, they will of course be followed inevitably by economic warfare, including a reduction of natural gas exports to the EU and the eventually full dump of the U.S. dollar by Russia and China. As I have discussed in recent articles, the result of these actions will be disastrous.

For those of us in the liberty movement, it is now impossible to ignore the potential threat to our economy. No longer can people claim that “perhaps” there will be a crisis someday, that perhaps “five or 10 years” down the road we will have to face the music. No, the threat is here now, and it is very real.
The loss of the dollar’s world reserve status will destroy the only thread holding up its value, namely, investor faith. There are only two possible outcomes from that point onward:
A) The U.S. will be forced to default because no nation will purchase our Treasury bonds and support our debt spending, causing the dollar’s value to implode.

B) The Fed will choose to restart and expand quantitative easing measures, confiscate pension funds, raid bank accounts or issue new taxes in order to keep the system afloat; this will also end in the eventual collapse of dollar value and hyperinflation.

The consequences will lead to an explosion in prices — first in commodities and necessities like petroleum, imported raw materials, food, electricity, etc. and then in all other goods and services. 

Austerity measures will be instituted by Federal and State governments. Cuts to social welfare programs, including food stamps, are probable. Civil infrastructure will suffer. The cost effectiveness of maintaining public utilities could become unrealistic. Anyone relying on such services may find themselves cut off for days, weeks or indefinitely. Public suffering will invariably rise, along with public crime.

If events like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans are any indication, the Federal government’s
  response will be inadequate, to say the least.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency clearly cannot be relied upon to provide food, shelter, medical care or protection for communities. In fact, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Feds did far more harm than good, corralling people into camps where death was rampant and disarming outlying neighborhoods so that they could not defend themselves. Tens of millions of dollars in donated and Federally purchased necessities were never delivered to aid survivors. Trucks were turned away, and help from civilian sources was denied.

The point is, if you find yourself in the midst of a national or international catastrophe, you should assume that you will be on your own with whatever preparations you made beforehand. To assume otherwise would be foolish, given our government’s track record.

There are some people who will argue that during an international crisis, such as an economic war or a world war, there is no purpose to preparedness. They will argue that there is nothing an individual or family can do to weather the storm or fight back, because the scale of the threat would be “too great.” There is no place for such defeatism in the life of the liberty-minded. The scale of the threat is irrelevant, and only cowards give up a fight before it even begins. Survival and freedom require an unwavering conviction. Nihilists will fulfill their own prophecies, suffering a fate exactly as they imagine for the rest of us; living in fear, slavery, and obscurity.

That said, it is also important to acknowledge the truth that the majority of Americans today are utterly unready for a minor localized disaster, let alone a national or global crisis. This problem, though, could be easily remedied with a few simple beginning steps. I find that most people are not averse to the idea of preparedness, but many have trouble taking the first steps in the right direction. For longtime preparedness champions, the information listed here might seem like old-hat. However, I challenge each liberty movement member to approach at least one friend or family member who could benefit from the steps below. Prepping appears daunting to the uninitiated; show them how simple it can actually be.

Below is a list of goals that every liberty movement member and American can easily achieve starting today and continuing over the course of the next month. 

 If enough citizens were to take the initiative to do these things, all threats — no matter how imposing — could be overcome.

Buy Three Months Of Food Stock

Food supply is the greatest Achilles’ heel of the American populace. Most homes store less than one week’s worth of food items at any given time. The average person needs between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day to maintain sufficient energy for survival. It takes around four to six weeks for a person to die of starvation and malnutrition. In a collapse scenario, most deaths will likely occur within the first few months, either by weakness and illness, or by looting and violence. The idea is to at least get through this first catastrophic phase without becoming a villain, or falling victim to one. One person removed from starvation is one possible threat removed from the equation.

Three months of supply is not ideal by any means, but it will buy you precious time. Start with 2,000 calories per day per person. Bulk foods can be purchased cheaply (for now) and can at the very least provide sustenance during emergencies. A 20-pound bag of rice, for instance, can be had for less than $15 and provides about 30,000 calories, or 2,000 calories per day for 15 days for one person. Supplement with beans, canned vegetables and meats, honey for sugar, or freeze-dried goods, and you will be living more comfortably than 90 percent of the population.

Food stockpiling is one of the easiest and most vital measures a person could take. Yet, sadly, it is one of the last preparations on people’s minds.

Buy A Water Filter

Do not count on city water to remain functional. Even during a drawn-out economic downturn rather than an immediate crisis, there is a good chance that some utilities will be sporadic and unreliable. This means you will have to focus on rainwater collection, as well as water from unclean sources. Boiling the water will kill any bacteria, but it will not kill the taste of sediments and other materials floating around. A high-grade survival filter is the best way to get clean water that tastes good.

The average person needs about a gallon of water per day to remain healthy and hydrated. I highly recommend the Sawyer Mini Water Filter, which is a compact washable filter that can cleanse up to 100,000 gallons of water. It uses no moving parts, making it harder to break; and it costs only $20.

Buy A Small Solar Kit

Try going a week or two without electricity, and you may find how dismal life can truly be. The very absence of light at night reduces one’s productivity time drastically, and using fuel for lanterns is not practical in the long term. Solar power is truly the way to go for a grid-collapse scenario.
I’ve heard much whining about the cost of solar power, but small systems that will serve most electrical needs can be set up for less than $1,000. Two 100-watt panels, a power inverter, charge controller and four to six 12-volt deep-cycle batteries are enough to deal with most electrical needs in a survival situation; and all these items can be contained in a portable foot locker for minimal cost. New solar panels are much more effective in low-light conditions and winter weather as well, making solar a must-have prep item.

Store A Fuel Source

Twenty gallons of gasoline treated with fuel saver is not expensive to purchase today, but in the midst of hyperinflation, it may be impossible to obtain tomorrow. Kerosene is useful for heating and cooking. Propane can be stored for decades and runs numerous appliances. If you live in a forested area, dried wood can be had for free, and can keep you warm throughout the winter months (keep in mind the your local danger factor when using fire). It is vital to have a means to stay warm and fed during the most difficult seasonal changes, especially during a grid down scenario.

Find Alternative Shelter

There are no guarantees during a full-spectrum disaster. Having all your eggs in one basket is not only stupid, but unnecessary. Always have a plan B. That means scouting an alternative location for you and your family in the event that your current shelter comes under threat. This location should be far enough away from large population centers but still within a practical range for you to reach them. It should also have a nearby water source, and be defensible. Establishing supply caches near this site is imperative. Do not assume that you will be able to take all of your survival supplies with you from your home. Expect that surprises of a frightening variety will arise.

Buy One Semi-Automatic Rifle

At this point I really don’t care what model of rifle people purchase, as long as they have one, preferably in high capacity and semi-automatic. AR-15, AK-47, Saiga, SKS, M1A: just get one! Every American should be armed with a military-grade rifle. If you are not, you are not only negligent in your duty as a free citizen, but you are also at a distinct disadvantage against the kind of opponents you are likely to face in a collapse situation.

Buy 1,000 Rounds Of Ammunition

Again, this is by no means an ideal stockpile, but it is enough to get you through a couple rough patches if you train furiously. Cheap AK-47 ammo can be had for $5 for a box of 20 rounds. Get what you can while you can, because the prices are only going to skyrocket in the near term.

Approach One Friend Or Neighbor

Community is what will make the difference between life and death during a SHTF collapse. I challenge everyone in the liberty movement to find at least ONE other person to work with in the event of disaster. Lone-wolf operations may be strategically practical for short periods of time; but everyone needs rest, and everyone needs someone else to watch his back. Do not fall into the delusion that you will be able to handle everything on your own.

Learn One Barter Skill

Learn how to fix one vital thing or provide one vital service. Try emergency medical training, gunsmithing or metal working, as long as it is an ability that people will value. You have to be able to produce something that people want in order to sustain yourself beyond the point at which your survival stockpile runs out. Be sure that you are seen as indispensable to those around you.

Grow A Garden

Spring is upon us, and now is the perfect opportunity to grow your own food supply. If you have even a small yard, use that space to grow produce. Focus on high-protein and high-vitamin foods. Buy a dehydrator or canning supplies and save everything. Use heirloom seeds so that you can collect new seed from each crop to replant in the future. If every American had a garden in his backyard, I wouldn’t be half as worried about our survival as I am today.

Prepare Your Mind For Calamity

The most valuable resource you will ever have is your own mind. The information held within it and the speed at which you adapt will determine your survival, whether you have massive preparations or minimal preparations. Most people are not trained psychologically to handle severe stress, and this is why they die. Panic equals extinction. Calm readiness equals greater success.

The state of our financial system is one of perpetual tension. The structure is so weak that any catalyst or trigger event could send it tumbling into the abyss. Make no mistake; time is running out. We may witness a terrifying breakdown tomorrow, in a year, or if we are lucky, a little longer. The path, though, has been set and there is no turning back. All of the items above can be undertaken with minimal cash flow. If you receive a regular paycheck, you can establish a survival supply for yourself and your family. There are no excuses.
Take the steps above seriously. Set your goals for the next four weeks and see how many of them you can accomplish. Do what you can today, or curse yourself tomorrow. What’s it going to be?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mass Disobedience: NY Gun Owners Burn Their Assault Weapons Registration Form

Guest Post By Lily Dane

In a major act of civil disobedience, Ny gun owners staged a protest in Saratoga Springs NY over this past weekend where they burned nearly one thousand  gun registration forms. 

So far, we now have two states that are telling the tyrannical politicians to go pound sand when it comes to gun registration. It finally looks like the people of NY, and CT have finally taken the late great  Bill Coopers advice and drawn there true line in the sand.

Under the SAFE Act, residents of New York are required to register firearms that meet the state’s criteria for “military-style assault weapons.” The deadline is April 15.
Last Sunday, gun rights advocates met at the Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge 161 in Saratoga Springs to protest the registration requirement. reported from the event:

The event was organized by the NY2A Grassroots Coalition. Co-founder Jake Palmateer told Post Star that said the goal is for people not to register their assault weapon as an act of civil disobedience:
“We are opposed to registration because the evidence is clear that registration leads to confiscation.”
Palmateer estimates that less than 3,000 New York assault weapons have been registered and he says State Police estimated that there are several hundred thousand. The gun industry believes the number may be high as 1.2 million, he said.
The second purpose of the event was to “kick off advocacy efforts for the 2014 election.” NY2A will be vetting Assembly and Senate candidates for their stance on gun rights, Palmateer said:
“Make sure we are putting people in who are pro-civil rights. Ultimately, this is a civil rights issue.”
Palmateer said the SAFE Act infringes on due process rights, the right to privacy and the right to equal protection under the law.
Other event participants told the Post Star why they participated in the protest:
E.J. Stokes, leader of the Warren County chapter of New York Revolution, said he was participating because he believes in the U.S. Constitution.
“Once the Second (Amendment) falls, the rest will go with it. It’s an unconstitutional law, done in the middle of the night with no input from the public,” he said.
Kevin Sisson, a Carlisle councilman in Schoharie County, said he and others are defending the Constitution.
“We are not extremists,” he said. “We are simply free men who love our country.”
Protesters said they hope that so few people register their guns that the registry portion of the law fails.
Connecticut passed a similar law last year that was also met with resistance, as Kimberly Paxton reported:
Tens of thousands of people in Connecticut have just knowingly become “criminals” under a hastily passed state law requiring the registration of certain firearms.
The law, adopted after Sandy Hook, bans the sale of any semiautomatic firearm that also has a “military feature” such as a pistol grip. Residents were told that if they register their “assault weapons” by December 31, 2013, that they’d be “allowed” to keep them.
About 50,000 people in CT registered their guns, and officials said that was just a small percentage. They estimated that up to 350,000 “assault weapons” remained unregistered as of the deadline.
Paxton also pointed out that history has proven that registration often leads to confiscation:
In a speech, Katie Worthman, who was an eyewitness to Hitler’s occupation of Austria, said:
“We also had gun registration. All the Austrian people… had guns. But the government said, ‘the guns are very dangerous. Children are playing with guns. Hunting accidents happen and we really have to have total controlled safety. And we had criminals again. And the only way that we can trace the criminal was by the serial number of the gun.’
“So we dutifully went to the police station and we registered our guns. Not long after they said, ‘No, it didn’t help. The only way that we won’t have accidents and crimes [is] you bring the guns to the police station and then we don’t have any crimes anymore and any accidents. And if you don’t do that: capital punishment.’”
Has a law ever prevented a crime? Clearly, registration is about control and ultimately, unarming the people.

“One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offense to keep arms.” - Constitutional scholar and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Obama Exploiting Ukraine to Empower IMF and Dictatorships

Guest Post by 

The globalist establishment, Russian authorities, and the Obama administration are pushing hard for a series of controversial “reforms” aimed at massively expanding the power and resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) while further scaling back U.S. influence at the institution. Using various pretexts — and especially the crisis in Ukraine — governments and dictatorships, including Vladimir Putin’s Russia, are even threatening to proceed with the radical plot to empower the IMF whether the U.S. Congress approves it or not. 

The most important and far-reaching elements of the “reform” agenda include a doubling of taxpayer resources available to the IMF. Member governments would have to supply twice as much taxpayer funding to meet their “quota” under the agreement. Even more important, the reforms would also dramatically reduce U.S. influence while handing more power to what propagandists refer to as “emerging markets.” In reality, “emerging markets” would continue to have no influence whatsoever at the powerful globalist institution. The dictators and governments that rule them, however, would be given far more authority to dictate IMF policy and decisions.

Chief among the regimes that would be empowered under the “reforms” is the communist dictatorship ruling over mainland China, which for years has been calling for the IMF to become a sort of planetary central bank in charge of a global currency. Other governments that would have more influence include those ruling over the rest of the so-called BRICS — primarily socialist and communist regimes in Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa. All of the “BRICS” regimes have been strongly pushing for more control over the IMF in recent years, even as they push to radically expand its mandate to include a planetary currency.
“We support the reform and improvement of the international monetary system, with a broad based international reserve currency system providing stability and certainty,” the five BRICS regimes said in a joint 2013 declaration, calling for Third World dictators to have a greater say in the IMF and the emerging global monetary regime. “We welcome the discussion about the role of the [IMF’s] SDR [a proto-global currency known as Special Drawing Rights] in the existing international monetary system including the composition of SDR’s basket of currencies.”

The biggest barrier thus far to the IMF “reforms,” reportedly agreed to in 2010, has been the U.S. Congress, which is so far refusing to approve the funding. In a statement, however, the Obama administration said it was working on overcoming that obstacle. Among other demands, the administration wants lawmakers to approve a shift of some $63 billion from a “crisis” fund to the IMF’s general accounts to comply with the 2010 reform “commitments” made by the Obama administration and the IMF board.   
“We are working with Congress to approve the 2010 IMF quota legislation, which would support the IMF’s capacity to lend additional resources to Ukraine, while also helping to preserve continued U.S. leadership within this important institution,” the White House said in a “fact sheet” released last week, exploiting the ongoing fiasco in central Europe to advance the controversial agenda to empower the IMF and its less-than-friendly member regimes. The radically expanded U.S. “quota” would presumably be met going forward by borrowing from foreign governments or the Federal Reserve, which simply conjures currency into existence out of thin air and usuriously lends it to the Treasury at interest

Having apparently lost hope of getting the legislation through on its own, the administration is now trying to tie the IMF funding demands to a bill showering U.S. taxpayer funds on Ukraine’s new rulers. “It is imperative that we secure passage of IMF legislation now so we can show support for the IMF in this critical moment and preserve our leading influential voice in the institution,” Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said last week in a congressional hearing, just months after demanding a debt-ceiling hike. It remains unclear whether the GOP-controlled House will submit to the administration’s demands.

In a report from Reuters citing “sources,” however, the news agency reported that Russian officials are working to push ahead the drastic IMF reforms without the support of the U.S. government, which holds a controlling share of votes at the institution because U.S. taxpayers are its primary source of funds. If the Kremlin and its allies succeed in advancing the reforms without U.S. congressional approval, the news agency claimed, it could result in Washington, D.C., losing its veto even over major IMF decisions. Moving ahead without Congress, though, would reportedly require “complicated” changes to IMF rules.
The anonymous “sources” cited in the Reuters article claimed that the G20 governments — the regimes ruling China and Russia are both among the members — would give the U.S. government until IMF and World Bank meetings next month to obey. If Congress remains uncooperative, the “sources,” presumably speaking to the news agency in a bid to pressure U.S. lawmakers, said the G20 regimes would be “taking more aggressive measures” to ram through the reforms empowering the controversial global institution.
“It was agreed that in the absence of progress by the United States on the 2010 package by the April meeting of the IMF and G20, that there will be formulated a list of 'bad options,' which will allow [us] to move forward in this matter, excluding the opinions of the United States,” one of the three unnamed sources told Reuters. In other words, either the U.S. Congress does the bidding of foreign governments at the G20, or those regimes will advance the radical agenda anyway.

In an editorial, the establishment mouthpieces at the New York Times urged lawmakers to promptly obey, too. “As Congress moves forward with providing financial assistance to Ukraine in the form of loan guarantees, lawmakers should also ratify much-delayed reforms that would strengthen the International Monetary Fund and give it more resources to lend to troubled nations like Ukraine,” the Times editorial board argued on Monday, adding that the Obama administration had “led a global effort” to increase IMF funding to over $750 billion while curtailing U.S. power at the institution.

“Some Republicans in the House have steadfastly refused to let the reforms come to a vote, arguing unconvincingly that the fund doesn’t need the money,” the Times complained, presumably also suggesting that the IMF and the nations it shackles with debt need the money more than struggling U.S. taxpayers. “Ukraine’s troubles serve as evidence that it’s important to increase the fund’s resources.”
Ironically, the Times suggested that it was in “America’s interest” that authorities in Ukraine and other countries receive bailouts from U.S. taxpayers through organizations such as the IMF rather than from Russia directly. The claim is especially ridiculous considering that the Kremlin is leading the push to adopt the IMF “reforms” without approval from the U.S. Congress. The argument becomes even more absurd when realizing that Moscow is participating in the IMF bailouts agreement for Ukrainian officials. And it borders on lunacy when considering a New York Times report last week acknowledging that much of the “aid” to Ukraine will end up in Russian institutions anyway.

“Providing Ukraine with $1 billion in loan guarantees from the American government is a good start, but that will not be enough to get the country back on its feet,” the Times editorial concludes. “Congress needs to go one step further and give the I.M.F. the resources it needs to help troubled nations like Ukraine.”
The conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, while claiming that the United States “clearly” benefits from the existence of the IMF, also conceded that, “many conservatives have rightly pointed to the IMF as an enabler of moral hazard.” Those critics, the group said, “are concerned that American tax dollars are being used for IMF programs that bail out bad decisions by other governments that follow reckless fiscal and monetary policies (e.g., the flawed policies that Ukraine pursued under Yanukovych until 2011 when the IMF ended its previous program for the country).”

In response to those concerns, Heritage Research Fellow for Economic Freedom James Roberts offered Congress some suggestions. “Refuse the Obama Administration’s attempt to link urgent assistance to Ukraine to approval of the IMF governance reform package that has been pending for three years,” he advised. “Insist that the 2010 reform package be revised so that the U.S. retains the unilateral right to appoint its own representative to the executive board; and demand the abolition of the NAB [New Arrangements to Borrow] supplemental facility so that it cannot be used in the future as an additional source of potentially morally hazardous lending during the next ‘crisis’.”

Critics of the IMF and the long-term agenda of the institution and its backers, however, suggest that a better solution would be for the U.S. government to withdraw from the controversial outfit altogether. Not only is Washington, D.C., foisting unfathomable levels of odious debt on the American people to fund such globalist institutions, the IMF is now openly proposing wholesale global wealth confiscation and plundering. As if that was not bad enough, the IMF and the globalist establishment that controls it are openly working to turn the institution into a global central bank in charge of a planetary fiat currency if and when the U.S. dollar loses its status as international reserve.

For Americans, Ukrainians, and indeed, humanity, the IMF represents nothing but expensive trouble — and it is only going to get worse if current trends continue. U.S. lawmakers who take their oath of office seriously must refuse to submit.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Evil That Men Do, America’s Advancing Empire

Guest Post By Prof. James Petras

The Obama regime, in coordination with its allies and proxies, has re-launched a virulent world-wide campaign to destroy independent governments, encircle and ultimately, undermine global competitors, and establish a new US – EU centered world order.

We will proceed by identifying the recent ‘cycles’ of US empire-building; the advances and retreats; the methods and strategies; the results and perspectives.  Our main focus is on the imperial dynamics driving the US toward greater military confrontations, up to and including conditions which can lead to a world war.

Recent Imperial Cycles

US empire-building has not been a linear process.  The recent decades provide ample evidence of contradictory experiences.  Summarily we can identify several phases in which empire-building has experienced broad advances and sharp setbacks – with certain caveats.  We are looking at global processes, in which there are also limited counter-tendencies:  In the midst of large-scale imperial advances, particular regions, countries or movements successfully resisted or even reversed the imperial thrust.  Secondly, the cyclical nature of empire-building in no way puts in doubt the imperial character of the state and economy and its relentless drive to dominate, exploit and accumulate.  Thirdly, the methods and strategy directing each imperial advance differ according to changes among targeted countries.
Over the past thirty years we can identify three phases in empire-building.

Imperial Advance 1980’s to 2000

 In the period roughly from the mid-1980’s to the year 2000, empire-building expanded on a global scale.

            (A). Imperial Expansion in the former Communist regions

The US and EU penetrated and hegemonized Eastern Europe; disintegrated and pillaged Russia and the USSR; privatized and denationalized hundreds of billions of dollars worth of public enterprises, mass media outlets and banks;  incorporated military bases throughout Eastern Europe into NATO and established satellite regimes as willing accomplices in imperial conquests in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

            (B). Imperial Expansion in Latin America

Beginning from the early 1980’s to the end of the century, empire-building advanced throughout Latin America under the formula of “free markets and free elections”.
From Mexico to Argentina, empire-centered, neo-liberal regimes privatized and denationalized over 5,000 public enterprises and banks, benefiting US and European multi-nationals.  Political leaders lined up with the US in international forums.  Latin American generals responded favorably to US-centered military operations.  Bankers extracted billions in debt payments and laundered many billions more in illicit money.  The US-centered, continent-wide “North American Free Trade Agreement” appeared to advance according to schedule.

            (C).Imperial Advances in Asia and Africa

Communist and nationalist regimes shed their leftist and anti-imperialist policies and opened their societies and economies to capitalist penetration. In Africa, two key “leftist” countries, Angola and post-apartheid South Africa adopted “free market policies”.
In Asia, China and Indo-China moved decisively toward capitalist development strategies; foreign investment, privatizations and intense exploitation of labor replaced collectivist egalitarianism and anti-imperialism.  India, and other state-directed capitalist countries, like South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, liberalized their economies.  Imperial advances were accompanied by greater economic volatility, a sharpening of the class struggle and an opening of the electoral process to accommodate competing capitalist factions.

Empire-building expanded under the slogan of “free markets and fair elections” – markets dominated by giant multi-nationals and elections, which assured elite successes.

Imperial Retreat and Reverses: 2000-2008

The brutal costs of the advance of empire led to a global counter-tendency, a wave of anti-neoliberal uprisings and military resistance to US invasions.  Between 2000 – 2008 empire-building was under siege and in retreat.

 Russia and China Challenge the Empire

US empire-building ceased to expand and conquer in two strategic regions:  Russia and Asia.  Under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, the Russian state was reconstructed; pillage and disintegration was reversed.  The economy was harnessed to domestic development.  The military was integrated into a system of national defense and security.  Russia once again became a major player in regional and international politics.

China’s turn toward capitalism was accompanied by a dynamic state presence and a direct role in promoting double digit growth for two decades:  China becoming the second largest economy in the world, displacing the US as the major trading partner in Asia and Latin America.  The US economic empire was in retreat.

Latin America:  The End of the Neo-Liberal Empire

Neo-liberalism and US-centered ‘integration’ led to pillage, economic crises and major popular upheavals, leading to the ascendancy of new center-left and left regimes. ‘Post neo-liberal’ administrations emerged in Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Central America and Uruguay.  US empire-builders suffered several strategic defeats.

The US effort to secure a continent-wide free trade agreement fell apart and was replaced by regional integration organizations that excluded the US and Canada.  In its place, Washington signed bi-lateral agreements with Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Panama and Peru.

Latin America diversified its markets in Asia and Europe:  China replaced the US as its main trading partner.  Extractive development strategies and high commodity prices financed greater social spending and political independence.

Selective nationalizations, increased state regulation and debt renegotiations weakened US leverage over the Latin American economies. Venezuela, under President Hugo Chavez successfully challenged US hegemony in the Caribbean via regional organizations. Caribbean economies achieved greater independence and economic viability through membership in PETROCARIBE, a program through which they received petrol from Venezuela at subsidized prices. Central American and Andean countries increased security and trade via the regional organization, ALBA.  Venezuela provided an alternative development model to the US-centered neo-liberal approach, in which earnings from the extractive economy financed large-scale social programs.

From the end of the Clinton Administration to the end of the Bush Administration, the economic empire was in retreat.  The empire lost Asian and Latin American markets to China.  Latin America gained greater political independence.  The Middle East became ‘contested terrain’.  A revised and stronger Russian state opposed further encroachments on its borders.  Military resistance and defeats in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Lebanon challenged US dominance.

Imperial Offensive:  Obama’s Advances the Empire

The entire period of the Obama regime has been taken up with reversing the retreat of empire-building.  To that end Obama  has developed a primarily military strategy (1) confrontation and encircling China and Russia, (2) undermining and overthrowing independent governments in Latin America and re-imposing neo-liberal client regimes, and (3) launching covert and overt military assaults on  independent regimes everywhere.

The empire-building offensive of the 21st century differs from that of the previous decade in several crucial ways:  Neo-liberal economic doctrines are discredited and electorates are not so easily convinced of the beneficence of falling under US hegemony.  In other words, empire-builders cannot rely on diplomacy, elections and free market propaganda to expand their imperial reach as they did in the 1990’s.
To reverse the retreat and advance 21st century empire-building, Washington realized it had to rely on force and violence.  The Obama regime allocated billions of dollars to finance arms for mercenaries, salaries for street fighters and campaign expenses for electoral clients engaged in destabilization campaigns. Diplomatic duplicity and broken agreements replaced negotiated settlements – on a grand scale.

Throughout the Obama period not a single imperial advance was secured via elections, diplomatic agreements or political negotiations.  The Obama Presidency sought and secured the massification of global spy network (NSA) and the almost daily murder of political adversaries via drones and other means.  Covert killer operations under the US Special Forces expanded throughout the world.  Obama assumed dictatorial prerogatives, including the power to order the arbitrary assassination of U.S. citizens.

The unfolding of the Obama regime’s global effort to stem the imperial retreat and re-launch empire-building “pivoted” almost exclusively on military instruments: armed proxies, aerial assaults, coups and violent putschist power grabs. Thugs, mobs, Islamist terrorists, Zionist militarists and a medley of retrograde separatist assassins were the tools of imperial advance.  The choice of imperial proxies varied according to time and political circumstances.

Confronting and Degrading China:  Military Encirclement and Economic Exclusion

 Faced with the loss of markets and the challenges of China as a global competitor, Washington developed two major lines of attack: 1. An economic strategy designed to deepen the integration of Asian and Latin America countries in a free trade pact that excludes China (the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement); and 2.  Pentagon-designed military plan Air-Sea Battle , which targets China’s mainland with a full-scale air and missile assault if Washington’s current strategy of controlling China’s  commercial maritime lifeline fails (FT, 2/10/14).  While an offensive military strategy is still on the Pentagon’s drawing board, the Obama regime is building up its maritime armada a few short miles off China’s coast , expanding its military bases in the Philippines, Australia and Japan and tightening the noose around China’s strategic maritime routes for vital imports like oil, gas and raw materials. 

The US is actively promoting an Indo-Japanese military alliance as part of its strategy of military encirclement of China.  Joint military maneuvers, high-level military coordination and meetings between Japanese and Indian military officials are seen by the Pentagon as strategic advances in isolating China and reinforcing the US stranglehold on China’s maritime routes to the Middle East, Southeast Asia and beyond.  India, according to one of India’s leading weeklies, is viewed “as a junior partner of the US.  The Indian Navy is fast becoming the chief policeman of the Indian Ocean and the Indian military’s dependence on the U.S. military-industrial complex is increasing…” (Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai), 2/15/14, p. 9.  The US is also escalating its support for violent separatist movements in China, namely the Tibetans, Uighurs and other Islamists.  Obama’s meeting with the Dali Lama was emblematic of Washington’s efforts to foment internal unrest.

 The gross political intervention of outgoing U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke in domestic Chinese politics is an indication that diplomacy is not the Obama regime’s prime policy instrument when it comes to dealing with China.  Ambassador Locke openly met with Uighur and Tibetan separatists and publicly disparaged China’s economic success and political system while openly encouraging opposition politics (FT, 2/28/14, p. 2).
 The Obama regime’s attempt to advance empire in Asia via military confrontation and trade pacts, which exclude China, has led China to build-up its military capacity to avoid maritime strangulation.  China answers the US trade threat by advancing its productive capacity, diversifying its trade relations, increasing its ties with Russia and deepening its domestic market.

To date, the Obama regime’s reckless militarization of the Pacific has not led to an open break in relations with China, but the military road to advancing empire at China’s expense threatens a global economic catastrophe or worse, a world war.

Imperial Advance:  Isolating, Encircling and Degrading Russia

With the advent of President Vladimir Putin and the reconstitution of the Russian state and economy, the U.S. lost a vassal client and source of plundered wealth.  Washington’s empire-builders continued to seek Russian ‘cooperation and collaboration’ in undermining independent states, isolating China and pursuing its colonial wars.  The Russian state, under Putin and Medvedev, had sought to accommodate U.S. empire builders via negotiated agreements, which would enhance Russia’s position in Europe, recognize Russian strategic borders and acknowledge Russian security concerns. However, Russian diplomacy secured few and transitory gains while the US and EU made major gains with Russian complicity and passivity.

  The un-stated agenda of Washington, especially with Obama’s drive to re-launch a new wave of imperial conquests, was to undermine Russia’s re-emergence as a major player in world politics.  The strategic idea was to isolate Russia, weaken its growing international presence and return it to the vassal status of the Yeltsin period,  if possible.

 From the US -  EU takeover of Eastern Europe , the Balkans and Baltic states, and their transformation into NATO military bases and capitalist vassal states in the early 1990’s, to the penetration and pillage  of Russia during the Yeltsin years, the prime purpose of Western policy has been to establish a unipolar empire under US domination.  

  The EU and the US proceeded to dismember Yugoslavia into subservient mini-states.  They then bombed Serbia in order to carve off Kosovo, destroying one of the few independent countries still allied with Russia.  The U.S. then moved on to foment uprisings in Georgia, Ukraine and Chechnya.  They bombed, invaded and later occupied Iraq – a former Russian ally in the Gulf region.

The driving strategy of US policy was to encircle and reduce Russia to the status of a weak, marginal power, and to undermine Vladimir Putin’s efforts to restore Russia’s position as a regional power.  In 2008 Washington’s puppet regime in Georgia, tested the mettle of the Russian state by launching an assault on South Ossetia, killing at least 10 Russian peacekeepers and wounding hundreds (not to mention thousands of civilians).  Then-Russian President Medvedev responded by sending the Russian armed forces to repel Georgian troops and support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

U.S. diplomatic agreements with Russia had been asymmetrical – Russia was to acquiesce in Western expansion in exchange for ‘political acceptance’.  Duplicity trumped open-diplomacy.  Despite agreements to the contrary, U.S. bases and missile installations were established throughout Eastern Europe, pointing at Russia, under the pretext that they were “really targeting Iran”.  Even as Russia protested that post-Cold War agreements were breached, the Empire ignored Moscow’s complaints and encirclement advanced.
 In a further diplomatic disaster, Russia and China signed off on a U.S.-authored United Nations Security Council agreement to allow NATO to engage in “humanitarian overflights” in Libya. NATO immediately took this as the ‘green light’ for attack and converted ‘humanitarian intervention’ into a devastating aerial bombing campaign that led to the overthrow of Libya’s legitimate government and the destruction of Libya as viable, independent North African state.  By signing the ‘humanitarian’ UN agreement, Russia and China lost a friendly government and trading partner in Africa!  Even earlier, the Russians had agreed to allow the US to transport weapons and troops through Russian Federation territory to support the US invasion of Afghanistan … with no reciprocal gain (except perhaps an even greater flood of Afghan heroin).
 Russian diplomats agreed to US (Zionist)-authored UN economic sanctions against Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program … undermining a political ally and lucrative market.  Moscow believed that by backing US sanctions on Iran and granting transport routes to Afghanistan in late 2001 they would receive some ‘security guarantees’ from the Americans regarding the separatist movements in the Caucuses.  The U.S. ‘reciprocated’ by further backing Chechen separatist leaders exiled in the US despite the on-going terror campaigns against Russian civilians – up to and even after the Chechen slaughter of hundreds of school children and teachers in Beslan in 2004….

 With the US under Obama advancing its encirclement of Russia in Eurasia and its isolation in North Africa and the Middle East, Putin finally decided to draw a line by backing Russia’s only remaining ally in the Middle East, Syria.  Putin sought to secure a negotiated end to the Western-Gulf Monarchist-backed mercenary invasion of Damascus. To little avail: The US and EU increased arms shipments, military trainers and financing to the 30,000 Islamist mercenaries based in Jordan as they engaged in cross-border attacks to overthrow the Syrian government.

 Washington and Brussels continued their imperial push toward the Russian heartland by organizing and financing a violent seizure of power (putsch) in western Ukraine.  The Obama regime financed a coalition of armed neo-Nazi street fighters and neo-liberal politicos, to the tune of $5 billion dollars, to overthrow the elected regime.  The putschists then moved to end Crimean autonomy and break long-standing military treaty agreements with Russia.  Under enormous pressure from the autonomous Crimean government and the vast majority of the population and facing the critical loss of its naval and military facilities on the Black Sea, Putin, finally, forcefully moved Russian troops into a defensive mode in Crimea.

The Obama regime launched a series of aggressive moves against Russia to isolate it and to buttress it faltering puppet regime in Kiev:  economic sanctions and expulsions were the order of the day … Obama’s seizure of the Ukraine signaled the start of a ‘new Cold War’.  The seizure of the Ukraine was part of Obama’s grand ongoing strategy of advancing empire.

The Ukraine power grab signaled the biggest geo-political challenge to the continued existence of the Russian state.  Obama seeks to extend and deepen the imperial sweep across Europe to the Caucuses: the violent regime coup and subsequent defense of the puppet regime in Kiev are key elements in undermining a key adversary– Russia. 

After pretending to ‘partner’ with Russia, while slicing off Russian allies in the Balkans and Mid-East over the previous decades, Obama made his most audacious and reckless move.  Casting off all pretexts of peaceful co-existence and mutual accommodation, the Obama regime broke a power-sharing agreement with Russia over Ukrainian governance and backed the neo-Nazi putsch.

The Obama regime assumed that having secured Russia’s earlier acquiescence in the face of advancing US imperial power in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the Gulf region, Washington’s empire-builders made the fateful decision to test Russia in its most strategic geopolitical region, one directly affecting the Russian people and its most strategic military assets.  Russia reacted in the only language understood in Washington and Brussels:  with a major military mobilization.  Obama’s advance of ‘empire-building via salami tactics’ and duplicitous diplomacy was nearing an end.

Advancing Empire in the Middle East and Latin America

The imperial advance of the 1990’s came to an end by the middle of the first decade of the new millennium.  Defeats in Afghanistan, withdrawal from Iraq, the demise of puppet regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, election losses in the Ukraine and the defeat and demise of pro-U.S. neo-liberal regimes in Latin America were exacerbated by a deepening economic crisis in the imperial centers of Europe and Wall Street.
Obama had few economic and political options to advance the empire. Yet his regime was determined to end the retreat and advance the empire; he resorted to tactics and strategies more akin to 19th century colonial and 20th century totalitarian regimes.

The methods were violent- militarism was the policy pivot.  But at a time of domestic imperial exhaustion, new military tactics replaced large-scale ground force invasions.  Proxy-armed mercenaries took center stage in overthrowing regimes targeted by the US.  Political and ideological affinities were subsumed under the generic euphemism of “rebels”.  The mass media alternated between pressuring for greater military escalation and endorsing the existing level of imperial warfare.  The entire political spectrum in Europe and the US shifted rightward – even as the majority of the electorate rejected new military engagements, especially ground wars.

Obama escalated troops in Afghanistan, launched an air war that overthrew President Gadhafi and turned the Libya into a broken, failed state.  Proxy wars became the new strategy to advance imperial empire-building.  Syria was targeted – tens of thousands of Islamist extremists were recruited and funded by imperial regimes and despotic Gulf monarchies.  Millions of refugees fled, tens of thousands were killed
In Latin America, Obama backed the military coup in Honduras overthrowing the elected Liberal government of President Manuel Zelaya, he recognized a congressional coup ousting the elected center-left government in Paraguay while refusing to recognize the election victory of President Maduro in Venezuela.  In the face of Maduro’s win in Venezuela, Washington backed several months of mob street violence in an attempt to destabilize the country.

In the Ukraine, Egypt, Venezuela and Thailand, ‘the street’ replaced elections.  Obama’s strategic imperial goals have focused on the re-conquest and pillage of Russia and its return to the vassal status of the Boris Yeltsin years, Latin America’s return to the neo-liberal regimes of 1990’s and China to the submissiveness of the 1980’s.  The imperial strategy has been ‘to conquer from within’ setting the stage for domination from the outside.

Advancing Empire:  Israel and the Middle East Detour

One of the great historical paradoxes of the U.S. imperial retreat of the 21st century has been the role played by influence of Israel and its Zionist Fifth Column embedded within the U.S. political power structure.  Washington’s wars and sanctions in the Middle East have been largely at the behest of influential ‘Israel Firsters’ in the White House, Pentagon, Treasury and National Security Council and Congress.
It was largely because the US was engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that Washington “neglected” China’s growing economic prowess.  By concentrating on ‘wars for Israel’ in the Middle East, the U.S. has not been in a position to challenge the rise of nationalism and populism in Latin America.  Protracted ‘wars for Israel’ have exhausted the US economy and the American public’s enthusiasm for new ground wars elsewhere.

Zionist ideologues, dubbed “neo-conservatives”, were instrumental in shaping the global militarist approach to empire-building and marginalizing the market-driven empire building, favored by the multi-nationals and giant extractive industry.

Obama’s attempt to halt the retreat of empire caused by Zionist militarism has not borne fruit:  His effort to co-opt Zionists and pressure Israel to stop fomenting new wars in the Middle East is a failure.  His ‘pivot to Asia’ has turned into a strategy of brute military encirclement of China. His overtures to Iran have been stymied by the Zionist power bloc in Congress and the imposition of Israeli-dictated terms of negotiations.  The entire “advance of the empire-building project”, which was to define the Obama legacy, has been weakened by the enormous cost of heeding the advice and directives of the Israel-loyalists within his Administration.  Israel, one of the most brutal colonial powers, has paradoxically and unintentionally played a major role in undermining Obama’s efforts to reverse the decline of empire and advance the U.S. diplomatic and economic dimensions of empire-building

Results and Perspectives:  Advancing Empire in the Post Neo-Liberal Period

Obama’s reckless effort to advance empire in the second decade of the 21st century is far more dangerous than his predecessors in the late 20th century.  Russia has recovered.  It is not the disintegrating state that Bush and Clinton dismembered and pillaged.  China is no longer a rising market economy so eager to trade with the US while overlooking American incursions into Chinese territorial waters.  Today China is a major economic power, wielding economic leverage in the form of $3 Trillion in U.S. Treasury notes.  China no longer tolerates U.S. interference in its domestic politics- it is willing to crack down on U.S.-backed ethnic separatists and terrorists.

Latin America, including Venezuela, have developed autonomous regional organizations, diversified their markets to Asia and established a powerful post-neoliberal consensus.  Venezuela has turned its military, once the favorite instrument of US-engineered coups, into a bulwark of the existing democratic order.
The electoral road to US empire-building has been closed or requires tight imperial “supervision” to secure “favorable outcomes”. Washington’s new policy of choice is violence: enlisting mob action, mercenary extremists, Islamists and Uighur terrorists, neo-Nazis and the riff raff of the world in its service.
The balance sheet of six years of “advancing empire” under Obama is in doubt.  The violent overthrow of President Gadhafi did not lead to a stable client regime:  the utter destruction and chaos in Libya has undercut the imperial presence.  Syria is under attack but by anti-Western Islamist fanatics.  The defeat of Assad will not ‘advance empire’ as much as it will expand radical Islamist (including Al Qaeda) power.
The Ukraine puppet regime of neo-liberals and neo-Nazis is literally bankrupt, riven with internal conflicts and facing profound regional divisions.  Russia is threatened, but their leaders have taken decisive military action to defend their Crimean allies and strategic military bases.

Obama has provoked and threatened adversaries but has not secured much in terms of valuable allies or clients.  His effort to replicate the imperial advances of the 1990’s has failed because the relationships of power between Europe and Russia, Japan and China, and Venezuela and Colombia have changed.  Proxies, predator drones and the US Special Forces are not able to reverse the retreat.  The economic crisis has cut too deep; the domestic exhaustion with empire is too pervasive.  The cost of sustaining Israel is too high.  Advancing empire in these circumstances is a dangerous game:  it risks a larger nuclear war to overcome adversity and retreat.

Monday, March 10, 2014

It Will Happen Suddenly

As the Great Unravelling progresses, we shall be seeing many negative developments, some of them unprecedented.

Only a year ago, the average person was still hanging on to the belief that the world is in a state of recovery, that, however tentative, the economy was on the mend.

And this is understandable. After all, the media have been doing a bang-up job of explaining the situation in a way that treats recovery as a general assumption. The only point of discussion is the method applied to achieve the recovery, but the recovery itself is treated as a given.

However, as thorough a distraction as the media (and the governments of the world) have provided, the average person has begun to recognise that something is fundamentally wrong. He now has a gut feeling that, even if he is not well-versed enough to describe in economic terms what is incorrect in the endless chatter he sees on his television, he now senses that the situation will not end well.

I tend to liken his situation to someone who suddenly finds all the lights off in his house. He stumbles around in the dark, trying to feel his way. Although he can picture in his mind what the layout of his house is, he is having trouble navigating, often bumping into things. This is similar to the attempt to see through the media and government smokescreens during normal times.

But soon, as his government undergoes collapse, he will be getting some bigger surprises. He will find that the furniture has inexplicably been moved around. Objects are not where they are supposed to be, and it is no longer possible to reason his way through the problem of navigating in the dark.
Many of those who observe the daily news reports are beginning to figure out that they are being fed misinformation. Many are beginning to recognise that neither political party truly represents them or, for that matter, is even concerned for their welfare.

These folks are now navigating in the dark.

But the bigger surprises have not yet occurred. There will be a certain amount of lead-up, plus a great deal of confusion, but the actual occurrences will be sudden. No one will be able to predict the dates on which they occur, except those very few people who control the triggers to these events.

Crashes in the Markets


Major bull markets rarely end with a whimper. They end with a major upside spike. And, unfortunately, brokers and investors alike tend to think that, if the market has been up for the last week, the last month, or the last year, it can be expected to be up again tomorrow. This makes them prime pickings for governments who may choose to falsely inflate a given market, creating an upside spike to encourage investors to toss their last few coins into the pot, just before the bottom drops out.

In previous eras, it could take time for people to sell, and even in panic times, the bloodletting was not instantaneous. However, with the Internet, all that is necessary is a major sell-off by one entity—one that goes through the stops of a large number of investors, and in a flash, the market goes though the floor. (Editor’s note: Stops are orders placed with a broker to sell a security when it reaches a certain price.) The average investor wakes in the morning to find that he has been wiped out.

Commitments by Governments


Should there be a currency crash, as is expected in many countries, promises made by governments will be abandoned suddenly, as though they had never existed. Whilst millions of people will find themselves lost, unable to function without their entitlements, governments will evade their guilt through finger-pointing. Tories will blame Labour; Labour will blame the Tories. (The equivalent will take place in other countries.) The net result will be the disappearance of entitlements, either in part or in total. The public will take out its anger through increased hatred of whichever party it is that they already consider to be the evil one. They will fail to understand that collapse was unavoidable.

Assumed National Strengths Will Vanish


International alliances will fall away. Former allies will suddenly not be at the side of the failing nation.
Former friends will sign alliances with the other side.
Trade agreements will suddenly cease.

Wealth, initiative, and favour will flow to the new foremost country and its allies.
All of the above will happen incrementally—not by any means on the same day—but in each case, the actual occurrence will be sudden.

Just as Julius Caesar was at his peak of power when his fellow members of the Senate drew their knives, a powerful nation is coddled right until the time of its fall. In this regard, the US will see the greatest abandonment of loyalties that any nation will experience.

(The greater the empire, the greater the pretence of loyalty to it. And the greater the abandonment when the fall comes.)

When an empire collapses, it dies slowly. Unless it comes to an end through conquest, it deteriorates in a series of sudden jolts. Its leaders grasp at anything that might cause a delay, even if this means a worse outcome in the end. The process may take years and even decades. However, it is in the first few years that the major events occur—the events that create the most significant damage.

This occurs for two reasons. The first is that the leaders of the country, believing in their own power, believe that they can maintain control of their trade, their overseas control, their military, etc. and find that, when the crashes come, the rats desert the ship in every area. The second reason is that any empire builds its strength upon lies and exaggeration as much as it builds on its true attributes. After a crash, these lies and exaggerations fall away, and in a short time, it becomes clear that the empire was, in its latter stages, a house of cards.

The warning signs are already taking place but are not heavily publicised. Even the US's greatest ally, Britain, has quietly undertaken an agreement with China regarding the yuan as the currency for future trade.
The stage is set, and we are approaching the first major events.

The victims in this play are, unfortunately, the average people, who simply hope to have a decent life. They will be caught unawares and unable to even understand what has occurred, let alone take action to save themselves. Those who have not spent the previous years educating themselves and preparing an alternative life will suffer most greatly.

All who live in a country that is undergoing collapse will be negatively affected. Some will do better than others, but to live on this slim hope is much like being fortunate enough to live on the outskirts of Hiroshima in 1945.

There is little comfort in being one of the least injured. Better to have been in another country altogether—both during the actual event and during the terrible time that is sure to follow.

Prepare yourselves for impact.